I picked up two NY Strip steaks, about 6 oz each this weekend with the hopes of showing off how awesome my new sous vide circulator (Anova Precision Cooker) with a nice medium-rare steak. I pre-heated my water to 130 degrees, brushed olive oil on the steaks and seasoned them with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. After that, I vacuum-sealed them (not touching) and submerged them for 2 hours. When they came out, they felt pretty tender, so I seared them in a heavy aluminum pan in hot oil, 30 seconds per side.

They came out OK, but certainly not medium rare. They had the slightest of pink centers, so I would call them medium well to almost well done. I really want to master the art of the steak, so what did I do wrong?

  • have you confirmed that your circulator is calibrated accurately?
    – moscafj
    Jun 8, 2015 at 14:56
  • Did it actually taste overdone? There's a similar description of this problem here: chefsteps.com/forum/posts/…
    – Stefano
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:04
  • Regarding the circulator being calibrated, my first reaction is to say "As far as I know it is..." then the IT guy in me responds "... then it's not." So there's also that.
    – Smapdi
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:55
  • Hmm that post on Chef Steps looks to be the same exact issue I had. Probably the same thing. Back to the kitchen!!
    – Smapdi
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


130 degrees is certainly the temperature to aim for, I'm thinking that it's the pan sear that did it. 1 minute in a pan is actually quite a bit for a thinner steak (at 6 ounces I'm thinking yours were maybe 1/2 - 3/4 inch), certainly enough to add 10-20 degrees or so to the steak's temperature and make it medium well.

As for how to avoid it there's a few things:

  1. Get a thick steak: a thick steak can take a minute in the pan without cooking much more
  2. Cook to rare: if you want to use a thinner steak cook it to 115 or 120F instead of 130F, that way the sear will bring it up to the perfect temperature
  3. Use a torch to brown it: A chef's torch would give a good, quick sear without cooking the steak as much as a hot pan
  4. Sear the steak first: it's not as good as searing after, but then you will get your perfect temperature
  5. Cook the steak, then let it cool, then sear it. Your steak will only overcook if the temperature goes over 135F
  • 1
    Of course, holding at 115 or 120 for 2 hours brings some food-safety concerns...
    – derobert
    Jun 8, 2015 at 17:08
  • #5 would be my suggestion. Let the steaks stand and the internal temp drop a bit after sous-vide, then sear.
    – Dan C
    Jun 8, 2015 at 19:57
  • That sounds right- I cooked first and seared after- I'd be willing to bet that kicked the steaks up the additional 5 degrees that murdered them.
    – Smapdi
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:57
  • A chef's torch can impart a butane flavour on your delicious steak.
    – Sanchises
    Jun 13, 2015 at 20:00
  • I've used a butane torch and it works fine. It has never imparted any flavor on meat I've seared with it. And millions of creme brulees have been made with butane chef torches and I've never heard once of anyone being able to "taste" the butane. You might smell the gas if you have poor air circulation or exhause and if the torch is run for a bit without being lit but that's simply unburnt gas in the air and not residuals on the food.
    – Adisak
    Jun 26, 2015 at 20:34

Here are some tips:

Use a thicker cut of steak... A 6 oz NY Strip tends to be a very thin steak. You probably want at least a 10oz NY Strip if you plan on searing. If you are concerned about portion size, get a nice thick 12 oz NY Strip and cut it in half after cooking and you will have two nice thick 6 oz steaks suitable for post-sous-vide searing.

Get a cast iron pan (or a heavy metal pan without a non-stick coating on it) and heat the pan until it is "searing" hot. This typically takes close to 10 min on a high flame. You can't get a typical nonstick or teflon coated pan to a high enough temperature without damaging it which is why you want to use a bare metal pan like cast iron.

Use a bare pan, don't try searing it in oil. Olive Oil and Canola oil both have a smoking point of around 400F. You want your pan to be at 425-475F or even higher. Using oil will either prevent you from reaching a high enough searing temperature or lead to an oil fire on your stove.

Dry your steak after taking it out of the sous vide bag. A wet steak takes longer to sear. You can use paper towels on top of a plate and pat both sides dry.

Sear for 15-20 seconds on each side and only flip once.

If you want a little more "fat" in your sear you can brush the steak very lightly with some melted butter before you do the sear.

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