Can You Sous Vide Multiple Steaks at Once?
You probably know that sous vide is the best way to cook steak to perfection. The combination of precise temperature control, sealed-in moisture, and simple, hands-off cooking makes sous vide a steak-lovers favorite.
But sometimes you don’t want steak for one. Sometimes you need to make steak for a pair, for your whole family, or far a big group of friends.
So can you sous vide multiple steaks at once and still cook them to perfection? How many sous vide steaks can you make at a time?
Can You Sous Vide More Than One Steak at a Time?
Yes, you can sous vide multiple steaks. In fact, the number of steaks you can sous vide simultaneously is only limited by the size of your sous vide water bath.
Every steak needs to have plenty of room for the water to circulate freely on all sides, for the most accurate and even cooking.
If you have sealed every steak in its own sous vide bag, you can place as many steaks as comfortably fit into your sous vide container at once.
You can also place multiple steaks in the same sous vide bag. There are just a few things you should make sure of.
The first is that you should place the steaks beside each other in the bag, without being stacked or overlapping on top of each other.
When steaks are stacked or piled on top of each other, the meat on the outside will heat more quickly than the meat in the center.
The stack effectively creates a single, very thick steak, and it will take a long time for the center steak to cook properly. The end result: unevenly cooked steaks.
Secondly, the steaks shouldn’t be more than 1 inch thick.
If the steaks are very thick and placed edge-to-edge, water won’t evenly circulate around the steaks’ outside edge and could cause slow or uneven cooking.
If the steaks are thinner, the edges are better able to cook at the same rate as the meat itself.
Finally, if you’re using a small container, you may need to keep a closer eye on the water bath, as the water may evaporate and the water level will drop more rapidly than when you’re cooking in a larger container.
Also, if you’re cooking many steaks at once in a sous vide container, it’s best to start with hot tap water, to bring the bath to temperature more quickly.
How Many Steaks Can You Sous Vide at Once?
The number of steaks you can sous vide simultaneously is limited by the size of your sous vide container.
While you can cook multiple steaks at once, there needs to be room for the water to circulate freely around all sides of the food.
A good rule of thumb for cooking multiple sous vide steaks at once is to cook one steak (approximately 1 inch thick or less) for each gallon of water your sous vide container can hold.
So if your container can hold 3 gallons of water, you can easily cook 3 steaks in it. I talk more about ideal sous vide container sizes in my article here.
How to Sous Vide Two Steaks to Two Different Temperatures
The challenge of cooking multiple steaks at once with a sous vide cooker is that many people have individual preferences and want their steaks cooked to different temperatures.
Because sous vide cookers are designed to cook everything slowly at the same temperature, it can be difficult to cook steaks to different preferences simultaneously.
Here are the best methods to follow.
Start With the Most-Done Steak
If you want to cook one steak to medium and another to rare, here’s one way to do it.
- Start by cooking the higher-temperature steak.
- When that steak reaches the preferred temperature, leave it in the water bath.
- Lower the temperature on your sous vide machine to the temperature of your less-cooked steak.
- Add some cold water to reduce the temperature of your immersion bath.
- Add the second steak.
The rarer steak will cook to the lower temperature, while the more cooked steak will stay warm in the sous vide container without cooking any further.
Remove the Less-Done Steak
For this method:
- Add all the steaks to the water bath at the same time.
- Set the temperature to your lowest preferred temperature.
- When your less-done steaks are cooked, remove them.
- Leave the steaks that need more cooking in the sous vide container.
- Raise the temperature and allow the remaining steaks to cook for longer.
Sear Them Differently
Since most people sear and brown their sous vide steaks after immersion cooking, a simple way to prepare steaks differently is to:
- Cook all the steaks to the lowest desired temperature
- Remove them from the sous vide cooker
- When browning and searing the steaks, allow the more-cooked steaks to have an additional minute or two in the pan, to reach the preferred doneness.
Tip: you should let the steaks rest for a few minutes before searing them.
Should Each Steak Be in Its Own Sous Vide Bag?
Having steaks in their own bag is the easiest way to cook them to different temperatures.
If you are putting multiple steaks in the same bag, make sure they are on a single layer with no stacking or overlap.
Remember that these steaks will have to be cooked to the same temperature.
Will the Bags Touch Each Other? How do You Prevent This?
The easiest way to ensure that bags don’t touch each other and that water circulates on all sides of a bag for even cooking is to use a sous vide rack.
As an alternative, you can use clips to prevent the bags from bunching up together.
Does All This Apply to Other Kinds of Meat and Fish?
As a rule, the process for cooking steaks sous vide can also be used for cooking pork, chicken, or other meats.
However, fish is usually more delicate and cannot be cooked the same way as steak.
There are many ways to cook steaks sous vide, not just for one person, but for a whole family or a party.
You can even use sous vide immersion circulators to provide steaks cooked to individual preferences, so everyone gets the steak they love cooked to perfection.