Perfection! Sous vide turkey breast is impossible to beat for moist, tender, succulent turkey – EVERY time. Amazing results with this method – guaranteed.
And don’t just think Thanksgiving. Turkey can be a light summer dinner, too, when served with lighter sides and accompaniments such as peach chutney, mango salsa, savory peach sauce or cranberry relish.
If you’ve read any of our other sous vide recipes, you’ll know that I’m completely sold on sous vide for its easy, walk-away, stress free benefits. Once you master a few simple rules, you are pretty much sure to achieve tender, moist meat with precise control over the done-ness you choose. Unlike the oven or grill, the temperature is the same from edge to edge and not, for example, overcooked on the outside and under cooked in the middle. Incredibly reliable.
As for turkey, I hate, hate, hate dry-as-a-bone turkey that you can choke on if not soaked in gravy. With traditional methods, a whole turkey is tough to get right as the different parts of the turkey cook at different rates. Turkey breasts are easier, but you often still have to hold your breath when you slice into it. With the sous vide method, there are no surprises.
For a few tips and things we’ve learned in the last couple of years about sous vide cooking (after lots of practice and research), take a look at our post on 9 Really Good Sous Vide Recipes.
Temperature for Sous Vide Turkey Breast
I do suggest experimenting with your preferred ‘cook’ from super soft and moist to the more traditional. There are some wonderful websites that show clear pictures of the different levels of ‘cook’ to help you choose. Here is one from Serious Eats on Sous Vide Turkey Breast. For this recipe, I used a temperature of 144F for 2 3/4 hours and the turkey was outstanding – flavorful, tender, juicy and delicious. Note that you can do 2-3 half-breasts at the same time if you have a large enough vessel. If you prefer your turkey more well done with no pink at all, cook it at 145-146F.
Great Sides for Turkey Breast
Everyone has his/her favorite sides for turkey on Thanksgiving or other times. Here’s a few of ours:
- Vegetable Quinoa Stuffing (pictured)
- Homemade Vegetarian Stovetop Stuffing
- Savoury Stuffing
- Much Loved New and Old Thanksgiving Recipes (includes gravies, sides, stuffings, cranberry sauce and more)
Turkey can be seasoned, sealed in a vacuum sealed bag and refrigerated for a couple of days before cooking. Also, if cooking the same day, you have an additional 2 hour window to keep the turkey in the sous vide bath (up to 5 hours total) without affecting the temperature and texture.
Sous Vide Turkey Breast Recipe
- 1/2 turkey breast, bone-in, skin-on (about 2.5 pounds) - or 2 pound boneless, skin on.
- 1 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
- seasonings: kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh or dried rosemary (or thyme)
For searing turkey after sous vide cooking:
- 2 tsp oil with high smoke point (e.g. canola, avocado, extra light olive oil, corn, peanut oil or ghee/clarified butter)
- additional salt, pepper
- I use an oven/box-type sous vide machine. If you use an immersion circulator sous vide, follow manufacturer's instructions for operation. PREPARE SOUS VIDE BATH: Fill water in sous vide machine as per manufacturers instructions (not too high). Set the temperature to 144F (or 145-146F if you want no pink) and allow water to heat to that temperature.
- PREPARE TURKEY: To remove bone from turkey breast, slice turkey meat off as close to the bone as possible. You can leave the turkey on the bone if you prefer. Reserve bone for making broth for gravy if desired. Season: Rub oil or butter on all sides of turkey breast. Generously season all sides with kosher salt and pepper, a little garlic powder and fresh chopped (or dried) rosemary or thyme. Place turkey in bag: If using a vacuum sealed bag, fold back top of bag about an inch to create a flap (this ensures no food touches the top of the bag where it gets sealed). Insert turkey breast and shape it to an even thickness (to cook more evenly). Unfold flap and vacuum seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Turkey can be refrigerated in the bag for a couple of days. (Note 1).
- COOK TURKEY SOUS VIDE: When temperature of sous vide machine reaches 144F (or 145-6F), submerge bag into water. Cover and cook for minimum 2 3/4 hours and a maximum of 5 hours. Remove turkey from sous vide machine and remove from bag. Reserve juices to make a gravy if desired (there will not be a lot of juices though). Pat turkey dry with a paper towel.
- MAKE IT LOOK BEAUTIFUL (OPTIONAL): The turkey is perfect to eat as is, but if you want a pretty presentation, you can flash sear it in a pan or grill it skin side down on high heat 1-2 minutes. First, season turkey lightly again on all sides. To sear skin side: Heat oil in a heavy pan to high/medium high (about 8 out of 10). Place skin side down, pressing into pan on all corners to fully brown the entire skin side for a total of 1-2 minutes. To grill: Grill skin side down on high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- SLICE AND SERVE: Slice horizontally and serve with gravy if desired, cranberry orange relish and other sides.
- Instead of a vacuum sealer, you can use a heavy zipper-lock bag. Place turkey breast in bag. Slowly lower bag into water. The pressure of the water will press air out of bag. When bag is just above water line and air is mostly out, seal (zip up) bag.
- Make Ahead: Turkey can be seasoned, sealed in a vacuum sealed bag and refrigerated for a couple of days before cooking. Also, if cooking the same day, you have an additional 2 hour window to keep the turkey in the sous vide bath (up to 5 hours total) without affecting the temperature and texture.
No sous vide? Here’s an oven-roasted and grilled turkey breast recipe
If you like the dark meat of turkey thighs, here’s a great sous vide recipe: