Sous Vide Steak vs Grill: What’s the Difference?


Chefs are quick to adopt new and progressive steak cooking methods which are effective in creating amazing steaks, vegetables, and fish. Sous vide applies slow cooking techniques on the steak leading to a moisturized meal; it uses a vacuum seal to cook the food in temperature-controlled water.

Thus, it offers indirect cooking, unlike the grill which cooks the food directly over a heat source like the smokers. This Sous Vide Steak vs Grill comparison will help determine the type of cooking suitable for your lifestyle.

How Does Sous Vide Work?

Sous vide is a slow cooking method that uses a sealed bag placed in a controlled water bath leading to long low-temperature cooking. Sous vide means under the vacuum in French, and this cooking method creates a vacuum-like condition when cooking food.

You can control the water which provides heat to the vacuumed steak, circulating the water provides constant heat to the meat. Since the food will be sealed its juices get trapped and they cook the food thus, you will not need extra fat to cook the food. 

You can control the water temperature at 120-160 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the food you are cooking and for how long you will cook the food. You can cook food with the sous vide method for at least 1 to 3 hours, but the results are wanting as it leads to juicy meats.

Once done you can sear the outside layer to seal the meat’s juice and maintain the internal steak temperatures for better cooking. Some people might grill their meat to get the crispy finish after cooking it slowly in the water bath.

Pros of Sous Vide

  • Sous vide leads to intense flavors, and if you enjoy spices this would be the appropriate method as it seals in all the spices in the bag throughout the cooking process. The steak rubs maintain their flavors and you might not need to add more spice into your food. Moreover, if you are going for the beefy taste, you can avoid adding spices to the food.
  • The cooking method offers more control, as you can attain a specific temperature in the hot water bath and keep the water at a constant temperature by circulating the water in the pan. You will achieve the perfect cooking temperatures every time which helps create consistency and make the steak tender and evenly cooked.
  • Sous vide is a healthy method for cooking your meals as it does not char or overcook the steak, therefore, it does not produce carcinogenic chemicals. However, if you enjoy crispy meat, you can finish the cooking process with an iron skillet sear. But you should control the temperatures adequately to minimize the charring on the steak.
  • The method is simple and prepares delicious meals. However, you have to master the right skills and sous vide art. The temperatures should be precise, and you should know the right cooking time to prepare the food effectively.
  • Sous vide uses fewer oils and fats compared to traditional cooking methods, thus you will not add oils that contribute to weight gain and high blood pressure. The fats and oils added to your food often act as lubricants preventing the food and spices from sticking on the pans and grills. However, you will not need lubricants with the sous vide cooking method, even if you sear the food with sous vide, you will reduce the oils greatly.
  • The food cooked with the sous vide method will retain the vitamins and minerals due to low cooking temperatures. You are likely to lose Vitamin C when you boil the vegetables and water or oil-soluble vitamins like all the Vitamin B and Potassium.
  • You can batch cook your food making it possible to manage your meals despite the busy lifestyle reducing the processed food in your diet. Most people don’t have the time to cook healthy food all the time, thus batches make your life easy as you can store them in the fridge or freezer for an extended time.
  • It improves digestion, as it makes all the nutrients in the food bioavailable making it digest the food. Sous vide improves the ability to digest and extract nutrients from the food making it a more effective steak cooking method.
  • Since the food cooks in a vacuum, it locks in the flavors, and you may not need to add salts to enhance the flavors. However, you can add spices to enhance the taste, cutting salts improves your health, as we already eat so much salt in our diets.

Cons of Sous Vide

  • It is not appropriate for quick meals due to the low temperatures and longer cooking duration. Thus, it needs adequate planning on your side, and it would be better to cook your food during the weekends and store them in batches in the freezer.
  • There is a learning curve and is not easy to master the cooking method at once. Timing and temperature control are important and you should avoid adding too much spice as it will overpower your meal.
  • It needs a clinical approach to cooking which can appear a little a bit to home cooks who enjoy the cooking sensation. You might not enjoy aromas rising from the traditional grills and pans.
  • The method can restrict the ingredients you can use in your dish, for instance, bay leaves might leave the food tasting metallic and you should have extra care when using lemon and garlic when cooking food with the sous vide method.

How Does Grilling Work?

Grilling is meat searing at high temperatures over open fires or propane, electric, and charcoal smokers. The grill has a heat source that heats the cooking surface and its body is usually made of a metal grill. The charcoal smokers are mostly used in outdoor kitchens or for camping, but you can buy an electric smoker for the indoor kitchen.

The heat is applied on one side of the grill which cooks the food directly over high heat. However, you can opt for indirect heat to slow down the cooking process.

You can smell the aromas from the food in the grill thus the method is appropriate for beginner cooks. However, it is possible to cook burn the food when you are not vigilant as a beginner using the grill.

Pros of Grilling

  • Grilling leads to healthy food, as the excess fats in the steak will run off the grill and away from the food. Thus you will consume fewer fats which makes the steak healthy.
  • The grilling retains the nutrients unlike boiling or frying food which leads to a nutrient loss in the meat. Grilling retains more vitamins and minerals since the food does not mix with oils or water which could dissolve these minerals. Moreover, you can season the grilled food to meet your needs.
  • Grilling is fun and is good for outdoor cooking and camping, and you can host parties in your backyard and have fun with your family and friends. However, you can invest in an electric grill or all the indoor fun with the family throughout the year.
  • You can savor the flavors from grilling as the process seals in the flavors and creates a little char that makes the meat succulent and crispy.

Cons of Grilling

  • You can overcook the food on the grill due to the high temperatures, you can easily burn your food if you have a lapse of concentration. Thus you should be vigilant when cooking the steak on the grill.
  • Outdoor grills are seasonal and more people engage in grilling during the summers where they party and have a good time. Moreover, people enjoy camping during summers when the weather is favorable. However, you can invest in an electronic grill for your kitchen and enjoy a healthy steak throughout the year.
  • Unfortunately, the smoker grills are difficult to clean as they can be messy and greasy due to the excess fats which flow during grilling. If cleaning your house is your least favorite chore, then you might have a hard time cleaning the grill.
  • Experts think charring makes the food cancerous due to the chemicals produced during the process. Thus you should use the grills moderately to cook the food. However, you can reduce the exposure to cancer-causing agents by preventing steak charring and turning the meat all the time to avoid accidental burning.

Differences Between Sous Vide and Grilling

Sous VideGrilling

Sous vide cooks food at low temperatures and is great for simmering.

Grilling utilizes high temperatures to cook your food.

Sous vide is a year-round approach and you can cook your food in small batches and store them in the freezer for efficient meal planning.

Grilling is seasonal especially if you opt for charcoal or propane. However, you can buy an electric grill for the indoor kitchen to enjoy year-round grilling.

It retains the tasty steak flavors and you might use little salt compared to other cooking methods.

Grilling also leads to flavorful cooking as you can play with different ingredients to get the desired taste. However, you might need more salt which improves the taste.

You might not need to monitor the food all the time, as you set the temperature and time ad to focus on other activities as you let the sous vide machine cook the steak.

You would concentrate on cooking as a lack of concentration can lead to a burnt steak.

The cooking process leads to consistency and leads to a tender steak.

On the other hand, it might be difficult to achieve consistency with the grill.

Similarities Between Sous Vide and Grilling

Although sous vide and grilling are two distinct cooking methods, they produce high-quality steak when the cooking methods are used correctly.

It leads to a succulent, tender, and crammed steak full of flavors. You can choose the method which suits your lifestyle. Although grills are traditional methods for cooking steak it would be better to try innovative sous vide cooking method.


Do Professional Chefs Use Sous Vide?

Yes, professional chefs opt for sous vide cooking, although it is a new method it offers the best results compared to boiling or grilling. Chefs can attain the consistency they like with the sous vide method, moreover, it is possible to cook the steaks in batches making it an economical steak cooking method.

The method maintains the food’s flavors making it suitable for professional steak cooking. However, chefs should be careful with the ingredients they use on the sous vide method as they can easily overpower the steak.

Can You Put Frozen Food in Sous Vide?

Yes, you can put frozen food in sous vide. However, you might need to defrost the food first. However, since the food cooks in a vacuum dipped in hot water, it can defrost slowly before it starts simmering.

Is Sous Vide Meat Better for You?

Yes, sous vide is better for your health as it does not need as much salt as other cooking methods. It locks in the ingredients bringing out the flavors; moreover, you will not need extra oils which contribute to lifestyle conditions like diabetes. Grilling leads to charring which is attributed to cancerous free elements.

Can You Sous Vide in Cast Iron?

No, sous vide is slow cooking and you would dip the steak in hot water to cook the meat at low temperatures. Cast iron leads to high temperatures and cooks the food quickly unlike sous vide.

However, if you enjoy the crispy finish on your food you can cook it on the cast iron at high temperatures for a few minutes to get the crisp on the crust while maintaining the moisture in the steak.

Do You Rest Meat After Sous Vide?

Yes, you can rest the meat after sous vide, although you can skip this process and feast on the steak right away.

How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide a Ribeye?

You can sous vide the ribeye for about 3 hours before it is completely cooked.


Although there are many methods to cook the steak, there has been an increasing debate between sous-vide vs. grill. Both methods offer high-quality steak when used correctly, and it would be better to follow all the guidelines to attain crispy and juicy meat.

The methods lead to succulent, tender, and crammed steak full of flavors, but sous vide is more efficient than grilling and is an all-year-round method. Although grills are traditional methods for cooking steak it wouldn’t try other cooking methods like sous vide.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.