The Best Cuts Of Steak For The Sous Vide Method, According To A Butcher Manager

vacuum sealed beef steaks
vacuum sealed beef steaks - Chatham172/Shutterstock

At its best, sous vide steak is perfectly rendered, as tender as butter, and so full of delicious, juicy, beefy flavor that it can be hard to resist the urge to lick the fork clean when the meal is over. Achieving that irresistible sous vide steak experience takes more than a vacuum sealer and a dream. But with guidance, you can choose the best cut of steak to submerge and sear for a transformative experience everyone at your dinner table will rave about for years to come.

In French, sous vide means "under vacuum." This literal translation describes the vacuum-seal and slow-cook process behind an avant-garde cooking appliance that many cooks are still learning how to integrate into their kitchens. But with all these easy guides that teach you everything you need to know about sous vide, it seems like this is one machine that's here to stay.

Some of the best steaks to sous vide are those that can't get the same benefit from other cooking methods (reverse sear, for instance); tough, thick, or technically challenging cuts, generally speaking, reap the most reward. I've cooked more steaks than I can count and have previous interviews and articles detailing various breeds, cuts, and cooking methods (sous vide being one of them). On top of that, an expert source shared his personal take on sous vide steak -- Butcher Manager at the San Francisco Ferry Building's Fatted Calf Charcuterie, Tom Conyers. So, all these beef cuts have his and my professional thumbs up.

Read more: 8 Absolute Best Cuts Of Meat To Deep Fry

New York Strip

raw new york steak
raw new york steak - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

According to Jacques Pepin, a New York Strip is the best cut of steak, and although this world-famous chef's seal of approval doesn't specifically extend to water bath submersion, our resident meat expert was happy to jump in and attest to this steak's right to sit high up on the sous vide scale.

"New York is ideal for the sous vide," said Conyers, his professional opinion officially confirming the New York cut as a top-tier steak for satisfying those beef-filled sous vide dreams. But what is it that makes New York steak a top choice among so many cuts of cattle one can theoretically cook up in a sous vide machine?

Well, sous vide aside, the New York Strip ranks high among meat eaters, even when compared next to more expensive, tender cuts like filet and ribeye. Despite being well-known for its tougher texture, this cut's flavor and fat content more than make up for its textural "deficits." And while many (including myself) quite enjoy New York Strip with or without a water bath, the steak's characteristics lends perfectly to sous vide style cooking. This combination of popularity, inherent toughness, and fullness of flavor means the New York cut can reap the most reward through sous vide-style cooking. The tenderizing effect of a long, slow cook at a consistent temperature on a New York can impart textural perfection before the steak is seared, rested, and served.

Beef Chuck

Raw chuck roll steak
Raw chuck roll steak - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

Up next is a fan favorite and affordable cut of beef that's perfect for braising and, apparently, sous vide. That cut is, of course, beef chuck. Beef chuck ranks among the best cuts for sous vide style cooking not only due to its affordable price tag and marketplace availability. Cost and access aside, the characteristic that makes beef chuck such a great choice for vacuum sealing and sticking into a water bath is its reputation as the beef cut practically made for braising. Much like other styles of slow cooking, sous vide machines achieve a tenderizing effect on tougher cuts of meat that is remarkably similar to other low and slow braising methods -- crock pots and pressure cooking come to mind. "Things you're going to braise are great for [sous vide]," Conyers said.

Beef chuck is an ideal cut to sous vide since those machines can work small miracles with all the same thick, tough cuts used in most classic braised dishes like beef stews, pull-apart pot roasts, boeuf bourguignon, and other tender braised beef recipes. So, if you want a cheap cut of beef to sous vide and reap expensive-tasting, tender results with nothing but patience, beef chuck is probably the best cut for you.

Short Ribs

raw kalbi short ribs
raw kalbi short ribs - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

Sous vide machines and beef short ribs are a match made in heaven. This combination of beef cut and slow cooking style combines the best characteristics of each to create a truly tender, perfect, succulent piece of meat. Plus, the airtight vacuum seal locks in the short rib's juices as it slowly cooks, trapping in all the flavor that emerges from the bones and rendered fat along with the meat itself throughout the entire cooking process. As a result, sous vide short ribs are some of the most melt-in-your-mouth, mouthwatering pieces of meat you may ever eat. Conyers agrees on the sous vide short rib combination, especially when it comes to Korean-style bbq short ribs. "I'd go with bulgogi short ribs for sous vide," said Conyers.

Since the most important things to have when cooking this beef cut are heat, patience, and maybe some seasoning, sous vide machines can take care of all three and leave the cook free to enjoy a glass of wine, watch a show, and wait for the water bath to work its magic. The end result will be some steaming hot, deliciously meaty ribs that probably won't hold themselves together after the vacuum-sealed bag is cut. And that's the dream -- a dream ideally served over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes.

Filet Mignon

raw filet mignon steak
raw filet mignon steak - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

The classic filet mignon is the most tender cut you can get from cattle. This desirable steak is also known as the tenderloin cut, or for those who seek answers from the stars, the astrological steak assigned to meat-eating Aries. Filet mignon made its place on this list as a top contender among the best cuts for cooking in a sous vide machine for a few reasons: texture, thickness, and internal temperature technical precision. And since filet mignon is among the most expensive cuts of steak in the world, home cooks and professional chefs alike can benefit from more control to avoid under or overcooking what could easily cost double a different cut.

But filet mignon is sought after and priced high for good reason, and shelling out once in a while for a filet is especially worth it for the texture-first foodies out there. So, for those who want to try a bite of beef so tender that using your teeth is essentially obsolete, choose a succulent tenderloin cut for the best sous vide and seared steak experience. "Sous vide tenderloin is totally fire," agreed Conyers.


raw tri-tip steak
raw tri-tip steak - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

It is impossible to make a list of steaks most suitable for sous vide style cooking without mentioning the classic West Coast cut of cattle, tri-tip. "Tri-tip would work for a sous vide machine and is a Californian take on it," said Conyers.

If you've never heard of this type of steak before, then it probably means you haven't spent much time eating beef at a Californian bbq. Although the accessibility of tri-tip varies from state to state, its suitability for sous vide is the same. See, tri-tip is a tricky cut to get right due to its less-than-tender texture and uniquely triangle-shaped taper that can easily throw off even seasoned steak cooks. After all, tri-tips are about as long as an average adult forearm, which is far too large for most pans. Plus, the drastic difference in size from one side of a tri-tip to another makes nailing an even cook exceedingly difficult.

With a sous vide machine to keep the tri-tip's internal temperature completely even, all the most challenging hurdles to accomplishing a perfect tri-tip are taken care of, leaving you free to sit back and enjoy the process in peace and pleasant anticipation for the meal to come.

Beef Cheeks

two raw beef cheeks
two raw beef cheeks - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

Last but certainly not least is the uncommon yet thoroughly delicious cut — beef cheeks. At the very end of the interview, Conyers enthusiastically suggested this underrated cut of beef. "Oh, and beef cheek," he exclaimed. "I bet that would be great done sous vide style!"

Although beef cheeks rank among the less traditional cuts to come across during a day-to-day trip to the grocery store, the all-around flavor to be found in these cheeks is absolutely worth a trip out to your local butcher's market. See, beef cheeks are these incredibly tough cuts that come from the cow's face. The texture is not suitable for simply searing off in a pan, and, similarly to other tougher cuts like beef chuck, beef cheeks benefit from braising and braising-adjacent cooking styles. And since sous vide machines are the low and slow kitchen appliance kings, it's easy to toss a few cheeks into that water bath, walk away, and come back to the most perfectly tender and tasteful bite of beef that you could have hoped to eat.


vacuum sealed beef steak
vacuum sealed beef steak - bigacis/Shutterstock

To present readers with the best possible suggestions for cuts of steak to sous vide, I went out and found a professional to share their opinion and insight. Tom Conyers is the Butcher Manager at the well-known, widely renowned Fatted Calf Charcuterie located in the San Francisco Ferry Building in California's Bay Area. In an interview conducted over the charcuterie shop's glass display case, packed full of all the most tempting meat treats imaginable, Conyers divulged some seriously delicious explanations, suggestions, and warnings when choosing the best cuts of steak to sous vide. Alongside the invaluable tidbits of advice from interviewing a real-life expert in their natural environment, I also conducted independent research. This research is built off of my pre-existing knowledge from a lifetime of searing up countless steaks as well as my previous, equally meaty pieces like the best Korean bbq cuts or the guide to getting the most out of your steak scraps.

I also have personal experience eating sous vide steak, starting with an Australian Wagyu steak so perfect that I couldn't bring myself to eat beef for months after the meal. I've also cooked steak in my own sous vide machine (Typhur brand). Through all this experience and reference, I'd say thick-cut steaks work well sous vide style because the machine reaches perfectly even internal temperatures easily, unlike searing, and tougher cuts can become meltingly tender. In this line of logic, every steak on this list is uniquely suited to sous vide.

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