Thanksgiving Hack: Cook Your Turkey Sous Vide

Maybe you like your Thanksgiving turkey dry and bland. I get it. There’s something deeply traditional about leaving the bird in the oven for hours and hours. Perhaps you like the symbolism of the turkey taking up oven space, or maybe overcooked poultry gives you an excuse to overload it with gravy. Perhaps you’ve given up on bird altogether( one year, my mom served lobster for Thanksgiving. “No one likes the turkey anyway! ” ). If you have beloved turkey-cooking traditions, that’s totally cool. But consider this: You can have a platter of turkey that’s juicy, flavorful, and delicious. You only have to cook it sous vide.

It seems counterintuitive, I know. Sous vide–a cook technique that involves sealing food inside a plastic purse and then cooking it in a water bath–seems ailment suited for something as cumbersome as a Thanksgiving turkey. It seems too fancy and too French for a holiday that celebrates America. And for those who aren’t are applied to wielding a sous vide wand in the kitchen, the technique can seem intimidating, even overly precious.

Let me assure you: There is nothing easier or more foolproof than sealing your turkey into a plastic baggie, dropping it into a pot of water, and walking away. Truly. That’s it. And when you return, you’ll have the best damn turkey you’ve ever tasted.

High-Tech Turkey

Sous vide is a fancy French route of saying “cooked in a vacuum.” You take some food, set it in a vacuum-sealed baggie( or, for the less pretentious cook, Ziploc works too ), and leave it to slow cook in a bath of warm water until it’s tantalizingly tender. Unlike cooking by oven or grill, the bath method distributes heat evenly from edge to centre, and the vacuum purse seals in moisture. You can cook everything from poultry to lobster to eggs to corn on the cob sous vide. But the method is especially well suited for turkey.


“Turkey breasts are actually really tough muscle, so they’re a perfect candidate for sous vide, ” says Grant Crilly, the head chef and co-founder of food and technology company ChefSteps. “Even as a cook, I used to hate turkey breasts. They’re simply tough and a pain to cook. Ever since I’ve been cooking them sous vide, I’ve turned into a turkey breast man.”

About the Author

Leave a Comment: