Sous Vide Cooking Without a Vacuum Sealer

Sous vide cooking has become an increasingly popular technique for cooking meats, vegetables, and other foods to perfect doneness. But many home cooks are hesitant to try sous vide cooking because they don’t have a fancy vacuum sealer. The good news is that you can absolutely sous vide without a vacuum sealer! There are several effective techniques for removing air and sealing bags for sous vide cooking without an expensive vacuum sealing appliance.


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
$127.96
$24.99
$59.99
$18.99
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
$127.96
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
$59.99
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
$18.99

Last update on 2024-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Water Displacement Method

One of the easiest ways to remove air from a zipper-style plastic bag is the water displacement method. Simply submerge your filled bag in a large bowl or pot of water, leaving just the zipper portion above the water line. As you gently lower the bag, the pressure of the water will force air out of the bag through the top. Once most of the air has escaped, carefully seal the bag while still submerged to ensure you’ve removed as much air as possible before cooking. This technique allows you to achieve a decent vacuum seal without any special equipment.

Using Ziploc Bags

Regular Ziploc bags work surprisingly well for sous vide cooking without a vacuum sealer. Make sure to use freezer-grade bags, as they are thicker than storage bags and can better withstand the heat. Fill your bag with food, making sure to leave some empty space at the top. Seal the bag almost all the way, leaving just a small opening. Lower the bag into a bowl of water to force out excess air. As you remove the bag, quickly seal the remaining opening while underwater. Dry off the exterior of the bag and you’re ready to cook!

Using Silicone Bags

Silicone bags are a reusable option that can create an effective air-tight seal without a vacuum sealer. Their flexibility allows you to manually push out excess air before sealing. Close the bag tightly and compress it to remove remaining air pockets. Silicone bags stand up well to repeated use and the high heat of sous vide cooking. Make sure to thoroughly clean them after each use.

Using Glass Jars

Wide-mouth glass jars also work for sous vide cooking without a vacuum sealer. Fill jars with food, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Hand-tighten lids to seal, then check for air pockets. Turn jars upside down and tap firmly to dislodge trapped air bubbles before fully tightening lids. The glass and sealed lids help jars retain a decent vacuum. Jars allow you to easily see food cooking.

Using Reusable Sous Vide Bags

There are also reusable plastic bags designed specifically for sous vide cooking that securely seal with simple zipper closures or twist-and-lock mechanisms. These reusable sous vide bags are made from food-safe, BPA-free materials that can withstand prolonged heat exposure. They create a tight seal to remove air without a vacuum sealer required. Reusable bags are a great eco-friendly and budget-friendly option.

Tips for Sous Vide Cooking Without a Vacuum Sealer

While it’s certainly possible to sous vide without a vacuum sealer, following some best practices will help ensure your food cooks properly and safely.

Choose the Right Bag

Pick bags made from plastic that can withstand boiling temperatures for an extended time. Freezer-grade zipper storage bags, silicone bags, and reusable sous vide plastic bags are good choices. Avoid thinner storage bags.

Remove as Much Air as Possible

Regardless of sealing method, take steps to remove as much air from the bag as possible before cooking to prevent floatation and ensure even heating. Massage out air pockets and use water displacement or compression techniques.

Seal the Bag Properly

Securely seal your bags, allowing no openings for steam to escape. With zipper bags, lock the seal and reinforce with clothespins. Twist silicone bag seals tightly. Tighten jar lids. Test seals before cooking.

Monitor the Cooking Process

Keep an eye on your bags while cooking to check for floatation or leaks. Gently redistribute ingredients or weigh down bags as needed to keep food submerged. Check water level and refill as needed.

Be Mindful of Cooking Times and Temperatures

Closely follow recipe guidelines for time and temperature when cooking without a vacuum seal, as results may vary slightly. You may need to cook food a little longer without a complete vacuum.

Conclusion: Sous Vide Cooking Without a Vacuum Sealer Is Possible

While a vacuum sealer is the ideal tool for sous vide cooking, there are many DIY methods you can use at home to achieve success without this appliance. The water displacement technique, freezer-grade bags, silicone bags, jars and reusable sous vide bags can all create a tight enough seal for sous vide cooking when proper care is taken to remove air and securely fasten bags. Pay close attention to cooking guidelines and monitor the process closely. With a bit of added effort, you can absolutely reap the benefits of sous vide’s precise, low-temperature cooking without investing in any new kitchen tools. Don’t let the lack of a vacuum sealer dissuade you from discovering the amazing results you can achieve through sous vide cooking.