How to sous vide a turkey

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Preparing a perfectly cooked Thanksgiving turkey is not exactly an easy feat. Many turkeys come out too dry or too bland. A good turkey is moist, the meat is flavorful, and the skin is crispy and well-seasoned.

How do you achieve the perfect turkey when you’re busy cooking a buffet of side dishes, desserts, and dinner rolls on Thanksgiving? You could try cooking your turkey sous vide. Sous vide turkey, when cooked at lower temperatures, loses less moisture than the oven roasted alternative version.

The seasoning infuses into the meat, and you end up with a tender, flavorful turkey that’s evenly cooked throughout. If you decide to sous vide your holiday bird, it’ll make it so the turkey isn’t monopolizing the oven all day. Sous vide also provides a bit more freedom because you can cook it for a much longer range of time than if you were to cook it in the oven, and you won’t mess it up by leaving it in the water bath for an extra hour or two.

On the other hand, there are a few hurdles to overcome when cooking a turkey sous vide. The skin is perhaps the biggest one, as the skin’s texture is also moist after it’s been in the water bath. You can solve this problem by removing the skin beforehand and cooking it in the oven separately, or by quickly roasting or frying the turkey after you sous vide.

There are several different ways to sous vide a turkey. Some of the methods are pretty painless, while others are probably more trouble than they’re worth. In case it’s not obvious, you’ll need a sous vide machine of some kind (here are some of our favorites).

This is our favorite method of how to sous vide a turkey.

How to sous vide a turkey

What you’ll need

  • A turkey (10-15 lbs)
  • A few 2-gallon zipper bags
  • A sous vide machine
  • A large container for your water bath
  • Your choice of seasonings (we used 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp fresh ground pepper, but you can also add herbs, a bit of garlic powder, or other seasonings)

How to Sous Vide a Whole Turkey

Step 1: Clean the turkey. Remove the gizzards, clean the inside and outside of the turkey, and pat dry. Step 2: Cut the turkey into parts (two breasts and two legs).

This is a pain, and it takes a bit of prep time. It does, however, save you time at the dinner table because carving is much easier. Cutting up the turkey in advance also allows you to cook the breasts and legs at different temperatures.

After you finish cutting, it’s a good idea to save the leftover bones and meat for gravy. Optional: For best results, remove the skin from the turkey to crisp in oven later. Step 3: Prepare your water bath.

Fill a large container with water and heat your water bath to 145 degrees. If you want your turkey breasts even more tender, you can cook them at lower temperatures. According to ChefSteps, you can cook turkey breast at 131 degrees, and it’ll be ready in around eight hours.

Step 4: Season your turkey. Rub seasoning all over your turkey. Keep in mind that the seasoning will infuse into the meat much more than it would if you were roasting, so don’t over-season.

Step 5: Bag your turkey. Place the legs in one bag, and place the breasts in a separate bag. Step 6: Sous vide the turkey.

Cook the turkey breasts and legs in the 145 degree water bath for 8 to 12 hours. Ideally, you can place it in the water bath the night before thanksgiving and leave it overnight. Step 7: Finish the turkey.

Crisp the skin by frying the pieces or by broiling them in the oven on high for 5 to 10 minutes.

Optional: For best results, take the skin you removed before you sous vide the turkey and pan fry it, or roast it in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Step 8: Enjoy your moist and delicious sous vide Turkey.

Editors’ Recommendations

11-in-1 Multi Cooker With Sous VideThis excellent, space-saving multi cooker can be used to create almost any meal. It can steam, boil, deep fry, roast, saute, grill, slow cook or, bake. What’s more, you can use it as a ‘sous vide’ water bath to cook tender and juicy chicken, perfectly poached fish or meat that literally falls off the bone, just like the top gourmet chefs. We’ve used it to roast a whole chicken with potatoes, to sous vide deliciously moist and tender meat, to slow-cook a casserole, to steam fresh vegetables and to fry a panful of sweet potato chips. Very easy to use, with a clear LCD display and timer so your meal is ready when you are. For sous vide cooking you’ll need a vacuum bag sealer, also available on this website. - More Info

Sage BEG800SIL The One Precision Poacher  The One Precision Poacher Take the guesswork out of your Saturday morning breakfast with the Precision Poacher from Sage by Heston Blumenthal. With its precise temperature control and probe, you can master low-temperature techniques as well as flawless simmering, poaching, scrambling and sous vide cooking. This smart kitchen addition even comes with a delay start function that automatically begins the cooking cycle at your chosen time, so you can wake up to your favourite eggs, or arrive home to succulent sous vide steak. Additional features: * 12-hour cooking time * PFOA-free, non-stick 2.5L pot with glass lid * Capacity of 6 boiled or poached eggs, or 4 200g fillet steaks * 1000W of power - More Info - EAN: 09312432025294

Vacuum Bag SealerExtend the shelf life of all sorts of foods by keeping them in a vacuum-sealed environment that doesn’t harbour germs and bacteria. Quick and easy to use, the vacuum bag sealer sucks all the air out of plastic bags using a powerful pump before sealing them. It can also be used purely as a sealer. Use it for store cupboard ingredients such as rice, pasta and biscuits and for fresh produce that you want to store in the fridge or freezer, from raw meat and cheese to fish and vegetables. It comes with full instructions on how to use and a chart showing the shelf life for products in normal packaging and vacuum packaging. Poultry that normally lasts 2-3 days in the fridge can keep up to 8 days, sliced meat that keeps for 4-6 days in the fridge up to 25 days!The bags can be taken straight from the fridge or freezer and put in a microwave or boiling water, making them perfect for cooking food sous vide. The sealer comes with 10 re-usable strong bags ready to use, and spare bags are available separately. - More Info

Stasher Sealing Pouches - 2 x SmallThe unique Stasher self-sealing bag is a genuine alternative to the plastic bags that are doing so much damage to our planet. The only non-plastic bag in the world that’s airtight and self-sealing, it can replace literally hundreds of plastic bags. Made of 100% pure platinum food-grade silicone, you can use it to wrap sandwiches, to chill or freeze leftovers, or even for ‘boil in the bag’ and sous vide recipes. The patented airtight seal keeps food fresh and uncontaminated, with all its nutrients and flavours locked in. You can also use the bag for taking toiletries through customs at the airport, or for keeping your keys and mobile safely dry at the beach. Due to its unique design and high-quality manufacture, the Stasher will eventually pay for itself because it’s endlessly reusable – saving you and the planet the cost of hundreds of plastic bags. - More Info

Stasher Sealing Pouches - 2 x SmallThe unique Stasher self-sealing bag is a genuine alternative to the plastic bags that are doing so much damage to our planet. The only non-plastic bag in the world that’s airtight and self-sealing, it can replace literally hundreds of plastic bags. Made of 100% pure platinum food-grade silicone, you can use it to wrap sandwiches, to chill or freeze leftovers, or even for ‘boil in the bag’ and sous vide recipes. The patented airtight seal keeps food fresh and uncontaminated, with all its nutrients and flavours locked in. You can also use the bag for taking toiletries through customs at the airport, or for keeping your keys and mobile safely dry at the beach. Due to its unique design and high-quality manufacture, the Stasher will eventually pay for itself because it’s endlessly reusable – saving you and the planet the cost of hundreds of plastic bags. - More Info

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