How to Sous Vide in an Instant Pot in 6 Steps (Beginner’s Guide)

Traditional methods of cooking are great, but they’re notorious for uneven cooking. This makes them a poor choice for preparing pork tenderloin and other delicate foods. One method of cooking that improves on this flaw is sous vide. Here, we’ll be talking about how to sous vide in Instant Pot!

Sous Vide Cooking: Everything You Need to Know

Sous vide is a cooking technique that involves placing uncooked food in a sealed plastic bag, vacuum-sealed bag, or freezer bag before dipping it in a temperature-controlled water bath. The precise temperature control involved in this cooking process results in an even, well-cooked meal.

Unlike traditional cooking methods that use a poor conductor and raise the cooking temperature of the uncooked food too quickly, a low, exact temperature level is maintained here, which means that sous vide has a wide range of cooking times.

Some sous vide cycles require only a 2 to 3-hour cook time, while others have a full 48-hour cook time.

Loosely translated in French, the words sous vide mean “under vacuum.”

This slow method of cooking has been around for a very long time, but it only just recently began to gain acclaim thanks to the restaurant-quality dishes people can make with it.

How to Sous Vide

Sous vide preparation

To get perfect cooking and access to the multiple delicious meal options that sous vide offers, you have to leverage either of two resources.

These are:

1. The Immersion Circulator

This is the “old-school” way of using sous vide to make flavoursome recipes, and it involves clipping an immersion circulator to a large container of water.

An immersion circulator looks like a simple, hand-held blender and clips to the hot water container with a wide base. Once filled to the 1/2-full mark or enough water to immerse your food bags and turned on, it heats the water to precise temperatures and agitates the water consistently so it circulates.

By doing this, the bags of food immersed in the water are cooked at an even temperature level.

Some of the most popular immersion circulator brands at the moment are Instant Pot, Anova, and Breville Joule.

2. The “Sous Vide” Smart Program on Instant Pot

Another great way to prepare your boneless ribeye steak or salmon is to use the sous vide smart program temperature feature found on certain Instant Pot products.

We should mention at this point that this cooking process is similar to but not exactly the same thing as using an immersion circulator.

The primary reasons for this difference are:

  1. The water in an Instant Pot isn’t circulated.
  2. It’s more difficult to achieve precise temperature control here, even with the array of adjustable controls offered.

Having said that, using your Instant Pot to sous vide is still a great way to go if you don’t want to invest in an immersion circulator just yet. This is because with the right tweaks, you can get very decent results here as well.

We’ll be showing you how to sous vide in an Instant Pot shortly!

And if you’d like to know more about taking care of your Instant Pot, see here.

The Water Displacement Method

The water displacement method is a common concept in sous vide. It basically involves ejecting as much air as you can out of the bags of food before putting them in a temperature-controlled water bath.

You must ensure that the uncooked food, no matter what meat it is, doesn’t exceed 80% of the plastic bag or reusable sous vide bag.

This is vital because it not only keeps the bag below the hot water level for X-hour cook time, but it also ensures that air, a poor conductor of cooking heat, doesn’t affect the cook time and evenness.

With that out of the way, let’s get cooking!

How to Sous Vide in Instant Pot

For people looking to bring out the best in their pork tenderloin, pork chops, salmon, boneless ribeye steak, and other delicious foods, here’s a 6-step guide with easy-to-follow sous vide instructions!

Step One: Gather the Necessary Supplies

In addition to having an Instant Pot that can sous vide, you need to have some other resources on hand as well. These include:

  • A reliable digital thermometer.
  • Quality freezer bags or vacuum bags.
  • A pair of reusable silicone tongs.
  • A pair of oven mitts.

Step Two: Fill the Inner Pot with Water

As you know, hot water is critical to this cooking technique.

You should add cups of water to the inner pot of this appliance until the water either reaches the ½-full mark or fully submerges the vacuum bags in the container.

Once that’s done, secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set the steam release mechanism to “Vent.”

It doesn’t have to be on “Switch” because the main function of the lid here is to slow down the evaporation process as much as possible.

Step Three: Set the Sous Vide Smart Program Feature

sous vide cooking, low temperature cooking

This is where things can get a little complicated, even for a professional chef!

There are several Instant Pot cooking appliances with the sous vide feature, and how this function is activated differs a little with each one.

We’ll be highlighting simple steps you can take to configure some of these products here.

To Set Sous Vide for Instant Pot Plus, Duo SV, and Duo Gourmet

As these three appliances have a similar setup, we’ll be lumping them together. Here’s how to set the sous vide program:

  1. Locate and press the “Sous Vide” button.
  2. Use the “+” or “-” adjustable controls to set the exact temperature you want to cook at.
  3. Hit the “Sous Vide” button one more time.
  4. Use the “+” or “-” adjustable controls to set the time for your perfect cooking cycle.
  5. Wait for the display on the unit to display the “On” notification. This usually takes 10 seconds.

Once the target temperature has been reached, you’ll be notified with a beep, and the LED display will change to a timer counting down to “00:00”.

To Set Sous Vide for Instant Pot Duo Crisp

  1. Locate and press the “Sous Vide” button.
  2. Use the “+” or “-” adjustable controls to set the exact temperature you want to cook at.
  3. Use the “+” or “-” adjustable controls to set the time for your perfect cooking cycle.
  4. Push the “Start” Button.
  5. Wait for the display on the unit to display the “On” notification. This usually takes 10 seconds.

Once the target temperature has been reached, you’ll be notified with a beep, and the LED display will change to a timer counting down to “00:00”.

To Set Sous Vide for Instant Pot Max

  1. Locate and press the “Sous Vide” button.
  2. Press the “Hour” option and turn the knob to set the number of hours of sous vide cooking time you want.
  3. Press the “Minute” option and turn the knob to set the number of minutes of sous vide cooking time you want.
  4. Press the “Temperature” and turn the knob to set the water temperature you want to cook at.
  5. Press the “Start” button.

Once the target temperature has been reached, you’ll be notified with a beep, and the LED display will change to a timer counting down to “00:00”.

Step Four: Prepare the Bags of Food for Sous Vide

Whether you want to perfectly sous vide chicken breast or steak, you need to pack the freezer bags or vacuum bags with the pieces of food and sauce ingredients stated in the recipe.

So, before the Instant Pot heats up to your set temperature level, you should make sure you’ve put all the needed bits of food into the bags you’re using. Don’t forget to squeeze out as much air as you can after you’re done and leave a 1-inch opening.

One way of achieving the perfect air-tight packaging for your sous vide is by investing in a Vacuum Sealer. For more information about this great piece of kit, see here.

Step Five: Place the Bags of Food in the Hot Water

After your Instant Pot has beeped to let you know it’s at the desired temperature, it’s time to put the sealed vacuumed bags or freezer bags into the water.

You can use your reusable silicone tongs for this.

As you lower the bag into the water, air will be forced out of the 1-inch space you left. After all the air has been removed, you can seal the bag completely and pop the lid on your pot.

Step Six: Remove Your Cooked Food

When your food is done cooking, your Instant Pot will beep.

At that point, press the “Cancel” button, open the lid of the pot, and use your pair of tongs to fish out all the bags of food.

Next, open the bag and transfer its contents to a paper towel-lined plate or cutting board.

Wait 10-15 minutes for the food to rest. After this period of time, your tasty meal is ready to eat!

Conclusion

Learning how to sous vide in an Instant Pot is easy when you follow the simple steps we’ve laid out here. You now have more delicious meal options to explore and one more interesting technique to try in the kitchen!

Check out this article to brush up on your sous vide skills even more.

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