Prepare to wow your carnivore friends.

By Stacey Ballis
February 12, 2020
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Are you sous vide curious? Count yourself in good company: This once-expensive, chefs-only technique has burst onto the scene with affordable equipment for the home cook.

Steak is the perfect way to break in your own sous vide—try everything from classic chuck-eye to strip.

What Does Cooking “Sous Vide” Actually Mean?

The most important thing to know about sous vide is that it translates to “under vacuum.” While the cooking part takes place in a water bath, the key to sous vide usually is the preparation of the food that will go into that bath. This requires either a fully vacuum-sealed bag or a properly prepared zip-top bag.

Why Cook Steak Sous Vide?

One of the first foods that chefs got excited about sous vide cooking was steak. Why?

For one, cooking steak is something of an art form—it can be risky if you don’t know what you are doing. For two, mistakes are expensive. When you consider that an ideal steak is cooked to the diner’s preferred temperature inside—with a good crusty sear on the outside, and if possible, no tough line of overcooked meat around the edges—that’s a lot to juggle. Further, a steak needs to be properly rested to ensure that the juices don’t leak out when cut. Nobody wants those hard-won bites to taste dry.

Sous vide will allow you to cook the steak to the proper level of doneness by setting the water bath for your preferred temperature. The bath will get the steak to that temp, edge-to-edge, and then hold it there with no risk of overcooking until you need it.  Then, you can just sear and serve! Even better, meat done in the sous vide machine needs no resting time. Once you put a sear on your steaks, they can go right to the table—no need to wait. Because of the low-temp, slow-cooking method, juices are already fully dispersed throughout the meat.

How to Cook Steak Sous Vide

  1. Start with a cut on the thicker side, between an inch and a half to two inches or larger. This allows for the best steak eating experience, and it guarantees you won’t overcook your steaks when you give them the final sear.
  2. Season well with salt and pepper, then seal in a bag with your FoodSaver. *(see below for more on this)
  3. Let the bagged protein rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. While the meat is resting, set your sous vide to the temperature you want to cook your steaks: 120° for super rare, 125° for rare, 130° for medium rare, 135° for medium, 145° for medium well, or 155° for well done.
  4. Place your steaks in the sous vide. If you get any floaters, weigh them down with a plate. You want to ensure they are fully submerged.
  5. Cook your steak for a minimum of one hour to a maximum of four. A good rule of thumb: Give yourself at least 40 minutes per half inch of thickness.
  6. Before serving, remove your steaks from the bags, pat dry with paper towels, and brush with a thin coating of a neutral oil like canola. Sear in a hot skillet. One minute on each side should produce a nice brown crust without overcooking the meat. Tip: Oiling the meat and not pouring oil in the pan will help prevent spatter.
  7. Serve as soon as the steaks are seared to your taste. Voila! You are the host with absolutely the most.

What If Your Guests Don’t All Want Their Steaks Done the Same?

Get new friends. Kidding! But seriously, see if you can wrangle everyone to a happy medium-rare. But if you have someone who needs a steak more well done than the rest of your group, have your oven preheated to 400° so that you can finish their steak quickly to a higher temperature. Cook 3-4 minutes extra in the oven for each extra level of doneness you are looking to hit. Check it with a meat thermometer, then rest for at least 10 minutes before searing for service.

Insider Tip: How to Seal Bags Without a FoodSaver*

The FoodSaver is a great product for home cooks who want to vacuum seal bags of food, either for the freezer or for sous vide cooking. But here’s the thing: You don’t need one to seal bags! Use the water displacement method to get the same result.

Instead of using a vacuum machine that sucks the air out of the plastic bag, you are going to use water to push all of the air out instead.

  1. Fill a deep pot with cold water.
  2. Place foods in a well-sealed zip-top bag.
  3. Gently lower the bag into the water until you reach the bottom of the seal. The pressure of the water will push all of the air out the top, allowing you to easily seal it and continue with your recipe.

If you're ready to try cooking with sous vide, you can get Amazon's top-rated machine here.