How Long Should You Wait to Sear After Sous Vide Cooking?

Sous vide cooking has become an increasingly popular technique for preparing meats to perfection. The process of cooking vacu-sealed foods in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath allows you to achieve the ideal doneness from edge to edge without overcooking. But sous vide cooking alone doesn’t provide the delicious browned, crusty exterior that a good sear adds.

Knowing how long to wait after sous vide cooking before searing is key to getting the best results. Waiting too long can lead to a diminished sear, while not resting long enough can cause the meat to overcook. So what is the right amount of time to rest meat after sous vide before searing?


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
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$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 2024-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Immediate Searing

Some chefs advocate searing immediately after removing the bagged meat from the sous vide water bath. The advantage here is that the meat is still piping hot, which helps it take on a good sear quickly. Searing right after sous vide can work well for thin cuts like chicken breasts, pork chops, fish fillets or steak tips.

However, searing delicate proteins like fish too soon after sous vide can lead to the flesh sticking and tearing when you go to remove it from the bag. And for thicker cuts, residual heat from the pan can cause overcooking while trying to develop a crispy crust.

Resting Period

A short resting period of 5-15 minutes is often recommended after removing meat from the sous vide cooker and before searing. This gives time for the temperature to even out within the meat, and for any residual surface moisture to evaporate.

Letting the meat rest after sous vide and before searing accomplishes a few things:

  • Allows moisture to evaporate from the surface, helping the meat brown faster.
  • Prevents overcooking from residual heat conducted from the hot pan.
  • Gives time for the internal temperature to even out, avoiding cold spots.

For most 1-2 inch thick steaks, chops and poultry, a rest of 10-15 minutes is sufficient. For whole roasts or very thick cuts, up to 30 minutes may be needed.

Chilling Before Searing

Some chefs take the concept of waiting before searing a step further by actually chilling the meat after sous vide cooking. This technique, sometimes called “cryo-searing”, can produce excellent searing results.

Chilling sous vide meat for 1-2 hours firms up the surface and dries it out even more, creating ideal conditions for searing. The very cold exterior also buys you more time in the hot pan before overcooking the interior. Cryo-searing works especially well for cooking tough cuts like chuck roast or pork shoulder sous vide, ensuring they get a tasty crust without overcooking.

However, chilling and then re-heating meat can impact moisture levels, so it may not be ideal for delicate proteins. Thoroughly drying the surface and preheating the pan are usually sufficient for achieving a great sear on most cuts.

Factors That Affect Searing Time After Sous Vide Cooking

Several factors come into play in determining the ideal resting time between sous vide cooking and searing, including:

Thickness of the Meat

The thicker the cut, the longer it will retain heat after sous vide cooking. A thin 1-inch chicken breast may only need 5 minutes rest time, while a 2-inch ribeye could benefit from 10-15 minutes. More time allows the internal temperature to even out.

Desired Level of Doneness

If you sous vide meat to a more well-done temperature, chilling before searing becomes less critical since there is more leeway before overcooking. But for rare to medium doneness, you’ll want to minimize carryover cooking.

Type of Protein

The density and moisture content of the meat impacts how quickly it cooks. Delicate fish may only need a couple minutes rest, while fatty pork shoulder benefits from more time. Tougher cuts also tend to cook more slowly.

Searing Method

Super hot searing techniques like using a ripping hot cast iron skillet or torch allow for less resting time compared to lower temp grilling. The intense heat sears the surface rapidly before overcooking the center.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Sear After Sous Vide Cooking

Follow these tips for getting the best possible sear on your meat after sous vide cooking:

Pat the Meat Dry

Whether searing immediately or after resting, be sure to thoroughly dry the surface of the meat with paper towels. Any moisture will steam and boil rather than browning.

Use a High Smoke Point Oil

Choose a high smoke point oil like avocado, grapeseed or refined olive oil. The oil must be hot enough to sear rather than steaming the meat.

Preheat the Pan or Grill

Allow your skillet, grill or other cooking vessel to fully preheat until smoking hot. Searing over high heat is key.

Don’t Overcrowd the Cooking Surface

Avoid crowding meat in the pan, which drops the temperature. Sear in batches if needed.

Monitor the Searing Time

Frequently flip and move the meat around for even searing. Use tongs rather than piercing with a fork to avoid releasing juices. Pay attention to sear without overcooking.

Conclusion: Finding the Right Balance for Your Sous Vide and Searing Process

With sous vide’s precise control, searing is what really gives your meat that finished flair. Allowing enough time for the meat to rest after sous vide, while also searing over high enough heat, results in the perfect melding of a flavorful crust with an evenly-cooked interior. Determining the ideal resting time comes down to understanding what you’re cooking and your desired doneness. Mastering the nuances of post-sous vide searing truly lets you get the best of both techniques on your meats.