Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just got a sous vide supreme for christmas and I am super excited to use it. Many of the recipes I have seen online suggest to sear the meat after cooking to provide a crust. No problem.

My question is about doneness - If I want a medium rare steak, I would cook it to 125-130. With a sous vide and an after bath sear - should I still cook it to 125, or should I cook it to 115 and let the pan finish cooking it?



share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The searing applied after sous-viding should not be enough to alter the temperature of the meat notably. All you're trying to do with the sear is create the flavorful crust on the outside of a piece of meat via the Maillard reaction, not accomplish any cooking of the interior of the meat itself. This is best done by applying very high heat for a very short amount time, usually just a few seconds. Some like doing this via pan-searing or on a very hot grill, but I usually use a high-powered blowtorch. The important thing is that you not sear for so long that interior of the meat has a chance to notice. A perfectly sous-vided piece of meat should be a uniform color throughout, except for a heavily seared crust. There shouldn't be any gray band of over-cooked meat under the crust. Avoiding that is why you're sous-viding in the first place.

Also, I find 125-130°F to be a touch on the rare side. For a good medium rare, 133-135°F gives me better results.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for that. Follow up question on the blowtorch then - Oil or no oil on the meat? –  mikebmassey Dec 28 '11 at 16:08
I've tried it both ways, doesn't appear to matter. Propane burns much hotter than any cooking oil, so I have to imagine any oil you put on would quickly be burned off, to little effect. Oh, yeah, when I mentioned "high-powered blowtorch", I should have specified propane, acquirable from any good hardware store. The lttle butane torches that cooking stores sell for creme brule' are just not up to the task. –  Dave Griffith Dec 28 '11 at 16:28
I would add that, if using a pan, make sure to use a paper towel to blot excess moisture off of the steak prior to searing. It doesn't seem like a lot, but I've had it cause my steak to need to stay on the cooking surface too long and start cooking it more than I wanted while developing the crust. –  AaronN Dec 28 '11 at 20:12
When blowtorching meat, try to pat dry the surface with a paper towel just before applying the flame. This will help the surface of the meat to more quickly come up to the temperature required for the Maillard reaction to occur (~180°C). –  sufw Feb 6 '14 at 19:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.