Everything You Need to Know About Sous Vide Steak

A beginners guide to sous vide steak. How to get started and how to cook a flawless steak at home with ease.

I’ll be honest with you, I resisted the sous vide trend for quite a while. I did not really see the need for an expensive kitchen gadget to perfectly cook a steak for me when I could achieve a similar result using my trusty cast iron skillet and good ol’ stove.

Well, I’m here to tell you about some of the major advantages of sous vide steak. A method of cooking that is nearly impossible to achieve with any other cooking technique. Not to mention the completely stress-free and hands-off method of cooking a steak perfectly while simultaneously washing your car. Seriously.

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What is Sous Vide Steak?How to Sous Vide SteakHerbs and Spices
Sealing the BagCooking DurationTemperature Settings
Best Steak Cuts to UseFinishing With a Skillet or GrillEquipment
FAQRecipe

What is Sous Vide Steak?

Sous-vide steak is a French process of cooking a steak in an air-tight plastic bag, fully submerged in a water bath that is held at a constant temperature by a sous-vide device. This may sound daunting and complex, but it’s actually a really straight-forward process without any learning curve.

The sous vide advantage allows you to perfectly cook a steak that is uniformly cooked from top to bottom and edge to edge, without any varying level of doneness. The sous vide method allows you to precisely control your steak’s internal temperature, by setting the water (or your sous vide device) to the desired internal serving temp.

The science prevents you from bringing your steak a degree higher than the water’s temperature, making it impossible to overcook your fancy, expensive cut of meat.

How to Sous Vide Steak

Seasoned ribeye steak

① Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper. Pair with fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme and whole garlic cloves.

Ribeye steak in sous vide system cooking

② Add steak, herbs, and aromatics to a sealable freezer bag and remove air from the bag using a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method.

③ Sous vide in a plastic container or stockpot full of water (fully submerged) at the desired temp for 1-4 hours.

Ribeye steak reverse searing in skillet

④ Finish with a quick reverse sear in a cast-iron skillet or stainless steel pan with additional herbs and aromatics. Serve immediately.

Seasoned ribeye steak

What Herbs and Spices Should I Use?

For starters, I like to season every steak liberally with salt and pepper. This should be step one of preparing any sous vide steak. The spices will soak into the meat, tenderizing it, and enhancing some of the steak’s natural flavors.

From this point forward it’s entirely up to you in terms of herbs and spices. My favorite aromatics include rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and whole garlic cloves. These flavors tend to complement steak without overpowering it.

All herbs and aromatics should be added to the bag BEFORE you sous vide. The beauty is you can keep these spices in close contact with your steak while it cooks for an extended period of time.

And remember, seasoning and enhancing with herbs and spices is just the beginning. We can finish our steak with bacon jam, blueberry or balsamic reductions, coffee rub, chimichurri, or herb butter such as blue cheese or garlic, thyme, and rosemary.

Everything You Need to Know About Sous Vide Steak: Ribeye steak in sous vide system cooking

Sealing the Bag With the Water Displacement Method

For those of you who don’t have a vacuum sealer and special sealing bags, you can use any resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and the water displacement method to push out excess air. Name brand freezer bags are usually BPA free and work best. A standard gallon-sized bag will work for most steaks, but larger cuts may require a 2-gallon bag.

It’s important to get as much air out of the bag as possible to lock in the flavors and juices. Place your steak in the bag along with fresh herbs on either side of the steak. Remove as much air as you can manually with your hands. Partially seal the bag and slowly submerge in your water-filled container. The water pressure will force the air out of the top of the bag. Seal the bag just above the water line. Now you’re ready to sous vide.

How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide Steak?

Generally speaking, a 1-2 inch thick portion of steak will reach the desired internal temperature in about 1 hour. The steak can sit in the sous vide container for up to 4 total hours, fully submerged, before any detrimental effects take place. This includes potential bacterial growth from rare meat or meat fiber breakdown due to prolonged heat exposure. The beauty lies in the 1-3 hour window when your steak is perfectly cooked and ready to serve.

Everything You Need to Know About Sous Vide Steak: Sous vid temp settings

Sous Vide Steak Temperature

Dialing in your steak’s internal temperature is incredibly easy with a sous vide system. Simply set your sous vide device to the corresponding level of doneness and wait for the water bath to reach the set temperature.

For example, a 1-2 inch steak will reach medium-rare doneness in 1 hour with your sous vide device set to 130° F. The steak can remain in the heated water bath for up to 4 hours with no detrimental effects to the steak.

Doneness Steak/Sous Vide Temperature Range Cooking Duration
Very Rare/rare120° F to 125° F 1-2 1/2 hours
Medium rare125° F to 130° F1-4 hours
Medium135° F to 140° F1-4 hours
Medium well145° F to 150° F1-3 1/2 hours
Well done160° F and above1-3 hours

Note: Chart applies to 1-2 inch thick steaks of any weight (which is most standard cuts). Steaks 1 inch or less will cook in 40 minutes.

Best Steaks for Sous Vide

You can use any cut of steak that is 1-2 inches thick. The cooking chart above will work for any of your favorite steaks, assuming it doesn’t exceed 2 inches in thickness. Larger steaks are best because they can easily be shared with multiple people, for example, a 2-inch thick 2-pound porterhouse is an amazing candidate for sous vide.

  • Filet mignon (beef tenderloin)
  • Ribeye
  • T-bone
  • Porterhouse
  • Flank or skirt steak
  • Sirloin (NY strip)
  • London broil
Everything You Need to Know About Sous Vide Steak: Ribeye steak reverse searing in skillet.

Finishing Your Steak in a Skillet or Grill

This is known as the reverse sear method. It’s the final finishing touch for that much desired charred exterior.

For the skillet: Place butter or oil in a cast-iron skillet or metal pan and heat until pan is very hot. Sear steak for 1 minute per side (and optionally the edges). You can add herbs and or garlic cloves to the skillet and then spoon the pan drippings over the steak to additionally flavorize with butter and herbs.

Note: Cooking butter in a skillet at high temps tend to get smokey. Turn on the vent fan and open a kitchen window.

For the grill: Alternatively, you can finish steaks right on the grill if cooking several steaks or larger cuts of meat. Turn the grill up high and let get very hot with the lid closed for about 10 minutes. Clean the grates, lightly oil the grates, and sear for 1 minute per side. It’s important that the grill is very hot. You are looking for a flash sear that will sear the edge quickly without cooking the inside any more.

FAQ


Does Sous Vide Steak Need to Rest?

No, because of the method behind sous vide cooking related to heat/juice distribution, steaks should be consumed immediately after reverse searing. No 10 minute rest period required.

Can I Sous Vide Frozen Steak?

Yes, in fact, you can seal preseasoned and fully prepared steaks in an airtight bag in the freezer and pull them out as you need. For 1-2 inch thick cuts, add an additional hour to the minimum cook time.

Does Each Steak Need Its Own Bag?

No, you can use a single bag for multiple steaks as long as they fit in a single layer without overlapping. 2 stacked steaks in a bag will make the end result cook as if it’s a thicker cut. Multiple bags are OK.

What Tools Do I Need To Get Started?

Consider this the sous vid intro starter kit.

Anova cooker
8-quart stockpot
Skillet
Sealable freezer bags

Can I Cook Your Other Steak Recipes with the Sous Vide Method?

Yes, you can! Just replace the original cooking method with the sous vide method and use the other elements and techniques as needed. Such as compound butters, glazes and reductions, marinades, rubs, and sauces. Most of these are pre and post cooking additions anyway.

Print

Sous Vide Steak Recipe

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: French

Description

A beginners guide to sous vide steak. How to get started and how to cook a flawless steak at home with ease.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 steaks of your choice, 1-2 inches thick (filet mignon, ribeye, t-bone, porterhouse, sirloin, flank or skirt steak)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 whole garlic cloves (optional)

garlic & herb butter (optional)

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

Instructions

For the herb butter

  1. Soften the butter in a microwave safe bowl until malleable, 10-15 seconds. Stir in herbs and garlic until fully mixed. Spoon the butter onto tin foil doing your best to reshape it to resemble a stick of butter. Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes and remove 5 minutes before adding to the filet.

For the steak

  1. Fill a large stockpot or sous vide container to the minimum fill line on your sous vide device. Set cooker to the desired temp and let water fully preheat.
  2. Meanwhile, season steaks liberally with salt and pepper all over. Place each steak in a resealable freezer bag with rosemary, thyme, and whole garlic cloves. I like to place a few herbs on both sides of the steak.
  3. Remove as much air from the bag as possible with a vaccume sealer or by partially sealing the bag and slowly submerging in your water-filled container. The water pressure will force the air out of the top of the bag. Seal the bag just above the water line.
  4. Sous vide steaks at your desired doneness temp for at least 1 hour. Once the hour is up, your 1-2 inch steak will be done. Heat for up to 2 1/2-4 total hours (see chart below recipe for specifics).
  5. Finish in a skillet: Heat butter or oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Let the skillet get very hot (just when the oil or butter starts to smoke). Place steaks in the skillet with fresh herbs or garlic or herbs/garlic from the sous vide bag. Sear for one minute per side. Use a spoon to spoon the butter/oil drippings from the pan over the steak (infusing with garlic herb flavor). Note, additional searing time will risk overcooking your steak. Time this portion very carefully. This part could get smokey, turn on the vent fan and open a window.
  6. Finish on the grill: Alternatively, you can finish steaks right on the grill if cooking several steaks or larger cuts of meat. Turn the grill up high and let get very hot with the lid closed for about 10 minutes. Clean the grates, lightly oil the grates, and sear for 1 minute per side.
  7. Remove steaks from heat and serve immediately topped with a slice of garlic and herb butter, no rest period required.

Notes

This recipe is ideal for 1-2 inch steaks. Those closer to 2 inches, the better the result.

If steaks are frozen, add an additional hour to the finished time. For example, frozen steaks will take 2 hours minimum time.

If steaks are 1 inch or less, they will be done in 40 minutes.

Keywords: sous vide steak, sous vide steak recipe, sous vide ribeye

Doneness Steak/Sous Vide Temperature Range Cooking Duration
Very Rare/rare120° F to 125° F 1-2 1/2 hours
Medium rare125° F to 130° F1-4 hours
Medium135° F to 140° F1-4 hours
Medium well145° F to 150° F1-3 1/2 hours
Well done160° F and above1-3 hours