What Is the Best Cut of Steak for Sous Vide?
Steak is an all-time favorite for sous vide enthusiasts, and for a good reason. Preparing steak traditionally in a skillet leaves room for error, and even experienced cooks can occasionally get it wrong.
Sous vide cooking gives the steak a more consistent finish, and each bite is so much more juicy. Since you control the temperature the steak cooks at, you can ensure it’s medium-rare (or whichever temperature you prefer) every time you prepare it. Also, steaks cooked sous vide (and then seared) will look just as good or even better than one cooked in a skillet or grill.
But choosing the best cut of steak for sous vide can be challenging. Each type of steak comes with its own benefits and flaws, and the resulting flavor can vary wildly depending on the cut’s fat content. The best cuts include filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip, T-bone, sirloin, hanger, and flank. Any of these cooked sous vide will turn out delicious, but based on your personal preferences, one might stand out to you over the others.
Here’s my list of the best steaks for sous vide.
Sous Vide Filet Mignon
One of the most well-known steaks, filet mignon (also known as beef tenderloin), is the most tender steak that is still relatively lean.
t’s usually the most expensive cut, but if you’re looking for the best cut of steak for sous vide, I recommend that you don’t look any further than the classical filet mignon.
Filet mignon will need to be cooked at 132°F for about two to three hours for a perfect medium-rare center. Cooking it for longer will increase the doneness. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide Ribeye
Also known as Scotch filet or beauty steak, the ribeye is a popular cut among meat enthusiasts.
It can be served with or without the bone. The steak’s high marbling (due to increased fat content) gives it a richer texture and a more buttery taste once cooked. Ribeye steak is not as lean as filet mignon and will appeal to different palates, but remains one of the best steaks to use for sous vide.
For best results, I recommend cooking the ribeye steak at 129°F for two hours. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide New York Strip / Kansas City Steak
This piece of short loin comes from muscles cows don’t use that often. As such, it’s one of the more tender cuts.
It only has slight marbling and has a delicious texture rivaled only by the more expensive filet mignon if cooked properly. Since you’re using sous vide, you can ensure the steak is cooked to perfection every time.
New York strip steaks need to be cooked in a sous vide bath at 130°F for two to four hours. The longer it’s cooked, the more juice will drain from the steak, and it will be less chewy. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide T-Bone
The T-bone is one of the largest steak cuts, and a single cut can sometimes be enough to feed two people.
The cut is essentially a combination of the New York strip and the filet mignon separated by a sizeable T-shaped bone, hence the name. It’s served with the bone in, but the bone doesn’t interfere with the sous vide process.
To cook the T-bone in a sous vide bath, set it to 131°F and let the steak cook for two hours to get the perfect medium-rare. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide Sirloin Steak
Sirloin steak is one of the more moderately tender, boneless steaks.
It has a relatively low-fat content which makes it more suitable for grilling. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t stick it in a vacuum bag, and sous vide the steak to perfection.
Sirloin is also usually more affordable for a comparatively quality steak and is excellent if you’re on a budget.
Sirloin steaks need to be cooked for two to four hours at 131°F. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide Hanger Steak
The hanger, or butcher’s steak, is cut from the plate section (front of the belly). It hangs off the cow’s diaphragm, which is where it gets the name.
This cut is extremely polarizing, and some people will find the taste to be similar to liver. However, it takes well to marinating and can be a great steak to use in sous vide.
It’s also relatively unpopular and often doesn’t appear on regular butcher menus. It’s also affordable compared to the first four steak cuts on this list, which is one more reason to try this steak out.
Hanger steak tastes best between medium-rare and medium. Any lower, and it stays too bloody, but it becomes too tough if well-done. Hanger steaks should be cooked at 130°F for two hours. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide Flank Steak
Flank steak is not a prime piece of meat and is inexpensive compared to other cuts.
This is its saving grace since you can easily experiment with steak on a cheaper cut and feed more guests on a tighter budget.
The steak can be tough to chew if cooked beyond medium and is not the best cut of steak for sous vide texture-wise, but it will serve you well and still has a distinct beefy taste.
Flank steaks cook at 132°F for 1.5 hours. If you have a cut that is more than an inch thick, increase the cooking time to 2 or even 2.5 hours. See my chart in the FAQ below for all temperatures and times for sous vide steak.
Sous Vide Steak FAQ
What Temperature and for How Long Do You Sous Vide Steaks?
See my table below that outlines at what temperature and for how long you should sous vide different types of steaks to different temperatures.
|Very Rare to Rare||Medium Rare||Medium||Medium Well||Well Done|
|Strip||120°F (49°C) to 128°F (53°C), 1 to 2 1/2 hours||129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C), 1 to 4 hours (2 1/2 hours for temperatures under 130°F/57°C)||135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C), 1 to 4 hours||145°F (63°C) to 155°F (68°C), 1 to 3 1/2 hours||156°F (69°C) and up, 1 to 3 hours|
|Ribeye||120°F (49°C) to 128°F (53°C), 1 to 2 1/2 hours||129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C), 1 to 4 hours (2 1/2 hours for temperatures under 130°F/57°C)||135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C), 1 to 4 hours||145°F (63°C) to 155°F (68°C), 1 to 3 1/2 hours||156°F (69°C) and up, 1 to 3 hours|
|Porterhouse||120°F (49°C) to 128°F (53°C), 1 to 2 1/2 hours||129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C), 1 to 4 hours (2 1/2 hours for temperatures under 130°F/57°C)||135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C), 1 to 4 hours||145°F (63°C) to 155°F (68°C), 1 to 3 1/2 hours||156°F (69°C) and up, 1 to 3 hours|
|Tenderloin||120°F (49°C) to 128°F (53°C), 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours||129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C), 45 minutes to 4 hours (2 1/2 hours for temperatures under 130°F/57°C)||135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C), 45 minutes to 4 hours||145°F (63°C) to 155°F (68°C), 45 minutes to 3 1/2 hours||156°F (69°C) and up, 1 to 3 hours|
How Thick Should Steak Be for Sous Vide?
Since sous vide cooks the meat at a consistent temperature, there won’t be much of a difference between the outermost layer and the core of the steak. Therefore, you need to have a thicker steak for better texture and appearance during the final searing.
I recommend getting steaks with at least a 1 inch width. This will allow you to see the texture in the middle and still leave some room for proper searing. For best results, try to get steaks that are at least 1.5” to 2” thick. This can mean a single T-bone or ribeye steak can feed two people.
Do Sous Vide Steaks Need to Rest?
Sous vide steaks don’t need to rest because they’re already perfectly cooked all the way through right when you take them out of the bag! However, you do need to let the steaks rest for a few minutes if you plan to sear them. Click here to learn more.
How Do You Sear Sous Vide Steaks?
After you’ve cooked your best cut of steak sous vide, the resulting piece of meat will often be greyish and won’t look as appetizing as you might expect. This is where searing comes in to seal in the flavors and create a deliciously caramelized steak.
After you’ve sous vide your steak, let it rest for a few minutes first. Once rested, sear the steak in a skillet for a short time to crisp it up and give it that traditional crust.
Use a hot cast iron or steel skillet, and flip the steak every 15 to 30 seconds until both sides are equally seared. The entire searing process shouldn’t take more than a minute and a half if the pan is properly pre-heated. You can also sear the edges for up to 30 seconds or so.
Is Sous Vide Steak Better Than Grilled?
This is all personal opinion, but if you can appreciate a perfectly cooked steak, then I can almost guarantee that you’ll prefer a sous vide steak over a grilled steak.
Sous machines cook by circulating heated water around food that’s sealed in Ziploc or vacuum sealed bags. The water circulation evenly cooks your steak all the way through to the exact temperature you want it to be at. The result: perfect doneness.
On the other hand, if you’re grilling it, you’re applying high heat on the outsides and not much heat is getting on the inside. That’s why you end up with a gradient (more cooked on the outside to less cooked on the inside).
Sous vide foods also taste much better in general. You always end up with the extremely juicy, tender, succulent meat with this method every time you use it. If you want to learn more about why sous vide is so great, check out my article here.
Do Restaurants Sous Vide Steaks?
Sous vide cooking is a slow process, and it takes anywhere from 1 to 4 hours to cook a steak with this method. For this reason, most restaurants don’t sous vide steaks. They just don’t have the time.
That being said, more restaurants are adopting the sous vide method to pre-cook steaks to save time cooking them to order. With pre-cooked steaks, restaurants can then just finish them with a sear on the fly when needed.
Some restaurants also use sous vide to batch cooks very large amounts of steaks in preparation for a large dinner service.
Should You Season Steak Before or After Sous Vide?
While you can do either, I recommend seasoning steak before you sous vide. This is how you get the most intense flavors from sous vide cooking. The seasoning has plenty of time to merge with the meat and impart its flavor.
With salt, since sous vide intensifies flavors, I recommend starting with a bit less salt than you would normally use. You can then always add more salt at the end.
My article here goes into detail about when to season with sous vide – check it out!
Can You Sous Vide Steaks from Frozen?
You certainly can sous vide steaks that have been frozen. You also don’t have to let the steaks defrost before you sous vide them either.
Allowing the steaks to defrost first will reduce the cooking time by quite a bit and will let you follow standard cooking times and temperatures to cook it.
Cooking them from frozen, however, depends on the standard or fresh cooking time for the type and size of steak you’re preparing.
If the standard or fresh cooking time is less than two hours, then add 50% to the cooking time.
If it’s more than two hours, then the temperature needs to be increased. You should get the internal temperature of your meat to 140°F (60°C) within 2 hours. For more explanation on this, check out my article here.
Can You Freeze Sous Vide Steaks?
Sous vide steaks can definitely be frozen. After you sous vide your steaks, keep them in the sealed bags and cool them quickly before placing them in a freezer. You can place the bags in an ice bath for at least an hour to cool them down (take a look at Table 1.1 here for approximate cooling times based on the thickness and shape of the steaks).
Keep the steaks in the bags when you freeze them, too. This will make defrosting and reheating them with your immersion circulator even easier when you’re ready to eat them. Click here for more details.
If you’re wondering how long you can freeze sous vide steaks for, the answer is up to 6 weeks.
How Do You Reheat Sous Vide Steak?
A general rule of thumb for reheating sous vide steak is to reheat it at a slightly lower temperature than what you cooked it at. This way, you don’t cook the steak even more, which can result in changes in texture and make it more mushy.
The optimal temperature for serving meat is 120°F–130°F (50°C–55°C), so this is your goal range for steak. For details on temperature and heating times, read my article here.
How Do You Cook Sous Vide Steaks to Different Temperatures?
If you’re preparing more than one steak, and you want to cook them to different temperatures, there are a few different methods for doing this.
- Start with the most done steak(s), then lower the temperature and cook the less-done steak(s).
- All all the steaks at once and set the temperature to cook the less-done steak(s). Then remove them, raise the temperature, and cook the most-done steak(s).
- Cook all steaks at the lowest target temperature, then sear the most-done steak(s) for longer than the less-done(s).
I outline each of these methods step by step in my article here. Give it a read!
The best cut of steak for sous vide is usually the same one you would typically choose for cooking based on your personal preference.
The advantage of the sous vide method is greater temperature control, evenly cooked results, and incredible flavor and juiciness every time.
If you have the budget, you cannot go wrong with a filet mignon. My other personal favorites are the ribeye when I want more buttery, fatty flavor and a T-bone when I want a combination of filet and New York strip.