It’s no secret that top chefs often use sous vide to prepare steak because it promises perfect results. But, did you know you can sous vide frozen steak? That’s right, you can sous vide straight out of the freezer without any compromise to taste, using a method fancy restaurants employ.
The implications to meal prep and buying in bulk are rather profound. Particularly given steak is among the more expensive kitchen ingredients. Furthermore, there’s no reason to stress over forgetting to defrost a night in advance. More money in your wallet, less stress, and hands-off cooking for a fantastic meal?! That’s a game changer.
If you aren’t a trained chef and want to learn how to make a great steak at home without a lot of hassle, then you should try sous vide cooking.
Not only does sous vide help you maintain the tenderness and juiciness of the meat, but it even allows you to cook a steak without defrosting it.
The best part may be how simple the method is. Pretty much anyone can do it with a tool or two.
What is Sous Vide?
Sous vide, or immersion cooking, is a French cooking process where you use a water bath to cook food in a plastic or silicone bag. The food never comes in contact with the water, so it won’t taste like you boiled it. Instead, it uses the heat from the boiling water to cook the food. Finish with a sear and you have a restaurant quality dish.
Benefits of Cooking Frozen Sous Vide Steaks
There are many benefits of using your sous vide to cook your steak no matter the cut! If you want a perfectly cooked, juicy steak every time, learning the sous vide method is well worth it.
The added bonus of sous vide is the ability to cook a steak that’s frozen! That’s something you can’t do using traditional methods. Below are some of the benefits of cooking a sous vide steak frozen.
1. Save Time
One of the best things about this method is the time it saves! There’s no down time for thawing – just pull it out of the freezer, drop it in your sous vide bath, set the temperature and timer and off you go!
2. Ability To Meal Plan and Meal Prep
One benefit of the ability to cook meat from their frozen state is the ability to meal prep and plan. You can batch prep multiple steaks at the same time, vacuum seal them individually and put them in the freezer. They’ll be ready to use hours before you plan to eat.
3. Save Money
If you like to shop in bulk (like me!) at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, or an online butcher like Crowd Cow, you know you can save a meaningful amount of money by buying in bulk. With an immersion circulator, you’re able to buy in bulk knowing you can simply freeze the steak and easily cook it when you want to without the need to pre-plan for thawing.
There’s something really convenient about simply opening up your freezer, dropping steak into a sous vide water bath and a couple hours later enjoy a perfectly cooked steak. There’s no other cooking method that can do something like that!
5. Greatly Reduce Cross Contamination Risk
Cooking frozen foods has the side benefit of reduced cross-contamination risk since you aren’t working with raw meat when preparing your dinner. This saves you from washing up continuously while preparing side dishes.
What Steaks Can I Sous Vide Frozen?
You can sous vide almost any steak from frozen! You can do ribeye, sirloin, porterhouse, filet mignon, New York strip, T-bone steaks and they’ll all come out juicy and perfect. Quiz: What’s the difference in porterhouse vs. T-bone?
Just remember to prep them correctly! Don’t vacuum seal multiple steaks together and ensure they’re laid flat in the freezer so they cook evenly.
Can You Cook Other Frozen Foods in Sous Vide?
Yes! Besides steak, you can cook almost any type of frozen meat including chicken breasts and pork or vegetables like potatoes, carrots and more sous vide. You can sous vide these items from the freezer to save you time.
Best of all, it will not affect the final result. All you need to work this magic is a sous vide cooker and your sous vide container.
Frozen sous vide is widely used by those that like to meal prep. You can prepare several types of meat, such as chicken or salmon weeks ahead of time and store it in the freezer, making meal prep all the more efficient.
Trust me when I say, after you try sous vide cooking frozen food once, you’ll likely get hooked! The next thing you know you’ll be putting your freezer steaks and other frozen food in your sous vide water bath on the regular!
General Time and Temperature Guideline for Sous Vide Frozen Steak
ChefSteps explains that to sous vide frozen steak or other items, you will need to adjust the cooking time, not the cooking temperature.
Using 1.5 times your normal non-frozen cook time for steaks is a good rule of thumb for the length of time to sous vide frozen. Note, if you’re regular non-frozen cook time is 6+ hours, (i.e. on tougher cuts of steak that take time to tenderize) there’s no need to tack on extra time for defrosting.
As an example, I love my ribeye steaks and usually have at least one cut in the freezer. When not frozen and to achieve medium-rare doneness, I sous vide at 130°F / 54.4°C for 2 hours.
For frozen ribeye steaks, I sous vide at the same temperature of 130°F / 54.4°C but do it for 3 hours.
How to Freeze Steak in Advance of Cooking
You can sous vide almost any type of steak from the freezer: skirt steak, strip steak, sirloin steak, flank steak, tenderloin steaks, filet mignon, and more. I like to get high-quality meat in bulk, freeze the excess, and sous vide individual pieces as I need them to save some money.
Trim if Needed
If your steaks need trimming, start there. If you find a strip of fat running along the side of the steak, we’d trim it to 1/4 inch thick or less; There’s no need to fret over getting the thickness of the fat even. Try not to cut into the meat when trimming.
Season in Bag
Go ahead and place your individual steak in the sous vide bag you’ll ultimately cook your frozen food in. I’d highly recommend getting a good vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags. You can use a Ziploc bags too, but just make sure to remove the air using the water displacement method prior to sealing (more on this below).
Make sure whatever bag you use that it is BPA-free polyethylene/polypropylene. You also need to check that it is safe for boiling and has strong seams that won’t bust open during cooking. Ziploc bags, Stasher bags and food safe vacuum seal bags can all be used.
Next, if you wish, season the steak before vacuum sealing. Note your steak could result in a firm texture if you use salt. Non-salt based seasonings can include spices and or aromatics such as thyme, rosemary, garlic and peppercorn. Season it with anything to give your steak dinner that intense flavor you want.
Note, since the sous vide method presses the seasoning up against the meat and the seasoning ultimately becomes a part of the juices the meat is constantly bathed in, the intensity of an equal amount of seasoning is greater in sous vide than in other methods of cooking.
Seal the Bag
Simply vacuum seal the bag if using a vacuum sealer. If using Ziploc or Stasher type bags, use the water displacement method sous vide as described. After filling the bag with the appropriate food contents, you lower the bag into the water to displace the air out of the bag and seal on the follow. Water displacement method complete! Note, the use of cooking oils in the bag can greatly aid in displacing air with this method.
Finally, make sure to lay your steaks flat when freezing them. This will ensure you don’t serve a curled up steak and that the steak cooks uniformly.
How to Sous Vide Frozen Steaks
Here’s how to use a sous vide precision cooker to cook your frozen steaks.
When you’re ready to cook your sous vide steak, take it out of the freezer and prep your sous vide machine and the water bath container. That is, simply plug in the sous vide machine and insert it into your container of water.
Cooking Time and Temperature
Our preferred time and temperature for cooking frozen sous vide steak is 130°F (54°C) for 3 hours. This leads to a perfectly even rosy medium-rare finish. If you’re in a pinch, reducing the time to an hour will still produce great results. You can extend the sous vide time up to 5 hours to further soften the mouth feel while maintaining a steak consistency. See reference guide below to adjust the time and temperature to your liking.
Frozen Steak Sous Vide Time and Temperature Chart
Keep in mind the sear will raise the internal temperature ~3°F. The tougher the cut of steak, the more it will benefit from cooking at the long end of the range.
|Target Doneness||Temp Range||Cook Time|
|Very rare to rare +||120°F (49°C) to 129°F (54°C)||2 – 3.5 hours|
|Medium-rare||130°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C)||2 – 5 hours|
|Medium||136°F (57°C) to 142°F (61°C)||2 – 5 hours|
|Medium-well||143°F (61°C) to 155°F (68°C)||2 – 5 hours|
|Well done||156°F (69°C) +||2 – 4 hours|
Sear to Finish Steak
Searing is critical to having your steak be plate ready. Not only does the searing process add color to the dish, but also adds depth of flavor, texture and locks in juices.
The critical steps to get a great crust are:
- Dry the meat thoroughly by patting with a paper towel
- Season the meat generously with seasoning such as salt and pepper
- Use extremely high heat
The first step is easy to forget but crucial. Failure to pat the meat dry inhibits the Maillard reaction needed to create a crust. Seasoning the meat adds flavor and induces the crust. Lastly, using extremely high heat creates the crust.
The three methods we would suggest for the high temperature sear are:
- Pan searing, preferably using cast iron
- Using a searing torch
You’ll want to sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side. The less time taken to reach your desired crust, the better. If pan searing, we prefer ghee (clarified butter) or a neutral high smoke point oil such as avocado oil, but regular butter will do. Limiting to the sear to 2 minutes per side should prevent the steak from overcooking.
It requires marginally more work, but searing the steak for 30 seconds to a minute per side, 2 (or more) times each can add more color and texture and further prevent overcooking.
In the searing stage we’re doing our best to preserve the perfectly even doneness of the sous vide steak, while adding color, texture and taste to further its appeal.
How good will sous vide frozen steak taste compared to a fresh steak? Check out this video comparison.
Ready to Sous Vide?
Once you learn how to sous vide frozen steak, you may never go back to your old traditional method of cooking. It’s quite easy, saves a lot of time, and can save you money.
This tasty cooking method retains the natural fat in the steak to provide you with a tender bite. In addition, you can make several at one time without concern about crowding the pan.
It is an excellent cooking method that provides you with a tasty result. Discovering sous vide can allow you to finally cook a perfect steak of which you can be proud. Whether you have fresh meat or frozen steak, it’s going to be tasty.
Sous vide cooking is fun and flexible, allowing for creativity with your meal prep. You can use many kinds of food – beef, pork chops, fish, vegetables, and more.
There are many recipes sous vide for amazing dishes, but as you learn and cook sous vide more, you’ll soon have your own sous vide cookbook!
Sous Vide Frozen Steak FAQs
Yes, you can sous vide frozen steak and enjoy a perfect steak. When cooking a frozen steak, increase the regular cooking time by 50%. For example, if you normally cook for 2 hours, cook the frozen steak in a bath for 3 hours.
How long you sous vide steak depends on how well-done you would like your steak, the thickness of the cut, and what kind of meat you have.
I like my steaks Medium-Rare and cook it at 130ºF / 54.4ºC for 3 hours. For Medium doneness, set the temperature to 136-142ºF / 57-61ºC for 2-5 hours. For Medium-Well, use 143-155ºF / 61-68ºC for 2-5 hours.
You can defrost steak with a sous vide by placing it in a bag free of air at 39°F. Much like defrosting meat in the room or in a bowl of water, you don’t use high temperatures to defrost. Higher temperatures are for cooking, but if you want, you can always sous vide frozen steak directly.
Whether you can sous vide in store packaging depends on the type of packaging the store uses. Steaks should be cooked in a high-quality sealed bag made of high-quality, BPA-free polyethylene, polypropylene or silicone. When unsure, you should always repackage your steak in a proper sous vide bag. Ziploc, Stasher, and food vacuum seal storage bags are safe.
Yes, you can easily sous vide meat and then freeze it for future meals. Sous vide and freeze is a great for meal planning with minimal effort. The faster the meat cools down and freezes, the higher quality the meat will be, so you can give it an ice bath after sous vide and before putting it in the freezer.
Yes, you can sous vide a frozen roast. Just be sure to use 1.5 times the shortest recommended cooking time for the non-frozen version. With roasts, because they’re heavy, you’ll want to ensure the bag used for the bath is heavy duty.
There you have it! Now you know exactly how to (and why!) to cook your frozen steaks in the sous vide for a keto friendly meal.
If you want to learn more about cooking steak, check out the best cut for a steak cooked in the sous vide!
You can also check out the difference between 2 popular steak cooking methods – sous vide vs reverse searing!