Why I always pre-sear my sous vide steaks now

I had to update our earlier post about cooking the perfect sous vide steak. Regrettably, when I was cooking those steaks, one of my favorite teams was playing and I left the steaks on one side too long. This lead to a visually obvious overcooking:


The steaks were still great but this is not the look you’re going for, and I wouldn’t be proud to serve these steaks to guests.

Pre-searing is the way to go

Anyway, I’ve played around quite a bit with different ways to sear steaks and get that nice maillard reaction without risking a result like the above. My conclusion: pre-searing the steaks before you sous vide is the way to go. Why? Well for a few reasons:

  1. Doing it ahead of time is easier
  2. When you pre-sear the steaks already have a nice charcoal/seared flavor and that flavor enhances the steak as it cooks in the water bath–its marinating in a heightened flavor environment while you cook.
  3. When you pre-sear you can cook the steak right out of the fridge, searing a cold steak reduces the likelihood you will create an overcooked “brown band” like the above image. Cold steaks are more forgiving.

For this session, I’m using some nice ribeyes that I got on sale.


Get your cast iron pan super hot. Then take your steak out of the fridge, season with salt and whatever else you like, then put it in the pan. I find that oil/butter will increase the browning and flavor of the steak, however, it will also lead to more splattering and smoke.


If the steak is particularly thick you may want to cook the edges where the fat is thickest and/or use a torch to render that fat and get some more color.


After you’ve seared each side for no more than 1 minute each, seal and you’re ready for the water bath.


Into the water bath. Depending on thickness go 1-2 hours @ 129 °F


Remove, cut, and serve:


So tender and moist



One of the ribeyes was a prime cut so it had a great deal of marbling and was crazy flavorful.


Life’s to short to eat steaks that aren’t perfectly cooked.

In conclusion, I have found that pre-searing is a more forgiving approach. I also think it leads to a more flavorful steak. Try it for yourself. If you have any ideas or recipes you want us to try comment below.

What I used:



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