Main DishesRecipesSous Vide

Sous Vide Steak

Season, sous vide, sear. Seriously it’s that simple to cook the most delicious perfect steak every time.
By January 10, 2019 No Comments
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There’s really nothing like taking a bite of a perfectly cooked steak. It’s a special feeling. It’s tender, it’s juicy, it’s bursting with flavor. It’s a special taste and often for a special occasion. Sous vide is the technique that guarantees perfection every time. 

It’s uniformly cooked through the entire steak. The outside has a crust on it and it easily slices through with a knife revealing that perfect medium-rare interior. The flavor is perfect and the texture melts in your mouth. It’s unmistakable. You have one of the best mouth-watering bites possible in your mouth at that moment.

More often than not, the steak is going to come out a little over or under cooked, and it if the temperature is nailed in the middle, there is still going to be that dreaded grey ring round the edge. Sure, we all get it right some of the time, but it takes a lot of practice to get a perfect cook every single time. That is, unless you are cooking your steak with the sous vide method.

Why Sous Vide Steak?

Cooking steak with the sous vide method will yield perfect results every time. Whether you prefer your steak rare, medium, well done or anywhere in between; there is just no guessing as to when your steak is exactly the temperature you want it to be when you cook sous vide.  
There’s also significantly less shrinkage when steak is sous vide. When steak cooks on a hot surf for a long period of time, it will lose liquid, and thus weight. The sous vide technique will prevent this from happening. 

Benefits of Sous Vide Steak?

So you went out and bought the best steak you could find. The last thing you want to do is mess it up by over cooking it or even under cooking it. 

  • All the guess work is eliminated. Set the temp and the time and the rest of the work is done for you. 
  • Cooked to the exact temperature you specify through entire cut of meat.
  • Can be cooked ahead of time and then seared in a skillet just before you are ready to eat.
  • Great for meal prep
steak in sous vide water bath horizontal

What does Sous Vide Cooking Mean?

Sous vide is a french term that means to cook “under vacuum.” It might sound super sciency, technical and complicated, but I can promise you that it’s really super simple. 

The food (steak in this case) is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag, then that bag is submerged in a temperature controlled water bath for a period of time. 

The sous vide technique has been around for a long, long time, but it’s only fairly recently becoming a method that is commonly used at home because of the accessibility of consumer sous vide machines.

Sous Vide for Entertaining and Parties

When you are entertaining, you would probably rather be entertaining your guests rather than hovering over the stove hoping to impress them with your steak cooking skills (or praying they aren’t overcooked).

The amazing thing about sous vide for steaks is they can be cooked to the perfect temperature ahead of time (like way before your guests even arrive), then quickly sear them off right before serving. This makes for stress-free entertaining while executing perfect food.

Make a Steak Sampler Dinner Party

Here’s an idea for a dinner party: Go pick up a New York strip, a ribeye, and filet mignon. Season and vacuum them together or in individual bags, then cook in a sous vide water bath based on the time and temp from the chart. Sear them off after they are cooked and ready for your steak sampler dinner party. No sauce needed. 

Everyone can taste to see how the flavors and textures differ and pick their favorite. 

One of the amazing things about sous vide steaks is that no matter the size or thickness of the steak, it will come out the temperature you specify. That means if you have a 2-pound T-Bone and an 8-ounce filet mignon, they will both come out perfectly medium-rare at the same time. Pretty amazing, right?

new york steak prep for sous vide

The Best Steaks for Sous Vide

While any steak will technically work for the sous vide technique, it is much better to go with a bigger steak. So if you are making steak for two, get one large steak instead of two individual size steaks. 

The reason that bigger is better, in this case, is that the steaks are first cooked in the water bath, then quickly seared off to develop that perfect flavorful crust on the outside. If the steak is really small and thin, it will start to overcook before it is fully browned. 

Thickness – Go with steaks that are at least 1” thick, but preferably a bit thicker.
Size – 12oz and up (remember this will get sliced and served to multiple people)
Grade – Prime or Choice Grade

new york steak vacuum sealed for sous vide

Sous Vide Steak Temp

Since we’re cooking the steak in the sous vide, there’s no need for a temperature range. It’s an exact science, so you can just set it and forget it (until it’s done). 🙂

The perfect medium-rare temperature for steak is 130° F or 54.4° C. You can go up or down a degree or two depending on your preference.  

How Long to Sous Vide Steak

A 1-inch steak should be cooked in the sous vide between 1 hour and 3 hours for medium-rare. That’s right! You have that giant window of time that you can do other things and your steak will come out perfect whenever you take it out within that window. Cooking the steak past  Cooking the steak longer than the window will start to break down the fibers and cause it to get mushy.

Steak Sous Vide Temperature Guide Chart

Cooking temperatures and times for sous vide

CookTemperatureTime
Rare125° F / 51.6° C1 to 3 hours
Medium Rare130° F / 54.4° C1 to 3 hours
Medium140° F / 60° C1 to 3 hours
Well Done160° F / 71° C1 to 3 hours
sous vide steak pre-seared

How to Finish / Sear a Sous Vide Steak

The searing step isn’t one you want to walk away from. Not only is it the most exciting step, but it happens very quickly and the steaks can easily overcook if left in the pan too long. You will want to make sure your steaks are as dry as possible so they sear instead of steam.

searing sous vide steak in skillet

The Skillet Method

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet until it’s very hot, then drizzle in enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the steaks and sear for 30 seconds to 1 minute on all sides, or until they are golden brown. You don’t want to let them sear for longer than this or they will start to raise the internal temperature. 

Butter Basting FTW

Butter basting is one of those wonders that adds so much flavor. You see chefs doing it, and you should be doing it too. It’s a great technique for sous vide steaks because it helps them brown up quickly while warming through.

When the steak is searing, add a few tablespoons of butter and thyme sprigs to the pan. It will melt quickly, so start using a large spoon to baste the butter on top of the steak.

The thyme flavor will infuse into the hot melted butter and add tons of flavor to the outside of the steak, along with helping to brown it even quicker.

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Special Equipment Used

You can see the equipment used (below) or check out the post all about Essential Sous Vide Accessories.

Contains affiliate links where I might receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

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Sous Vide Steak

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Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Servings: 1 steak
Author: Justin McChesney-Wachs

Ingredients

  • 1 Steak (1″ thick)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs

For searing the Steak

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  • Fill your sous vide container or pot with water and turn the machine on according to manufactures instructions to 130° F or 54.4° C for medium-rare, or to the desired finished temperature.
  • Season the steak liberally on all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Place a thyme sprig on each side of the steak, then place it in a vacuum seal bag or ziplock bag.
  • Vacuum seal the bag if using a vacuum sealer, or if using a ziplock bag; partially seal it removing as much air as possible, then use the water displacement method by placing the bag in the water (always keeping the opening above the water line) to push the rest of the air out before sealing it.
  • Clip the sealed bag to the side of the container to keep it submerged and cook between 1 and 3 hours.
  • Remove the bag from the water bath and let the steak rest in the bag for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Cut the bag open and place the steak on a paper towel-lined plate and pat as dry as possible (keep the juices for a quick pan sauce if you prefer).

To sear the steak in a skillet

  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Drizzle enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan and let that heat up for a few seconds.
  • Place the steak in the skillet and sear for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side until golden brown. Going longer than 1 minute on each side will cause the steak to cook more than desired.
  • As soon as the steak hits the skillet, add a few tablespoons of butter along with the thyme sprigs. Once the butter melts, begin basting it over the steak with the thyme until it’s finished the sear is finished.
  • Slice and serve immediately. No need to rest it.

Notes

  • Recipe makes 1 steak, but can easily be scaled up for more.
  • New York strip steak was used in this post, but recipe works for any cut.
  • If the steak isn’t staying submerged, you can put bowl or plate on top of it to keep it down.

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