What Is Sous Vide Cooking?

Apr 8, 2024

what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

Imagine being able to cook steak so tender it practically melts in your mouth, vegetables bursting with flavor straight from the garden and eggs cooked to the exact consistency you love, every single time. Sous vide, French for “under vacuum,” involves cooking food slowly in a precisely controlled water bath, ensuring that ‘just right’ finish we all aim for. It’s like having a friendly kitchen companion that never misses the mark.

In this article, discover everything about the history, benefits and diverse applications of sous vide cooking—and why it has become a beloved technique for home cooks and chefs alike to achieve perfect culinary results.

Hungry for more? From sous vide machines to vacuum sealers and bags, our Sous Vide Collection has everything you need to get started!

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what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

What is sous vide cooking?

Sous vide cooking involves sealing food in airtight bags and cooking it in a water bath at a precisely controlled temperature.

Unlike traditional cooking methods that involve high heat and potentially uneven cooking, sous vide provides consistent results and retains the food’s moisture, flavor and nutrients. The process is straightforward: seal the food, set the temperature, submerge it in water and wait. The result is perfectly cooked meals, from steaks cooked to the exact level of doneness to vegetables that retain their vibrant colors and nutrients.

The history of sous vide

The story begins in the 1970s with a French chef named Georges Pralus. He figured out that cooking foie gras sealed in a vacuum bag kept all its delicious flavors intact, with no shrinkage. This was a big deal in the culinary world.

Then, a scientist named Bruno Goussault came along and helped fine-tune the method, focusing on how precise temperature control could bring out the best in food. Together, these two are credited as the fathers of sous vide, making it a go-to method for high-end chefs.

Fast forward to the last decade or so, and sous vide isn’t just for the fancy restaurant scene anymore. Thanks to tech advancements, the equipment needed for sous vide cooking has shrunk in size and price, making it a gadget that anyone can have on their kitchen counter. Now, immersion circulators (the tool that keeps the water at just the right temperature) are as easy to use as a toaster, and they don’t take up much more space than a blender.

The internet also deserves a big high-five for helping sous vide go mainstream, too. Food lovers and home chefs share their sous vide successes on social media and cooking blogs, making it less intimidating and more “I gotta try this.”

Plus, seeing a TV chef pull a perfectly cooked steak out of a water bath definitely sparks some kitchen envy.

what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

Benefits of sous vide cooking

Sous vide cooking, with its unique blend of precision and simplicity, offers a ton of advantages that cater to both the gourmet chef and the home cook alike. This method of cooking not only elevates the dining experience but also simplifies the cooking process, making it accessible to anyone looking to enhance their culinary skills. Here are the key benefits that make sous vide a favorite in kitchens around the globe:

  1. Consistent results: Sous vide cooking eliminates guesswork. By maintaining a precise temperature throughout the cooking process, it ensures that food is cooked evenly and to the exact level of doneness every time. This consistency is particularly valuable for meats, guaranteeing that every cut is perfectly tender and juicy.
  2. Enhanced flavors and nutrition: Cooking food in a sealed bag means that all the flavors and juices are locked in, along with the nutrients. This results in dishes that are not only more flavorful and tender, but also healthier. The gentle cooking method means vegetables retain their vibrant colors and natural tastes, while meat absorbs any added herbs or marinades more effectively.
  3. Flexibility and convenience: One of the most appealing aspects of sous vide is its ‘set it and forget it’ nature. Once the food is sealed and the water bath is set to the right temperature, you can walk away and let the cooker do its magic. This frees up time to focus on other tasks or simply relax, making meal preparation less stressful and more enjoyable.
  4. Less waste: Traditional cooking methods can often lead to dishes being overcooked, drying out and ultimately wasting food. Sous vide cooking minimizes these risks, ensuring that every piece of food is cooked just right and is as delicious as intended. This not only saves money in the long run, but also promotes a more sustainable approach to cooking.
  5. Versatility: Sous vide isn’t just for cooking steak to the perfect medium rare. It’s a versatile method that can be used for a wide range of foods, including eggs, fish, vegetables and even desserts like custards. This versatility allows for experimentation and creativity in the kitchen, providing endless possibilities for culinary exploration.
  6. Restaurant-quality meals at home: Finally, sous vide empowers home cooks to produce meals that could easily come from a high-end restaurant. The control and precision offered by sous vide cooking means that gourmet dishes are no longer confined to the realms of professional kitchens but can be recreated at home, impressing family and guests alike.
what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

Common uses of sous vide cooking

From meats and vegetables to desserts and infusions, sous vide cooking offers a wide array of culinary opportunities. Here’s a glimpse into some of the popular sous vide’s applications:

  • Meats: Perhaps the most famous use of sous vide is for cooking meat. Whether it’s steak, chicken, pork or lamb, sous vide can cook these to the exact level of doneness desired, ensuring tenderness and juiciness that’s hard to achieve with traditional methods. Tougher cuts of meat benefit immensely, as the slow cooking process breaks down connective tissues without drying out the meat.
  • Fish and Seafood: Delicate foods like fish benefit from sous vide’s gentle cooking process, which can perfectly cook the flesh without overcooking. This method is ideal for achieving silky textures in salmon, cod or lobster that are often difficult to nail with high-heat cooking methods.
  • Vegetables: Sous vide can transform the simple act of cooking vegetables into an art form, preserving their color, enhancing their flavor and maintaining nutrients. It’s especially great for achieving perfectly tender-crisp textures in root vegetables and vibrant greens.
  • Eggs: Cooking eggs sous vide allows for unparalleled control over texture. Whether you’re aiming for soft-boiled eggs with just-set whites and runny yolks or perfectly cooked egg bites, sous vide makes it easy to get consistent results every time.
  • Fruits: Sous vide can also be used to gently cook fruits, either for desserts or for savory applications. Cooking fruits sous vide can intensify their flavors, soften their textures to the desired consistency and even infuse them with spices and liquors.
  • Desserts: This method isn’t limited to savory dishes; it’s also fantastic for desserts. Custards, cheesecakes and fruit compotes are just a few examples where sous vide can provide perfect texture and flavor without the fuss of traditional methods.
  • Infusions: Sous vide is excellent for creating infused oils, spirits and syrups in a fraction of the time it would take through traditional infusion methods. The precise temperature control allows for easier flavor extraction without the risk of overcooking or burning delicate herbs, spices or fruits.
what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

Everything you need to sous vide at home

Getting into sous vide cooking can elevate your everyday meals to gourmet levels. Starting out on this path, though, means you’ll need the right tools. For any home cook keen to dive into the precision and flexibility of sous vide, a few essential gadgets can really make a world of difference.

  • Immersion circulators: These devices clamp onto the side of a pot and circulate water at a precise temperature. They’re compact, efficient and the most popular choice for home cooks.
  • Water bath containers: While you can use any large pot for sous vide cooking, these specialized containers are designed for optimal water circulation and temperature stability.
  • Vacuum sealers and bags: Essential for the “under vacuum” part of sous vide, these tools remove air from bags, ensuring even cooking—and that bags fully submerge in the water bath.
  • Sous vide racks: These help organize the bags in the water bath, ensuring even water flow around each bag for consistent cooking.
  • Accessories: Items like weighted magnets or sous vide balls can be used to prevent bags from floating or to minimize water evaporation during long cooks.
what is sous vide, sous vide cooking, what do you need for sous vide

Tips for getting started with sous vide cooking

Starting with sous vide cooking is like unlocking a secret level in your kitchen skills, but it helps to know a few tricks before you dive in. Whether you’re after the juiciest steak or just experimenting with veggies, a couple of tips can set you on the right path.

Begin with simple recipes: Start your sous vide journey with simple recipes to get a feel for the process before moving on to more complex dishes. Here are a few easy recipes to explore:

Experiment with temperatures and times: Use sous vide cooking as an opportunity to experiment with different temperatures and cooking times to find your perfect level of doneness.

Incorporate finishing techniques: While sous vide can produce incredible results on its own, finishing meats with a quick sear on a hot pan can add a delicious, caramelized exterior.


Hungry for more? From sous vide machines to vacuum sealers and bags, our Sous Vide Collection has everything you need to get started!

Shop Our Sous Vide Collection

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