How To Combine Sous Vide and Smoke: The Ultimate Guide

Smoking and sous vide are both known for the delicious results they produce. Smoking gives meat a smoky flavor and makes it more tender, while sous vide is known for producing juicy, flavorful, and perfectly-textured meat. If you’re wondering which method you should cook with, fortunately, you don’t have to choose just one. In this article, we’ll teach you how to combine sous vide and smoke to create an unmatched result of perfectly-cooked meat. 

How To Combine Sous Vide and Smoke

Sous vide and smoking are popular to combine in BBQ recipes. To understand how to combine sous vide and smoke, it is important to first understand how both cooking methods work separately.

Smoking

Smoking gives meat a savory, smokey flavor and crispy texture on the exterior. It can take a long time to complete the smoking process, and it can be difficult to control the temperature and ensure that the meat is cooked through. Smoking may require more monitoring and an occasional temperature check to ensure that the meat is still cooking at an appropriate temperature. 

While there are a variety of smokers available, they all work in essentially the same way. Smokers cook ingredients at a low temperature for a long time. The smoking process can take several hours. During smoking, smoke is produced that saturates the meat and leaves a delicious smoky flavor.

Many people love the flavor of smoked meat but don’t always have enough time to cook something using just a smoker. Many opt to combine the smoking method with sous vide to save time while still producing delicious results. 

How to Combine Sous Vide and Smoke

Sous Vide

Sous vide essentially guarantees evenly cooked, tender meat. The sous vide bath’s internal temperature cannot become higher than the water temperature, so you can leave the sous vide machine running for 24 hours without worrying about checking it. 

While sous vide combined with smoking can potentially speed up the cooking process, it is still a slow process. Sous vide involves cooking the main ingredients of your dish for a long time at a low temperature. The end result is juicy, tender, and flavorful. Many have tried to replicate the results of sous vide using other cooking methods, but it is actually quite difficult to accomplish. 

Sous vide produces meals that taste as if they were from a high-end restaurant, which is why it continues to grow more and more popular as a cooking method. The cooking process is actually quite simple because it utilizes an immersion circulator. You simply set up your circulator in water, which will warm up to the perfect temperature, and water will circulate throughout the pot. The water will remain at the temperature you set it at throughout the entire cooking process, so your ingredients will not become overcooked. Read this article for our recommendations on the best sous vide machines on the market. 

Is It Better to Smoke Before or After Sous Vide?

If you’re learning how to combine sous vide and smoke, you may wonder which order produces the best results. Smoking can be done before or after sous vide. The order you choose will impact the final result, so it is up to you to determine which method works best for you. If you want, you can try experimenting with both orders to see which result you are more satisfied with. 

Sous Vide First, Then Smoking 

Starting with sous vide and then smoking involves cooking the ingredients using the sous vide method and then completing the cooking process by smoking briefly. Depending on the type of protein that you’re cooking and the desired result you’re hoping for, the sous vide process can take 2-6 hours or even up to 24-48 hours. You essentially let the meat fully cook with the sous vide method, and smoke the ingredients for roughly 30 minutes afterward. 

30 minutes is enough time to allow the meat to absorb the smoky flavors of the air and enhance the flavor of your food. You will want to ensure that you don’t cook the food for too long in the smoker, or the internal temperature of the meat could rise too much, and the meat could become overcooked. This would be counterproductive to all the time spent preparing the food via sous vide. 

Finishing the cooking process with smoking will result in a final product that is crispier and browner than if you choose to finish with sous vide. 

Advantages of Smoking After Sous Vide

  • Meat can be left in the water bath until it’s ready to eat, eliminating the need to monitor the meat during the smoking process. 
  • You get a crispier and browner final result. 

Disadvantages of Smoking After Sous Vide

  • The flavor of the smoke will not penetrate the meat as well. 

Smoking First, Then Sous Vide

Many opt to smoke first, then sous vide after. Smoking first requires more hands-on effort and attention to ensure that the meat is cooking properly. Many maintain that raw meat absorbs the flavors of smoke better than meat that is already cooked. 

When smoking the meat, you must ensure that the internal temperature does not go up too high. If you overcook the meat during the smoking process, the sous vide will be ineffective because the meat cannot tenderize properly. 

Smoking first offers the benefit of allowing you to smoke the meat for a longer amount of time, so the meat can properly absorb all the smokey flavor. If you choose to smoke first and then sous vide after, it is recommended to smoke the meat at a low temperature for several hours, then complete the process via sous vide for 24 to 48 hours. 

If you wish to regain the crispy skin of the smoking process, you can finish cooking the meat in a broiler or even put it back in the smoker to crisp up the skin again. 

Adding smoking salt or liquid smoke to the bag when using the sous vide method can enhance the flavor of the final result even further. 

Additionally, saving the juices from the sous vide machine is recommended because these juices can be used to make a savory sauce to go along with the final dish.

Advantages of Smoking Before Sous Vide

  • This process gives meat an intense smokey flavor because raw meat absorbs the smoke better than cooked meat. 
  • Smoking helps seal in the juices and prevents them from being lost in the sous vide process. 

Disadvantages of Smoking Before Sous Vide

  • It takes a longer amount of time than if you were to sous vide prior to smoking.

How to Combine Sous Vide and Smoke

Can You Sous Vide Ribs After Smoking?

Ribs can be smoked before or after smoking. The final result and flavors will vary depending on which order you choose. If you choose to sous vide ribs after smoking, the result will be more tender and “fall off the bone” more easily than if you chose to smoke then sous vide the ribs. 

Some find that the flavor is richer if you sous vide first then smoke after, but both will produce amazing and flavorful results. If you want to sous vide ribs after smoking, the flavor might be just slightly less pronounced, but the texture will be fantastic. Whichever order you use, 2 hours of smoking before or after sous vide will be enough time to allow a smoke ring to form inside the ribs. 

Furthermore, completing your cooking process with a sous vide torch can enhance the quality and flavor of your meal even further. 

What Are the Advantages of Using a Sous Vide Smoking Gun?

Using a smoking gun can be an excellent way to combine sous vide with smoking. Traditional smokers are large and expensive to get for just occasional use. A handheld smoking gun is a convenient way to bring the smokey flavor of a smoker into your dishes. Smoking guns can be used to easily introduce the essence of smoked meat into your sous vide meals. 

What Is a Smoking Gun?

A smoking gun is used as a finishing tool for your meal. It is a handheld battery-powered device that contains lit wood chips. It pipes smoke through a hose to quickly and conveniently give your meat a smoky flavor.

If you’re wondering how to combine sous vide and smoke, a smoking gun is a convenient way to do so. A smoking gun can easily be used alongside sous vide as a final touch to your meals. 

Does a Smoking Gun Work as Well as a Proper Smoking Machine?

A smoking gun is hard to compare to the final product that a proper smoking machine can offer. A smoking machine requires food to be cooked for hours and hours. Over the course of the cooking process, the smoky flavors infuse into the meat. The texture is also enhanced by a smoking machine because the exterior crisps and browns throughout the cooking process.

A sous vide smoking gun that you use for a few minutes will not produce the same results as a smoking machine. However, a smoking gun can be a great tool to use if you do not have the means to obtain a proper smoking machine. 

A handheld smoking gun is an excellent way to introduce smoky flavors and the essence of a smoking machine to your meals without going through the entire process. It is important to note that smoke in itself is not a flavor that can be replicated through herbs or spices, but rather it is a chemical reaction that alters the flavors of the meal. Thus, using a smoking gun will add a smokey flavor to your meal, just not to the same extent that a smoking machine would.

Why Do People Use a Smoking Gun for Sous Vide Cooking?

Proper smoking machines can be expensive and take up a lot of space. Not everyone wants to invest in a smoker, considering they likely won’t even be using it very often. A smoking gun is easy to obtain and a convenient way to add flavors to your meal. 

How Do You Use a Sous Vide Smoking Gun? 

  • Load the smoking gun with wood chips of your choice.
  • Light the smoking gun.
  • Blow smoke into a covered container.
  • Allow the smoke to sit and infuse the food for several minutes. 

Popular Sous Vide Ingredients to Use a Smoking Gun With

Here are popular foods that sous viders love smoking:

  • Meats: Beef is extremely popular to sous vide and smoke, as well as chicken, turkey, and duck. All meats can be cooked with sous vide and smoke to create an exceptional flavor.
  • Cocktails: You might be surprised to learn that cocktails can be prepared with smoke and sous vide. A smoked sous vide Old Fashioned cocktail will be sure to impress your guests. 
  • Sauces: A variety of homemade sauces can be made using smoking and sous vide. The leftover juices from the sous vide cooking process can even be made into a delicious sauce to pair with your smoked sous vide meal. 
  • Soups: Soups can also be elevated through sous vide and smoking. Whether you use the juices produced through the sous vide and smoking process in your soup or intentionally sous vide and smoke the main ingredients of your soup, the results will be delicious.
  • Fish: Similar to meat, the flavors of fish can be enhanced greatly through the smoking and sous vide process. Salmon in particular tastes wonderful when prepared by combining sous vide and smoking cooking methods. 

Final Thoughts

Combining sous vide and smoke is an excellent way to elevate your meals and impress your guests. While these cooking methods are known individually for the exceptional results they produce, when combined, you can reap the benefits of both! This creates a result that features both the tenderness of sous vide and the flavor of smoking. 

Whether you choose to sous vide then smoke or vice versa, you can create a rich, savory meal that tastes as if it were prepared in a high-end restaurant. If a smoking machine is not accessible to you, a smoking gun is a convenient way to introduce the notes and flavors of smoke into your sous vide meal. 

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