Sous Vide vs. Reverse Sear...

  • Power User


    Last week I borrowed an Anova ‘Precision’ Sous Vide and cooked nearly every meal with it. I made boneless skinless Chicken thighs, Chuck Eye steak, Tri-Tip, Pork Chops, Apple Blue Cheese and Sage Brats and fresh local Asparagus. All the meat was finished on the grill. Everything turned out fine but there are a few things I would critique with this technique.

    Texture: Sous Vide changes the texture of meat. There is no avoiding this. With tough cuts of Beef that could be a good thing. With pork and particularly Chicken. Both turned out good. Both were juicy. Both were flavorful. Both were…weird. I’m on the fence with the texture of Pork sometimes as is. I’ve never had much issue with Chicken unless it was under cooked and that’s exactly what it reminded me of. This time it wasn’t due to not getting the meat to temp. It was the cooking method. Overall the meat was fine and I finished all of it but I won’t be using Sous Vide on Chicken ever again. Same goes for Pork. The results were similar but the texture was not favorable. Damn you Sous Vide.


    lemon chicken.jpg

    Crust or Bark: After the cooking all of the previously mentioned meats I finished them on a searing hot grill. While everything came out tasty and picture perfect it didn’t quite have that crusty, caramelized exterior I enjoy in a steak. When you pull the meat from the Sous Vide it has been cooked in it’s own juices. While flavorful this makes it nearly impossible to get a good crust on the grill. Pan searing might be the way to go. It was good but not great. The Chuck Eye was super tender. The Tri Tip was already cut into small-ish pieces from the butcher so I prepared them as kabobs. They turned out great but could probably used a bit more time. That might be one I revisit in the future.




    The good: The brats and sausage turned out perfectly. I’ve never made brats that retained so much of the juices. They were perfect. Likewise the asparagus was perfect. They turned a vibrant green and were still crisp but cooked through. If I decide to pull the trigger on a Sous Vide of my own, brats and veggies will be in the regular rotation.


  • Power User

    In my opinion…Reverse Sear beats Sous Vide hands down. It’s not even close. I prepared my steak as I did in the “This is how I do ribeye” thread.


    Salt cure, dried overnight in the fridge than applied some seasoning and vacuum sealed overnight. I cooked the steak at 250 in the oven for about 28 minutes and went to a scorching grill. After a couple minutes per side I had the crust I was looking for and moved the steak aside while I grilled some chops. Reverse sear does better with thicker cuts so the pork was straight from the bag to the grill.

    Success! The crust on the steak was amazing and the crispy bits of fat on the chops was sizzled to perfection.



  • Power User

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  • Power User

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  • Power User

    The Verdict…I will never use Sous Vide on a quailty cut of beef, chicken or pork again. I thought about trying some Copper River Salmon until I tried the chicken…I’m not about to screw up something as special as that. I’m sure I’ll pick one up at some point if the deal is right but I will only use it for a few specific items.

    That said…if you struggle with grilling or pan searing your proteins I would highly recommend it. It’s a nearly fool proof process. I’m a little picky when it comes to texture so take my criticisms with a grain of salt. It’s a product that I would recommend but like the ‘Instant Pot’ it has it’s limitations. It’s not magic.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I have to say I agree on the chicken. I did not like the juiciness of the chicken and that might sound weird but I know Joe can understand what I am talking about, it was too juicy, not in a good way. I’ve tried chicken breats twice and both times prefered the grill, even after I finished it up in a pan I just find a grill or an oven as a better fit for chicken.

    I disagree on the high quality cuts not working for sous vide but that might be a personal preference thing and, like he said if you have trouble with a pan or grill sous vide is absolutely safer. If you have a very refined pallet, like I suspect Joe does then you might notice a difference in a sous vide steak vs reverse sear.

    It took me a LOOONNNGG time to like sous vide as much as I like reverse searing. It is similar to how I like my older dog more than my puppy, I just have more of an attachment to one than the other!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon My finer cuts example would be the Ribeye I bought the other day…$18 for one steak. I’m sure I could have made a near perfect steak using the Sous Vide but I just couldn’t bring myself to risking it on such a spendy piece of meat. For that same reason I wouldn’t try that technique on a Filet, Tenderloin or Salmon. I just can’t do it. That said…a lesser quality Ribeye might lend itself well to pan seared and blackened. My reverse seared steak had the best crust I’ve ever had on a piece of meat. Hands down it was the best steak I’ve ever had. I would like to try the Sous Vide method on something like a London Broil. That cut has always been hit and miss for me.

  • @Joe-Hell
    I would have to agree. I tried the sous vide method with a ribeye a few days ago. I wont do that again. I did get a nice sear on the grill but decided a ribeye doesn’t need that method. That first one I tried was a tougher cut and sous vide definitely helped on that.

  • Power User

    @PapaSop I just can’t see an advantage to using Sous Vide on cuts that are already notoriously tender. The Sous Vide reminds me of the Instant Pot fad. My mom had to have one. She bragged how you can take a piece of frozen meat and throw everything in the pot and a little while later as if by magic you would have a perfect meal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cooking meat with that method changes texture and I haven’t found anything to be super flavorful.

    That said…there are things that the instant pot does perfectly. I’m not sure I’ve ever had hard boiled eggs cooked better. Peeling them has never been easier. Rice, perfect. Beans and Potatoes…perfect. Frozen Pork shoulder…crap. lol.

    IMO meat needs the caramelization and crust that only the Malliard reaction can offer. Sous Vide and Instant Pot are great tools for specific jobs…so is my Weber Kettle, My Masterbuilt smoker, Char Broil grill, Weber Gas grill, my open fire pit, Gas convection oven, Cast Iron cookware, Weston dehydrator, etc., etc…

    As with every cooking tool there is a learning curve and I may not have found mine quite yet but that doesn’t mean I am done with it. One thing I would like to try is brewing beer with it. During the mash process you need to hold specific temperatures for specific times to get the highest conversion of starches to sugars from the grain. The Sous Vide would excel at that. Maybe that will be my next thread on this topic!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I agree that the general public does seem to fall for the fads a lot, you mention insta pot (my mom and sisters were crazy for it) and I was air frying everything I could for a while there until I realized it really wasn’t any simpler than baking. Also, it is odd that hard boiled eggs are much better in the air fryer than a normal pot, toss them in the air fryer for 8 minutes then a pot of ice cold water for 5 or so and they peel like a dream!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon That’s interesting on the air fryer eggs. I wonder what’s going on that makes peeling so much easier with either machine. I would probably own the air fryer if it wasn’t for avoiding everything that is great when fried.

    If I was picking my next toy it might be something like this. Who doesn’t need a vertical roasting meat carousel in their kitchen? I’d be shaving and eating meat every time I got near it!

    Vertical roaster.jpeg

  • Power User

    @Jonathon Another thought that I had was using the Sous Vide to pre-cook my sausages prior to freezing. It would be quite a convenience to simply open my package of sausages and reheat or brown in a pan.


  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell yeah that will work, I’ve done it before and liked the results. Precooked fresh sausage is a great thing to have!

  • Power User

    I’ll say this…The Sous Vide is an absolutely perfect tool to reheat meat. In this case it’s smoked pork chops. Somehow they almost seem juicier and more flavorful than before. Once again it absolutely nailed the vegetables.


  • I personally think sous vide is a great way to cook steak, I love rare to medium rare edge to edge. I finish my steaks in a screaming hot cast iron pan for about 2 minutes per side and get a great crust. A recent trick I have tried is putting a slather of mayo on them before searing, and it really helps to build beautiful crust. I’ve cooked chuck roasts for 24 hours sous vide as well, and had them come out as tender as prime rib.

    I do agree it is just another tool in the arsenal, and it’s not an end all be all gadget. I will say I’ve made cheesecake with it in Mason jars, and that is a great way to make cheesecake for a crowd.

  • Power User

    @Tex_77 I did enjoy the results with the beef I’ve tried so far! A roast is something I’d like to try as well as several other cuts. I’m done with chicken and pork! Lol.

    The cheesecake sounds interesting and something I might try with one of the low carb recipes I’ve seen lately.

    One thing I might try soon is using it to brew beer. The temp control would be a huge advantage for the mashing process.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Any time anyone says roast with steak and sous vide all I can think of is the Ribeye that Austin and I Sous Vide(d?) for 24 hours, it was very tender but it was no longer a steak it was a roast. Part of that might be because Austin insisted we do it at 140° or something like that. I might try it again at 125° for 24 hours and see what the results are.

  • @Jonathon I generally don’t sous vide my steaks for any longer then an hour. That being said, I have done whole rib-eye rolls for 8 hours making prime rib, and they came out great. I don’t like to go much above 125 for steaks, as I like mine on the rarer side of things. For tri-tip I’ll usually sous vide for 4 hours or so. Have you ever tried doing a whole packer brisket sous vide? I saw a video once of one being done, and Meathead was there and he couldn’t distinguish between the one that was cooked sous vide vs the one that was smoked traditionally.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon 140 is criminal! I wonder about that Austin character

  • Walton's Employee

    @Tex_77 Austin and I have talked about doing brisket in the Sous Vide before yes. We just need to do it and we might have time in the next few weeks. My only fear would be that without any bark on it doing it sous vide…so youd have to finish it up on a grill or something? We planned on using Pa’s Black Bull injection with just a touch of liquid smoke.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon Throw it on a rack on a sheet pan, place it in a 500+ degree oven and you’ll have a crust in no time!

  • Power User

    Tonight I made another Chuck Eye and a filet of catfish using the Sous Vide. This time I used a blackening seasoning and finished both in a smoking hot pan of clarified butter and fresh thyme. The pan gave the steak a great crust. This particular cut wasn’t the greatest but it still managed to be a decent steak although it was pretty fatty. The fish was crusty and perfectly flaky. I ended up making fish tacos with a horseradish slaw, avocado and cotija cheese.

    D5E80FF7-2F5D-431F-B8B6-084CBACB7604.jpeg 48F98E79-A6F8-44BD-9041-8024F3005D7C.jpeg
    C9722904-3AC1-4F2B-9BE4-6CFF53A7BC43.jpeg D7C53265-D80D-4313-9973-8132B150D39D.jpeg

  • @Joe-Hell is there a video on this sous vide? Have no clue what it is and dont understand why one would do this technique

  • @twilliams check out “sous vide everything” channel on YouTube. link text

  • Power User

    @twilliams The link that Tex_77 posted is a good one. I’ve watched many of those videos. I’m not completely sold on the Sous Vide yet but I’m determined to make the best out of my time borrowing this one.

  • @Tex_77 will give it a watch, thanks

  • Power User

    Last night I started another chicken for the open fire pit and figured I would try the Sous Vide on the giblets. I gave those to my dad and he will get back to me on the results.

    Tonight I started a deli style roast beef using some eye of round I picked up today. I used the pepper and garlic jerky seasoning as a rub and injected with Pa’s soluble Black Bull and cold phosphate. I “pre-seared” the roast and deglazed the pan with more Black Bull then trussed with twine and vacuum sealed with fresh garlic and rosemary and adding the pan Jus.

    I’ll cook 24 hours at 140 then I will finish it by the same method I use to cook the chicken tomorrow.

    1CB332DB-0022-46A8-9147-B02F2A1D2761.jpeg 45771A70-9811-4693-B358-DB2030C15EBE.jpeg

  • @Joe-Hell Why did you choose to pre-sear vs post sear? Also nice trussing!

  • Power User

    @Tex_77 I read that the pre-sear results in a deeper flavor due to the caramelization and long cook time. The Jus is amazing! I have now pulled it from the Sous Vide and I’m doing a second sear in my fire pit. Check out the link…it’s almost like being here!

  • @Joe-Hell nice!

  • Power User

    @Tex_77 thanks for the trussing compliment! That was the first time I didn’t screw it up. Lol. I used it as a practice run for tying pancetta tomorrow!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I very much agree with @Tex_77 That is some quality string work there! We are getting ready to put some coppa in the dry curing cabinet and I was going to use Roast Wrap but you have inspired me to try one of them with butchers twine.

    How was the taste?

  • Power User

    @Jonathon It turned out excellent despite taking it a few degrees warmer than I intended. The meat was very moist and had a great garlicky flavor throughout with plenty herbal notes from the rosemary. The juices left over in the bag made a wonderful Au Jus. I made mom a ‘French Dip Kit’ with fresh baked bread and smoked ‘Cougar Viking’ cheese for mothers day which she shared with my grandparents. Grandma laid claim to all of the leftovers. lol.

    In regards to the cheese…Washington State University makes some of the best cheese I’ve ever had. It comes in a can and it’s absolutely amazing!



  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Cheese in a can? You have started a debate in my office, I now must see a picture of the actual cheese. Two people in here (i am one) find this very odd and cant wrap our heads around it, the 3rd person is acting like this is the most normal thing in the world!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon It is so very, very good. I believe it was developed during the first World War as there wasn’t a better alternative to ensure it wouldn’t go bad before it reached the troops. The prices online from the link below are far better than what I can buy locally. I’d suggest you guys order before the weather gets too hot! You won’t be sorry!

    312A744F-F7F6-47D7-894E-C2659BF003FF.jpeg 9BA141D4-F595-4FB8-B861-7CB149FF5C3A.jpeg

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Learn something new every day. I think I just might order some just to see what it is like!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon The Cougar Gold is my personal favorite and likely their most popular. All of them are excellent though. I haven’t tried any of the pepper varieties or the smoked one.

  • Here is a steak I cooked sous vide last night. I seasoned it with Oakridge BBQ Carne Crosta Steakhouse Rub, then vacuumed sealed it, and put it in the sous vide at 123 for about an hour. After that I took them out and put a coating of mayonnaise on them, then seared them off in a cast iron pan on the stove, and hit them with some finishing salt. The results speak for themselves.
    4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg

  • Power User

    @Tex_77 Oh my! That looks perfectly crusty! I’ll have to try the mayo technique!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Tex_77 That looks awesome! Do you have an instagram or twitter account you want me to link these to when I repost them on walton’s social media? Have you tried their Smoky Chili Lime? It is seriously good on so many things, it goes particularly good with another of my favorites Soluble Pa’s Black Bull!

  • @Jonathon I have not used their Chili Lime seasoning, but I do have several Chili Lime seasonings, the one I can remember off the top of my head is Kosmos Wing Dust Chili Lime seasoning.

  • Power User

    I picked up some Snake River Farms Wagyu Sirloin today. I will do one cut using reverse sear and the other will be sous vide and both will be finished on the Weber kettle. I’m excited about these cuts!


  • @Joe-Hell
    Have never seen Wagyu around my area. Looks like a good price. Good luck!

  • Power User

    @PapaSop I’ve eaten but never purchased Wagyu prior to day because it is normally prohibitively expensive. They have a couple different grades of Wagyu on the website that range in price from $32-$40/lb… I’m not sure what grade I have but at $11.99/lb. it was too good a deal to pass up.

  • @Joe-Hell
    I see you’re online. Question, I plan on injecting that butt with the Pa’s. Can I do it tonight and smoke tomorrow or better to inject in the morning?

  • Power User

    @PapaSop I asked Jonathon that very question on my Pa’s Black Bull thread. He said there are no issues and you could even hold it up to 3 days! I used the same injection for my roast beef and it was excellent! I also used the Garlic & Pepper jerky seasoning…soooo tasty!

  • @Joe-Hell Very nice. Thanks for quick reply. I’ll inject tonight.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I didnt even log in this weekend! Nice peaceful and relaxing, thanks for helping @PapaSop out!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon sometimes you just gotta leave the office…at the office!

  • @Jonathon Totally agree with @Joe-Hell . Sometimes ya gotta just let it go!

  • @Joe-Hell How’d that Wagyu turn out?

  • Power User

    @PapaSop It was great! Once again I’m going to declare ‘Reverse Sear’ the winner. The caramelization and texture was simply better. I used the salt cure method for about 20 minutes and then vacuum sealed both steaks with pepper and roasted garlic. I held the steak to be reverse seared at room temp while I cooked the Sous Vide steak for about 1 1/2 hours.

    The top steak in both pictures is the Sous Vide version.



  • @Joe-Hell Those look great! I’m right there with you on the reverse sear. It’s what I’ve always done on steaks and will continue to do going forward. May experiment with other things using Sous Vide but not my steaks.

  • Power User

    @PapaSop I’m considering buying one just to make deli meat with. The roast beef was amazing!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe Hell and @PapaSop I am working on Meatgistics University Deli Meat 20(x) and Ive done chicken breast deli meat two different ways, both of them I have finished in the sous vide cooker and have been really happy with the results!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I wonder if the preference for sous vide steak vs reverse sear has to do with texture preferences or taste preferences? It might surprise some people but I don’t consider myself to have a very sophisticated pallet when it comes to taste but I do have a strong sense of texture. It’s the reason I hate mashed potatoes and cooked mushrooms.

    Joe, would you agree that the interior and overall texture of the sous vide steak is more tender?

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I would agree that in most cases the texture has been more tender with Sous Vide vs. Reverse Sear. That said, I tend to lean towards the texture of the latter. Taste wise I think both were so close that we would be splitting hairs though again it’s that caramelization that in my opinion the reverse sear edges out Sous Vide.

    I can be picky when it comes to the texture of food. For example…I love the flavor of every member of the melon family but I can’t eat any one of them. Same goes for bananas. I do like mashed potatoes and cooked mushrooms though!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I know Im not the only who hates mash potatoes, there are DOZENs of us! (credit to whoever gets that reference) The texture is absolutely important, but what is wrong with the texture of a melon? I get it with bananas but melons? To be clear, I LOVE reverse searing a steak I just now prefer sous vide

    I hate the term mouth feel and someone here once suggested Pallet Appeal and…I looked back and found the post and it was you!! Hahaha that’s too funny!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon Watermelon for example seems grainy and strange. Cantelope is mushy/slimy…bananas fall into that category too. I love the flavor of all of them though. Eggplants are right in there as well. Just mentioning oysters makes me gag. I’m having trouble even typing about them. lol. None of the above appeals to my palate!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell I can understand the watermelon being grainy but it doesn’t bother me! Love oysters, I’ve never had something out of the ocean that I didn’t like!

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