How to Sous Vide Defrost Like a Pro

Food safety is just as important as taste. You don’t want to eat the best meal of your life just to spend the next twenty-four hours in the bathroom. Worse than that, you don’t want your guests to leave with food poisoning.

If you haven’t used the sous vide technique before, you may have some questions. Is it safe to do at home? How does it work? What else can you do with a sous vide machine?

Keep reading to learn how to sous vide defrost like a pro and what other things you can do with this method. Let’s dive in!

What Is Sous Vide?

Preparing meal in sous vide cooker.

Sous vide is a French term that translates to “under a vacuum.” This form of meal preparation was developed to improve fine dining and food preservation. It entails cooking food by immersing it in its juices in a vacuum-sealed bag. The fats cook it from the inside out.

But a sous vide cooker can defrost food, too. It thaws frozen chicken, steak, ground beef, or other types of meat. Use this style to cook your food to a precise temperature and eliminate the chances of overcooking.

When a sous vide device reaches the temperature you have chosen, it stabilizes. This gives your food enough time to cook or defrost properly and eliminates the risk of food poisoning. It also prevents burning if you get too busy or forget to check on it.

Cooking sous vide style requires an immersion circulator or immersion cooker. Some people argue that a vacuum sealer helps improve food quality, and there is no reason to disagree. It may seem strange when you are just starting. It is different from conventional cooking, and you may wonder if you are doing the right thing.

Is Sous Vide Safe to Defrost?

The sous vide defrosting process is excellent. Sous vide cooking and defrosting are safe when three conditions are monitored. These include the temperature while cooking, rapid cooling, and the period between storage and consumption.

Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 4°C to 60°C. Defrosting is the only time the temperature drops lower than 65°C during the sous vide process. That’s why you have to take care to ensure your food is free of bacteria at this vulnerable time.

Ideally, you cook your meal between 65°C to 95°C, with a maximum of 100°C. Fish requires lower temperatures for cooking since it has tender flesh, but even that is a bacteria-free zone.

How to Sous Vide Defrost Like a Pro

Sous vide immersion circulator cooker and the mea .

If you have just discovered that you can defrost with a sous vide machine, you are not the only one. It helps you avoid improper defrosting, which can cause food poisoning. Through even heating, the moisture within the food circulates better and faster.

Using microwaves for defrosting is becoming less popular because they cannot heat food evenly. An immersion circulator is better for thawing because you can determine whether you want gradual or quick defrosting depending on the temperature. When defrosting sous vide style, it will take five to thirty minutes.

Follow this general guideline to sous vide defrost ground beef, chicken, or other cuts of meat like a pro:

  • Place the item in a food-grade plastic bag and remove air pockets with a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method.
  • Determine how quickly you want to defrost your food. For slow heating, a temperature of 3°C will suffice. If you want it to defrost faster, set it to 20°C.
  • Turn on the sous vide machine and wait for the water bath to reach your chosen temperature. Then drop the meal inside and wait until the alert from your timer.

You can choose to also cook your frozen food sous vide instead of just defrosting. Depending on your meal, you may have to increase the temperature and cooking time. This is because it is better to defrost some food items like meat before cooking.

You will also need to add other ingredients because the bag is not coming out again until the food is ready. Make sure to include your vegetables and spices before submerging the bag.

What Frozen Foods Can You Cook in a Sous Vide Machine?

You can cook just about any frozen food sous vide! Frozen meals are like fast foods – keep them aside for a quick snack or meal. We also freeze leftovers to preserve their quality and delay spoilage.

Sous vide defrosting works for frozen steak, beef, turkey, chicken, canned beef, vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, and sandwiches. If you can fit it into the machine, you can probably sous vide it!

Requirements for Sous Vide Defrosting?

You can’t just jump right into cooking sous vide. Before you get started, you’ll need a few things. These include:

  • Food-grade plastic bags
  • A vacuum sealer
  • Sous vide cooker or machine

Safety Concerns with Sous Vide-Style Cooking

Close-up of woman using sous-vide cooker.

Is the defrosting method safe in an immersion circulator? Well, the straight answer is yes, it can be. But the truth is a bit more complicated.

There are food-grade, heat-safe vacuum seal bags in the market. Ensure that they are BPA-free. Phthalates and lead are also dangerous substances that should not be found in anyone’s system, so avoid single-use plastic bags that contain these components.

It is no secret that plastic is killing our planet. It is essential to produce environmentally sustainable alternatives for single-use plastic bags. Plastic contains poisonous substances, making it unsafe for you and the environment. Luckily, there are options for reusable sous vide bags on the market.

No matter what, keep in mind that cheap plastic wraps are a dangerous choice that you should avoid. They are bad for both you and the environment.

Go for freezer bags made of polyamide and polyethylene composite. These are biodegradable options that are also free of harmful chemicals.

Is Immersion Cooking Safe?

Immersion cooking is safe as long as you follow the instructions properly. A precise temperature is maintained when cooking or defrosting sous vide. The cooking temperature is often low, which raises safety concerns.

The difference between conventional cooking and defrosting food with an immersion cooker is the temperature. A sous vide device does not heat the water to a high level, so you won’t risk “cooking” the food before you’re actually ready.

Immersion cooking is also called low-temperature long-term cooking. This is because it takes longer to cook, usually two to three times the cooking time of more conventional options.

On the other hand, defrosting sous vide style can be done around 3°C. In thirty minutes, the machine will dissolve the frozen food’s ice particles. Alternatively, the fastest defrosting method is attained when you tweak the temperature to 38°C.

Is immersion cooking safe? Yes, and modern technology constantly strives to improve the technique to make it even safer. So the next time you’re looking to experiment in the kitchen, know that you can rely on immersion cooking for a fun, safe experience.

Why Is Sous Vide Defrosting Better?

If you’ve ever left chicken to defrost in the microwave for too long, then you know that rubbery taste it gets. But that doesn’t happen with sous vide.

Using the microwave to defrost your food runs the risk of unevenly distributing heat. What’s worse, if you leave food in the microwave for too long, it could start cooking and develop a strange taste.

However, that is not the only downside. The moisture that leaks prematurely from the food will unevenly cook some parts, leading to a lack of uniformity. It also increases the risk of food poisoning because the temperature is not consistent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the sous vide defrost style healthy?

There isn’t a direct health benefit to defrosting sous vide. However, it does reduce the chances of food poisoning compared to using a microwave to defrost. It also evenly distributes heat throughout your food, which makes cooking easier.

What is the best way to defrost your food?

Quickly and thoroughly. Allow the moisture in the food to dissolve evenly. One way to do that is by using a sous vide machine. It may take a bit longer than using the microwave, but sous vide is more effective.


Sous vide defrost cooking is great when you have the time. It evenly heats your food to dissolve the ice particles without giving up safety standards. Now that you know how to sous vide defrost like a pro, what are you waiting for? Get cooking!

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