frozen tuna steak vacuum

Is it possible to cook frozen food sous vide?

There are plenty of things to love about the sous vide cooking technique. The results are food that is always cooked so consistently and perfectly, that you won’t notice the difference between food that started fresh or frozen. That’s how good the sous vide machine is.

A sous vide machine is a type of hot water bath used to cook food at low temperatures. Think of it as a slow-cooking tub that requires you to vacuum-seal food in a bag before immersing it in the heated water. The point of cooking sous vide is to control the temperature of the food closely by controlling the temperature of the water bath down to the last degree. It’s a method that relies on precision, which is what makes it so reliable.

In a nutshell, you target a certain temperature and let the food reach that target. No other way of cooking offers this level of predictability. Not surprisingly, the sous vide machine also lives up to its potential when it comes to cooking frozen food. In one experiment by America’s Test Kitchen, frozen steaks took only 10% more time to reach the target temperature compared to fresh steaks. Considering that it’s only an additional 30 minutes to the cooking time, cooking sous vide straight from the freezer is indeed a convenient method. The only difference is that it will take longer for frozen food to reach the desired temperature. But if you’re looking for speed, you’ve come to the wrong cooking device.

Is it safe to cook sous vide frozen food?

sous vide technique vegetables

Cooking frozen food sous vide is safe. In fact, it’s one of the strong suits of the sous vide technique. Although we have suggestions for the best food you can cook sous vide, there’s ultimately no food you can’t cook sous vide from frozen if you can cook it in the sous vide from fresh. It’s possible to cook both raw and cooked food straight from the freezer. 

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One may argue that cooking sous vide with food straight from the freezer is even safer than with fresh food, but it comes down to how you handle the food before vacuum-sealing. The biggest advantage of freezing is that it guarantees the food a longer shelf life. If you vacuum seal it before freezing, the chances of ending up with a batch that’s gone bad are significantly low. Vacuum-sealing food eliminates oxygen from the pouch, leaving no ground for bacteria and mold to grow.

To emphasize how safe cooking sous vide with food straight from the freezer is, consider that the shelf-life of vacuum-packed food in the freezer is considerably long. Meat, which often lasts a year, can last up to three, seafood like shrimp and lobster lasts a year, while fruit such as berries can last up to three years. That said, correctly label food before freezing it and use our tips to avoid mistakes everyone makes with sous vide.

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Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

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