"Sous Vide" Discussion

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Sep 25, 2007
Hello folks.

I wanted to start a thread for Sous Vide cooking since there seems to be a lot of interest in this cooking method.

What is "Sous Vide"?

According to wiki,

Sous-vide (/sˈvd/; French for "under vacuum") is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and not to overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same "doneness", keeping the food juicier.

This should make Lisa happy!

I know there's a few guys on here that for a while that have been cooking using this method and would love for them to share what they have learned such as safety concerns, cook times, Recipes, DIY Builds, Equipment, etc...

Would also love to hear from the guys who have used Sous Vide cooking with Smoking/Pitcooking/Grilling

Thanks in advance


Links (mods please delete if they're against forum policy)
SousVide Machines

Cooks Illustrated SousVide Machine reviews
Members Sous Vide setups
Last edited:
Anyone who's interested in sous vide cooking needs to read Douglas Baldwin's A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking before even thinking about turning their machine on!!!!!

I also recommend his article in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, Sous vide cooking: A review.

For a basic outline on sous vide safety.....

PolyScience: Food Safety with Sous Vide Cooking

Table of Contents:

A: Sous Vide Cooking Process
B: Highly Susceptible Audience
C: Further Resources

A: Sous Vide Cooking Process
As with any food process, sous vide requires specified food handling practices to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the food biological, chemical, and physical hazards to a safe level.

Three important aspects require additional attention:

When food is vacuum packed Vacuum-packaged food creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) or reduced oxygen environment. With improper food handling, some of the most dangerous bacteria can grow, such as salmonella and botulism. Safe food handling and hygiene standards should always be maintained.
Food cooked at low temperatures for extended periods of time can cause bacteria to multiply rapidly. The longer food is in the “danger zone” — temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C) — the faster bacteria can multiply and the more dangerous they can become.
When food in pouch has finished the required cooking time, it has to be removed and served immediately, or rapidly chilled. Cooling must be less than 6 hours from 130 to 41ºF.
Carefully read and incorporate these detailed guidelines into your cooking method to assure safety in each step.
Prerequisites to food preparation.

Make sure that the refrigerator is 41ºF or colder. The colder the refrigerator, the slower the spoilage of ingredients.
Get an accurate digital food thermometer to check the temperature of the raw and cooked food to assure that it reached a desired end point.
Get the plastic pouches that the food will be packaged in. Make sure that they are not contaminated.
Use detergent, warm water, wash , and rinse the food contact surfaces. Sanitize the surfaces with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water to prevent cross-contamination.
Be sure to separate the raw ingredient preparation area from the finished product area, or wash, rinse, and sanitize a surface when changing from raw preparation to finished food.
Sous vide processing.

The basic steps of the sous vide process are shown in the following flow chart. Details to each step are provided below the flow chart.
Prepare the work area. Put away unnecessary objects. Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces, and store chemicals so that they cannot contaminate the food.

Get fresh ingredients. Sous vide cannot make spoiled ingredients taste good. It amplifies the flavors and should only be applied to the freshest ingredients.

Trim, cut, and prepare ingredients. Remember, the thicker the protein ingredient, the longer it takes to come to its cooking temperature. Less than 2 inch thickness is a practical maximum thickness. Weigh additives carefully. Safe cook times can be calculated in PolyScience iPhone/iPad app “Sous Vide Toolbox”

Package / vacuum seal. The purpose of the vacuum is to pull the plastic pouch film tight to the food for good heat transfer. Check the seal.

Cook / pasteurize. Reduce vegetative pathogens such as Salmonella 5 log (100,000 to 1). Cooking / pasteurization begins about 130ºF.

Hold at cooking temperature until desired degree of doneness is achieved.

Cool fast enough to prevent the outgrowth of spores.

Cold hold meat, poultry, and vegetables at 41ºF to prevent the outgrowth of spores and slow growth of spoilage organisms.

Warm (reheating) and serve.

Set Up Sous Vide Professional and Water Bath

Clamp Sous Vide Professional to a stockpot or any other vessel. Fill with water up to maximum level, indicated on Sous Vide Professional.
To guarantee precise temperature control, refer to user manual for maximum water volume. For example the Sous Vide Professional CHEF Series has a maximum of seven gallons or twenty eight liters of water. A second Sous Vide Professional may be required to maintain the level of precise temperature control with larger volumes.
Set the Sous Vide Professional to desired temperature. Cover bath with lid or plastic wrap for efficient heat-up time and to avoid evaporation.

Get fresh ingredients; Trim, cut, and prepare ingredients.

One must start with very fresh ingredients in order to assure that off-flavors from spoilage are minimal and are not amplified in the cooking method. Also, by focusing on freshness, it will assure lower spoilage bacteria counts at the start of refrigerated storage so that the finished product will have a longer refrigerated shelf life.
It is safer if you use solid, not ground or punctured, pieces of meat, poultry, or fish. When it is punctured, it becomes critical that, not just the surface, but the center of the food get hot enough for long enough to be pasteurized.
Since cooking is done in a plastic pouch, there is no loss of flavor volatiles in sous vide cooking.
Package / vacuum seal.

The vacuum is not for flavor. It is to have a good heat transfer between the water bath and the surface of the food.
Assure that food-grade quality plastic pouches that have not become contaminated in storage are used; 2-3 ml plastic is adequate. If zip-loc type bags are used, assure that they are heat-safe to the temperatures you will be cooking at.
Make sure food is refrigerated at 38°F (3.3°C) or below until ready to seal.
To ensure precise and even cooking, arrange pieces of food in the plastic bag in a single layer.
Check vacuum bag for proper seal before cooking.
As bags are sealed, check to be sure that there was no crease in the plastic and that the seal is uniform with an even fusing from one side to the other.
After sealing, immediately cook or refrigerate food at 38°F (3.3°C) or below until ready to cook (see storing tips on the following page).
Cook / pasteurize.

Insert vacuum-sealed bag only when bath has reached correct temperature.
Follow time and temperatures guidelines and consider increasing cooking time if food has a larger diameter than specified in the recipe.
Cooking time increases by a factor of almost 4 times per extra inch. If you only double the time per inch, it will be unsafe!
In case you are not able to remove all the air due to limitations of your vacuum sealer, you can weigh down the pouch with a heavy porcelain plate to ensure it is fully submerged. This is important to ensure safe cooking results.
If you cook more than one vacuum bag, make sure they are not too close to each other.
Make sure to hold the pouch under the water so that it is fully cooked. Food safety times and temperatures are based on center temperatures of the food.
Check temperature and sealed vacuum bag frequently during cooking process. A bag that suddenly begins to float, inflate, or leak is a sign of food-safety issues. Discard food and clean tank and Sous Vide Professional.
If during cooking in the water bath, the bag balloons and floats to the surface, a seal has failed, or the temperature is too hot and steam has formed in the package, or there is a pinhole. The package must be thrown away, because you do not know if there was adequate heat transfer and pasteurization was effective.
Always measure the internal temperature of foods before serving. You can re-seal a pouch and continue cooking if necessary.
If you are making more than one pouch, a very smart thing to do is to sample the first pouch removed from cooking. Take your digital thermometer and verify the center temperature of the food. Also sample the flavor of the product. If it needs more cooking, you can reseal the pouch and continue to cook.
If you are cooking fish to a temperature of less than 130ºF, there are parasite and vegetative pathogen risks. Undercooked fish should have been frozen at -4ºF for 7 days to assure the destruction of the parasite, and the customer should be informed that undercooked food has some illness risk.
There will be two primary biological hazards in the meat, poultry, fish, vegetables or fruit that are cooked sous vide.

The first hazard is vegetative pathogens, and the regulatory target is Salmonella. The goal is to cook the food in the pouch to a time and temperature to reduce Salmonella 100,000-to-1. This will reduce the Salmonella from a maximum of 1,000 per gram in the raw food to 1 per 100 grams in the finished food. Salmonella is used as the target organism, because it has been, and continues to be, a major cause of illness and kills an estimated 500 people each year.

The government-specified times and temperatures for this pasteurization are:

Center temperature

Hold time


112 minutes


11 minutes


1 minute


5 seconds


instant (less than 1 second)

The second biological hazard common to the ingredients from the water and land farms are the spores, Clostridium botulinum [proteolytic (meat, poultry) and non-proteolytic (fish, seafood)], Bacillus cereus (cereal products), and Clostridium perfringens (meat, poultry, lentils).

When the food is pasteurized, Salmonella is reduced to an Appropriate Level of Protection (ALOP), but pasteurization temperatures have no kill effect on the spores. Pasteurization just activates the spore.

It’s a rule-of-thumb that if you cook below 130°F (54.4°C) there is an increased risk for vegetative pathogen and parasite development. However, food safety depends on a combination of temperature, time, pH level and the freshness of the ingredients. Extended cooking time pasteurizes food and reduces potential Salmonella to an appropriate level.


After the food is pasteurized, if the food is hotter than 130ºF, the spores cannot germinate and multiply, regardless of time.
One can hold / tenderize for 24 to 48 hours safely. This is also a major feature of sous vide.
If the cooking temperature is 130 to 150ºF, there is an additional benefit. The enzymes are very active, and the meat becomes very tender.

At this point, the spore is activated (pasteurization has no kill effect on spores, it activates spores); so, cooling becomes a critical control procedure.
The target spore for cooling is Clostridium perfringens. It must be controlled so that there is less than 1 to 10 increase in population during cooling.
To assure safety, cooling must be less than 6 hours from 130 to 41ºF. This is easily done for most sous vide products if they are less than 2 inches thick in an proper ice bath.
The recommendation for a proper ice bath is: ratio of 1lb ice to 1lb product, topped off with cold tap water. Agitation will increase the effect of a rapid chill process.
It limits roasts to about 5 pounds. After the cooling to 41ºF, C. perfringens cannot multiply, and the target spore for storage is Bacillus cereus for all food except fish. Holding at 41ºF controls B. cereus.
For cooked fish, there is a critical limit of 37.4ºF to prevent the non-proteolytic C. botulinum on the fish from growing. If cooked fish is to be stored after cooling, it should be frozen or held in ice at less than 37.4ºF, or served within 7 days if held at 41ºF.
Cold hold.

Before storing, label vacuum-sealed bags with expiration date and contents.
For practical purposes, if the preceding instructions are followed there is probably no significant reason to hold sous vide product for more than 7 days.
If the recipe includes inhibitors, such as salt or acidity, food can be stored up to 45 days, as long as temperature is meat and poultry is 41ºF or colder, or fish and seafood is less than 37.4F (3.0ºC).
Only spores or some surviving spoilage organisms can multiply, and temperature is the critical control.
Warm (reheating) and serve.

Reheating is not for safety; it is a quality factor to meet consumer desires.
The food is safe if the preceding instructions are followed, and the food can be eaten cold from the pouch or removed from the pouch and browned and heated to suit the consumer.
When reheating cooked food, simply bring water bath back to desired serving temperature and apply time needed for core to reach temperature.
Always measure the internal temperature of foods before serving. You can re-seal a pouch and continue cooking if necessary.
If reheated in the bag, consider that spores or some surviving spoilage organisms can multiply. Temperature is the critical control.
A major safety advantage of sous vide is that it was pasteurized in the package, so there is no chance of contamination of the product by vegetative pathogens in storage after cooling.
Frozen, cooked foods must thaw under refrigeration (41°F or below) and reheated upon complete thaw, prior to consumption.

B: Highly Susceptible Audience
Children, elderly and expectant mothers and those with compromised immune systems should not consume raw or undercooked foods.

Many temperatures listed on this website (www.cuisinetechnology.com) and within PolyScience Sous Vide Professional[emoji]8482[/emoji] literature, manuals, applications and marketing include “threshold temperatures,” which are considered to be at the low end of FDA required cooking temperatures.

Anyone in these audiences should cook all recipes listed on this website or within PolyScience Sous Vide Professional[emoji]8482[/emoji] literature, manuals, applications and marketing 2°C/4°F higher than listed in the recipe and for 5% more time (Calculator) to ensure proper cooking temperatures and pathogenic reduction. For further information of accepted safe cooking temperatures, please visit www.FDA.gov


C: Further Resources
FDA Food regulatory criteria for sous vide on www.fda.gov or specifically http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/FoodCode2009/ucm186451.htm#part3-5
Comprehensive temperature guidance and pathogenic log reduction can be safely calculated with the PolyScience Sous Vide Toolbox[emoji]8482[/emoji] application for Apple iOS.

Stay safe!!!!

Last edited:
Great Thread! About time.

First, this definitely have something to do with smoking and grilling. I often first sous vide then smoke, which gives me very good control of temperature for the entire piece of meat.

Some random thoughts:

Sous vide in reality is not "under pressure" nor "under vacuum". It is nothing more then airless cooking in hot water.

Sous vide (water oven) totally bypasses the thermodynamic law of conductivity. The meat will be uniformly done inside and outside, even for very thick piece of meat, no resting required. 

Regarding food safety, the opposite is true, sous vide guarantees food safety, with the right equipment, you don’t even have to poke around with a thermometer to check internal temperature. 

Perfect fool-proof temperature control to within one degree. “Set it, and forget it” Go to sleep and nothing to worry about.

All meat shrinks and dries out above certain temperature. No matter how careful you are with “low & slow”, all other appliances will overcook a part of the meat.

No matter what appliance you cook with, you never can know the temperature you are actually cooking at. For instance, I did a test of my oven:

Set the temperature dial to 220F, I was getting the following:

Water cup in back – 152F

Water cup in front – 149F

Water cup on bottom – 141F

Cup of oil next to water in back -194F (showing the importance of water evaporation in lowering temperature)

Last edited:
Yes a great topic that I think will be of interest to a lot of other members. Maybe it is worth starting another group as there are so many variations/techniques/recipes in sous vide cooking that they are likely to swamp a single thread. Happy to help manage a group if others are interested.
Last edited:
I am in the process of trying to put a controller/ heater together now. Not so much for sous vide but to finish salamis, hot dogs etc.  Although it will work to do sous vide I am sure. Using a pid, thermocouple to control it.  Trying to make it a self contained unit that I can mount in a cooler etc.   So I will be watching this close!  Great topic!

I am in the process of trying to put a controller/ heater together now. Not so much for sous vide but to finish salamis, hot dogs etc.  Although it will work to do sous vide I am sure. Using a pid, thermocouple to control it.  Trying to make it a self contained unit that I can mount in a cooler etc.   So I will be watching this close!  Great topic!

And a water pump/circulator.

Gotta second all said above drool over the six station steam table conversion! 

I have to add that while Sous Vide can seem overwhelming at first, so was smoking meats to most of us.  If your into it, Sous Vide is just another tool in the bag to produce outstanding meals, particularly when serving large groups due to the ability to prepare and hold without loss of quality.  It can also be a way to get the most out of your smoker.  I have often smoked chicken, or steaks, then thrown into the water bath to get to temp with out drying out and or to hold while cooking another item.  Additionally this is a great way to get your smoke fix on the days when you just want a easy couple of portions by rapidly cooling the bag down so you can refrigerate for a few days then reheat as needed.  If your interested in the technique but aren't sure about dropping the money on equipment I highly recommend trying is to start with the beer cooler steaks and kitchen sink salmon cooks as detailed on Serious eats.  Both can be accomplished safely with things you already have at home ( beer coolers, freezer bags, digital thermometer ect,)  and give you a glimpse of what this style of cooking is all about.  If at that point your hooked invest in a more controlled set up that will allow for long cooks such as 48 hour pork belly, 72 hour short ribs, or one of my go to sides caramelized carrots.  Over the last year I have made some outstanding meals, I joking refer to as science experiments, using Sous Vide but been reticent to post these on a smoking meats site, please pm if you are interested in recipes and observations on my experiments. In short science tastes good!

Not to sound...ummm...sarcastic?  Not sure that is the correct word, as I'm not trying to sound like a smart ass in the least.

But this sounds kind of like the MRE's I ate many times with the heating packs.  The meal was in a foil pouch that you slipped into a plastic pouch with yet another "pouch".  You added water which caused a chemical reaction with the inner "pouch" and produced heat.  Which, of course, heated the food pouch.

I won't say this was the best food I've ever consumed but some of it was pretty good, if not too bad.  This sounds as somewhat the same approach.  However, I'm pretty sure the food in the MRE's was already cooked and we were just heating it up. 
This is my set up for now to see how I am going to like this type of cooking, plus the GF has to like it also.
Have only made a couple of things so far. Just put it together last weekend, still need to find an enclosure to put the controller in.

And a water pump/circulator.

I am trying to find one that will work too.  I am using a electric hot water heater element too. Figure I better use a GFI to plug things into since there is the water thing!
Mark! will post some pictures of a self made PID Control Unit, that I have put together, they are very easy to make, and all parts are avaiable from EBay.

Smokin Monkey
I am trying to find one that will work too.  I am using a electric hot water heater element too. Figure I better use a GFI to plug things into since there is the water thing!
If you cook at higher temperature, like vegetables which often at 185F, do not use those submersible pumps. They have electronic (Hall Effect) components inside which cannot take high temperature.

An external pump/stirrer using a shaded pole motor is best. very long lasting. It has only one moving parts. However, they are designed mostly for horizontal use with permanently  oiled sintered bronze bearings. For vertical running the washer spacer becomes the bearing and will need to be oiled some times.

The best pumps to use are these, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peristaltic_pump.

These are the PID Controllers I make, PID, on/ off switch, K Type Probe, relay to handle power consumption, Socket on top to plug appliance you want to control. All very easy to put together.

Smokin Monkey
Those are not very good pumps to use for sous vide. They have extremely low capacity in flow rate, and they have complicated reduction gears in design which can break down. Good one are very expensive also.

They are used where low flow is desirable and self-priming is required.

I did  my chicken today, it turned out very good , moist, tender, flavorful, not much color, it all cooked together but fell apart easily. This was a piece of chicken breast that I cut up, and put in a bag, put in some rooster sauce, agave nectar, mrs dash and cooked at 145° for about 50 minutes.

Not an expert here. Only done a few things Sous Vide. The company I work for their Food Safety Team is not a huge supporter of this cooking style. They allow a couple kitchens to play with it while they come up with a safe process for it. But the kitchen I currently work in was able to purchase one. It is the PolyScience Sous Vide Professional Chef one. It is a model where we can attach it to just about any container. I will say this model has a very high water flow, actually a bit too much and usually tone it down a bit for the size of container we use.

Just tossing out ideas for a water flow method. What if you were to use a magnetic driven water pump for an aquarium for the circulation. Maybe use a cooler with two cambers, one for the food and another for the heater. Put the thermometer probe in the food chamber to be monitored. Another thought is to again use a cooler, but put the heater and aquarium pump inside a 6" PVC casing with holes to allow the water flow, again the probe in the food section for more accurate temp monitoring............. I really like the flexibility the model we have gives us verse the box styles........

I am very interested in this and look forward to learning.

I agree with what was said about food safety. It is all in the freshness and handling. Use only fresh properly handled products and you will lessen the chances of food born illnesses greatly.........
SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads