This Brined Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Sage Spice Rub Recipe ensures a moist, tender and flavorful turkey.
I’ve never been a fan of white turkey meat because it’s usually dry and less flavorful than dark meat. So, I was curious if cooking turkey sous vide could produce a softer, more tender turkey breast. I actually made this pre-Thanksgiving turkey meal for a friend who’s on a soft food diet. I was hoping she could enjoy turkey if it was soft and tender enough.
If you’re not familiar with sous vide, it’s basically a giant thermostat that maintains a set temperature in a pot of water so that whatever you’re cooking is cooked at an exact temperature, consistently throughout the food you’re cooking.
The standard temperature that turkey is typically cooked to is 165 degrees. However, breast meat cooked to this temperature is dry.
For my first try, I cooked a boneless turkey breast at 145 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.
This is the result. This was definitely moister and more tender than the typical roast turkey breast.
For my second try, I decided to first brine the turkey breast to provide more flavor throughout the meat as well add juiciness, then sous vide it. In addition, I stuffed this turkey breast with a sage spice rub for aromatics. This time, I cooked the turkey sous vide at 133 degrees for 4 hours. To finish the turkey breast, I pan seared the turkey, skin side down, to try to replicate a roasted turkey look.
You might think it’s unsafe to eat turkey that has been cooked to only 145 or 133 degrees, but it’s actually just as safe to eat as turkey cooked to 165 degrees, as long as the turkey is cooked long enough at those temperatures to pasteurize it. Serious Eats explains it all here.
I preferred the texture of the turkey cooked at 133 degrees over the one cooked at 145 degrees because it was really moist (there is less water loss when cooked at a lower temperature). If you prepare it ahead of time, simply pour some hot turkey stock over the sliced turkey and it will warm it through just enough. As you can see, the meat turned out really moist and tender. I shared this Brined Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Sage Spice Rub with the chefs in the kitchen at work and it got their seal of approval, including one chef who doesn’t even like turkey :).
Sous vide turkey breast is a great option to try if you want a softer, more tender turkey breast, not just for people who aren’t white meat eaters like me, but also for people who are on a soft food diet and want to enjoy turkey for Thanksgiving or any other time of the year.
Brined Sous Vide Turkey with Sage Spice Rub
- 1 whole turkey breast boneless, with skin
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
- 8 cups water use 1/2 vegetable stock or white wine if you like
Sage Spice Rub
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Mix together brine ingredients in a large bowl until salt dissolves. Place turkey breast in brine, cover, and refrigerate 6-8 hours.
- Mix together Sage Spice Rub.
- Remove turkey breast from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Lay breast flat and spread Sage Spice Rub all over. Roll up breast into a cylinder and tie with kitchen string at 1" intervals to hold its shape.
- Seal in a sous vide bag and cook at 133 degrees for 4 hours. Remove from bag.
- Heat some oil in a skillet and brown turkey, skin side down. Slice and serve.
Brine adapted from Alton Brown. Sage Spice Rub adapted from Serious Eats.