I did a 36 hour sous vide ribs at 145 degrees F followed by a 5 min sear under the broiler.

The meat was soft, tender, full of juice and the fat did not render from my spare ribs.

The meal left me...feeling gross because of the high fat content in ribs that I'm not used to.

The fat usually renders from the long cooking in the oven/grill doing it the traditional way.

I googled this problem, and someone ended up with inedible duck from sous vide because of the fat not rendered beneath the skin.

I can't find much info out there on this issue. Any insights on sous vide and the problem of extra fat in the dish and getting around it would help.

I read the intro parts of Thomas Keller's book, Under Pressure. Any recommended resources for sous technique and the problem of fat rendering would be much appreciated.

  • 2
    Are you talking about surface fat (which I would largely trim away) or fat marbled into the meat? Or maybe just an overall greasy quality?
    – Preston
    Jan 11, 2018 at 21:21

4 Answers 4


Sous vide is simply a tool. It's not the correct one for every job. Rendering fat is generally a problem because of the low temperatures used. What was the final result you had in mind? If you want "traditional" ribs, then the best way to cook them is traditionally. Google will reveal multiple sources, try Chefsteps and Serious Eats for starters.

  • I was aiming for super soft meat with much of the meat juices intact - the end product of sous vide - but the juice comes with the fat I'm guessing? Kenji Alt said sous vide at 165 F for 12 hours (higher temp and shorter cooking time) will render the fat but I don't know if anyone tried it or if this works. Like..I think this weakness in sous vide must exist for a lot people and meats and not just duck and ribs..so I am hoping for some solutions or essay/link/book recommendation if possible.
    – user62973
    Dec 6, 2017 at 14:40
  • 3
    @EugeneP I would give Kenji's suggestion a try. See if you like the result. The advantage of sous vide is that variations in time and temperature can create significantly different results. You can zero in on an effect you like. Rarely, however, can sous vide be used to replicate a traditional cooking method. As I said, sometimes it is just not the right tool for the job.
    – moscafj
    Dec 6, 2017 at 14:54
  • 1
    I have done ribs sous vide at 165F for 24 hours or more. I have not found them especially "fatty" compared to traditional ribs. That being said, I also trim excess fat from the surface of the ribs before cooking.
    – Behacad
    Dec 6, 2017 at 19:07

For fast tender cook, I prefer a covered Dutch Oven with water containing a small grill to raise it above the water after a 500'F searing Broil then cover and reduce temp to 325F for slow covered or normal open top. Either way the humidity from right amount of water improves heat transfer like forced air for cooking and regulates as a heat sink for a lowering bottom side cooking temp and allows for drippings to be collected and retains moisture.

Almost as consistent as Sous Vide with practice but not quite the same. Better in some cases if fatty like a Turkey covered in foil except for browning. Then cook steaks less than required Med-Rare vs med. or Rare vs Med-Rare etc adjust up by temperature warming covered in oven if prepared ahead of eating time to keep warm and allow for change.

High humidity speeds up the cooking time in a sealed oven and sealed product with a drip pan with water.

But I think Broil/Sear then slow cook is perhaps most convenient for me in a well insulated low temp sealed cooker over water or outdoor BBQ.

But a fast Broil and Pressure cooker works well too but timing takes practice with thickness.

Certain flavours require the elevated searing temperatures. Then add seasoning just before the end of cooking to retain freshness/strength. You won't need as much.


Sous vide can deliver fantastic ribs.
Fats should render at temps between 130-140, so you were not eating the raw fat - just too much of it.

I think there are 3 main issues to check:

  • What’s the quality of your meat? If you have a lean cut of ribs, you wouldn’t have experienced the fatty issue you described. A local ribs place we went to had super fatty ribs, and they were delicious. At my local market, all I could get had probably half as much, and they would finish much dryer.

  • Searing: Maybe 5 min wasn’t enough? More sear (or higher temp) on the fatty side would crisp it up more and cause some excess to drip off.

  • Taste: we all have personal prefs - the fatty cuts at our resto often tasted too fatty, like you described (they were prepared in a smoker for 6 hours), but damn, they were good eating. My dryer ribs went down easy, but were not quite as satisfying.


I just made sous vide ribs this weekend. Looking at several recipes, I settled on 150 degrees for 24 hours. Since I also wanted to cook a pork butt roast at the same time (and the suggested temp I found for that was 160 degrees for 24 hours, I settled on doing both for 24 hours at 155. Then I refrigerated the ribs and roast for 12 hours, pulled them out to room temp, and indirect smoked them on a weber with the grill temp staying between 190 and 210 for 45 minutes. The ribs turned out almost perfect - maybe slightly dry - but fall of the bone tender. The roast however still had more fat on it than I like. Tender as you like, but i had to take a long time separating out fat deposits. Next time I'm going to try a higher temp for the roast, but the ribs were great at 155 and maybe a little better at 150.

Hope that helps!

  • 1
    Please use proper temperature units. Are you talking Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin?
    – Johannes_B
    Jul 10, 2018 at 5:16
  • ... Rankine? Delisle? Newton? Jul 11, 2018 at 2:18
  • 2
    That's Hilarious. All numeric temperatures were in Fahrenheit. However, I will in future be more conscientious about providing temperature labels. But seriously Johannes, anyone intelligent enough to know what Kelvin is smart enough to answer their own question. Lets take the final sous vide temperature as an example, "24 hours at 155". 155 K is -118C or -180 F - not a reasonable temperature to sous vide anything. But what if it is 155C you ask? Well, once again our old friend logic chimes in that it is impossible to sous vide at this temperature as the water would all be VAPOR. Jul 11, 2018 at 19:08

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