Flavorful, tender chicken thighs with a perfectly crispy skin are possible with this recipe for sous vide chicken thighs. See why this is one of my favorite sous vide recipes!
👍 Recipe Features
- Juicy chicken with crispy skin - The best of both worlds here. Cooking the chicken to an exact temperature and sealing in the juices maximizes flavor. Pressing the thighs flat helps deliver a perfectly crispy skin from edge to edge.
- Great for meal prep - Once these are cooked in the sous vide, you'll keep then in the fridge until dinner night. Only 10 minutes of cooking brings this to a finish, which makes this a great prep-ahead meal when you know you'll be in a rush for dinner.
- Surprisingly easy! This recipe is remarkably easy for the flavor you get at the end. Once you've deboned the chicken, there's very little technique required. A simple pan sear is all it will take to deliver a dinner that will wow your whole family.
- Chicken thighs - Get some normal chicken thighs from the grocery story, then debone them with a boning knife at home. Taking the bone out helps us to get the flat tops that we need in order to achieve perfectly crispy skin. If your butcher will debone them for you, all the better!
- Kosher salt & black pepper - I avoid fine salt and it may dissolve into the meat as it cooks. Kosher salt, as well as a coarse ground black pepper, will sit on the surface of the chicken, leaving the flavor where it will hit your tongue.
- Garlic powder - For food safety and flavoring purposes, I prefer generously seasoning my thighs on each side with garlic powder over adding garlic cloves. Since fresh garlic cloves need to be cooker hotter than 165° to get that roasted taste we want, you'll instead get that harsh taste from fresh garlic here. I prefer garlic powder to get the taste we want in the end.
- Fresh thyme - The fresher the better here. I recently started an herb garden in my backyard, and I pick these stems immediately before adding them to the bag. There should be two sprigs for every chicken thigh for the best flavor.
- Cold butter cut into small cubes - The butter here serves two purposes. First, it adds some velvety flavor to the mix (fat is flavor). But secondly, when you cool the contents after the sous vide cook, the melted butter helps to provide a layer of protection to help preserve your chicken. Because of that, you can sous vide these a couple days before you serve them for dinner.
- Vegetable oil - You want a neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point for searing. Olive oil, for instance, both has a lot of flavor and has a low smoke point, so that's not a good choice. Vegetable oil or canola oil works best, but you can sub in something like avocado oil or grapeseed oil as well.
Quick tip: Invest in a good boning knife (affiliate), which really makes the job of deboning the chicken thighs easy. Make sure to get all the bones and cartilage, including the little piece that often isn't fully connected to the bone at the top.
The great thing about cooking sous vide chicken thighs is an amazing level of control over the doneness of your meat. The chicken cooks to the exact temperature of the water it's surrounded by, but not a degree over.
|145°||1.5 - 2 Hours||Firm, juicy thighs. A little on the tougher side.|
|165°||1.5 - 2 Hours||Tender, juicy thighs. I recommend this setting.|
|165°||4 - 8 Hours||Fall of the bone tenderness.|
Fill sous vide container (affiliate) about ¾ of the way with water and preheat to 165°. Make sure there is more than enough to completely submerge your chicken thighs. Meanwhile, prep your chicken thighs.
Begin by carefully deboning the chicken thighs by sliding the boning knife close to where the bone and the meat come together. Keep the knife close to the bone, and never cut toward your fingers. Make sure to get the little knob of cartilage that often sits just off the bone too.
Next, pull the skin out and cut off any bit that hangs off the side of the meat and discard. Season the under (non side) of the meat with kosher salt and black pepper then season the skin with garlic powder. Repeat until all thighs are prepped.
Quick tip: I use food service gloves (affiliate) one one hand when handling raw chicken to help keep my hands clean. The other I hand is what I use to handle the knife and seasonings. This is known as the "wet hand, clean hand" method.
Place chicken thighs in a vacuum sealer bag, skin side down. Make sure to lay them side-by-side in a single layer, not stacking them. Flip the bag over and add cold butter and fresh thyme on the skin side, scattered throughout. Using a vacuum sealer (affiliate), seal the contents tightly and remove all air.
Quick tip: I seal the bag twice, once when it vacuums, then again about ½ inch lower. This simply helps in case one of the seals breaks for any reason during the cook.
Add the bag to the water bath and cook for 1 ½-2 hours. The chicken will cook to exactly 165º, but not a degree over. At the end, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and a couple large cups of ice cubes.
Remove the chicken from the sous vide bath and place it directly in the ice bath for 10 minutes to cool completely.
Remove and place skin side down on a baking sheet. Place another baking sheet on top and weight it down with something heavy (I use a couple cast iron pans (affiliate)). Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight is preferred.
Quick Tip: Use a sous vide container (affiliate) with a lid to help retain the heat. Also, drape the edge of the bag over the side of the container and close the lid over top. This will hold the bag from floating into the water circulator of your sous vide.
Preheat a pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Remove chicken thighs from the bags and pat dry with paper towels. The dryer they are, the better they'll sear.
When the pan is warm, add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Press the thighs down into the pan to help the skin gear a good sear. Cook until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes, Flip over and cook until warm, about 2 more minutes.
Quick tip: Don't overcrowd your pan by cooking too many thighs at once. If needed, cook the chicken thighs in batches. You can keep the cooked batches warm in the oven by keeping on "keep warm" setting while cooking the remaining batches.
💭 Top Tip
Since the finishing step cooks in in just 10 minutes, this is a perfect dinner for meal prepping ahead of time.
Know you need a quick dinner on a Tuesday night? Make these thighs in the sous vide on Sunday, then pop them in the fridge until dinner night. On Tuesday, they'll cook up in just 10 minutes for a quick and easy dinner!
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🥗 Side Dishes
These sous vide chicken thighs go great alongside a green veggie like roasted broccoli or sauteed brussels sprouts. You could just go with a classic caesar salad as well. I always like to throw some frozen yeast rolls in the oven to go along side, too.
👪 Serving Size
I recommend 1-2 chicken thighs for servings, here, depending on hunger levels. I'm usually a two thigh guy myself, while my wife can get full on one with a couple of sides. The recipe is written for 4 servings, but you can scale it up using the recipe card.
Since you're basically cooking these to order, leftovers should be minimal. That said, you can keep leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. I find the best way to reheat them is in the air fryer (affiliate), which helps to keep the skin a bit crispy. Otherwise, you can pop them in the microwave for about 90 seconds.
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Crispy Sous Vide Chicken Thighs
- Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 people 1x
Juicy, succulent chicken thighs with perfectly crispy chicken skin is easier than you may think! Just let the sous vide do the work and pan sear the skin to crispy perfection!
- 8 chicken thighs
- kosher salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- Garlic Powder (enough to season the skins well)
- 2 tbsp cold butter (cut into small cubes)
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil, or other high heat cooking oil.
- Fill sous vide container about ¾ of the way and preheat to 165°.
- Debone chicken thighs by cutting between the meat and bone with a boning knife. Be sure to remove the knob of cartilage as well. Season underside of chicken with kosher salt and black pepper. Flip over and square the chicken skin, cutting off any parts that hang past the meat. Season skin with garlic powder.
- Place thighs skin side down in a vacuum sealer bag, side by side in a single layer. Keep the thighs as flat as possible, which will help us get that crispy chicken skin at the end. Flip over and scatter cold butter and fresh thyme in bag. Place bag in vacuum sealer to remove all air and seal tightly.
- Add bag to preheated sous vide bath and cook for 1.5-2 hours. When nearing the end, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and a ice cubes. Remove chicken from the sous vide bath and place it immediately in the ice bath for 10 minutes.
- Remove chicken from ice bath and place skin side down on a baking sheet. Top with another baking sheet and weight it down with something heavy (I use a couple cast iron pans). Place in fridge overnight.
- Preheat a pan over medium heat. Add vegetable oil. Remove thighs from bag and pat dry. Add thighs, skin side down, to pan and cook until skin is golden brown and crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Flip over and cook 2 minutes more, to heat the underside of the chicken. Let rest 5 minutes then serve.
- I use food service gloves (affiliate) when handling raw chicken to help keep my hands clean.
- I seal my sous vide bag twice. Once when it vacuums (using the "vacuum and seal" function), and again about ½ inch below the original seal. This helps had a little security in case one of the seals breaks for any reason.
- Use a sous vide container (affiliate) with a lid to help retain head. Also, drape the edge of the bag over the side of the container and close the lid over top. This will hold the bag from floating into the water circulator of your sous vide.
- Don’t overcrowd your pan by cooking too many thighs at once. If needed, cook the chicken thighs in batches. You can keep the cooked batches warm in the oven by keeping on “keep warm” setting while cooking the remaining batches.
- This recipe contains affiliate links
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Sous Vide
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Sous Vide Chicken Thighs, Crispy Chicken Skin, Sous Vide Chicken Recipe