Sous Vide: What Is This Type Of Cooking?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 3, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

So, you’re looking into how the French cook it. Then sous-vide is a MUST to have under your belt.

Sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) is a cooking method where food is sealed in an airtight plastic bag, cooked in a water bath at a very low temperature. The intention is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture.

This guide is all about what sous vide is, how it works, and the many benefits of this type of cooking.

What is sous-vide

In this post we'll cover:

What Is Sous Vide and Why Should I Care?

What Is Sous Vide?

Sous vide is a fancy French phrase that translates to “under vacuum.” It’s a cooking technique that involves vacuum-sealing food in a bag and then cooking it in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath. It’s a great way to get consistent results with your food, no matter what you’re cooking.

Why Should I Care?

If you’re looking for a foolproof way to cook your food, sous vide is the way to go. Here’s why:

  • You’ll get perfect results every time. No more poking with a thermometer or cutting and peeking.
  • You can cook fast-cooking foods like steaks and chicken breasts with ease.
  • You can cook tough cuts of meat like pork shoulders and legs of lamb with more flexibility.
  • You can get results and textures that you can’t get with traditional cooking methods.
  • You can cook at lower, more stable temperatures, which means less moisture loss.
  • You can cook food to rare or medium-rare and still have it be perfectly safe to eat.

Essential Sous Vide Gear for the Home Cook

Immersion Circulators

If you want to get into sous vide cooking, you’ll need an immersion circulator. These handy devices are inserted into a pot or tub of water and heat it up to a precise temperature. Plus, they’re much more affordable than they used to be – you can get a great one for under $250. Here are some of the most popular models:

  • Breville Joule Sous Vide: Available on Amazon, Crate & Barrel, and Sur La Table.
  • Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker: Available on Amazon,, and Best Buy.
  • Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Pro: Available on Amazon,, and Best Buy.
  • Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator: Available on Amazon, Walmart, and

Cambro Containers

If you’re serious about sous vide cooking, you’ll want to invest in a Cambro container. These plastic containers are great insulators and come in a variety of sizes, so you can find one that fits your needs. Plus, a large one can hold up to 5 full racks of pork ribs – perfect for dinner parties!

Cast Iron Skillet

Once you’ve cooked your meat sous vide, you’ll want to give it a nice, deep brown crust. And there’s no better way to do that than with a cast iron skillet. Plus, they’re super affordable – you can get a great one for under $20.

Other Gear You’ll Need

To get started with sous vide cooking, you’ll need a few more things. First, you’ll need some zipper-lock freezer bags – make sure to use freezer bags, as the seal on thinner bags can break over long cook times. You might also want to invest in a vacuum sealer, which will ensure water-tight seals time after time. We recommend the Nesco VS-12 Deluxe Vacuum Sealer and the Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer Pro. Both are reasonably-priced and easy to use.

Cooking the Perfect Steak, Chicken, and Eggs

Sous Vide Steaks: Edge-to-Edge Perfection

Are you tired of spending a fortune on a steak only to have it turn out overcooked? With sous vide, you can kiss that worry goodbye! This cooking method ensures that your steak will come out perfectly cooked every time. All you have to do is set the temperature to 130°F (54°C) and you’re guaranteed a medium-rare steak, no matter your experience level.

Here’s what you get with sous vide steak:

  • Juicy, tender, and flavorful steak
  • Edge-to-edge perfection
  • A rich, delicious crust

Ready to get started? Check out this guide to sous vide steak for all the details.

The Tenderest Chicken Breasts You’ve Ever Tasted

When it comes to conventional cooking methods, chicken can be tricky. You have to cook it to temperatures that are higher than its optimal serving temperature, which can lead to dry, stringy chicken. But with sous vide, you can safely cook chicken at temperatures as low as 140°F (60°C). This means you get juicy, tender chicken every time!

Here’s what you get with sous vide chicken:

  • Juicy, tender chicken
  • Safely cooked at lower temperatures
  • Perfectly cooked every time

Head over to this guide to sous vide chicken for all the details.

Eggs Cooked Eggs-actly the Way You Want Them

Eggs are the perfect food for sous vide cooking. With careful monitoring and precise temperature control, you can cook your eggs to perfection. From just-set-enough-that-they-break-when-you-touch-them, to a rich, fudge-like consistency, to hard-boiled with no hint of chalkiness in the yolk, sous vide eggs are the way to go.

Here’s what you get with sous vide eggs:

  • Perfectly cooked eggs every time
  • A range of textures from soft to hard-boiled
  • Flawlessly egg-shaped poached eggs

Check out this guide to slow-cooked, sous vide–style eggs for all the details.

The World’s Most Carrot-y Carrots

Sous vide carrots are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. When you cook them at 183°F (84°C), the carrots tenderize in their own juices, which you can then reduce into a glaze for maximum flavor. If you’re a carrot lover, you won’t want to miss this recipe for sous vide glazed carrots.

Here’s what you get with sous vide carrots:

  • Tender, juicy carrots
  • Maximum flavor
  • A delicious glaze

Head over to this recipe for sous vide glazed carrots for all the details.

Smart Ways to Make Sous Vide Cooking Easier

No Vacuum Sealer? No Problem!

If you’re looking for a way to marinate your meat, prevent freezer burn, or cook sous vide without breaking the bank, then the water displacement method is your answer! All you need is a zipper-lock freezer bag and a pot or tub of water. Here’s how it works:

  • Place your food in the zipper-lock bag and seal it, leaving the last inch or so open.
  • Lower the bag into the pot or tub of water.
  • As the bag gets lowered, water pressure will push air out of the bag through the small opening.
  • Just before the bag is completely submerged, seal off the opening and pull the bag out of the tub.

Keep Your Bags Submerged With a Binder Clip

Floating bags can be a real pain when it comes to sous vide cooking. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: a binder clip! Here’s what you do:

  • Clip the binder clip to the bottom of the bag.
  • Slip a heavy spoon into the mouth of the clip.
  • The head of the spoon will keep it from falling out, and the weight should keep your food submerged.
  • For extra stubborn bags, you can add a few spoons.

Say Goodbye to Evaporation With Ping-Pong Balls

Don’t let evaporation ruin your sous vide cooking! The easiest way to prevent it is to add a layer of Ping-Pong balls to your water bath. Here’s why:

  • The Ping-Pong balls will float on the water’s surface and insulate your bath.
  • They’ll help steam to condense and drip back down.
  • The balls will conform to the shape of your container and allow you to easily drop bags in and lift them from the bath mid-cook.
  • Plus, they’re completely reusable!

Everything You Need to Know About Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking is a great way to get the most out of your food, but it can be a bit intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started!

What is Sous Vide?

Sous vide is a cooking method that uses precise temperature control to get the perfect results every time. You put your food in a sealed bag, then cook it in a water bath at a very low temperature for a long period of time. This allows you to get the perfect texture and flavor without having to worry about overcooking.

What are the Benefits?

Sous vide cooking has a lot of benefits, including:

  • Perfectly cooked food every time: No more worrying about overcooking or undercooking your food!
  • More flavor: The low temperature and long cooking times help to bring out the natural flavors of your food.
  • More nutrients: Because the food is cooked at a lower temperature, more of the nutrients are retained.
  • Hands-off cooking: You can just set it and forget it!

What are the Downsides?

Sous vide cooking isn’t perfect, and there are a few downsides you should be aware of:

  • Longer cooking times: Sous vide cooking can take a lot longer than traditional methods, so it’s not great for quick meals.
  • Lack of a good crust: You won’t get the same thick, crispy crust you would with traditional cooking methods.
  • More equipment: You’ll need a precision cooker and a vacuum sealer in addition to all your other cooking tools.

Can I Get a Good Crust?

Yes! You can get a nice, browned crust with a combination of a hot skillet and a propane torch. It won’t be as thick as a traditional crust, but it will still be delicious.

When Should I Season My Meat?

It’s best to season your meat immediately before cooking, or after cooking sous vide and before searing. If you season it too early, the salt can have a negative effect on the texture of your meat.

What Happens if I Cook for Too Long?

Sous vide cooking is very forgiving, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking your food. That said, it’s best to stick to the recommended cooking times for each cut and temperature range. And never cook for longer than four hours if cooking below 130°F.

The Evolution of Sous Vide Cooking

Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford

Back in the day, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, was a real wild card. He was always trying to figure out ways to cook food in a machine he had created to dry potatoes. And one day, he hit the jackpot! He cooked some meat and it was not only edible, but it was perfectly done and had a great taste.

Industrial Food Preservation

The 1960s saw the development of industrial food preservation, which involved pressurizing food with or without heat. This method concentrated the flavors of fruits, even without cooking.

Georges Pralus and Bruno Goussault

In 1974, Georges Pralus, a French chef, discovered that when he cooked foie gras using this method, it kept its original appearance, didn’t lose fat, and had a great texture.

Bruno Goussault, the French chief scientist of Cuisine Solutions, also worked on the development of sous vide in the 1970s. He pioneered the marriage of vacuum sealing with low-temperature cooking. Pralus cooked at higher temperatures.

The Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking has some pretty sweet benefits:

  • Food is cooked evenly and consistently
  • Food retains its moisture and flavor
  • Food is cooked at a lower temperature, so it’s healthier
  • Food can be cooked in advance and stored for later use
  • Food can be cooked in bulk, so it’s great for large gatherings

How to Cook the Perfect Steak Sous Vide

What is Sous Vide?

Sous vide is a fancy French cooking technique that involves sealing food in sturdy plastic bags and then cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature. This method of cooking helps to retain the juices and aroma of the food, and also prevents overcooking.

The Benefits of Sous Vide

Sous vide cooking has many benefits, including:

  • Precise temperature control: The water bath temperature is the same as the target cooking temperature, so you can be sure that your food is cooked to perfection.
  • Even cooking: Even with irregularly shaped and very thick items, sous vide cooking ensures that the food is cooked evenly throughout.
  • Low-temperature cooking: Cooking at lower temperatures helps to preserve the texture and flavor of the food.
  • No air: By excluding air, you can store cooked food in the fridge for longer, and also prevent oxidation of the food.

How to Cook the Perfect Steak Sous Vide

Cooking steak sous vide is a great way to get the perfect steak every time. Here’s how to do it:

  • Get your steak: Start by getting a good quality steak.
  • Prep the steak: Season your steak with salt and pepper.
  • Seal the steak: Place the steak in a sturdy plastic bag and seal it.
  • Cook the steak: Place the bag in a water bath and set the temperature to the desired final cooking temperature of the steak.
  • Serve the steak: Once the steak is cooked, serve it with your favorite sides and enjoy!

The Science of Cooking Temperature

The Basics

Cooking temperature is a tricky thing. It’s not always the same for every food, and it’s not always easy to get it just right. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • The temperature you need to cook food at varies depending on what you’re making. For example, a 15 millimetres (0.59 in)-thick piece of fish can be cooked at any temperature from 44 °C (111 °F) to 61 °C (142 °F).
  • For something like an egg, where the proteins denature at different temperatures, it’s important to be more precise and consistent with the temperature. For example, confit egg yolks are usually cooked at 63 °C (145 °F).
  • The time it takes to cook something depends on the initial temperature, the thickness and shape of the food, and the temperature of the bath.

Getting it Right

So, how do you make sure you get the temperature just right? Here are a few tips:

  • Check the temperature of the food before you start cooking.
  • Set the temperature of the bath a few degrees lower than the target temperature.
  • Stop heating immediately when the center of the food reaches the target temperature.
  • Let the food rest for a bit so the residual heat can finish cooking it.
  • If you keep heating, you’ll end up with overcooked food.

The Bottom Line

Cooking temperature is an important part of getting the perfect dish. It’s not always easy, but with a bit of practice and these tips, you’ll be a master chef in no time!

The Pros and Cons of Sous Vide Cooking

The Pros

Sous vide cooking is a great way to get the most out of your food. Here are some of the benefits of this cooking method:

  • You can cook food to the exact temperature you want, ensuring that it’s cooked perfectly every time.
  • It’s a great way to preserve the flavor of your food, as it’s cooked in its own juices.
  • It’s a relatively hands-off cooking method, so you don’t have to worry about constantly checking on your food.

The Cons

Unfortunately, sous vide cooking has its drawbacks too. Here are some of the things to consider before you decide to give it a go:

  • You won’t get that delicious browned crust that you get from other cooking methods, like grilling or searing.
  • You can’t cook food at temperatures above the boiling point of water, so you won’t get the same flavors and textures as you would with other methods.
  • You’ll need to do some extra work to get the desired results, like searing or grilling your food after it’s been cooked sous vide.

What You Need to Know About Food Safety and Sous Vide

Time and Temperature

Cooking sous vide can be a tricky business. You need to make sure you’re hitting the right temperature and keeping it there for the right amount of time. If you don’t, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk of food poisoning.

For example, some sous vide fish recipes require a temperature of 55°C (131°F). That might not sound like a lot, but if you keep it there for long enough, it can be safe to eat.

Compromised Immunity

If you or someone in your family has a compromised immune system, you should avoid any food that hasn’t been properly pasteurized. That means no sous vide recipes that don’t hit the right temperature for the right amount of time.


Clostridium botulinum bacteria can grow in food without oxygen and produce a deadly toxin. To avoid botulism poisoning, you need to make sure you’re cooking sous vide in the right conditions.

In general, food that’s heated and served within four hours is considered safe. But if you’re cooking meat to tenderize it, you need to make sure it reaches a temperature of at least 55°C (131°F) within four hours and stays there for long enough to pasteurize it.


Once you’ve pasteurized your food, you can store it for up to two weeks at 3°C (37°F) in a vacuum-sealed bag. Make sure you don’t expose it to air, though, as that could reactivate any botulism spores.

Endocrine Disruptors

Some plastics release estrogenic chemicals when heated, and there’s some debate about how dangerous this is. Plus, there’s evidence that heterocyclic aromatic amines and bisphenol-A can migrate from the plastic container into the food when you’re cooking sous vide.

So, if you’re going to cook sous vide, make sure you’re using the right kind of plastic and that you’re following all the safety guidelines.


Sous Vide Vs Reverse Sear

If you’re looking to get the most out of your steak, you’ve got two options: sous vide or reverse searing. Sous vide steaks come out of their bags wet, making it hard to get a good sear. Reverse searing, on the other hand, gives you a better crust and a deeper, roastier flavor. But sous vide is still the safer bet if you want to be sure of your results.

So, which one should you choose? If you’re looking for a juicy, tender steak with a nice crust, reverse searing is the way to go. But if you want a foolproof method, sous vide is the way to go. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to end up with a delicious steak.

Sous Vide Vs Pressure Cooker

Sous vide and pressure cookers are two popular cooking methods that offer unique advantages and disadvantages. Sous vide is a cooking technique that involves submerging food in a water bath that is heated to a precise temperature. This method allows for even cooking and ensures that food is cooked to the desired doneness. Pressure cookers, on the other hand, use steam to cook food quickly. This method is great for tenderizing tough cuts of meat, but it can also overcook food if not monitored closely.

When it comes to deciding between sous vide and pressure cookers, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to ensure that food is cooked evenly and to the desired doneness, sous vide is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to tenderize tough cuts of meat, then a pressure cooker is your best bet. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which method works best for your needs.


If you’re looking for a way to make restaurant-quality meals at home, sous vide cooking is a great option. With precise temperature control, you can get perfect results every time, whether you’re cooking steaks, pork shoulder, or even vegetables. Plus, you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment – just an immersion circulator and a pot or tub of water. So don’t be intimidated – give sous vide a try and you’ll be a CULINARY GENIUS in no time!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.