If you own a newer Instant Pot, you may have noticed an option for function labeled Sous Vide. If you’re not familiar with the term, this guide will help you to understand what it is and how to use it. Just grab the next dish you want to cook and follow along with instructions.
What is Sous Vide
Cooking food is mostly as simple as applying heat to raw ingredients until their well done. Different methods of applying heat and food preparation are what make the difference in flavor and texture. This is why you may pressure cook as well as air fry to add variety to your homemade meals. Sous Vide is a French-born cooking process that means “under vacuum”.
To sous vide your food, it must be vacuum sealed, or at least as close to it as possible, and heated until fully prepared in a temperature-controlled water bath. The sealed food will reach the water’s temperature. It is a slow method but is less susceptible to damage from extreme temperature fluctuations.
Instant Pot Sous Vide vs Circulator Sous Vide
Instant Pot didn’t invent sous vide. Before they added it to their functionality, sous vide was typically performed by using a heating element placed directly into the water used to submerge the desired food. The modern form of this technique is done with a circulator sous vide stick. Sometimes, they come in much bulkier sizes than just a “stick”, but all sous vide sticks are placed in a container filled with water to regulate the flow and temperature.
The only functional difference between the Instant Pot method and the stick method is that the stick circulates the water around the container while the Instant Pot heats stationary water. Overall the results of both methods are similar. Immersion circulators, sous vide sticks, only have an advantage due to being able to be used in different-sized water containers.
Instant Pot Models with a Sous Vide Function
Sous vide is a function that has come to every kitchen appliance that has the features to do it. Sometimes that even includes your pressure cooker. Not all Instant Pots are sous vide capable. Here’s a list of the Instant Pot models with this function to date:
• Instant Pot Duo Plus(newer models only)
• Instant Pot Ultra (Amazon only product, must be programmed to sous vide)
Using the Sous Vide Function on Your Instant Pot
Sous vide is an easy method when cooking food. Now that you know what it is and how it works, you’re probably excited to use your Instant Pot for sous vide cooking. It’s so easy, you’ll be a pro in no time.
1. Add Water to the Insert Pot
Sous vide doesn’t work without water. Fill the insert pot of your Instant Pot to the half-full mark. If your food is larger, then add enough water that the food can be completely submerged.
Place the lid back over the Instant Pot. Set the vent in the venting position.
2. Program the Sous Vide Temperature and Time
Now that you’ve got the cooking medium in the pot, you need to tell your Instant Pot what to do with it. Below are the instructions for turning the Sous Vide cooking method on every sous vide capable Instant Pot.
Programming Sous Vide for the Instant Pot Duo Plus, Duo SV, or Duo Gourmet
• 1. To start, press the instant pot sous vide button.
• 2. Adjust to the desired temperature by pressing the + and – buttons.
• 3. Confirm the temperature selection by pressing the Sous Vide button again
• 4. Adjust the cooking time by pressing the + and – Time buttons.
• 5. Wait ten seconds. The display will change to On.
• 6. The Instant Pot will heat to the selected temperature. When it’s ready, it will notify you with a beep. The display will change to the cooking time and begin a countdown.
Programming Sous Vide for the Instant Pot Duo Crisp
• 1. Push the sous vide button.
• 2. Use the + or – Temp buttons to select a cooking temperature.
• 3. Use the + or – Time buttons to enter a cooking time.
• 4. Push Start.
• 5. The display will say On.
• 6. After the Instant Pot has reached the selected temperature, it will notify you with a beep and begin the cooking time countdown.
Programming Sous Vide for the Instant Pot Max
• Turn the knob to the Sous Vide smart function. Then push in the knob to select.
• Turn the knob to Hour and push it in to select. Turn the knob again until the display shows the desired hour length.
• Repeat the process for the Minute option to the right amount of time.
• Turn the knob to the Temperature option and use the knob to dial in the cooking temperature.
• Select Start.
• Let the Instant Pot heat up to reach the desired temperature. It will beep to notify you when it’s ready and the display will begin to countdown the cooking time.
3. Put Your Food in an Airtight Bag
While your Instant Pot is heating up, it’s time to get the food sealed in a bag and ready to cook. All food prepared with the sous vide method needs to be tightly sealed back with as little air as possible. Remember, sous vide uses the temperature of the water to slowly cook your food. Air is a much poorer conductor of heat than water. If you’re sealed food has too much air or a big air pocket, it can lead to the food being cooked unevenly and longer cook times.
If you have a vacuum sealer, there’s not much to worry about. For the rest of us, the best method to remove the air from a sealed back is the displacement method.
• 1. Place your food into a decent-quality freezer bag. Don’t overstuff the bag. You want the surface of your food to be cooked evenly.
• 2. Close the bag zipper and leave about an inch still open.
• 3. Squeeze as much air out as you can.
• 4. Lower the bag into the water until it’s submerged with the zipper still out of the water. You can use the insert pot water in the Instant Pot to do this.
• 5. Let the water pressure push more of the air out.
• 6. Seal the remaining inch of the storage bag.
You should end up with a close to being air-tight sealed package.
4. Submerge the Sealed Food in Insert Pot
Once the Instant Pot signals the water temperature is ready and you’re food is sealed in a freezer bag, it’s time to put the bag in the pot. Use tongs to lower the bag into the water. It should not float. If it floats, there may be too much air still in the bag. Take it out and try to remove more air if you can.
If you’ve taken as much air out of the bag as possible but it still floats, you can use the Instant Pot’s trivet to hold the bag submerged.
5. Close Lid for Cooking Duration
Now it’s time to let the water do its thing. It’ll be a while before your food is fully cooked. Take this time to learn a new skill, read a book, watch informational series, or prepare side dishes to go with your main course.
The Instant Pot will notify you when the cooking time has been completed. After it beeps, check the internal temperature of the sealed food to make sure it has been thoroughly and properly prepared. If it’s not quite ready, add some time to your Instant Pot and cook for longer.
6. Let It Rest and Add to Dish
Sous vide prepared meat will need a little bit of cool-down once you pull it from the Instant Pot. Place it on a cutting board or sanity surface for about fifteen minutes. Once it’s cooled down, you can move on to whatever the next step of your recipe requires. If your goal was just to cook the meat, then it’s ready to serve. You may consider searing the sides in a cast iron skillet or pan to add a little bit of crunchy seared surface to the meat.
Some Cooking Times for Sous Vide
Below is a list of different meats for sous vide recipes along with their temperature and cook time.
Food — Temperature— Time
Chicken Breast — 150 to 165 Degrees F –1 ½ to 4 hours
Chicken Thigh — 150 to 165 Degrees F — 2 to 4 hours
Turkey Breast — 145 to 150 Degrees F — 3 ½ to 5 hours
Steak — 130 to 140 Degrees F — 1 ½ to 3 hours
Pork Tenderloin — 140 to 150 Degrees F — 1 ½ to 3 hours
Pork Chops — 135 to 150 Degrees F — 1 to 3 hours
Salmon — 125 to 130 Degrees F — 30 to 45 min
Trout — 120 to 130 Degrees F — 20 to 30 min
Scallops — 140 Degrees F — 30 min
Shrimp — 135 to 140 Degrees F — 30 to 45 min