The Sous-Vide Cooking Hack That Uses Nothing But A Cooler

If you're a sous-vide enthusiast, then you know that the key to perfect sous-vide cooking is all about temperature control. French for "under vacuum," sous-vide is the culinary technique of cooking vacuum-sealed food in a water bath that is held at a very precise temperature. This cooking method allows food to be cooked evenly and perfectly every time.

While sous-vide cookers are becoming increasingly popular for home use, they can certainly be expensive. But what if you don't have a sous-vide machine or the budget to invest in one? Can you still enjoy the benefits of sous-vide cooking?

Yes, you can! You don't need to break the bank or find storage space on your kitchen counter for a sous-vide machine. In fact, you may already own everything you need to start sous-viding right in your kitchen.

All you need to get started? A cooler and a sealable pouch or Ziplock bag.

How sous-vide cooking in a cooler works

Much like a machine, sous-viding in an insulated ice chest allows you to maintain a consistent water temperature for cooking. Although coolers are designed to keep things cool, the insulation also keeps warm things warm.

Start by filling your cooler with water that is two degrees above your desired cooking temperature. For example, if you're aiming for a final sous-vide water bath temperature of 140 F, start by heating your water to 142 F.

Then, add your food to a sealable bag and place it in the water. Close the cooler lid and let the sous-vide process begin.

Depending on the type of food, sous-viding in a cooler can take a few hours. Coolers can lose some heat during this time, so it's essential to check your water bath every hour or so to ensure the temperature hasn't dropped too much. If it has, add more hot water to bring the sous-vide water bath back up to your ideal cooking temperature.

Timing also plays a part in sous-viding in a cooler. You'll typically want to sous-vide cook your food for at least one hour, being sure not to leave it in the cooler for more than four hours. You may need to play around with timing to find what works best for your cooler.

Once your food is cooked, it will be prepared evenly and precisely to your desired doneness. Quickly sear it before serving, and enjoy.

The benefits of sous-viding in a cooler

Sous-viding in a cooler has a few distinct advantages. It's much more affordable than purchasing a sous-vide machine. If you're new to sous-viding or aren't sure how often you'll use the cooking method, sous-viding in a cooler is a great way to test it without making a significant investment.

It is effortless and practically foolproof. Thanks to the cooler's insulation, there's no need to worry about temperature fluctuations or whether your sous-vide machine is big enough to accommodate your food. As long as you have a sealable bag and a cooler, you can safely sous-vide any type of food.

Using a cooler to sous-vide is also versatile. You can sous-vide cook anything from vegetables to steak to chicken to fish. And, because the sous-vide water bath is sealed, there's no need to worry about your food picking up any unwanted flavors from the water. Versatility also works in favor of easily transporting your cooler if you're taking your sous-vide meal on the go.

Whether you're sous-viding steak or chicken, using a cooler is a great way to get all of the benefits of sous-vide cooking without spending a lot of money or taking up counter space. So, if you're ready to try sous-viding but don't want to invest in a sous-vide machine, give sous-viding in a cooler a try. You may be surprised at how easy and delicious sous-viding can be.