Instant Pot Sous Vide Steak

Sous Vide Steak In The Instant Pot

The BEST steak I’ve ever had was Sous Vide Steak from my Instant Pot Ultra. This is no lie, my friend. Of course, you don’t need an Instant Pot to cook Sous Vide Steak. A Sous Vide circulator is actually the optimal tool for the job. But the Ultra and Instant Pot Max can get it done.

What is Sous Vide Cooking?

Put simply, Sous Vide is cooking food, sealed in a bag, in a water bath kept at a specific temperature for a particular period of time. The cooking temperatures are far lower than in a pan or the oven, but you cook the food longer. What’s nice is that you don’t have to worry about overcooking. The recommended time is the minimum. If you cook it longer, even by half an hour or an hour, it’s no big deal.

Sous Vide Steak

And cooking Sous Vide Steak (or anything else) is super easy and totally idiot-proof! You take the steak, put it in a water-tight bag, add your favorite seasonings, and seal the bag. Put it in the temperature controlled water bath in the Instant Pot, and wait for it to be done! If you’re using a Sous Vide Circulator, you can use any pot or container that’s big enough.

You can use ziplock style freezer bags for Sous Vide cooking. However, I strongly urge you to invest in a set of reusable Sous Vide bags. Freezer bags you can realistically only use once. This just adds more plastic crap to the environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Cooking Sous Vide Steak

A ribeye steak that’s 1” thick, cooked at 129F for one hour, will be medium rare all the way through. That last bit is important: it will be perfectly done all the way through, from top to bottom, every time. The temperature controls the doneness. If you like your steak done medium or well, you’d set the temperature higher. The cooking time would stay the same. Setting the temperature at 140F will cook it medium-well, for example.

The thicker the cut, the longer you’ll cook it. A half inch thick Sous Vide Steak will be done in 30 minutes. A 2 inch thick cut will take 2 hours.

You can also toss in your steak frozen: you’ll just increase the cooking time.

And how do you know how long to cook your Sous Vide Steak or other food? There are a variety of tables out on the web that you can use. But I prefer the Joule Sous Vide Circulator app which is available free, even if you don’t own a Joule. The app is really cool, because it will even show you pics of what the finished doneness looks like. It also has directions for meat, fish, poultry, and other foods.

Reverse Searing

So, getting the Sous Vide Steak cooked is easy. Now we get to the super yummy part: searing it! You want a nice crust on the meat that’ll really punch up the flavor.

With Sous Vide cooking, you typically DON’T sear the meat first. You do it last, which is why this is called “reverse searing.”

Take that perfectly cooked steak out of the Sous Vide bag and slap it on a nice, hot skillet. I prefer my cast iron skillet, and add a bit of oil and butter before I toss in the steak. Swirl the steak around for 30 to 60 seconds — no longer! — and then flip it over and do the same on the other side.

When you take the first bit of that gorgeous Sous Vide Steak, you’re going to just go, “Ahhhh, that’s AWESOME!”

Instant Pot Sous Vide Steak

As I mentioned earlier, if you have an Instant Pot Ultra or Max, you can do Sous Vide cooking. Here’s how I do it.

I wanted to add a bit of expectation management here. Sous Vide circulators move the water around and have a very tight tolerance on the temperature. The Instant Pot Max has a stated tolerance of +/- 1.8F, while the Ultra has a +/- 5F tolerance. That means that your Sous Vide Steak may be slightly over- or under-done. Some folks have reported major temperature variations with the Ultra, but I’ve never had an issue. I’d recommend you try an inexpensive cut of meat first. And if you want the best tool for the job or really get into Sous Vide cooking, get a circulator!

  1. Use a table or the app for the Joule Sous Vide Circulator. To calculate the cooking temperature and time for your Sous Vide Steak (or other food).
  2. Fill up the Instant Pot’s inner liner with HOT water from your tap. This will save a lot of time. Otherwise, the pot has to heat that water to the right temperature from a cold start.
  3. Use the Ultra Setting to set the temperature (I’ll be making a video on how to do this soon). I usually add at least half an hour to the recommended time. Remember: it’s almost impossible to over-cook something Sous Vide. Well, if you leave it for hours, sure. Don’t do dat.
  4. Season the steak as you like. I usually sprinkle some salt, pepper, and garlic powder on each side.
  5. Take your steak and put it into your Sous Vide bag (again, get a reusable one!). I usually also toss in a couple pats of butter, one on each side, and a couple bay leaves.
  6. When the Instant Pot beeps that it’s achieved the set temperature, immerse the bag with the steak into the water. Squeeze out as much air as you can from around the steak. Do NOT allow water into the bag. Make sure the bag is surrounded by water, and the meat isn’t directly touching the bottom. I use wooden clothespins to pin the bag to the rim of the pot. NOTE: You can cook more than one bag at a time, just make sure there’s enough space for water to circulate between them.
  7. Cover the pot (I use my Instant Pot Glass Lid) and go take a nap.
  8. About five minutes before the time is up, crank up the stovetop and your cast iron skillet. I use medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add some butter and oil, as you like.
  9. When the time’s up on the Instant Pot, remove the bag from the water.
  10. Remove the steak from the bag. Toss it on the skillet and swirl it around, gently, for 30 to 60 seconds. NO LONGER! You don’t want to cook the steak, you just want to sear the outside to a nice crust. Flip it over and do the same for the other side.
  11. Presto! You’re done!

Now pair that mouth watering Sous Vide Steak with your favorite sides. For this meal, I made some Instant Pot Potato Salad and Baked Beans. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Sous Vide Steak with Potato Salad and Baked Beans

21 Comments

  1. Susan Morelli (mamasue65)

    Mike I don’t have the Ultra or Max but I do have the Joule and never thought about using it in my Instant Pot. My IP is a 6qt older model so I will have to see if it is deep enough to set the Joule in. Thanks Mike! 😉

  2. Susan Morelli

    Mike I like my Joule but don’t experiment with it too much. I think it’s because you really have to be very organized with your time and planning. Most of my meals are last minute or deciding in morning what to take out of freezer, etc. Joule is used for steaks mainly. I have done chicken thighs and legs to fry later for southern fried chicken.

    • Yeah, you’re right about the planning: a Sous Vide meal isn’t something you can just slap together! And I also use it almost exclusively for steaks, which we don’t have all that often anymore (alas!). Most of the chicken we have is either Costco rotisserie chicken (hard to beat for $4.99!) and chicken thighs, as I rarely use chicken breast meat. But I think I might try it for some fish and some other things, especially now that I got a set of reusable bags!

  3. Joy M Gellatly

    What is the “ultra setting” on my Instant Pot LUX60? I soooooo much want to try this recipe!

    • Joy – Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t do Sous Vide cooking in the Lux or the Duo, only the Ultra or Max. The “Ultra” setting is a custom control that allows you to set a specific temperature. The Lux and Duo don’t have that. However, all is not lost: you can always get a Sous Vide circulator like the Wancle and use it either in your IP’s inner liner or any other large pot or container that can hold water (like a cooler).

  4. One needs to read up a lot more on sous vide times and temps. One can’t sear with butter. The ultra is plus or minus 5F, which is no bueno for sous vide!

    • Yes, you can sear with butter – I do it all th time. And while the Ultra certainly isn’t as accurate as a circulator, it can still do the job. But you should definitely check the temp of the water and adjust as necessary for the target temp.

  5. Bob Munck

    Mike, thought you might find this interesting:

    We’ve been doing sous vide for about three years and have come to the conclusion that precise temperature control is very important. We cook in a Rubbermaid 12 Qt. storage container using a $75 Anova circulator and sear in either a heavy cast iron pan or using a butane torch with a Searzall attachment. We started out cooking steaks at 125°F but have gradually adjusted downward and settled on 118°F as fitting our tastes. Admittedly, this is a bit too rare for some people; warm but a tad bloody. We mostly use tenderloin/filet mignon and ziplock freezer bags.

    You’re probably aware of one of the great advantages of sous vide, the fact that cooking time is extremely flexible. For example, when we’re having guests for steak who would prefer “medium rare,” we put their steaks in the cooker at 130°F or so for 45 minutes, drop the temperature to 118°F and add ours to the cooker for another 45 minutes. Sear them all and serve. Our guests’ steaks are completely unaffected by the extra cooking time. (We haven’t tried to do medium or worse; I’m not sure we would invite such people over for steak.)

    We are no longer able to order steak in local steakhouses, including the really high-end ones. Ours at home are just flat-out better. Btw, I’m a former physicist turned computer scientist; my wife’s degrees are in pure math and computer science. We may be 72-yo geeks.

  6. Laura L. Galland

    Searing with a combination of oil and butt bnb is da bomb! Nothing like a little brown butter flavor! We infuse our own olive oils, so my fave for steaks is a garlic mushroom oil with butter. Looking forward to trying a rump roast in njn our Max. Steaks come out fabulous!

  7. What is the size of your instapot? I keep reading that it needs to be a certain height and it can’t be too shallow to be able to do sous vide. I am planning to get an 8Q.

    • Marie – I have two 6 qt pots, an Ultra and a Duo. I wouldn’t try to sous vide anything huge in it, but that’s certainly big enough for four burgers or a good size cut of steak. If you need to cook bigger amounts of food, you should probably take the plunge and invest in a sous vide circulator: with that, you can put the bagged food into anything that’ll hold water and give enough room for the water to circulate. A cooler works great, believe it or not!

  8. Hi there,

    How are you able to clip the bag to the rim of the pot and still get the lid on? I am flummoxed.

    Thanks for any tips!

    Lynn

  9. Here’s a tip: Dry your meat with a paper towel after sous vide cooking and before searing. It will sear faster, more efficiently, and be less likely to overcook.

  10. I have the Ultra and have done Sous-Vide 5 times. When I use the glass lid I get 0.4-1.3° over the temperature I want. If I use the IP lid then it goes over by 5°.

    Glass Lid is the way to go!

    • Yep – I wouldn’t use the regular lid for sous vide! I don’t use the glass lid, either, but I’ve also taken measurements of the water and compensate accordingly. 🙂

  11. I am intrigued with the idea of sous vide and would like to try it. Did I read your comments correctly, that this method works well with the best cuts of meat as well as inexpensive ones?

    • Patricia – Sous vide will work with virtually any cut of meat, poultry, or fish, along with vegetables and various other things. With regard to steak, this is the ONLY way I prepare steaks anymore: sous vide to perfect doneness, then reverse sear to get that yummy crispy exterior!

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