Steak is where sous vide cooking really shines. It isn't that hard to make an okay steak on the stovetop, but it can be difficult to master with traditional cooking techniques. However, when you introduce sous vide, anyone can cook a perfect steak at exactly the temperature you like —each and every time. In addition, the extended cooking times afforded with sous vide give you a steak with a tender texture that's impossible to achieve any other way.

In this guide to sous vide steak, we'll lay out the best cooking times and temperatures for whatever doneness you prefer; show step-by-step directions for the process; and take a closer look at seasoning, searing, and make-ahead steaks.

Sous Vide Steak Basics

Traditional Sous Vide

Traditionally, sous vide steak consists of a two-phase cooking process. The first phase involves sealing the steak in a plastic bag using either a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method and cooking it to the desired final temperature in a temperature-controlled water bath. The temperature of the sous vide bath during the initial cooking phase is what determines the final doneness of your steak. After cooking sous vide, you'll sear the meat to develop color, flavor, and textural contrast on its surfaces and to help render and soften its fat. Anova Precision Cookers and containers are the ideal vessels to prepare traditional sous vide steaks, as they provide an unparalleled cooking experience without needing to babysit.

Oven Sous Vide
Sous Vide Mode in the Anova Precision Oven

If you'd prefer to introduce new sous vide techniques into your arsenal, you can also use the Anova Precision Oven to prepare sous vide steaks. Because of the way we've designed the temperature sensors and humidity control, the oven will precisely maintain the cooking temperature you set. You can choose to bag and cook your steaks in the Precision Oven just as you would with a Precision Cooker, or you can use the oven's food probe to tell you exactly when the core of your steak has hit your desired temp. Just like traditional sous vide, Sous Vide Mode in the Anova Precision Oven requires a two-stage cooking process by first bringing your steak to your desired internal temperature, then searing to create a flavorful crust.

Temperature and Timing

Traditional Sous Vide

The doneness of a steak is by and large determined by the maximum internal temperature it reaches during cooking. For instance, so long as a strip steak does not rise above 130°F (54.4°C), it will never cook beyond medium-rare. With traditional cooking methods, there is a very short window of time during which your meat is perfectly cooked. A minute too long will mean overcooked meat. With sous vide cooking, on the other hand, that window of time is stretched into hours, which means your steak will be hot and ready to go whenever you're ready to sear and serve it.

Sous Vide Express


It's a misconception that you can let sous vide steaks sit in the water bath indefinitely with no change in quality. Even at low temperatures, there are things going on. Enzymes are breaking down proteins. Chemical reactions are slowly taking place.

Sous Vide Texture

If you cook a steak at 130°F (54.4ºC), for one hour, it'll stretch and pull when you tear it. This gives the steak a pleasant amount of chew. It's still tender, but it tastes like a steak. By the time you hit four hours, that chew has been reduced a bit. Connective tissue has started to break down, and individual muscle fibrils split apart easily instead of sticking together. Head all the way to the 24-hour mark or beyond, and, while the steak will look perfectly medium-rare, it'll shred and flake as you chew it instead of yielding to pressure. (Note that there are no real health risks to prolonged sous vide cooking as long as you're cooking at or above 130°F (54.4ºC), so if you want to experiment, go for it.)

These differences in texture over time will amplify at higher cooking temperatures. A steak cooked at a well-done 160°F (71.1ºC), for instance, will be soft and shreddable (and dry) after only 8 to 12 hours. For best results, I don't recommend cooking any longer than the maximum recommended time for each cut and temperature range.

Precision Oven
Sous Vide Mode in the Precision Oven

You can opt to replicate your favorite sous vide times and temps in the Anova Precision Oven if you'd like. 129°F (54°C) for two hours will get you the same ultra-tender medium-rare steak as it would using a Precision Cooker.

To slightly speed up the process, you can use the oven's food probe to tell you exactly when the core of your steak has hit its target temperature; for most steaks, this will take around an hour and will give you perfect edge-to-edge results with a slightly more meaty texture than traditional sous vide.

Or you can really speed up your steaks by cooking with Sous Vide Express. This cooking mode uses a slightly elevated oven temperature to cut cooking time by about half. As you might imagine, there's a bit of a tradeoff. The closer the oven temperature is to the probe temperature, the more gently the food cooks and the more uniform the doneness will be from edge to edge. The higher the oven temperature, the less uniform the doneness will be. You'll also notice that the steak's final texture will be more like a reverse-sear steak, meaty and moist, but not as buttery-soft as a traditional sous vide steak.

No matter which method you choose, extended cooking times in the Anova Precision Oven will have the same effect on texture as with a Precision Cooker. If you decide to cook for more than 4 hours, we also recommend bagging your steak to ensure the oven's fan does not dry out its exterior.

Traditional Sous Vide Time and Temperature Chart

Timings are all given for steaks 1 ½ to 2 inches thick. For steaks 1 inch or less, initial cooking time can be shortened to 40 minutes. Steaks cooked under 130°F (54.4°C) should not be cooked longer than 2 ½ hours at a time for food safety reasons.

Temperature Chart
Preferred Doneness Time Water Bath or Oven Temperature Probe Temperature (Oven Only) Finished Texture
Very Rare to Rare 1 - 2 ½ hours 120°F (49°C) - 128°F (53°C) 120°F (49°C) - 128°F (53°C) 1 hour: meaty and tender
2 ½ hours: tender and slightly soft
Medium-Rare 1 - 4 hours (2½ hours max if under 130°F(54°C)) 129°F (54°C) - 134°F (57°C) 129°F (54°C) - 134°F (57°C) 1 hour: meaty and tender
2 ½ hours: tender and slightly soft
4 hours: buttery-soft
Medium 1 - 4 hours 135°F (57°C) - 144°F (62°C) 135°F (57°C) - 144°F (62°C) 1 hour: meaty and tender
4 hours: buttery-soft
Medium-Well 1 - 3 ½ hours 145°F (63°C) - 155°F (68°C) 145°F (63°C) - 155°F (68°C) 1 hour: meaty and tender
3 ½ hours: buttery-soft
Well Done 1 -3 hours 156°F (69°C)+ 156°F (69°C)+ 1 hour: meaty and tender
3 hours: buttery-soft
Sous Vide Express Time and Temperature Chart

Timings are all given for steaks 1 ½ to 2 inches thick.

Preferred Doneness Time Oven Temperature Probe Temperature Finished Texture
Very Rare to Rare 30 minutes 136°F (58°C) - 144°F (62°C) 120°F (49°C) - 128°F (53°C) Moist with a pleasant chew
Medium-Rare 30 minutes 145°F (63°C) - 150°F (66°C) 129°F (54°C) - 134°F (57°C) Moist with a pleasant chew
Medium 30 minutes 150°F (66°C) - 159°F (71°C) 135°F (57°C) - 144°F (62°C) Moist with a pleasant chew
Medium-Well 30 minutes 160°F (71°C) - 170°F (77°C) 145°F (63°C) - 155°F (68°C) Firm chew
Well Done 30 minutes 170°F (77°C) + 156°F (69°C) + Firm chew

Suggested Temperatures for Different Cuts of Steak

Ribeye Strip Steak
Ribeye and Strip Steaks 129°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C)

Highly marbled cuts like ribeye and strip should be cooked a few degrees Fahrenheit higher than leaner steaks like tenderloin, since their copious intramuscular fat helps keep them moist while delivering plenty of flavor. We prefer ribeyes and strip steaks cooked medium-rare to medium, around 129°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C). Fattier steaks also have natural insulation, which means they'll take slightly longer to reach the correct internal temperature.

Tenderloin Steak
Tenderloin Steaks 120°F (49°C) and 128°F (53°C)

Highly marbled cuts like ribeye and strip should be cooked a few degrees Fahrenheit higher than leaner steaks like tenderloin, since their copious intramuscular fat helps keep them moist while delivering plenty of flavor. We prefer ribeyes and strip steaks cooked medium-rare to medium, around 129°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C). Fattier steaks also have natural insulation, which means they'll take slightly longer to reach the correct internal temperature.

Porterhouse T-Bone Steak
Porterhouse and T-bone Steaks 120°F (49°C) and 128°F (53°C)

Porterhouse and T-bone steaks contain a large section of strip and a smaller section of tenderloin. Since both sides must be cooked together, it's better to select a temperature and time based on the side you like to eat better. For us, we optimize cooking time and temperature for the strip and cook medium-rare to medium, around 129°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C). It means the tenderloin comes out slightly more cooked than we generally prefer, but the insulating bone helps it stay plenty moist and juicy.

Suggested Temperatures

Sous Vide Steaks, Step by Step

Step 1

Attach a Precision Cooker to a water bath and heat to your desired final doneness temperature or preheat the Precision Oven to your desired temperature.

If you're planning on cooking and eating the steak immediately, season generously with salt and pepper. If sealing now to freeze or cook for later, omit the salt and pepper.

Step 2

If vacuum sealing, add to a bag with aromatics like thyme or rosemary sprigs if desired. Seal the bag with a vacuum sealer. If using the food probe in the Precision Oven, insert the probe into the center of the steak.

Step 3

Drop the bag in the water bath or place into the oven and attach the probe. Cook according to your desired time and temp or until the probe reaches its target temperature.

Finishing Steps

Remove the steak from the bag or oven and place it on a paper towel-lined plate. Pat it dry very carefully on both sides. If you did not season before cooking the steak, season it now generously with salt and pepper.

Finish on Stove
To Finish on the Stove

Step 1

Turn on your vents and open your windows. Heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) neutral oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until it starts to smoke. Gently lay the steak in the skillet. If desired, add 1 tablespoon butter. (Butter contains milk solids that will blacken and char, helping your steak achieve a dark crust much faster and adding a characteristic slightly bitter, charred flavor. For a cleaner-tasting sear, omit the butter at this stage.) If desired, add aromatics like whole thyme and rosemary sprigs with the leaves still attached, sliced shallots, or crushed whole garlic cloves.

Step 2

After 15 to 30 seconds, flip the steak so that the second side comes into contact with the pan. Repeat, flipping the steak every 15 to 30 seconds until it has developed a nice brown sear, about a minute and a half total. If you did not add butter already, add butter to the skillet about 30 seconds before the steak is done for added richness.

(If using a torch, begin moving the torch across the steak immediately after flipping. Continue to torch until pale brown, about 30 seconds. Flip the steak (add the butter if you haven't already) and continue to torch until deeply browned, about 30 more seconds.)

Step 3

Using tongs, pick up the steak and rotate it so that the edge is in direct contact with the skillet. Continue to cook, rotating the steak along this edge until all of the edges are browned, about another 45 seconds total.

Finish on Grill
To Finish on the Grill

Step 1

Make sure to have your grill preheated before your steak is finished cooking sous vide. Light one chimney full of charcoal (about 5 quarts of coals) When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.

Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Scrape the grill grates clean with a grill scraper, then oil the grates by holding an oil-dipped kitchen towel or paper towels in a set of tongs and rubbing them over the grates 5 to 6 times.

Step 2

Place the steak directly over the hot side of the grill and cook, turning every 15 to 30 seconds, until a deep, rich crust has formed, about 1 ½ minutes total. If the fire threatens to flare up as the steak drips fat into it, suffocate the fire by closing the grill lid until the flames die out. Alternatively, transfer the steak to the cooler side of the grill using a set of long tongs until the flames subside. Do not allow the steak to get engulfed in flames.

Step 3

Either way, transfer the steak to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. When ready to serve, reheat any fat and juices left in the pan until sizzling then pour them over the steak to re-crisp and moisten the surface (the steaks can be served immediately if you are ready, no need to rest a sous vide steak).

Step 4

Transfer the cooked steak to a cutting board or serving platter and serve immediately with coarse sea salt such as Maldon on the side.


A Closer Look at Seasoning Sous Vide Steaks

Seasoning a steak prior to extended traditional sous vide cooking can result in meat that has a firm texture similar to a mildly cured ham. Some folks find this texture off-putting, but others don't mind it. To avoid this texture, it's best to season and bag a steak immediately before cooking, or after cooking sous vide and before searing. In either case, only the exterior of a steak will be seasoned, so it's always a good idea to serve your steak with coarse sea salt such as Maldon for sprinkling at the table.

As far as fat goes, you may think that adding butter or olive oil will in turn help create a more flavorful steak, but in fact it achieves the opposite goal: it dilutes flavor. Fat-soluble flavor compounds dissolve in the melted butter or oil and end up going down the drain later on. For best results, place your steak in a bag alone.

You can, on the other hand, add flavorings like thyme or rosemary sprigs, sliced shallots, or garlic cloves to the bags with the steaks during cooking. Adding the same aromatics to the pan as you sear the steaks will bolster that flavor.

Spice rubs are a little trickier. Ground spices behave quite differently under sous vide conditions than standard cooking conditions. Normally, aromatic compounds will dissipate into the air in the kitchen or over your grill as a spice-rubbed steak cooks. At the same time, moisture dissipates, which means what's left of your spices sticks firmly to your meat. With traditional sous vide cooking, there's no way for that flavor to escape the bag. And, whether you use a bag or not, spices rubbed on the surface of the meat have a tendency to get rinsed off by any juices that are being expressed. Instead, if you want spice flavor, it's better to rub the spices into the meat after the sous vide cooking phase and before the final searing phase.

A Closer Look at Searing Sous Vide Steaks

The final step in cooking any steak sous vide is to sear it. This step not only adds flavor via the Maillard reaction, but it also improves the appearance of the steak. And because sous vide steaks are cooked slowly and evenly, they don't have a temperature gradient inside and therefore do not need to rest after searing.

The trick is to do the searing step quickly and efficiently; you don't want to ruin your perfect edge-to-edge doneness by leaving your steak in a hot skillet for too long. The simplest way to sear your steak is in a hot cast iron skillet with a combination of oil and butter for basting, but there are other options to play with.


Another simple method is to finish your steak on the grill. You'll want to get the grill as hot as you can, grease the grates well, and cook the steak over direct heat to develop a quick, effective sear.


After repeated testing and blind taste tests, we've found that pre-searing a steak—that is, browning the steak before it goes into the sous vide bag then browning it a second time just before serving—serves at most a very minimal role in improving flavor or texture. In most cases, the difference is imperceptible. There's no harm in pre-searing a steak, but we prefer the ease and convenience of simply placing the steak in the bag raw before cooking, leaving the searing for a single step at the end.


We don't recommend using a torch alone to finish sous vide steaks. Torches are extremely intense heat sources that basically follow the inverse-square law: their intensity dissipates with the square of the distance from the torch head. What this means is that any unevenness in the surface of your steak gets amplified; areas that are slightly elevated will singe before areas that are lower will even begin to brown properly.

While it's possible to get reasonable browning with a torch by holding it at a distance great enough that this effect is minimized, and by making multiple slow passes across the surface of a steak, the hassle and time it takes to do so is much more of a headache than simply cooking a steak in a hot skillet with the torch as an added heat source. (It can also leave an off, gasoline-like aroma on the surface of the meat due to imperfect combustion.) Besides, a steak cooked with a skillet and torch combo comes out with a better crust in the end anyway.

If you're going to go the torch route, you'll want to find one with a torch head attached. Standard propane torches with manual-ignition heads have trouble staying lit when inverted. This can be a problem when you're frantically trying to relight a torch as your steak sears in a hot skillet. Adding a Searzall or Iwatani Torch Burner will not only ensure that the flame stays lit, but it will also diffuse the flame, allowing you to get a more even sear, and will eliminate the gasoline-like aroma.

Deep Frying

Another option for browning is deep frying. This can be a lot of fun and it's true, you'll get a very quick, evenly browned crust on your meat, but there are a few downsides. First, the obvious: it requires you to have a large vessel filled with hot oil to deep fry. Perhaps more importantly, deep-frying has a relatively low maximum temperature that is defined by the oil's smoke point — generally around 450°F (232°C) or so. Oil in a skillet or a steak on a grill, on the other hand, can achieve temperatures a couple hundred degrees higher than this, allowing your steak to char rather than simply brown. This charring and the intense flavor it brings is one of the hallmarks of a great steak experience.

Meal-Prep and Make-Ahead Sous Vide

One of the big benefits to cooking sous vide is that, because you're portioning food in individual bags, it can lend itself well to meal prep. But there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you're planning to reheat your food.

It's true that given a high enough temperature (130°F (54.4ºC) or higher) and a long enough time period (several hours), the contents of a sealed sous vide bag should be close to sterile, which means that rapid chilling via an ice bath followed by rapid reheating should pose no health risks, though I still strongly recommend against it whenever avoidable: it's not doing any favors for the quality of your steak.

Meal Prep

Word of warning: never chill and reheat any food that has been cooked or held at a temperature lower than 130°F (54.4ºC). These temperatures are not hot enough to destroy dangerous bacteria.

On the other hand, you can seal seasoned, ready-to-cook steaks in sous vide bags and stack them in the freezer. When ready to cook, pop them directly in the water bath or oven and allow an extra hour for steaks that are 1 to 2 inches thick to fully thaw before you begin timing it for doneness.