Product Faq - SousVide Supreme

Sous Vide FAQs


What are the basic steps to cooking sous vide?

  1. Vacuum seal food in food-grade plastic pouches certified as suitable for cooking.
  2. Place the pouch in a water bath that has been brought to the designated cooking temperature.
  3. Let food cook for at least the time specified in the recipe. Longer is generally fine.
  4. Remove and serve! Before serving, meat dishes may benefit from searing in a hot pan, on a grill, or with a kitchen torch briefly to create a browned surface and impart a caramelized flavor.

What kind of foods can you cook sous vide?

All kinds! Any type of meat—such as beef, pork, lamb, game, or poultry—is ideal for sous vide. It works especially well with fish and seafood, ensuring that these delicate foods are not overcooked. Almost any vegetable can also be cooked sous vide with delicious results, as can eggs and many fruits. You can even use it to make custard-style ice cream base, béarnaise sauce, crème anglaise, custards, cheese, yogurt, and even cakes. Just about anything that requires a precise temperature to cook can be a candidate for sous vide cooking.

How do you season food to be cooked?

The sous vide process locks in a food’s natural flavors and prevents their loss into the pan or air, meaning seasoning can be lighter than with other methods. When applying seasonings, start with a light hand and work your way up. SousVide Supreme Seasoning Sheets make seasoning correctly very easy. Just cover the portion of food with the sheet, pop it into the pouch, vacuum seal and cook. Each sheet transfers a carefully applied blend of spices to complement a wide selection of foods.

Can I season just as I do for traditional cooking methods?

Because the temperatures of some sous vide cooked dishes are low, certain raw seasonings may not develop flavors in the same way they do at higher temperatures.

A good example is raw garlic, which may remain raw at temperatures used to cook medium rare steak, fish, shellfish, or even chicken breast. Thus garlic, added to the sous vide cooking pouch, works better as a powdered spice or already sautéed or roasted.

Another example is alcohol in wine, beer, liqueurs, or distilled spirits. Though often added to marinades for meats, fish, seafood, or poultry, or used to flavor sauces, the alcohol in beer, wine, liqueurs, or distilled spirits will not evaporate in sous vide cooking as it does on the stovetop or in the oven and can develop a harsh, sometimes metallic flavor. If you wish to use alcohol-based liquids to flavor food to be cooked sous vide, heat the wine or spirits first to evaporate the alcohol, then marinate the food, then pour off the marinade and pat the food dry and reseal prior to cooking.


How much food can you fit in the SousVide Supreme?

The amount of food that will fit comfortably into the water oven depends on the food in question. The general requirement is that the food pouch(es) should not completely cover the perforated grill on the bottom of the unit. Circulation of water through the grill holes and between pouches is important to maintaining constant temperature throughout the bath.

The pouch rack solves this problem by keeping the pouches up off the perforated grill and apart from each other as well as allowing you to cook a surprisingly large quantity of food. Insert the rack horizontally to hold up to four large (gallon) cooking pouches. Insert the rack vertically to accommodate up to five large (gallon/4 liter) cooking pouches or as many as 10 small (quart/liter) pouches, each of which might contain two 6-ounce portions of steak, fish, or chicken or 20 to 25 single serving pouches. The rack can also be removed to accommodate large food items, such as a 6-pound leg of lamb, beef or pork roast, or beef or pork tenderloin. The key here is to make certain that the water can flow freely around the pouches to ensure even cooking.


Can you cook an entire meal in a SousVide Supreme?

There are some one-pot meals and pasta meals that work in the SousVide Supreme we’re working to develop more. In general, vegetables require a higher temperature to soften and become tender than fish, poultry, or meat. Thus fish, meat, or poultry cooked at the same time will be somewhat overcooked, as would be the case in a slow-cooker. To cook them together, however, you can quickly sauté the vegetables in the skillet and then add them to the meat and cook at the lower temperature required by the meat, fish, or poultry in the SousVide Supreme.

Can you make a stew like you would in a slow cooker?

Yes you can. If you like your meat well done, you can simply put all the ingredients into a food-grade pouch, vacuum/seal (if no liquid) or just press out the air and seal and cook in the SousVide Supreme at 183 to 185F/84 to 85C. Or, if you prefer your meat cooked to a lower temperature (medium rare or medium) you can lightly saute or steam vegetables in the skillet and then add them to the meat and spices and cook in the SousVide Supreme. In fact, any slow-cooker recipe will work in the SousVide Supreme, set at 183F/84C, and will come out essentially the same. It is important to note that these recipes generally contain liquid in amounts that would preclude vacuum sealing. If that is the case, simply put all the ingredients into a large (gallon/3.8 liter) sized zip closure cooking pouch, remove as much air as possible from the pouch, and zip closed or use a large SousVide Supreme Vacuum/Seal Bag, press out as much air as possible, and use the ‘seal only’ function to heat seal.

We are always developing and adding new recipes, so check back to our website often for updates. If you have successfully created a stew you would like to share, be sure to be sure to submit your recipe and you will be entered into our monthly drawing (and we'll give you the credit you deserve too!)


What should you do if a pouch floats?

The sous vide technique of efficiently transferring the heat of the water to the food being cooked depends on there being nothing but the thin plastic pouch between the food and the water. Air in the pouch means that the heat of the water must cross the air to get to the food, which is not as efficient and which can result in unevenly cooked spots in the food in the pouch. Vegetables are the worst offenders at causing pouches to float in the water oven. In particular, the cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) may outgas air trapped between the leaflets into the vacuum/sealed pouch and cause the pouch to puff and float. We recommend that you check vegetable pouches about 10 to 15 minutes into the cooking period and if they are floating, remove them, slit open the pouch, dry the leading edges with a paper towel, and vacuum/seal again.

What are typical sous vide cooking times?

Cooking times can range from as little as 20 to 30 minutes (lean fish, foie gras, scrambled eggs) to as long as 72 hours (spareribs, tough meats). How long it takes a given potion of food to come to temperature depends on the thickness of the portion, not the total weight. Tables for time and temperature are available in the Cooking with SousVide User’s Guide that comes with each SousVide Supreme and also on our Cooking Times / Temperatures Reference Chart. How long a given food must cook to reach the desired target temperature throughout depends on its thickness; how long it can or should cook depends on its tenderness. Tender or delicate foods (fish, shellfish, foie gras, beef or pork tenderloin, lamb chops) need only to be brought to the desired serving temperature to be delicious and ready to eat. Prolonged cooking (beyond a few additional hours) can result in their becoming overly tender to the point of mushiness.

Tougher foods (roasts, grass fed cuts, game, spare ribs) will be brought to temperature based on the thickness of the portion, but then benefit from slow low cooking for hours to tenderize them.

Chicken breasts and tender steaks typically take a minimum of one or two hours, depending on thickness. One of the great benefits of the sous vide method is that, unlike aggressive cooking methods on the stovetop, oven, or grill, where timing is critical, sous vide is forgiving. In most cases, food can be left at the serving temperature in the water oven for much longer than the minimum time (steaks and chicken breast for as long as 4 to 6 hours) and remain perfectly cooked until the moment they are served.


At what temperature do you cook foods sous vide?

Using the sous vide method, a food is cooked precisely and gently at its desired serving temperature. Sous vide cooking temperatures are generally in the range of 115-190F/ 47-88C, and always below boiling.

The key to successful sous vide cooking is maintaining a consistent water temperature throughout the cooking period. A difference of as little as one degree can change appearance, flavor, and texture of some foods. This requirement for precise temperature control is why equipment designed specifically for sous vide cooking is desirable in order to obtain optimal results. This is also why foodies love experimenting with the method—a small shift can make a big difference to the final dish! Best of all, the perfection can be dialed in – once you discover exactly how you like your steak, chicken, scallops, or eggs, you can repeat it at the push of a button again and again.

Quick reference for cooking temperatures of common foods:

Food TypeTemperatures
Meat120F/ 49C(rare); 134F/ 56C(medium rare); 140F/60C (medium); 150F/65C (medium well)
Poultry - white meat140F/60C to 146F/63C up to 160F/71C as desired
Poultry – dark meat176F/80C
Fish116F/47C (rare); 126F/52C (medium rare); 140F/60C (medium)
Shellfish135F/56C to 140F/60C
Vegetables185F/85C
Cakes190F/88C
Custard170F/76.5C

(Time depends on thickness for proteins, but generally 30 minutes to an hour for 1-inch thick portions.)

You will find recommended times and temperatures for a wide variety of foods in the SousVide Supreme User’s Guide and on our Cooking Times / Temperatures Reference Chart.


Why is cooking sous vide a healthful way to cook?

Food cooked sous vide retains important nutrients—such as flavonoids and carotenoids in vegetables—rather than their being lost in the cooking liquid or into the air. The delicate fats in meats and fish, which can be easily damaged at high temperatures in the presence of oxygen, remain un-oxidized, intact, and more healthful.

Is cooking in plastic bags safe?

The chief concerns raised about cooking in plastic bags involve the leaching of potentially harmful chemicals, such as BPA (bisphenol-A) and phthalates, or toxic metals, such as lead, from the bag into the food. Food grade plastic bags, certified as suitable for cooking by their manufacturer, are safe to use. All SousVide Supreme Vacuum/seal bags have been third-party tested and are certified free of BPA, phalates and lead.

If the food is sealed in plastic, is there any mess to clean up?

Clean up couldn’t be easier with the SousVide Supreme. Since the food is sealed in cooking pouches, the water and bath stay clean. Simply toss out the cooking pouch or rinse and recycle in accordance with your communities’ standards. As to cleaning the machine itself, once cooking is complete, turn off and unplug the unit, allow the water bath to cool for safety, then simply empty the water from the bath into the sink, and wipe with a dry soft cloth.

Occasionally, a cooking pouch may leak if not properly sealed. If this happens, simply remove the cooking pouches, turn off the machine and unplug it. Allow the water to cool, then empty the water and wipe out the interior with mild soap and water. Fill the bath with clean water and empty again. Dry with a clean soft cloth. Do not immerse the machine in water or other liquid.


Is cooking at low temperatures safe?

Reducing the risk of food-borne illness by cooking food depends not just on temperature, but also on time. The lower the temperature, the longer the time. For instance, Salmonella, a common type of food-borne bacteria, will be killed in 30 seconds at 150F/65.5C but it will take 15 minutes to do so at 130F/54.5C.

Almost all potentially harmful organisms will be killed at 130F/54.5C given sufficient time to heat the food completely to that temperature. Since most sous vide cooking is done between 130F/54.5C and 195F/95C, the food will be safe. The most common exception is fish, which some people prefer to eat rare or medium rare (116F/46.5C to 126F/52C). In this case, it is important to only buy fish you would be wiling to eat raw—in other words, sushi grade ocean fish.

Important warning: Individuals who are immuno-compromised for any reason should not eat rare or raw food; they should only eat food cooked at or above 140F/60C for a sufficient amount of time to ensure the food is pasteurized.


How do I minimize my risk of botulism and other food born diseases when cooking sous vide?

When handling food, whether cooking sous vide or using more traditional techniques, all cooks should familiarize themselves with basic food safety practices:

  1. Make sure food is fresh, high quality and thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Don’t cross contaminate – use separate cutting boards and storage units for different food, such as vegetables, fish, fruit, poultry, and meat.
  3. Properly cook all food. Most bacteria are killed at 130F/54.5C, and most sous vide cooking temperatures are higher than that, but it’s a matter of both temperature and time.
  4. Serve food right away or follow proper storage and chilling practices, so that food is not left out at unsafe temperatures for more than an hour.
  5. For additional food safety and handling tips, we recommend visiting an approved food safety site such as www.foodsafety.gov, www.foodsafety.org or www.fda.gov

How long can you keep sous vide cooked foods in the refrigerator safely?

Food cooked sous vide can be safely kept in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. To be kept longer, the food should be quick chilled in its pouch and can then be frozen for up to a year.

How do you quick chill sous vide cooked foods?

To safely refrigerate or freeze food cooked sous vide and not intended for immediate consumption, it should be quick chilled in its cooking pouch, completely submerged in an ice water bath to allow the temperature to drop quickly through the danger zone (40F/4C to 130F/54C). How long the food should stay submerged in the ice water should mirror the minimum cooking time for that food, in most cases 30 minutes to 1 hour. The ice water bath should contain enough ice to bring the water temperature close to 32F/0C. Half ice and half water is usually sufficient, adding more ice over time if needed.

Can you cook steaks to different levels of doneness at the same time?

Not at the same time in the bath, however, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this goal. If, for example, one person wants a medium steak and another wants a medium rare one, you have two options. You can cook both steaks in the water bath to medium rare, then, when finishing the steaks in the skillet or on the grill, simply leave the medium steak on for a bit longer. Or, you can cook the two steaks sequentially – the medium rare steak in a 134F/56C water bath as much as a day or two beforehand, then quick chill it in its pouch, and refrigerate until needed. Crank up the temperature of the water oven to 140F/60C and cook the medium steak to perfection. Then rewarm them both to the medium rare temperature and sear them quickly for flavor and appearance in a hot skillet, using a kitchen torch, or on the grill.

Is there a way to measure internal temperature of meat as it cooks?

There is, but it’s usually unnecessary, since vacuum/sealed food left in the water bath at the desired temperature for the recommended amount of time for its thickness should become the temperature of the water bath from edge to edge. There are slender ‘needle’ temperature probes that can be inserted through special foam pads that can be affixed to the cooking pouch in such a way as to preserve the vacuum and prevent water from entering the pouch. This kind of specialized equipment is chiefly used for testing purposes.

There is no need to remove the foods to take an internal temperature. For example: To prepare a perfect medium-rare 1-inch thick steak at 134F degrees, simply set the SousVide Supreme for 134F degrees and cook the steak in a vacuum/sealed pouch for one hour. You can find Time and Temperature tables for a wide variety of foods in the SousVide Supreme User’s Guide and on our Cooking Reference Chart.


How do you find minimum cook times for uncommon meats, such as grass-fed beef, goat, organ meats?

All fresh foods, including organ meats, such as liver, kidney, heart, or thymus (sweetbread) are chiefly composed of water and are, therefore, water density substances. As such, when placed, vacuum sealed, into a preheated water bath and given sufficient time (based on the thickness of the portion) the food will reach the same temperature as the water. Intricate calculations have been made (in test kitchens where they have the ability to insert a slender probe through a foam core tab into the bag and into the meat) to determine how long it takes the interior of the meat (or food) of a given type and a given thickness to reach a particular temperature. You will find these times and temperatures on our Cooking Reference Chart.

Is it possible to cook frozen meats?

Absolutely. Although the cooking times in the Time and Temperature Tables in the SousVide Supreme User’s Guide and on our Cooking Times / Temperatures Reference Chart refer to meat put into the water oven from the refrigerator, it is also possible to cook frozen meats. The key is in how long it takes the meat to thaw from frozen in the water bath. Because of the superior efficiency of water over air to conduct or transfer heat, a given portion of meat will thaw in the water bath in approximately the length of time it would take that portion of meat to heat through (cook) out of the refrigerator. So this would effectively double the minimum cooking times given in the tables for tender meat of that thickness. It would not double the time required to tenderize tough cuts of meat, just the time required to heat it through.

Can I cook a whole chicken, duck or game hen?

Yes, just not in one piece, unless you have a chamber vacuum sealer. Air trapped in the cavity of a whole bird will not be effectively removed by a suction vacuum , sealer and will cause the bag to float, resulting in uneven cooking. Half chickens, ducks or game hens or individual breasts, legs, or thighs work best in the SousVide Supreme.

For larger birds, such as chicken, duck, or turkey, since the optimal temperatures for cooking white meat and dark are quite different, the old standard ‘cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165F/74C will ensure that the breast will be overcooked and the legs and thighs potentially undercooked. By cooking the white meat and dark meat separately at their optimal temperatures, you can ensure the most delicious result for your meal.


What equipment do you need to cook sous vide?

In order to maintain the precise control of temperature, sous vide cooking requires a temperature-controlled water bath and a means to vacuum seal the foods to be cooked. While there are a variety of equipment options for maintaining the precise temperature control of the water bath, the easiest and least cumbersome for the home cook or restaurant chef would be a self-contained water oven, such as the SousVide Supreme. To seal foods for sous vide cooking requires nothing more than a common kitchen vacuum sealer and food grade plastic vacuum/seal bags, approved for cooking.

Does the SousVide Supreme come with a vacuum sealer?

No, the vacuum sealer is not included with the water oven itself, but our SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer is available as a separate purchase on our website

We also have terrific packages on special now which come with the SousVide water over, a vacuum sealer, cooking pouches, a sousvide cookbook & DVD; everything you need to start cooking SousVide!


Can I buy replacement bags for the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer?

Absolutely. Bags are available in 1-quart/.95-liter or 1-gallon/3.79-liter pouches. You can find our complete line of food-grade cooking pouches on our website.

Will any other bags work with the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer?

For the best quality sous vide cooking bag, we recommend using only the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer bags. However, our system will also work with some other bags, such as those by Food Saver. Any bag used for sous vide cooking, however, should always be made of food grade plastic and approved for cooking.

Is the plastic used in the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer bags free of BPA and the other harmful substances often found in plastic?

Yes. Food safety is very important to us and all of our bags have been third party tested and verified to be free of Bisphenol-A, lead, polyethylene and any phthalates.

I’m concerned about the environment, what can I do to limit the plastic waste when cooking sous vide?

Many communities allow consumers to recycle the plastic bags used in sous vide cooking along with their regular household recycling. We urge our customers to check with their local recycler for the policies enforced in their community. Additionally, there are many organizations and online resources that help consumers more effectively recycle their plastics, such as www.plasticbagrecycling.org.