Sous Vide vs Smoking Chicken: Head to Head

Sous Vide vs Smoking Chicken: Head to Head

For a while, I have been playing around with my Sous Vide circulator (Anova Nano) and have found it to be an amazing device, especially for cooking fish.

One year, I decided to par cook a ton of chicken to take along with us on vacation. I put it in the sous vide pouches – along with garlic, olive oil and a bunch of other herbs – and let it slowly cook for a few hours along with the seasonings. Then, when we got to the vacation rental, we gave the chicken a quick sear to crisp it up, and it came out great.

Still, I wanted to find out how similar (or different) sous vide chicken is to chicken that only cooked on the smoker.

I decided to throw together two batches of one of my go to recipes, Roadside Chicken, for this test.

Here’s the ingredients and a link to the original recipe, which comes from Bryan S on the Virtual Weber Bulletin Board:


  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veg oil
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs Sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 tbs white sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt

I poured half the marinade, along with a couple boneless chicken thighs into each Food Saver bag, then sealed them up.

One bag went in to the immersion bath for an hour and a half at 165 degrees (recommended by the Anova app). The other bag of chicken went into the refrigerator.

A few hours later, we were ready to grill! I grilled the chicken over direct heat on my ceramic grill – just a few minutes on each side. When the chicken came off, I chopped it up and handed out pieces to my testers (read: family and bbq guests).

The chicken was all super moist and tender, but none of my testers could tell them apart at all. I had been afraid that all the vinegar in the sous vide bag would overwhelm the chicken, but the flavor was no different than the refrigerated bag.

It seems pretty clear that, at least for chicken, sous vide doesn’t affect it much. None of us could taste any difference between the chicken that spent a few hours cooking in the sous vide bath, and the chicken that went straight on the grill.

Let me know about your experiences sous viding and bbqing. Hope you enjoy!

For reference, here are links to the barbecue gear and supplies I use.
  • Ratings Guide: Reviews of the Best Grills, Smokers, Accessories, Sauces, and Rubs
  • Price Tracker: Crowd-sourcing the Lowest Prices Online for Ingredients, Supplies and Disposables

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