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Sous Vide Steak Guide

Welcome to the ultimate guide to sous vide steak. We'll take you through the general process of cooking sous vide steaks as well as the safety behind it.

We'd love to hear any feedback or suggestions, as well as your favorite recipes so just drop us a line and we'll try to get it into the guide!

This information, as well as over 100 recipes, is available in our book Beginning Sous Vide which you can get at Amazon.com or as a pdf download.

Table of Contents


Benefits of Sous Vide Steak

There are two main benefits to cooking steaks and other tender cuts of beef with sous vide. The first benefit is that sous vide allows you to cook a perfectly done steak every time. The other benefit is the ability to turn tougher, but more flavorful, steaks such as flank steak into very tender steaks through longer cooking times.

This is accomplished because cooking tough cuts of beef with sous vide allows you to break down and tenderize the meat without cooking it above medium-rare and drying it out. Once temperatures in beef go above 140°F the meat begins to dry out and become more bland, however, they also start to tenderize more quickly which is why tough roasts and braises are done for hours at high temperatures. Using sous vide, you can hold the meat below 140°F for a long enough time for the tenderizing process to run its course.

I often use sous vide cooked steak as a basis for many normal steak dishes, such as fajitas or steak salad. You can also just add a nice salsa or sauce to the top and eat it plain. You can also use it in any of your favorite recipes, simply replace the cooking step in the recipe with the already cooked sous vide steak and then continue the rest of the recipe.

Sous Vide Steak Safety

The FDA states that beef is safe when it is held at 130°F for over 112 minutes, or 140°F for over 12 minutes. This is very easy to do with sous vide and the main reason we recommend cooking most beef cuts medium-rare since beef is most tender at that temperature.

Additionally, the center of "whole" muscles are sterile but due to some mechanical tenderization that some meat packagers use the muscles can be compromised so unless you trust your supplier it is advisable to cook beef to 130°F throughout.

Medium-rare steak is cooked between 130°F to 139°F, we recommend cooking it at 131°F to give yourself a few degrees of temperature variation above the bottom of the safe zone but feel free to experiment with any temperatures in that range. Depending on the toughness of the cut of beef, it may need to be cooked anywhere from 2 hours up to 1 or 2 days.

For each steak we also give directions for medium, these are normally cooked between 140°F and 149°F, though we recommend not going above 140°F because the beef begins drying out quickly and with sous vide there is no gain in food safety above 131°F.

Most steaks can be cooked sous vide for 2 to 4 hours and will result in a more tender version of how that steak traditionally tastes. However, for some tougher steaks longer cooking times can result in steak with tenderness rivaling tenderloin, with no loss of the full, beefy flavor these cuts are known for. It is also good to keep in mind that different quality of meat cooks at different speeds, for instance most grass fed beef cooks faster and needs less time to tenderize.

Sous Vide Steak General Process

The normal method of cooking steak with sous vide is very simple.

First, preheat your sous vide machine to the temperature desired, we recommend 131°F to 140°F for most cuts.

Take the meat and sprinkle it with salt and pepper and seal it into a sous vide pouch. You can also season the meat before sealing it with any normal seasoning such as:
- Fresh or dried thyme or rosemary
- Any spice powders such as onion, garlic, paprika, coriander, or cumin
- Chili powders like ancho, chipotle, cayenne
- Marinades (though you don't need much)
- Sauces like A1 steak, worcester sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.
If adding a sauce or marinade make sure your vacuum sealer does not suck it out, you can normally seal it before all the air is out to prevent this just fine. Also, be sure to go light with fresh garlic, onions, or ginger, as they can begin to take on a bad flavor over the longer cooking times.

After sealing the pouch place it into the water bath for the indicated cooking time.

Once it's fully cooked remove it from the pouch and pat dry. At this point you can sear the meat in a hot skillet or grill it over high heat to add a nice crust to it.

Once the meat is done cooking you can use it as you would any steak including cutting it up for salad, slicing it for fajitas or just eating it plain. You can also make a nice gravy or pan sauce from the liquid leftover in the sous vide pouch.

Another very convenient use of sous vide is to use it to defrost and cook steaks that come straight from the freezer. As long as the steak is vacuum sealed in a suitable bag you can take it directly from the freezer and put it in a pre-heated water bath. Just add 15-30 minutes to the cooking time and it should come out perfectly.

Sous Vide Steak Recipes

Sous-vide-ribeye-asian-glazed

Sous Vide Ribeye Recipes with Asian Glaze

Often during the week you only have time for a quick meal. These Asian Glazed sous vide ribeye steaks are one way to still have a flavorful dish without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Because it is already very tender there are several ways to sous vide ribeye steak. You can cook it by thickness, using a sous vide thickness ruler, just long enough to bring it up to temperature. You can also cook it for up to 8 hours because of the amount of fat in the steak. One of my favorite ways is to sous vide it for several hours then chill it in a 1/2 ice - 1/2 water bath.
Sous-vide-steak-avacado-mushrooms

Sous Vide Rib Steak Recipe with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Guacamole

Even though sous vide steak recipes are very prevalent it's hard not to write about them in summer because I spend so much time outside grilling. I also love the convenience of sous vide steak. I can toss a pouch into the water bath and whenever we're ready to eat later in the day I can pull it out and quickly sear it on the grill.
Sous-vide-beef-salad-figs

Sous Vide Beef Salad with Figs Recipe

One of the hard parts about summer cooking is keeping the food light. While I love pulled pork, big steaks, and juicy hamburgers I can only take so much heavy food. This sous vide beef salad with figs recipe is a nice alternative to some of the heavier meals while still giving me my beef fix.
Sous-vide-sirloin-steak-wwworks

Sous Vide Sirloin Steak Recipe

Now that spring is finally coming around, it's time to start grilling. There's lots of ways to utilize sous vide with your grill but sometimes you just want a simple meal with some grill flavor. This sous vide recipe fits the bill.
Sous-vide-steak-close-up

Sous Vide Freezer Steaks Recipe

One of the most convenient uses of sous vide cooking is to use it to defrost and cook foods that come straight from the freezer. As long as the food is vacuum sealed you can take it directly from the freezer and put it in a pre-heated water bath. Just add 15-30 minutes to the recommended cooking time from the sous vide recipe and it should come out perfectly.
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Sous Vide Steak Salad Recipe

This sous vide recipe for steak salad is a different use of the sous vide technique. Instead of using sous vide to cook the meat for a long period of time, you use it to add perfectly medium rare steak to your salad. The thyme and garlic help add a little kick to the steak while the honey mustard dressing adds a strong flavor to the salad itself.


Sous Vide Steak Time and Temperatures

Here are our recommended sous vide steak time and temperatures for various cuts of steak.
Blade Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 4 to 10 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 4 to 10 Hours (60.0°C)
Bottom Round Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 3 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 3 Days (60.0°C)
Chuck Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 2 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 2 Days (60.0°C)
Eye Round Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 2 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 2 Days (60.0°C)
Flank Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 2 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 2 Days (60.0°C)
Flat Iron Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 4 to 10 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 4 to 10 Hours (60.0°C)
Hamburger
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 4 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 4 Hours (60.0°C)
Hanger Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 3 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 3 Hours (60.0°C)
Porterhouse Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 3 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 3 Hours (60.0°C)
Rib Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 8 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 8 Hours (60.0°C)
Ribeye Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 8 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 8 Hours (60.0°C)
Shoulder Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 4 to 10 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 4 to 10 Hours (60.0°C)
Sirloin Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 10 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 10 Hours (60.0°C)
Skirt Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 2 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 2 Days (60.0°C)
T-Bone Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 3 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 3 Hours (60.0°C)
Tenderloin Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 3 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 3 Hours (60.0°C)
Top Loin Strip Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 3 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 3 Hours (60.0°C)
Top Round Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 1 to 2 Days (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 1 to 2 Days (60.0°C)
Tri-Tip Steak
Medium Rare131°F for 2 to 10 Hours (55.0°C)
Medium140°F for 2 to 10 Hours (60.0°C)


Sous Vide Steak Pasteurization Times

Here are the required cooking times from the USDA Guide to pasteurize beef.
Temp in F Time
130112m
13189m
13271m
13356m
13445m
13536m
13628m
13723m
13818m
13915m
14012m
1419m
1428m
1436m
1445m
1454m
1462m 30s
1472m
148107s
14985s
15067s
15154s
15243s
15334s
15427s
15522s
15617s
15714s
1580s
1590s
1600s


Sous Vide Steak Resources

CookingSousVide.com

Sous vide equipment, benefits of sous vide, and general sous vide safety.

USDA Time and Temperature Guide

The USDA Guide from the Food Safety and Inspection Service website.

Practical Guide to Sous Vide

An excellent guide by Douglas Baldwin focused around the science and safety of sous vide cooking.

Sous-Vide 101

One of a series of guides on sous vide cooking at Serious Eats.

Sous Vide Cooking

Jean-Francois has a very informative blog about sous vide and some less usual applications of it.

eGullet Thread

A very long forum string from eGullet, about over 125 pages long that covers almost everything you need to know about sous vide if you have the time to look through it all.

Sous Vide Shirts, Hats, and Mugs

If you want to show off your love of sous vide cooking there are some good products here.

Fifty Four Degrees

They have some fantastic sous vide recipes and techniques.

Sous Vide Supreme

A nice collection of sous vide recipes from around the web.
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