Sear Before or After Sous Vide? (Explained!)

Searing is an essential part of cooking meat since it gives the browning and flavor of the meat. Thus, we say that when there’s no color, there’s no flavor. Since cooking sous vide will give you grayish meat, you’ll need to sear it to get the best flavors. With this in mind, you may wonder which one to do. Thus, you may ask:

So, do you sear before or after sous vide? Of course, you should sear after sous vide, but a sear before sous vide is also ideal. Searing before sous vide will allow your meat to get the caramelized flavor before the water bath. However, the necessary sear you need is after sous vide since it will give you the beautiful crust. 

The flavor is an essential element in every dish, and for every meat, it happens through a sear. Searing is placing the protein on a scorching surface to give it the browning effect. Such color will give the meat a beautiful flavor.

If you’re new to sous vide, you may wonder why sear is an essential part of the process. Since sous vide only cooks the meat at low temperatures, it doesn’t really give any flavor. Thus, you’ll need to sear your meat for that. Now, the issue is whether you will sear before or after sous vide, and that’s what we’ll tackle today.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sear Before or After Sous Vide

Do you sear before or after sous vide?

You should sear after sous vide, but you can also do so before you cook sous vide. Now, while it may sound confusing, the only thing you need to know is that searing after sous vide is necessary while searing before sous vide is optional.

If you sear before sous vide, you already get that thick crust before cooking the meat thoroughly towards the center. Such a method will allow you to get a good flavor of the meat and let it penetrate through sous vide.

Now, many people don’t do such as this pre-searing somewhat defeats the goal of sous vide. Further, you would still need to sear the meat after sous vide for an excellent finish.

In short, while you can always sear before sous vide, it’s not a necessary step, and it would be best to skip that part.

If you’re planning to sear your meat before sous vide and don’t sear it after, you’ll end up with a soggy crust because of the water bath. 

Can you sous vide after searing?

Yes, you can sous vide after searing, but it’s not an ideal method to follow. If you sous vide after searing, you get to cook your meat with a crust packed with flavor.

This flavor can get into your meat while cooking sous vide. Thus, it can give you a flavorful output once done. 

However, the initial searing can already cook most of the outer part. Thus, it may ruin the precise cooking of the sous vide.

Further, even if you sear before sous vide, you’ll still need to sear again afterward. But, again, the reason is that the meat’s appearance after sous vide isn’t that appetizing.

For this reason, you can find the pre-sear unnecessary and may even potentially ruin your meat. In short, when cooking sous vide, place your meat in the water bath as a raw one and sear it only after you take it out of the water bath.

Can you wait to sear steak after sous vide?

Yes, you can wait to sear steak after sous vide. However, when you do so, you give the meat some time to cool after sous vide. Thus, when you sear it, you’ll likely end up with a perfect center and avoid overcooking due to the extreme heat of searing. 

In general, many people find sous vide a great technique, especially when preparing for occasions. For instance, when cooking a steak, you can sous vide your meat in advance and set it aside until you need a quick sear before serving. 

You can ensure the best output of your preferred doneness through this technique, reducing the risk of undercooking or overcooking.

How long can you wait after sous vide to sear?

You should wait for at least 8 minutes before searing your steak after sous vide. The reason is that this time will let the meat cool down for you to avoid overcooking, even with a quick sear.

Now, if you want to wait longer, it’s also possible. However, once the meat cooled down totally, you may need to sous vide again to warm up the meat. 

If you’re preparing the meat in advance, you’ll need to freeze the steak after sous vide and take it out whenever you need to serve it. Then, of course, you’ll also need to put it back in the water bath to defrost and warm it up before searing.

Should I refrigerate sous vide steak before searing?

It’s ideal to refrigerate your sous vide steak before searing, although not a necessary step. The reason is that it will allow your meat to cool down to avoid overcooking the steak.

In general, refrigerating the food before searing it can alleviate this problem and let you sear it for considerably extended periods. 

Even a few minutes of chilling reduces the exterior temperature of the meat sufficiently to allow for an extra minute or two of searing, resulting in a better crust and less possibility of overcooking.

Summary

So, should you sear before or after sous vide? In a nutshell, searing before sous vide is optional, while searing afterward is necessary. When you sear before sous vide, you get the crust and flavor to penetrate the meat while cooking. However, you are also prone to overcooking since the outer part will get cooked through the sear.

Now, since the sear after sous vide is necessary, you’ll find it best to put the meat in the sous vide raw. Then, after the water bath, you can finish it off with a quick sear.

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Image credits – Canva

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