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The Best Steak Cuts for Sous Vide: Ultimate Guide

steak cuts for sous vide

Sous vide is a cooking method that has been gaining popularity in recent years. To those not familiar with this cooking method – it involves cooking food in a water bath at a low temperature. It results in an evenly cooked food with no risk of overcooking (still, timing is essential). Steak is a perfect dish to cook using the sous vide method. It’s unusual since grilling or pan-frying is more common for cooking meat. However, if you’re skeptical about sous vide steak, give it a try. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised. There are several different cuts of steak that work well. In this article, I will discuss the best steak cuts for sous vide, as well as how to cook them and how to buy them!

As a chef, I’ve been playing around with cooking sous vide steaks for a while now. I have to admit it became one of my favorite kitchen tools. It’s versatile and easy to use. The other day I cooked a chuck roast. It’s not the most tender cut, but it came out perfect after 4 hours of slow cooking. A gentle cooking process resulted in a perfectly cooked interior with loads of flavor and juiciness.

Best Steak Cuts for Sous Vide

You’ll find the 11 best steak cuts for slow cooking in this list. However, keep in mind that cooking tougher steak cuts in temperature-controlled water is best since it allows the meat to tenderize.

If you want to learn more about different cooking methods with different steak cuts – click on the link below:

Ribeye Steak

ribeye steak

Rib-eye steak is a cut that comes from the rib area of the cow. This particular steak is known for being tender and juicy and has a lot of marbling. Price-wise, this steak is on the expensive side. Cooking rib-eye steak sous vide results in a steak that is evenly cooked throughout and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Sous vide cook it medium-rare to medium doneness. It’ll keep the steak flavorful and tender.

New York Strip Steak

new york strip steak

New York strip steak is a cut of steak that comes from the short loin area of the cow. This particular cut is also known for being tender and juicy with a good amount of marbling. New York strip steak is a bit less expensive than ribeye but still considered a pricier steak. When cooked sous vide, this steak will be evenly cooked. The steak tastes best when slow-cooked to medium-rare or medium.

T-bone Steak

t-bone steak

T-bone steak is a cut of steak that contains both strip steak and tenderloin. This particular steak is one of the more expensive cuts. It’s a great option if you’re looking to impress your dinner guests. This steak will be evenly cooked throughout when cooked sous vide, which is hard to do on a grill or pan with a bone-in steak. The strip section will be juicy and flavorful, while the tenderloin will be melt-in-your-mouth tender. I highly recommend cooking this steak to medium-rare or medium.

Flank Steak

flank steak

Flank steak is a cut of steak that comes from the abdominal area of the cow. This particular cut is known for being lean and having a lot of flavors. However, flank steak can be a bit tough if not cooked properly, but it’s juicy, tender, and full of flavor when cooked sous vide. I recommend cooking flank steak to medium-rare or medium doneness.

Hanger Steak

hanger steak

Hanger steak (also known as a butcher’s steak) is a cut of beef that comes from the diaphragm (or plate) area of the cow. This particular cut is not as popular as some other cuts on this list, but it’s a great cut if you’re looking for a cheaper steak. Keep in mind it’s a tough cut if not cooked properly. However, it’s exceptionally juicy and tender with lots of beefy flavors when cooked sous vide. I recommend slow-cooking it in temperature-controlled water to medium-rare or medium for the best outcome.

Skirt Steak

skirt steak

Skirt steak is a cut from the cow’s diaphragm (or plate) area. This particular cut is long, thin, and has a lot of flavors. Cost-wise, it’s a cheaper option. As with hanger steak, it can be tough if skirt steak is overcooked. However, this steak will be juicy and tender with bold, beefy flavors when cooked sous vide. Cook it to medium-rare or medium for the best results.

Flat Iron Steak

flat iron steak

Flat iron steak is a cut of steak that comes from the chuck shoulder primal area of the cow. This particular cut is tender and juicy. However, remember to remove sinew (white connective tissue) that runs through the middle of the steak. It can be tough to chew if not removed. This steak will be perfectly cooked throughout when cooked sous vide, which is hard to do on a grill or pan. It also has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It’s best to slow cook it to medium-rare or medium.

Tri-tip Steak

tri-tip steak

Tri-tip steak is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin area of the cow. This particular cut is lean with a bit of fat marbling. It’s also a cheaper option, and one of the better options for the sous vide cooking method. This steak will be juicy and tender with a fantastic beefy flavor when cooked sous vide. Slow cook it to medium-rare or medium. It will retain the juiciness and most of the beefy flavor.

Sirloin Steak

sirloin steak

Sirloin steak comes from the top of the cow’s back. It’s lean with a small amount of marbling. Sous vide is an excellent cooking method for this steak because it’s hard to overcook it in temperature-controlled water. The steak will be tender, juicy, and evenly cooked throughout pretty much all of the time. Lean meats are easy to overcook and can become tough. It’s best to slow cook sirloin steak to medium-rare or medium. It’ll provide the best and most tender steak experience. Price-wise, it’s on the cheaper side when compared to more premium cuts like tenderloin and ribeye.

Prime Rib Roast

prime rib roast

The prime rib roast is a cut of beef that comes from the rib primal area of the cow. It has a lot of marbling which means it’s an extremely juicy, tender, and flavorful piece of meat. It is a more expensive cut but well worth it if you’re looking for a fantastic steak experience when it comes to price. This steak will be evenly cooked throughout with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and excellent flavor profile when cooked sous vide. I recommend cooking this steak to medium-rare or medium for the best experience.

Filet Mignon

filet mignon

Filet mignon is a cut of steak that comes from the cow’s tenderloin primal area. This particular cut is exceptionally tender, juicy, and flavorful. It’s also one of the most expensive cuts of steak. This steak will be evenly cooked throughout and have a fantastic texture when cooked sous vide. Keep in mind it’s a relatively lean piece of meat; therefore, it can be overcooked easily. Slow cook it to medium-rare or medium. Anything more than that, and the money is wasted.

Steak Doneness Temperature Chart

steak doneness temperature chart

Below is a steak temperature chart. Aim for these temperatures for sous vide steak:

  • Rare sous vide steak: 125° F;
  • Medium-rare sous vide steak: 135° F;
  • Medium sous vide steak: 145° F;
  • Medium-well sous vide steak: 150° F;
  • Well done sous vide steak: 160° F.

Temperature And Timing Chart for Sous Vide Steak

Below you’ll find a table of temperatures and a timing chart for sous vide steak. Keep in mind I was using one and a half-inch steaks.

DonenessTemperature rangeTiming
Rare125ºF to 128ºF1-3 hours
Medium-rare130ºF to 135ºF1-4 hours
Medium138ºF to 145ºF1-4 hours
Medium-well148ºF to 155ºF1-4 hours
Well-done160ºF and above1-3 hours

Note: Lean and well-marbled sous-vide steaks cook at the same temperature. The only difference is timing. Since well-marbled steak contains more fat, it needs more time to tenderize. I’m talking 20-30 minutes more—lean cuts, on the other hand, cook faster.

 Steak Buying Guide For Sous Vide

The bullet list below will help you to choose the best steak cut next time you’re shopping:

  • Thickness. When choosing steak for sous vide, it’s best to select steak that is about one and a half inches thick;
  • Smell. Steak should smell fresh, not sour or fishy. If it has an ammonia odor – stay away from it;
  • Color. The color of the steak should be dark red or slightly pinkish with some white or yellowish marbling. If the meat is brown – it’s not fresh;
  • Marbling. The more marbling the steak has – the tastier it will be. Even lean cuts contain some amount of fat;
  • Bone-in vs. boneless. It’s really up to you. Both options are great. I prefer bone-in because it adds more flavor to the steak;
  • USDA grading. If you want to ensure the quality of your steak – choose one that is USDA graded. Here are the most common grades: USDA Prime – only the best of the best. This meat is from young cattle and has abundant marbling. USDA Choice – also excellent quality meat with less marbling than Prime. USDA Select – the most common grade. The steak will be tougher and is readily available;

I need to mention both grass-fed and grain-fed steaks. Grass-fed beef (or organic) is leaner and has a more intense beefy flavor. You can easily recognize it from a dark red color and yellowish marbling. Yellowish marbling is because of the pigments in plants. Grain-fed beef is well-marbled and has a more mild flavor. It’s also more tender than grass-fed. However, I find grain-fed steak too buttery.

How To Cook a Steak Sous Vide

how to cook a steak sous vide

Here’s a step by step guide on how to cook a steak sous vide:

  1. Preheat the sous vide precision cooker. Water should become hot enough to cook the steak;
  2. Season. Season your steak with a generous amount of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and add aromatics like fresh thyme and rosemary to the bag;
  3. Seal the bag. Seal the bag with a vacuum sealer or using the water displacement method;
  4. Cook. Place the steak in the preheated water bath and cook according to the chart above;
  5. Remove steak from the bag. Remove it from the bag and pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture;
  6. Sear. Sear the steak in a scorching hot pan or on a grill for about 30-60 seconds per side to get that nice crispy crust;
  7. Rest and serve. Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite sides.

FAQ

What are the downsides to cooking steak sous vide versus using a more traditional method?

The only downside to cooking steak sous vide is that it takes more time. Some may consider it a downside, but there’s a lot more clean-up to do after cooking steak sous vide because it requires cleaning the equipment and the pan or the cast-iron skillet since steak needs to be seared after cooked sous vide.

Should I put olive oil or butter in the bag?

No, you should not put olive oil or butter in the bag. The fat from the steak is enough to cook it properly, and you don’t want the olive oil or butter.

When should I season my steak?

Season the steak before putting it in a vacuum bag. Seasoning the steak after it has been cooked sous vide will not give the same flavor.

Can a sous vide steak get a good crust?

Yes, sous vide steak can get a good crust. After it’s been slow-cooked, remove it from the bag and pat dry the steak with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sear the steak in a hot skillet for about a minute on each side or until a brown crust forms.

Which steak is best for sous vide?

The best steak for sous vide is one that is at least an inch and a half thick and has a decent amount of marbling.

Does thickness of steak matter in sous vide?

Yes, steak thickness does matter in sous vide. A thicker steak will take longer to cook, while a thin steak cooks much faster.

Can you sous vide a bone-in ribeye?

Yes, you can sous vide a bone-in ribeye. In fact, the bone will add flavor to the steak as it cooks.

Can I add aromatics to the sous vide bag?

Yes, you should add aromatics to the sous vide bag because they will add flavor to the steak as it slowly cooks. Aromatics can include fresh thyme, rosemary, or other herbs.

Should I pre-sear my steak?

You can pre-sear steak, but I highly recommend searing the steak after being cooked sous vide. When slow-cooking pre-seared steak, the crust becomes soft. You should aim for a nice golden brown crust on your steak.

Does sous vide steak need to rest?

No, sous vide steak does not need to rest because it’s already been cooked at a low temperature. If you were to cook a steak using a more traditional method, it would need to rest before being served.

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