Basic Sous Vide Chicken Breast: To Brine or Not to Brine?

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Emily Farris and Jeff Akin are Feed Me Creative — a culinary content studio in Kansas City's historic West Bottoms that specializes in recipe development, food styling, and photography. (We're also really good eaters!)

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Recipe Temp 146 F / 63.3 C
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To brine or not to brine? That was the question when we decided to try cooking basic boneless, skinless chicken breast with the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker. Some proteins, like salmon, work better with the sous vide method if they’re brined, or soaked in a salt water bath, before cooking. And our experience led us to believe that brining any bird you plan to eat is generally a good idea. So, we decided to experiment to find out the best way to get perfectly-cooked, juicy chicken breast with sous vide cooking. For the first try, we brined the chicken breast overnight, for about eight hours, and then cooked it in the sous vide at 146°F (63°C) for an hour and a half. On the second try, we brined the chicken breast a bit too long (okay, totally by accident) and cooked it in the sous vide at 146°F (63°C) for two hours. The last time, we didn’t brine the breast, but added a little olive oil and seasoning to the sous vide bag before cooking it at 146°F (63°C) for two hours. Read on for our results and the perfect basic sous vide chicken breast recipe (if you can even call it that). Results : The chicken breast that was brined for eight hours was great, but the thickest pieces weren’t quite cooked all the way through at an hour and a half. The chicken breast that was brined for more than eight hours was way too salty and the texture was way off, but since it was cooked for two hours, even the thickest parts were cooked all the way through. The chicken breast that wasn’t brined and was just seasoned before cooking was just as good, if not better, than the chicken that brined for eight hours, and was cooked perfectly all the way through. It was juicy and flavorful. Conclusion : Brining boneless skinless chicken breast when cooking with the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker is completely unnecessary — as long as you add a little olive oil and seasoning to the bag first. And it’s perfect when cooked at 146°F (63°C) for two hours. (It’s even better if you throw it on the grill for a couple of minutes to get some nice grill marks on it.)
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Ingredients for 2

  • 2 (8- to 10-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Directions

  • Step 1

    Set the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 146°F (63°C).

  • Step 2

    Place each chicken breast in its own medium zipper lock or vacuum seal bag. Divide the olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper between the bags. Seal using the water immersion technique or a vacuum sealer on the moist setting.

  • Step 3

    Place the bags in the water bath and set the timer for 2 hours.

    • Finishing Steps

    • Step 1

      When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath. Remove the chicken from the bag, let it rest for five minutes, then slice and serve with a lightly dressed arugula salad, with rice, or save it for later.

    • Step 2

      NOTE: For a little extra flavor and visual appeal, grill the cooked chicken breasts for about a minute on each side over high heat.

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146 F / 63.3 C Recipe Temp
Recipe Time
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