What Is Sous Vide? And 8 Best Sous Vide Recipes

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Recipes.net Team Published: November 24, 2020 Modified: May 20, 2021
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Sous vide may sound foreign, but don’t let that stop you from learning about this amazing cooking method! While it’s been around for decades, it was mostly restaurants and professional chefs that were beholden to its wonders. Good thing, sous vide machines and cookers have started to become more affordable and accessible to the public. Home chefs can now easily try this ingenious cooking technique in the comfort of their own kitchen.

And in this article, we’ll share with you all there is to know about the magic of sous vide cooking! Learn the answer to what is it is, how it’s done, and why we recommend you give it a try. We’ll also show you 8 of the best sous vide recipes you can make at home! Serve family fresh meals with these recipes in mind. And with that, let’s dive right into the wonders of this amazing cooking method.

What Is Sous Vide?

What does sous vide mean? In the literal sense, sous vide is just French for “under vacuum”. Although this does not give the total explanation, it does give us plenty of context.

Basically, sous vide is a cooking method where food is placed inside a plastic bag that’s vacuum-sealed shut, then cooked in temperature-controlled water. Because it’s cooked in water with regulated temperatures that don’t get higher or lower, there’s no danger of overcooking your food.

It’s also called low temperature long time (LTLT) cooking because it usually takes hours (or even days) to finish cooking the food. It’s very similar to slow cooked meals where meat or vegetables are cooked at low temperatures for long periods of time, making the dish juicy and a lot more tender. Sous vide cooking works in almost the same manner.

A Short History on the LTLT Cooking Method

While there’s a recent trend of home cooks giving sous vide a try, this cooking method has already been around for centuries. An inventor named Benjamin Thompson experimented with low pressure cooking as early as 1799, using air to roast dry potatoes. He was surprised to find that not only were the potatoes successfully cooked; they were also “perfectly done”.

Eventually, French engineers used this method of low pressure cooking to preserve dishes. They also discovered that it gave the food an added boost of flavor and texture. Throughout the years, various chefs continued to develop this method, giving way to the sous vide method of cooking we know today.

Before its recent trend, this method was mostly done by restaurants since the equipment needed to do it were expensive. A big sous vide machine used to cost up to $2000 since it could cook for up to 200 guests. So, we can’t really blame those who think that sous vide is limited to making gourmet dishes

However, nowadays, popularity of home cooking has given way to a lot of smaller, more affordable machines and cookers. Plenty of cooking machines are out there in the market now, competing for the title of best sous vide cooker. There’s the Anova and Joule sous vide, popular brands that are great choices when home cooking.

How to Sous Vide for your Family to have Quality Fresh Meals

how to sous vide

We’ve mentioned how you’ll need specific equipment when doing this cooking method. However, we haven’t yet explained how to do it, and how it actually works. And we bet what’s most important for you is, how to do sous vide at home for your family!

When doing this cooking method, food, like steak, lamb shank, or pork chop, is first placed inside a sturdy plastic bag. Then, the marinade, herbs, and other spices are also added. After that, the plastic bag is vacuum sealed, removing all the air inside. 

While others use vacuum bags (specially-made for this cooking method), you can just as easily use the more readily available Ziplock freezer bags too. If you don’t have a vacuum at home, you can just squeeze out the air using your own hands.

Either way, the important thing is that the plastic bag is properly rid of all air. If it’s not, the bag, with your food in it, will just float around in the water. And when using this method, your food must be fully submerged for it to cook evenly.

Before you do all this, though, you must have already calibrated your sous vide machine to the temperature needed to cook your food. The temperature will largely depend on what type of food you’re cooking. A medium-rare sous vide ribeye will need to be cooked at 135 to 144 degrees F for 1 to 2 ½ hours. Meanwhile, to get a well-done pork chop, the meat should be cooked at 140 degrees F for 1 to 3 hours.

Using a sous vide cooker is easy, so don’t worry. While there are those that still have buttons, other models can be easily controlled via an app on your phone! 

What Is a Sous Vide Machine?

sous vide machine immersion circulator water bath

To keep the water’s temperature at a constant, you will need a sous vide machine to regulate it. For home chefs, there are two popular kinds you can use: a water bath and an immersion circulator.

A water bath is a covered square container with insulated walls that prevent the loss of heat. It is also sometimes referred to as a water oven. In terms of capacity, regular-sized water baths can heat 9 to 11 liters of water. Although, there are big ones that can contain up to 56 liters of water! If you’re just cooking meals at home, the regular-sized ones should be enough to hold your steaks and ribs.

On the other hand, an immersion circulator is a portable electric device that has a pump or a propeller. This pump or propeller heats the water and maintains its temperature all throughout cooking. Immersion circulators are popular because they’re smaller and can be stowed away when not in use. You can also pair them with any sous vide container you may have, be it a pot or a plastic container. You’ll most often see them used by home or even professional chefs, attached to a deep stainless steel pot.

What Can You Sous Vide?

You can sous vide everything (almost)! Most of the time, this cooking method is great for cooking protein-rich meats like beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and even fish. However, vegetables like potatoes, asparagus, and carrots are just as wonderful candidates. Even eggs can be cooked with this method! Indeed, sous vide egg bites are tasty snacks you should definitely try.

This method of cooking is great for when you’re making steaks with veggies and mashed potatoes on the side. We have a delicious Oven Grilled Sirloin Steak that will pair brilliantly with Golden Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Vegetable Medley. You can cook these dishes sous vide-style. For the steak and vegetables, you can give the food a quick sear right after, to get the same texture.

Sous Vide vs Traditional Cooking Methods

sous vide vs traditional cooking methods

Now you know what foods taste great when cooked in this method. But what is it with sous vide that makes dishes extra delicious? It’s all to do with the controlled temperature and gradual, long cooking process. 

When you’re using traditional cooking methods, heat flows from the source, to the cookware, then the food. Cookware can be anything, from a pan skillet, to a pot, and even an oven. Though, with the latter, it’s just the heat from the air that cooks your dish. It’s not the actual fire from, say, a grill or a burner. 

With traditional methods, the pan’s heat is much, much hotter than your food, which lets you cook the dish. However, this also gives you only a small window of opportunity to cook your food to perfection. Remove it from the heat earlier, and your food is undercooked. Remove it too late, and it’s overcooked. This is why it can get quite tricky to whip up a perfectly-cooked steak. To gauge its doneness, you can either use a thermometer to check its internal temperature or cut it open.

With sous vide, the water’s temperature never goes past the levels required to perfectly cook your meal. Your food never gets hotter than water, and so it will take significantly longer to cook. Although, this also means that the window of time (that your dish is perfectly cooked) is extended. Because the food is cooked in regulated temperatures over long hours (even days), there won’t be any fear of overcooking. 

Bottom line: The food will never get hotter than the water it’s submerged in, thanks to regulated, low temperatures. So, it will be perfectly cooked all throughout! Say goodbye to tough meat and tasteless veggies with this ingenious cooking method.

Why Sous Vide?

Now that we know how it works, it won’t be difficult to imagine this amazing cooking method’s benefits. There’s a lot that sous vide cooking can offer that other traditional cooking techniques can’t. 

One major advantage to this method is flavor. Cooking food in low temperatures for a long time brings out flavors from meat and veggies you never could have expected. You could transform regular ribeye cuts into a dish that tastes like it was served at a 5-star restaurant. Your usual plates of vegetables will taste totally different once you’ve tried this method. 

Another is ease and convenience. This cooking method is pretty hands-off, since you can leave your food in the water with no fears of overcooking. Just place your food in the plastic bags and vacuum-seal them shut. Once that’s done, you can leave the machine on its own while you go ahead and attend to other errands. You can also cook in large batches if your container or water bath is big enough.

The only disadvantage this cooking method may have is with presentation. Because there’s no contact whatsoever with a heated surface, sous vide dishes may come out looking a little bland. But not to worry, since a quick sear on the pan will make your steaks look as delicious as ever! 

8 Best Sous Vide Recipes

Given all we’ve just said about this cooking method, we’re sure you’re already convinced to try delicious sous vide recipes! Fortunately, we have eight amazing recipes that cover the basic dishes you can make using this method.

Sous Vide Steak

Sous Vide Steak Recipe

There’s a reason why this cooking method is extremely popular when whipping up a delicious steak dish. That’s because it’s easy to overcook it when you’re not being careful. However, when you have a handy water bath or immersion circulator, you won’t have to worry about overcooking steaks ever again! 

This recipe shows you how to cook perfect, well-marinated medium-rare ribeye steaks using an immersion circulator. It takes around 1 hour to cook, and 4 hours if you prefer a medium-done or well-done steak. 

Recipe for inspiration: Sous Vide Steak

Sous Vide Pork Chops

Sous Vide Pork Chops, Sous Vide Pork Chops, sous vide

The thing with pork chops is that they tend to get firm when overcooked. But not to worry! With this delicious recipe, you’ll be serving tender and juicy pork chops for dinner in no time.

This recipe makes for 4 succulent bone-in pork chops, seasoned with aromatic herbs and the classic pepper-and-salt combo. A 1 hour cooking time on the machine gives you wonderfully tender pork meat, perfect for pairing with Roasted California Blend Vegetables. Don’t forget to quick-sear your chops and you’re all set for dinner.

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Pork Chops

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Sous Vide Salmon

Sous Vide Salmon recipe, Sous Vide salmon, sous vide, salmon

This time, we’re serving fresh seafood with our delicious Sous Vide Salmon Recipe! Simple Grilled Salmon tastes amazing with its slightly charred skin. But you’ll be surprised with how divine your salmon dish will end up tasting when you try this cooking method.

In this recipe, you’ll be cooking four salmon fillets for only 45 minutes. Fish cooks faster than meat like beef and pork, after all. And like our other recipes, you can season the fillets with herbs for a more tasty dish. You can also quick sear the salmon fillets for a more attractive food presentation. Either way, no foodie has been let down just yet with this salmon recipe at hand.

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Salmon

Sous Vide Chicken Breast

Sous Vide Chicken Breast Seared Slow Cooked

sousvideguy.com | Flickr

Chicken breasts have the bad repute of being dry and tough. Thankfully, sous vide is here to save the day. When it comes to cooking chicken breasts, nothing triumphs the sous vide method. With this recipe, we’ll marinate chicken breasts in flavorful olive oil, lemon, and rosemary herbs. 2 hours of low temperature long time cooking will give you the juiciest and tastiest chicken breasts you’ll ever have.

Once you’re done searing them, you can have them as is, or use them for other delicious recipes as well! Your chicken breasts will taste amazing stuffed with spinach and cream cheese, or tossed into a creamy mustard leek sauce.

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Chicken Breast

Sous Vide Eggs

sous vide eggs

If you thought only meat and veggies can be cooked LTLT-style, then you’re wrong. Sous vide eggs are also a favorite dish amongst professional cooks and home chefs. And it’s not hard to understand why. With this recipe, you’ll be eating heavenly poached eggs your taste buds could only dream of! 

With just 13 minutes of cooking, you’ll have fudge-like yolk and fully set egg whites that taste and feel gourmet. These eggs are the perfect add-ons for an extra-tasty breakfast meal like our Low-Carb French Tortilla Toast Recipe. If you want your egg yolks to be runny rather than set, you can recalibrate your machine to cook at 145 degrees F for around 45 minutes to 1 hour instead of the quick 13 minutes.

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Eggs

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Sous Vide Brisket

sous vide brisket

The usual brisket dish is either smoked or grilled. While those cooking methods give you that classic brisket taste and feel, it can also make your dish quite dry. But not to worry! With this recipe, you’ll get the moist, juicy, and tender brisket of your dreams. 

In case your loved ones hold another barbeque, surprise them with this brisket that’s bursting with absolute flavor. This recipe serves for 6 hungry people, and is so satisfying you’ll surely be making this dish time and time again. 

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Brisket

Sous Vide Ribs

sous vide ribs recipe

You’ll never make ribs the same way again with this recipe at hand! Sous vide ribs are also a popular dish when it comes to low temperature long time cooking. Like the other meat dishes cooked in this method, your ribs will come out more tender and juicier than ever before. And even better, we’ve included a delicious spice-laden sauce to give your pork ribs a mouthwatering finish. 

You might need to cook them for 36 hours straight, but trust us. When those 36 hours of cooking are up, you’ll be serving the tastiest ribs you’ll ever have in your life! You can also give the ribs a quick grill after cooking for that classic, grilled ribs look.

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Ribs

Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

sous vide pork tenderloin recipe

Annie | Flickr

And lastly, we have our yummy tenderloin recipe. Since the tenderloin is the leanest and most tender part of the pork, it’s easy for them to get dry. However, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this meal! 

With this recipe, we’ll transform your usual plate of pork tenderloin into a really flavorful dish. Season the pork meat with butter, shallots, garlic, and herbs, then cook for 45 minutes to 4 hours. Once that’s done, you’ll be serving the most delicious tenderloin you’ll have for dinner, ever. 

Recipe for Inspiration: Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

Final Thoughts

Although it’s only gaining popularity among home chefs now, sous vide cooking has been around for a long time. Restaurants and professional chefs have been using this method for decades, serving the most perfectly done meals. And with smaller sous vide machines now available, you too can enjoy cooking delicious meals with ease. Never worry about overcooked steaks or veggies ever again! 

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