Sous-vide Steak

I experimented with sous-vide market steaks. I cooked them to 126F (after vacuum sealing) in the thermal bath and then finished them with about 30 seconds on each side in a hot iron skillet. As usual the steaks were very juicy, but the lack of browning flavors was evident. The searing didn’t fix that. NOTE: I’ve made similar steaks many times since and as long as I seared them long enough they were excellent and universally well received.

Alternatives might be to sear the steaks first, change the time and temperature of the searing, or of course to give up and just do steaks the “old-fashioned” way.–David

February 22, 2006. Recipes, Technique.


  1. Assaf replied:

    What I do for steaks is the following:
    I buy the entire steak (e.g . tenderloin for filet m.) and then clean the gristle which you must do for Sous Vide anyway as the temperature is not high enough to brown it and change the texture. I cut the meat into portioned steaks.

    I do not discard the gristle. Instead, I fry the gristle in it’s own rendered fat in a pan on medium heat and let it brown. I pour a spoon or two of the fat and put some of the browned gristle with each steak I then proceed to vacuum.

  2. Gordon replied:

    I’ve ‘sous-vide’d steaks for a couple of years now. What I do is make marinade for my steaks, bring that up to temperature, add the steaks to that, seal whole thing and drop into the hot water bath. Takes about an hour to bring the meat up to 125 degrees. Apologies for an extremely inexact method.

    However, I think the most important part is finishing the steaks over VERY hot coals. 30-60 sec sear on either side. If your coals are hot enough, you get your browning, flavor and perfectly medium rare steaks.

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  4. Chris replied:

    Why not sous-vide cook the steaks and then get a plumbers blow touch and give a good going over! Works for me.

  5. Jim cianciolo replied:

    I find drying the steak off after Sous vide(ing) with paper towels goes a long way in getting the meat to brown (rather then steaming) on a very hot cast iron pan. Jim

    • sousvide replied:

      Jim–Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely give it a try.

  6. greg replied:

    what about torching the dude with a butane or propane torch?

    • sousvide replied:

      Greg–A torch will certainly work, but you need one of the larger ones to make it practical. Many restaurants which use sous-vide techniques do exactly that.

  7. JC replied:

    try, buttering up your steak and using your oven broiler while holding your steaks really close to the top of your oven, that works just fine… or the hot iron skillet works too, but you have to add the butter or another low smoke point fat…

  8. jan palecek replied:

    Granted sous-vide steaks come out perfectly cooked. But after some experimentation with sous-vide meat, I prefer to grill or bbq it.

  9. wassaiclanterninnjeff replied:

    I did a strip last night at 131. Finished it in a very hot cast iron skillet.
    Best steak I have had maybe ever.

  10. Tom Griffin replied:

    I cant see how I could spend 1000$ or more on a SV cooker when a normal crock pot with a new submersible aquarium pump and temperature controller will do exactly the same job. get a ranco controller like many homebrewers use from a homebrewer supply or a nearby industrial air conditioning supply warehouse.. it takes 1/2 hour to wire it up if uyou are incompetent like me . and you are ready to go!
    set temp at 130 and cook away… oops well a vacuum sealer helps!

  11. sousvide replied:

    Tom–Indeed there are an increasing number of ideas for how to homebrew a thermal bath, which is awesome. In the meantime, there are also less expensive pre-built models (down to a few hundred dollars), so the good news is there are lots of options. Thanks for the tip on how to do it with an acquarium pump.

  12. master of sous vide replied:

    30 seconds finishing is way too long. It ruins the steaks. What I do is I heat a cast iron skillet as hot as it can get, then throw in some oil and butter. Then you dry the steaks with paper towels and fry the steaks for only few seconds on each side. You get a nice brown finish and maximum amount of perfectly cooked meat.

    • sousvide replied:

      I like that approach. I’ve been thinking more about doing something to make sure the steaks are dry enough to brown quickly, since of course they are wet after the sous-vide, and your post has given me a good way to go about it. The drier steaks is I suspect the key to your short time succeeding.

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  14. Tikhon replied:

    I tried using my propane (soldreing) torch to brown steaks, but it suprised me by not doing that much. Is it that I need to butter them first?

    • sousvide replied:

      Tikhon — Even with a fairly large torch (think plumber-sized) I found the torching process to be much slower than either broiling or searing on a cast iron grill or skillet. So for one steak I might go either way, but for multiple steaks I’ve pretty given up on the torch.

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