Can You Sous Vide with Liquid in the Bag?

Sous vide cooking involves vacuum sealing food in plastic bags and then cooking it to precise temperatures in a water bath. Many sous vide recipes call for adding seasoning, marinades, or cooking liquids to the bag before sealing. But is it safe and effective to sous vide with liquid in the bag? Here’s what you need to know.


Sous Vide Products I Use Every Day

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Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$99.00
$122.99
$24.99
$73.99
$16.14
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
$99.00
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
$122.99
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
$24.99
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
$73.99
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$16.14

Last update on 2024-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What Are The Benefits Of Sous Viding With Liquid?

Adding liquid to the sous vide bag provides some key advantages:

1. Enhances Flavor

Marinades, stocks, wines, and other flavorful liquids can impart their aromas and tastes into the food as it cooks. The hot water bath helps to fully infuse the liquid’s flavors into the food. This can greatly enhance the end result.

2. Preserves Nutrients

Cooking food in liquid helps keep nutrients from leaching out. The natural juices released by the food also get retained. This allows for better preservation of vitamins and minerals.

3. Ensures Even Cooking

The liquid in the bag transfers heat effectively to ensure the food cooks evenly throughout. There are no hot or cold spots. This improves texture and prevents over or undercooking.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Sous Viding With Liquid?

However, there are some potential downsides to consider:

1. Can Affect Vacuum Sealing

Getting a tight vacuum seal can be tricky with lots of liquid in the bag. Air bubbles may remain trapped, allowing for oxidation or leaks. Proper sealing technique is key.

2. May Alter Cooking Time

The increased volume and thermal mass from extra liquid can extend the time needed to come up to temperature. Cook times may need adjustment.

3. Risk of Overcooking or Undercooking

With too much or too little liquid, the food may cook unevenly or lose moisture and texture. Finding the right liquid ratio is important.

How To Sous Vide With Liquid In The Bag: Step-By-Step Guide

Succesful sous vide cooking with liquids requires care in preparation:

1. Use Less Liquid Than Usual

As a general rule, cut the amount of liquid at least in half compared to conventional cooking. Only a small amount is needed to impart flavor and moisture. Too much liquid can negatively impact texture.

2. Freeze Liquids Beforehand

Freezing marinades, stocks, or cooking liquids makes them easier to vacuum seal smoothly without trapping air bubbles. Allow time for them to thaw before cooking.

3. Double Seal Bags For Extra Security

After vacuum sealing as usual, seal the bag a second time an inch or two higher using just the seal function on the vacuum sealer. This prevents leaks.

4. Adjust Cook Times As Needed

Monitor doneness and be ready to increase cook times by 25-50% to account for increased thermal mass from extra liquid in the bag.

What Types Of Liquids Can Be Used In Sous Vide Cooking?

Many types of flavorful liquids can be added to bags for sous vide, including:

  • Marinades – impart flavor and tenderize meats.
  • Wines or spirits – add depth, acidity, and aroma.
  • Stocks and broths – boost taste and moisture.
  • Juices – provide acidity and fruit flavors.
  • Soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce – umami boost.
  • Olive oil, sesame oil – fats to help carry flavors.
  • Fresh herbs, spices, garlic, ginger – aromatics.
  • Vinegars, citrus juice – bright, acidic notes.

Avoid very starchy or sugary liquids that could leave a gummy texture on the food after prolonged cooking.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Sous Viding With Liquid in the Bag

While sous vide cooking with liquids can yield delicious results, there are some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Using too much liquid resulting in bland, waterlogged food.
  • Poor sealing leading to oxidation or leaks.
  • Not allowing cook time extension for increased thermal mass.
  • Contaminating cooking liquid with bacteria from raw meat.
  • Letting food cool in liquid, allowing over-penetration of flavors.

With care taken in preparation, liquids add great flavor dimension to sous vide cooking while still ensuring tender and properly cooked results. A small amount of marinade, sauce, or cooking liquid in the bag along with precision temperature and time control can elevate sous vide dishes to new levels.