How to Cook Sous Vide

person slicing a meat on brown wooden board

Sous Vide Explained

Sous vide is a cooking method oftentimes used in high-end restaurants and portrayed on popular cooking shows. The method works to produce consistently excellent flavors and textures, all while maintaining the food’s natural integrity. Sous vide, which is French for under vacuum, is a technique where food is vacuum-sealed and cooked in water maintained at a consistent, precise temperature for a precise period of time. This process helps the food to reach a perfectly cooked consistency the entire way through, unlike other cooking methods.

The sous vide cooking method is extremely nutritious, as it works to preserve the natural nutrients found in the food. It inherently seals in moisture and flavor, so flavor enhancers, tenderizers, or extra seasonings—like a lot of extra fats—aren’t typically needed. Sous vide meals also don’t require any type of preservatives. Other benefits associated with this cooking method include its convenience as well as the quality of food produced.  

How to Cook Sous Vide

If you’re interested in learning how to cook sous vide, you’re not alone. Luckily, it’s a relatively easy process to learn, and once you get the process down, it helps to produce consistently cooked and delicious food every time! Learn more about how to cook using the sous vide technique below.  

What utensils will I need?

Ensuring that you have the proper equipment is the first step to using this cooking technique. A large pot is used for the sous vide bath and is where you will do the majority of the cooking. Plastic or Ziploc-style bags are also essential to this cooking method, as they are used to seal in the natural moisture and flavors throughout the cooking process. If you’re looking to cook via sous vide, you will need to purchase an immersion circulator, which is a device that heats the water to a precise temperature and works to circulate that temperature throughout the pot or cooking vessel being used.

You may also be interested in purchasing a vacuum sealer, although this isn’t required for getting started. A vacuum sealer is a great option when you find yourself cooking vegetables or other foods that must be cooked at a consistently higher temperature, and it is also great for storing food!

What setup and preparation are involved with cooking sous vide?

Although traditional cooking methods oftentimes require a large amount of setup and preparation, according to Anova Culinary, the sous vide method does not. As mentioned previously, the sealed bags work to preserve the natural integrity of the food, so no marinades, flavor enhancers, or extra seasonings are typically required. Even leaner and tougher cuts of meat will retain their natural moisture. To get started, you’ll simply clip your immersion circulator to a large pot or container (if you purchased one), then preheat your water to the desired temperature. Once preheated, you can begin the cooking process!

What goes into packaging the food?

As mentioned previously, sous vide means under vacuum in French. This is the most important element when it comes to packaging the food properly. Removing the surrounding air in the plastic bag used works to properly seal the food and prevent evaporation. If you own a vacuum sealer, you can use it in this scenario. You can also use the water immersion method, where you slowly lower the packaged food into the pot of water. As it lowers, the water’s pressure will push the remaining air out of the bag, and you can properly seal it.

How long do I cook and at what temperature?

The cooking temperature, as well as the amount of time spent cooking, are the two most important elements of cooking sous vide, as they determine the final flavors and texture of the dish. Depending on the amount of doneness desired, the cooking temperature may vary. When cooking sous vide, you have to cook long enough to reach your desired temperature and eliminate any of the potential bacteria found in the food. However, you also have to be cognizant not to overcook the food, as many proteins tend to break down and turn mushy after an extended period. Depending on the food you plan to cook, the desired cook time and temperature can most likely be determined from a quick internet search.

How do I know the food is cooked thoroughly?

Ensuring the food is cooked thoroughly is very similar to doing so with traditional cooking methods. For meats and proteins, using a meat thermometer may be a great option to ensure the food has reached a consistent temperature throughout. Although the sous vide cooking method helps to ensure consistently cooked food, there won’t be any type of char or searing on the food with this cooking method. Because of this, many people tend to slightly undercook their food so they can finish it off on a hot cast-iron skillet or grill.

What cleanup is involved?

The cleanup involved with the sous vide cooking method is minimal. There wouldn’t be any pans, aside from the grill or skillet if you chose to use it, that require cleaning. You will simply drain the water from your pot and dispose of the sous vide bag you used to cook the food. Other than that, it’s as simple as enjoying your meal.

If you have a knack for cooking, the sous vide cooking method may be a great option for you! Learn more or get started today.