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Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Count on super juicy and tender chicken every time you make sous vide chicken thighs. No guess work. For this recipe, we’re using bone-in thighs and a 3-ingredient sweet-savory glaze for a simple and delicious finish. Yes, of course there are options 🙂

I love that you can sous vide the thighs several days ahead, then finish them under the broiler for a few minutes when you need them. Weeknight dinner in a flash. 

glazed chicken thighs with green beans on plate

Most recipes for sous vide chicken thighs focus on the crispy skin. A great goal for sure. I’ll add a link to that option below.

I’m a sauce person though. So I’m offering another alternative that takes about the same time with a little less hands-on. You can, of course, do both. 

The peach balsamic glaze is made of peach jam, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Mix together, brush on and broil. That’s it. No peach jam? No worries, you have options. 

More importantly is how the chicken tastes. Soft, moist, sweet-sticky-tangy and beautifully cooked every time. That’s what I love about sous vide cooking. The consistent results

Why bother to sous vide chicken thighs?

Chicken thighs are forgiving and can be cooked successfully with many traditional cooking methods. Here’s my pitch for why I like the sous vide cooking method for the chicken thighs:

  1. Consistent juicy and tender results. With no guess work or constant checking.
  2. You can leave the chicken in the water bath for an extra couple of hours of sous vide time without affecting taste and texture if you need to attend to other stuff. (NO other cooking method does that).
  3. Easy prep. And with this recipe, easy finish. 
  4. You can cook up a batch and store them in the fridge for several days to finish later in the week. 
cut open juicy piece of chicken on plate

FAQ

What cook time and temperature give the best results for sous vide chicken thighs?

This is personal preference. I have tried two different temperatures,150F/65/6C and 165F/73.9C. I prefer 165F/73.9C (it was a little softer and less stringy), but to be honest, there was not a lot of difference. Cook time is from 1-4 hours. I use 1 1/4 hours and it’s perfect. If you are cooking chicken breasts, see the recipe notes for times and temperature.

Can I sous vide chicken thighs from frozen?

Yes, just add one hour to the cooking time. Since it’s a little harder to season frozen chicken, you can season it before you freeze it, raw, in a ziploc bag. Then it’s ready to go into the water bath.

What to serve with sous vide bone-in chicken thighs

Almost anything goes! Here are a few side dishes that pair really well.

How to make sous vide chicken thighs with peach balsamic glaze

6 raw seasoned chicken thighs on cutting board
Generously season skin on bone-in chicken thighs with salt, pepper and garlic powder (or other seasonings you like).
seasoned chicken thighs in zipper bag
Use a vacuum sealer with a sous vide bag or, to use the water displacement method (see recipe notes for how to do this), place chicken thighs in a zipper lock plastic bag.
chicken thighs in bag in water bath
Heat water bath to desired temperature and place the sealed bag of chicken in water for 1-4 hours.
bagged sous vide thighs in ice water
If saving the chicken for later (or you want to pan fry chicken for super crispy skin), plunge ziploc bag into ice water for 10 minutes. Otherwise, you can skip this step.
sous vide thighs with sauce on pan
Remove chicken from the bag and pat it dry with a paper towel.
peach jam, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard
Glaze ingredients: peach jam, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard (and optional pinch of cayenne pepper)
glaze in small bowl
Mix glaze ingredients together is a small bowl.
sous vide chicken thighs with glaze on pan
Heat broiler and adjust oven rack to upper setting. Place chicken thighs in a single layer on pan (lined with foil and sprayed with oil). Brush on most of the glaze.
broiled chicken thighs on pan
Broil skin side up for 3-4 minutes or until charred in spots.
cut open juicy piece of chicken on plate
Dig in to tender, juicy thighs.
glazed chicken thighs with green beans on plate p2

Tailor to Your Taste

Here are several variations and substitutions you can try.

Chicken options

  • You can use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs – skin on or skinless – for this recipe. Boneless will cook a bit more quickly, but still needs at least 1 hour. My preference is bone in, skin on.
  • Chicken breasts will also work fine – bone in or boneless. They need a lower temperature of 144-150F (62-65.6C). Cook them for 1.5-4 hours at the 144F/62C or 1-4 hours at 150F/65/6C).

Crispy Skin

  • If you want very crispy skin on your chicken thighs, check out this Serious Eats recipe for sous vide chicken thighs. Kenji suggests a cast iron skillet or non stick pan with a cooking time of 4-5 minutes on the skin side (after cooling the chicken in an ice bath for 10 minutes). Instructions are in the recipe notes.

Glaze substitutes and add-ins

  • Instead of peach jam (or preserves), try apricot or raspberry jam. The raspberry and balsamic blend is rich, deep and sensational. We use it in our sous vide pork loin recipe. Try sugar free jam to reduce the calories.
  • I love to add a pinch of cayenne to the glaze to give it a kick. Other options are a pinch of cinnamon or fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary
  • If you don’t have a good balsamic vinegar, you can use wine vinegar. Check the sweetness of the glaze and add a touch of maple sugar or sugar if needed.

Seasoning options

  • I keep it simple with garlic powder, kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Other options are cumin, curry powder, coriander or a sprig of thyme.

Shortcuts

  • Feel free to buy a glaze for the chicken instead of making your own (keeping in mind the one in the recipe is just 3 ingredients to stir together!)

Make ahead or freeze

  • Same day: you have a 3 hour window for cooking the chicken thighs sous vide which gives you nice flexibility
  • 3-4 days ahead: Sous vide the thighs, cool them in an ice bath for 10 minutes, then store them in the fridge for 3-4 days until ready to use. Rewarm them up in a water bath for 45 minutes at a few degrees less than the temperature our cooked them. Proceed with glazing from there. To shorten the time, bring them to room temperature, then warm them for 15-20 minutes.
  • Freeze for several months: Sous vide the thighs, cool them in an ice bath for 10 minutes, then freeze them for up to 3 months. To rewarm them, use the same technique as above but add 30 minutes, So warm for 1 1/4 hours.

Other sous vide chicken and turkey recipes to love

glazed chicken thighs with green beans on plate2
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Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Count on super juicy and tender chicken every time you make sous vide chicken thighs. No guess work. For this recipe, we're using bone-in thighs and a 3-ingredient sweet-savory glaze for a simple and delicious finish.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Sous Vide
Servings: 3 (or 2 larger portions)
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • Sous Vide equipment

Ingredients

  • 2.25 pounds (1kg) bone in, skin on chicken thighs, Note 1 about 6 thighs
  • seasonings: kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Note 2
  • garnish: chopped fresh parsley optional

Peach Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup (118ml) peach jam or preserves, Note 3
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (good quality)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

  • PREPARE SOUS VIDE BATH: Fill water in the sous vide container as per manufacturers instructions. Set the temperature to 165F/73.9C (for soft, moist tender) and allow water to heat to that temperature. Note 4.
  • PREPARE CHICKEN: Generously season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic pepper. Fold back top of sous vide bags about an inch to create a flap (this ensures no food touches the top of the bag where it gets sealed). Insert the thighs in a sous vide bag, ensuring no overlap. Unfold the flap and vacuum seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Note 5 for ziploc and displacement method.
  • COOK CHICKEN SOUS VIDE: When temperature has been reached, submerge the bag with the chicken into the sous vide bath. Cover for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 4 hours. I do 75 minutes.
  • MAKE GLAZE: While chicken is cooking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.
  • GLAZE AND BROIL THE CHICKEN:
    °Prepare pan lined with foil and sprayed with oil.
    °Heat oven to BROIL setting and place oven rack a few inches from heat source (top of oven).
    °Remove chicken from water bath and place in a bowl of ice water for 8-10 minutes. This will cool down chicken and allow more time to broil and glaze it without affecting texture and doneness.
    °Then remove chicken from bag and pat dry with paper towel. Note 6. Brush on most of glaze on both sides of chicken and place on pan Reserve 2-3 tablespoons for final drizzle.
    °Broil chicken, skin side up, for 3-4 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Add additional glaze if desired. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley.

Notes

  1. Chicken options: You can use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs – skin on or skinless – for this recipe. Same time and temp. Chicken breasts will also work fine – bone in or boneless. They need a lower temperature of 144-150F (62-65.6C). Cook them for 1.5-4 hours at the 144F/62C or 1-4 hours at 150F/65/6C).
  2. Seasoning options: You can use any seasoning you like. Good options are cumin, curry powder, coriander or a sprig of thyme (or dried). 
  3. Glaze substitutes: Instead of peach jam, try apricot or raspberry jam. Or for a shortcut, buy a glaze like teriyaki. To lower calories, try a sugar-free jam in the glaze. 
  4. Sous vide temperature: You can also sous vide the thighs at 150F/65.6C for a meaty texture and a little chewier. 
  5. Displacement method using a ziploc plastic bag: Place chicken in ziploc bag. Lower bag into water (which will push air out) just until seal is above water line. Seal bag. 
  6. To get crispy skin: Before glazing and broiling, heat cast iron skillet or non stick pan to medium high. Add a teaspoon or two or oil. Place chicken, skin side down and press down with spatula or fingers to allow skin the crisp up for 4-5 minutes. Keep peeking until it’s well browned. Just serve with glaze or brush on glaze and broil for a couple of minutes.
  7. Make ahead or freeze:
    • Same day: you have a 3 hour window for cooking the chicken thighs sous vide which gives you nice flexibility
    • 3-4 days ahead: Sous vide the thighs, cool them in an ice bath for 10 minutes, then store them in the fridge for 3-4 days until ready to use. Rewarm them up in a water bath for an hour at a few degrees less than the temperature our cooked them. Proceed with glazing from there. To shorten the time, bring them to room temperature, then warm them for 20 minutes. 
    • Freeze for several months: Sous vide the thighs, cool them in an ice bath for 10 minutes, then freeze them for up to 3 months. To rewarm them, use the same technique as abov
 
Nutrition values are estimates. To save on calories, use a sugar free jam in the glaze.   

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 739 Calories from Fat 432
% Daily Value*
Fat 48g74%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 10g
Monounsaturated Fat 20g
Cholesterol 283mg94%
Sodium 647mg28%
Potassium 637mg18%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 47g94%
Vitamin A 308IU6%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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