Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Honey Garlic Glaze
Sous vide turkey breast with a simple dry brine offers the moistest, most tender, and incredibly flavorful turkey along with crispy skin!
Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by KitchenBoss Global. The recipe in this article is made with KitchenBoss sous vide products, which I received for free. Like all content on this site, all opinions are mine and based on my own experiences. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase any products through those links, I’ll receive a very small percentage of commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you as always for reading and cooking with StreetSmart Kitchen.
I can’t believe I am going to say this—I miss turkey! A LOT!
You see, turkey is practically everywhere in the US, but it’s rare in Asia, very rare. It is just not available in Hong Kong. Like no parts of turkey can be found here, let alone a whole bird. Although people here generally don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, being the World City of Asia, Hong Kong does import turkey as seasonal food for expats with a very, very high price tag.
To address my serious turkey cravings this year, I went out of my way and managed to acquire a boneless turkey breast with skin on. It cost me a small fortune, but with the sous vide cooking method and a great recipe, it was worth every penny!
If you are in a place where turkey is accessible year round, please make this sous vide turkey breast, because it’s not only going to be the juiciest and most tender turkey breast you’ve ever had but also because it’s easy and mostly hands-off.
- Why Sous Vide Turkey Breast?
- Turkey Breast Sous Vide Time and Temperature
- Honey Garlic Glaze—Not Your Average Gravy
- Gear You Need
- How to Sous Vide Turkey Breast Step by Step
- How to Store Sous Vide Turkey Breast
- Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Honey Garlic Glaze
Why Sous Vide Turkey Breast?
Similar to chicken breast, it’s very easy to turn a turkey breast into something that tastes like cardboard—chalky, dry, tasteless. Next thing you know, you are soaking it with gravy just so you can reluctantly swallow it. The sous vide cooking method, however, will change your experience forever.
Sous vide allows you to cook turkey breast slowly and safely at a significantly lower temperature than any conventional cooking method. And low temperature makes for insanely moist and juicy lean white meat that no other cooking methods can possibly achieve. We are talking about cooking the turkey at <150°F. But wait—that’s below the minimum cooking temperature of 165°F for poultry recommended by the FDA, right? How is it safe? The short answer is time. (My long and detailed answer about sous vide food safety can be found here.) By adding the cooking time, poultry like turkey breast can be fully pasteurized at such a low temperature, resulting in mind-blowingly tender and juicy meat. Guess who can hold that precise temperature for a long time? Your sous vide machine!
While that’s the primary reason for sous vide turkey breast, it also comes with a few more advantages.
- No babysitting, no stress. Once you submerge your turkey breast in the preheated water bath, feel free to walk away because…
- It’s almost impossible to overcook turkey breast sous vide, even if you leave it in the water bath longer than the set cooking time.
- That said, you can keep your turkey breast warm in the water bath until ready to finish and serve.
The sous vide cooking bag holds all that intensified turkey juice, which can be used to make your gravy or an unconventional honey garlic glaze if you are intrigued. More on this later.
Turkey Breast Sous Vide Time and Temperature
Now you know that cooking turkey breast at a low temperature is perfectly safe, precisely what temperature should you set and for how long?
The guys at ChefSteps cook their turkey breast at 131°F. They adjust the cooking time to achieve different texture results. J. Kenji López-Alt wrote in Serious Eats about the temperatures he had tried. I personally have not cooked any poultry in the sous vide at a temperature lower than 140°F, but I am inclined to try 131°F next time.
For this recipe, I cooked my turkey breast at 145°F for 2.5 hours, and I was very happy with the result. For your convenience, here is a list of the curated sous vide temperatures and times for cooking turkey breast.
Sous Vide Turkey Breast Cooking Time-and-Temperature Chart
|Temperature||Time||Texture and color|
|131°F (55°C)||8 hours||Tender, steaky, slightly pink|
|131°F (55°C)||18 hours||Luscious, juicy, slightly pink|
|131°F (55°C)||24 hours||Succulent, fork-tender, slightly pink|
|138°F (59°C)||3 hours||Soft, moist, pale pink|
|145°F (63°C)||2.5 hours||Tender, juicy, and white|
|152°F (67°C)||2 hours||Traditional roast texture, moist, and white|
Honey Garlic Glaze—Not Your Average Gravy
Turkey breast cooked sous vide is ridiculously tender and juicy. Frankly, no gravy is needed. As I said earlier, if you feel particularly intrigued, there’s something unique I would like to share.
Chef Rich Torrisi is renowned for the roasted turkey served in one of his restaurants in NYC, which has earned the name of Torrisi Turkey. The turkey breast is wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before roasting in the oven. Then it gets coated with a honey garlic glaze to finish in a 425°F oven for a golden look before serving. The glaze itself can be passed around the table as an additional sauce. Here’s how to make it.
For each 3-pound turkey breast, you’ll need approximately 4 heads of garlic. The best way to cook and soften that much garlic is by roasting the heads with some olive oil in the oven at 375°F for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out the cloves, and purée the flesh in a food processor. Add honey, salt, and pepper to taste. You can make the glaze ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to use.
Alternatively, you can also roast the garlic on the stove. (That’s my only choice since I don’t have an oven.) Please note that it does require that you peel the garlic first. Follow my instructions to remove garlic skin effectively. You can use store-bought, peeled garlic cloves to save some time. Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with 1 cup of olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until the garlic cloves are wrinkly and soft. Remove from heat and let cool. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic cloves into a food processor to purée. Add honey, salt, and pepper to taste. By the way, did you realize that you just made some really nice garlic-infused oil, which is perfect for sous vide foods?
Once your honey garlic glaze is ready to go, there are two ways of using it with your sous vide turkey breast.
- Brush it all over the turkey breast and finish it in the oven. Your turkey will be golden.
- Dilute it with the turkey juice from your sous vide cooking bag and turn it into a gravy.
- On a side note, I also enjoyed spreading the paste-like glaze on my sandwich bread.
Gear You Need
Alrighty, we are about to get down to business. Here is what you need to make the most tender and juicy turkey breast consistently, not just for Thanksgiving!
- A sous vide immersion circulator. You can use any sous vide machine. The one you see in this post is the KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker, which I dig a lot. You may order from KitchenBoss Global’s official site to enjoy a 10% discount or pick it up on Amazon.
- A cooking vessel. Either a large pot or a sous vide container.
- A cast-iron skillet. I use it to sear my turkey breast on the stove post sous vide. You can also use it as a roasting pan to finish your turkey in the oven.
- Optional: a vacuum sealer. You certainly can sous vide turkey breast in a Ziploc bag. But if you sous vide frequently, I’d highly recommend you invest in a vacuum sealer.
- Optional: sous vide bags. To use a vacuum sealer, you do need vacuum sealer bags. Or the reusable sous vide bags with a hand pump do wonders!
How to Sous Vide Turkey Breast Step by Step
Step 1: Brine.
Wet or dry? It depends on your preference. For me, I found that a simple dry brine is easier to do and doesn’t take up too much space in my tiny fridge. If you are curious about turkey brine, here’s a great writeup, including easy turkey brine recipes.
For this recipe, I adapted the dry brine from my Easy Grilled Whole Turkey. Rub a combination of the following spices and herbs all over your turkey breast and refrigerate it for 12 hours.
For each 3-pound (or so) turkey breast, you’ll need 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley.
Step 2: Set up Your Sous Vide.
Preheat a water bath using your sous vide machine to 145°F or to your desired temperature according to the time-and-temp chart. The KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker I use allows me to set the cooking temperature and time all at the same time.
Step 3: Get the Turkey Breast Ready for Sous Vide.
While the water is preheating, pat the brined turkey breast dry with paper towels. Please note that you do not need to rinse off the dry brine. All you need to do is to remove the liquid on the surface.
Now, if your turkey breast comes intact like mine, simply roll it up and tie it with butcher’s twine.
If you have two breasts, you could just leave them as is. However, in order to cook the turkey breast evenly, a better way is to pack them together top to tail, meaning the fat end of one breast goes against the skinny end of the other one. Then tie them up with butcher’s twine to secure the shape.
Place turkey breast in a vacuum sealer bag, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and vacuum seal. Submerge the turkey breast in the sous vide water bath and set the timer.
Alternatively, implement the water displacement method if using a plastic bag such as a Ziploc bag.
Step 4: Make the Honey Garlic Glaze.
The oven method: Toss garlic heads (4 heads for each 3-pound breast) with a little olive oil on a baking sheet. Roast them at 375°F in an oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out the cloves into a food processor to purée. Add honey, salt, and pepper to taste.
The stovetop method: Place peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Cover with olive oil and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until the garlic is soft and wrinkly. Let cool and transfer the garlic cloves into a food processor to purée. Add honey, salt, and pepper to taste. Reserve the garlic-infused oil for other uses.
Step 5: Finishing and Serving.
To finish in the oven:
Once the turkey is cooked sous vide, put it in an ice bath immediately to cool for 5 minutes. This is to prevent overcooking the turkey since you are going to finish it off under the broiler at a high temperature. Once it’s chilled, you can also leave the turkey breast in the fridge for up to five days before finishing and serving.
Preheat the broiler on high. Remove the turkey breast from its cooking bag; reserve the cooking juice. Pat the breast dry and brush the honey garlic glaze liberally on all sides. Broil for 5 minutes until the glaze is golden. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and serve thinly sliced, hot or cold.
Add the turkey cooking juice to the leftover honey garlic glaze and pass it around the table as a gravy.
To finish on the stove:
For a skin-on turkey breast, pat it dry. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until really hot. Add a knob of butter, sear the skin side for 60-90 seconds until golden brown. Remove from heat. Slice, drizzle with the honey garlic glaze, and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. Enjoy!
If your sous vide turkey is refrigerated, reheat it in a 130°F water bath for about an hour, then follow the above instructions to finish it on the stove. If your turkey doesn’t have skin, once warmed up, simply slice and serve with the honey garlic glaze and fresh thyme.
How to Store Sous Vide Turkey Breast
Before finishing, the sous vide turkey breast can be stored in your fridge for up to five days. This is a great make-ahead recipe if you’ve got a crowd to serve. Make sure that the turkey breast is rapidly chilled in an ice-water bath. Do not open the cooking bag until you are ready to finish and serve.
After finishing, if I know I’ll certainly have leftovers, my favorite way is to divide the turkey breast into individual portions and vacuum seal each portion. From there, I can either store it in the fridge for five days or so or leave it in the freezer for up to two years.
To reheat, defrost and drop the bag in boiling water for 6 minutes. Easy breezy! See, this is another reason for investing in a vacuum sealer. It makes food storage safer and more efficient.
Here you have it, a step-by-step guide to the most amazing sous vide turkey breast. Whether it’s your Thanksgiving turkey or not, the result is guaranteed. Why not enjoy it anytime you want? Need some ideas on what to do with the turkey breast?
Here are a few side dish ideas to complete a fantastic turkey meal:
Zesty Garlic Almond Green Beans, Sous Vide Carrots, Garlic Herb Hasselback Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Gluten-Free Sage Mushrooms, and Cauliflower Gratin.
For leftover turkey, check out my 6 Exciting Leftover Turkey Recipes! They are quick, simple, and delicious indeed.
Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Honey Garlic Glaze
- Prep Time: 12 hours, including marinating
- Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Total Time: 14 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 6–8 servings 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Sous Vide
- Cuisine: American
Sous vide turkey breast with a simple dry brine offers the moistest, most tender, and incredibly flavourful turkey taste along with crispy skin!
- 1 turkey breast, boneless, skin-on (about 3–4 pounds)
- fresh thyme
- fresh sage leaves
For the dry brine:
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
For the honey garlic glaze:
- 4 heads of garlic, peeled
- Olive oil
- 1/6 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients for the dry brine. Rub it on all sides of the turkey breasts. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
- Once ready to cook, preheat water to 145°F (63°C) and set the timer for 2.5 hours. (I use KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker.)
- In the meantime, pat the brined turkey dry with paper towels, roll it up and tie with butcher’s twine. For two separate breasts, pack them together top to tail with the fat end of one breast going against the skinny end of the other one. Then tie them up with butcher’s twine to secure the cylinder shape, like a roulade.
- Place the prepared turkey breast in a vacuum seal bag and vacuum seal or in a Ziploc bag and use the water displacement method to submerge the turkey under the water. Cook for 2.5 hours.
- One hour before the turkey is done, make the honey garlic glaze. Toss garlic heads with a little olive oil and roast at 375°F in an oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out the cloves into a food processor to purée. Add honey, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Once the turkey is done, transfer it into an ice-water bath to chill, about 5 minutes. Switch the oven setting to broiler. Remove the turkey breast from its cooking bag, reserve the cooking juice. Pat the breast dry and brush the honey garlic glaze liberally on all sides. Broil for 5 minutes or until the glaze is golden. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, chopped sage leaves, and serve thinly sliced, hot, or cold.
To make the glaze and finish the turkey on the stove:
Follow steps 1 to 4 above.
Step 5: Peel garlic. Over medium-low heat, simmer the garlic in one cup of olive oil for 15-20 minutes until the garlic cloves are wrinkly and easy to poke through with a fork. Set aside and let it cool. Transfer the garlic cloves into a food processor to purée. Add honey, salt, and pepper. Reserve the garlic-infused oil for other use.
Step 6: Remove turkey from its cooking bag. Pat it dry. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until really hot. Add a knob of unsalted butter, sear the skin side for 60-90 seconds until the turkey skin is golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat. Slice, drizzle with the honey garlic glaze and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. (If your turkey is refrigerated, warm it up in a 130°F water bath for about an hour before searing.)
- Reserve the turkey cooking juice and add it to the leftover honey garlic glaze. Combine well and pass around the table to enjoy it as a gravy.
- The nutrition facts do not include the honey garlic glaze.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 244
- Sugar: 5.9g
- Sodium: 417.5mg
- Fat: 6.1g
- Saturated Fat: 0.9g
- Carbohydrates: 6.8g
- Fiber: 0.3g
- Protein: 41.6g
- Cholesterol: 93.9mg
Do you take the string/netting off before or after going into the oven to finish?
You can take it off before going into the oven. Your turkey breast should stay in shape in the oven.
That looks incredibly moist and succulent, I need to get a sous vide machine!!
This turkey looks perfectly cooked and the honey and garlic glaze sounds amazing.
Perfect holiday main for a smaller group. And a great change from boring roasted turkey.
Finally a truly easy turkey recipe! I am making it next week!
What a stunning delicious looking entree! WOW