How To Defrost With Sous Vide


If you own a sous vide machine, then you already know how to use it to cook meat. But a sous vide machine can be used as a multipurpose appliance. So, have you ever wondered how to defrost something using sous vide? 

Sous vide is a cooking technique that involves cooking food in a vacuum and at consistent temperatures. The reason it can be of multipurpose use is because of this method. You can use the water bath of the sous vide machine to evenly defrost your frozen food items by setting a warm temperature. 

While there are different ways to do it, there is a general way to defrost certain items to get the best result. It usually depends on the type of food. Let’s get into how it works, why you should do it, and how to defrost with a sous vide machine. 

What You Can Defrost With Sous Vide—How It Works

If you are thinking of defrosting frozen chicken or beef, or any other kind of meat, then sous vide is the way to go. You can safely defrost them using resealable plastic bags and a sous vide machine.

The process is simple. The sous vide machine works in a slow heating process. You have to put the item you want to defrost or cook in a vacuum-sealable bag and seal it. When the air is out of it, you can put it in the sous vide water bath. 

The process is similar to cooking using sous vide. When you cook using sous vide, you can leave the sous vide by itself and finish other work. This is just one perk of using the sous vide machine—I will get into more later. 

How To Defrost With Sous Vide?

The basics of this process are using low heat for a long period of time. This way, the cold water can circulate through your food and allow the temperature to go up. On the other hand, you can also use high temperatures for a short amount of time. 

Here, you will find a couple of different processes to defrost using sous vide. I will cover some of the basic frozen items. Just know that you can tweak and adjust the temperature settings or time to how you like it. 

Defrost Ground Beef 

This method is the essential method of defrosting any kind of meat. You can use the process, and just adjust the temperature to fit any other frozen meat. Get your ground beef and your sous vide machine ready. Let’s defrost!

Step 1: Place the frozen beef in a resealable plastic bag or freezer bag. Ensure that the bag is air-free.

Step 2: Take your sous vide machine’s pot and fill it with water until it is half full. Then take your sealed bag of frozen ground beef and put it inside a bigger Ziploc bag. 

Step 3: Turn on your sous vide machine and set it to 35F. Check the temperature carefully, because a lower or higher temperature could mean bacteria for your beef. As the water reaches this temperature, place the bag inside the pot. 

Step 4: You can leave the Ziploc bag of meat inside the sous vide machine as long as you want. Usually, the time is around 30 minutes. But if you are in a rush, make sure to check if all the ice crystals on and inside the meat have melted. If you see it, then you can take the bag out of the pot. 

Step 5: You can keep it in the fridge for two days or use it right away. Make sure it’s at a consistent temperature before you use it. Otherwise, there’s a chance you’ll ruin the recipe.

Defrost Frozen Chicken

The first steps of defrosting frozen chicken are similar to that of ground beef. Make sure to follow the same packaging and sealing steps. The difference here will be in the temperature and time settings. You can still adjust it to how much chicken you are trying to defrost. 

Step 1: Pack and seal your frozen chicken inside a resealable or freezer bag like the last method. Make sure there is no air inside the bags. 

Step 2: Attach your sous vide machine to the power outlet, and set the cooking temperature somewhere between 60-69F. 

Step 3: Once the pot reaches that temperature, drop your frozen chicken in it. You can leave it for around 30 minutes. And if it is a larger batch, it might take 5-10 minutes more. 

Step 4: After the time is over, check for ice crystals in your chicken. If it seems like there are not any, you are good to go!

Defrosting Other Meats

Defrosting any other meat will take the basic steps as well. Here is what you have to do. You can use either of the two ways to defrost. It will be either a low temperature of 38F or a high one of 102F. Depending on how many food items you put inside the machine, you can adjust the temperature to be higher or lower. 

When you use the low temperature, you have to allow the water to circulate around your food. This will take more time, but it will ensure that the meat is fully defrosted. On the other hand, when you use a high temperature, you need to heat it for less time—around 11 minutes for a steak is pretty good. 

Why Is Sous Vide Defrosting Better?

Sous vide defrosting is a lot better than other ways to defrost your food. There are many reasons for that. You can save time, electricity, water, and defrost it more thoroughly. Let’s get into a shortlist of reasons why you should use your sous vide machine to defrost your frozen food items the next time.

It is Way Better Than Microwaving 

When you microwave a frozen item, it only heats the parts of the food that are already in liquid form. This means that most of your frozen food will remain frozen. And the parts that have already started to defrost will heat up. This does not happen when you use a sous vide machine. 

The sous vide machine will heat the food more thoroughly and slowly. As a result, you will have a perfectly defrosted food item in your hands. 

It Gets The Job Done Faster 

To defrost something frozen, you usually need to spend hours keeping it at a normal temperature and wait. You have to either keep it under running water or on a counter. This process will take an unnecessary amount of time, and might even cause germs to enter the food. 

When you sous vide, you do not have to wait as long. Since the water in the sous vide is at a constant temperature, it can bring the process down to a mere hour or less. 

It Saves Water And Electricity

Sous vide also saves you water and electricity. When you defrost frozen items in a regular way, you would either put them under running water in the sink or on the counter. You can even put it in a microwave or keep it in the fridge overnight. 

Either way, when you sous vide, you do not have to keep the sink running. Just half the amount of the pot’s volume worth of water is fine. This water will defrost your frozen meat, and you will not even have to worry about wasting electricity to defrost it.

Chef Rooney

I like to cook. It makes me happy, and I know it does the same for others. If you ever want to learn how to make a great dish, just ask!

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