The best and simplest Sous Vide Hamburger recipe – consistently tender and juicy!
By precisely controlling the temperature, the sous vide method allows you to cook burgers to perfection. It’s a sure-fire hit, so say goodbye to tough, dry, and crumbly burgers!
This simple and foolproof recipe calls for only a few basic ingredients.
With sous vide cooking, you can achieve the perfect texture every time and serve up deliciously memorable burgers this summer!
WHY SOUS VIDE BURGERS ARE THE BEST?
We’ve all heard that grilling hamburgers, especially thick ones, is far more difficult than grilling a steak.
Burgers can easily become tough, falling apart, charred on the outside but raw in the middle when cooked traditionally.
Then there’s sous vide! It is a water bath cooking method in which the water is heated to a specific temperature using an immersion circulator.
In the warm water bath, you can cook the vacuum-sealed food to a precise temperature.
This sous vide hamburger recipe yields a super juicy burger that would be impossible to achieve using a traditional method.
It’s foolproof because you can precisely set the temperature, and you’ll never overcook or undercook your burgers again!
In addition, your burger will be evenly cooked from edge to edge.
Best of all, you won’t have to babysit your grill while it’s cooking. You can spend your time with your guests while the sous vide machine does the work!
BENEFITS OF SOUS VIDE HAMBURGERS:
- Doneness: Sous vide burgers are always cooked to the exact temperature you prefer. This does necessitate some trial and error. On various websites, for example, you’ll find a wide range of’medium rare’ sous vide temperature settings ranging from 124F-135F/51-57.2C. However, once you’ve found the temperature for doneness that works for you, you can expect 100 percent consistency from then on.
- Juiciness: A juicy, tender burger is always guaranteed.
- Make a batch of burgers ahead of time and freeze them after they’ve been sous vided. Then all you have to do is warm them up and grill or pan fry them for the perfect burger.
- Bacteria will be killed and burgers will be perfectly safe to eat – even at medium rare – as long as you cook above 130°F/54.5°C.
- Cooking time is only 40 minutes, but there is a nice long window of up to 3 hours where there will be no change in temperature or texture.
- After the sous vide process, you can still achieve a nice grilled or crusty brown exterior with a 2 minute grill or pan fry.
- Crowd-pleasing: The sous vide method is ideal for large groups. You can prepare the burgers ahead of time (even at different temperatures) and then do the two-minute grilling when your guests arrive.
SELECT THE RIGHT MEAT
Great hamburgers begin with quality ground beef. It’s best to use an 80/20 mix (which means 20% fat) to get more fat.
The fat contributes to a juicier burger while also adding flavor. If your meat is a 90/10 mix, you can season it with a tablespoon of olive oil or finely chopped bacon.
HOW TO MAKE SOUS VIDE HAMBURGER
This sous vide burger recipe is incredibly simple – simply follow the steps below:
- Form patties: Form 4 patties and chill for at least 20 minutes before cooking sous vide.
- Season burger: Season the burger on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Sous vide: Place seasoned patties in a zip-lock bag and vacuum seal using the water displacement technique (see recipe for details).
- Sear: Your burgers are fully cooked after sous vide cooking. Allow them to rest for a few minutes before seasoning with more salt and pepper. Then, to add some color, quickly sear them on the grill or in a skillet.
HOW TO SEAL BURGERS
To begin sous vide cooking, place the food in a plastic bag. Normally, the goal is to remove as much air from the bag as possible, which usually necessitates the use of a vacuum pump.
However, when it comes to burgers, using a pump can lead to issues such as these:
- This burger was vacuum-sealed with a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, which uses a pump to extract air from the bag before sealing it.
- That extra compression may not seem like a big deal, but it can end up overly compressing your meat, resulting in a burger that is dense and heavy rather than juicy and loose.
- The water displacement method, which I first learned from Dave Arnold, is a far superior approach.
Put your food in a plastic zipper-lock bag, close up all but the very edge of the seal, and slowly dip it into water, pressing the air out as you go and keeping the open corner out of the water as long as possible.
You zip up the last bit of your food just before it reaches the water level once it’s almost completely submerged.
You’re left with food in a nearly airless bag that’s compressed very little.
WHAT TEMPERATURE TO SOUS VIDE BURGERS?
You may wonder if you need to cook it above 160°F, as the USDA specifies as the minimum temperature for cooked ground beef. It all depends.
The answer is yes if you cook your burgers the traditional way. However, with sous vide cooking, we can set the temperature lower and the meat will be safe to eat.
The USDA temperature guide is for traditional cooking methods, but pasteurization is based on both the temperature and the time spent at that temperature.
So, after the lengthy cooking time in the warm water bath, your beef is safe to eat.
My preferred temperature for sous vide hamburger is 135°F (57°C). It is important to note that the temperature will rise by about 10°F during searing to 145°F.
The burger is tender and juicy with a pale pink color at this stage of cooking. The following is some advice for getting other things done:
|Sous Vide Temperature||Cooking Time||Doneness|
|123°F / 51°C||2 – 3 hours||Very rare to rare|
|129°F / 54°C||40 minutes – 3 hours||Medium-rare|
|135°F / 57°C||40 minutes – 3 hours||Medium|
|140°F / 60°C||40 minutes – 3 hours||Medium-well|
|150°F / 66°C||40 minutes – 3 hours||Well-done|
- Deep frying is exciting and dramatic, and it produces a really crispy crust, but it also overcooks a thick layer of the burger’s exterior. It’s a good method if you value crispness above all else.
- The grill is fantastic if you properly preheat it. Before adding your burger, you want it to be piping hot in order to give it color and crispness before it has a chance to overcook.
- My preferred method for searing a sous vide burger is in a cast iron skillet. It enables you to achieve a rich, deep char without significantly overcooking. A burger seared in cast iron is also more juicy than a burger grilled on the grill because it gets to bast in its own drippings.
- A torch isn’t a great tool for searing burgers on its own—it results in a singed burger with little texture. However, it can be used in conjunction with a skillet to add additional charring—you can torch the top surface of the burger while the bottom sears in the skillet. The Searzall can help to even out a torch’s heat and produce better combustion.
EXPERT TIPS FOR SOUS VIDE BURGERS
From these and other sources, here are some tips for making a great sous vide hamburger.
- Burger size: For sous vide, burgers should be 6-7 ounces (170-198g) and 1 inch (2.5 cm) or slightly thicker. Cooking will cause some shrinkage, as with other cooking methods.
- Don’t over handle the patties: When making burgers (or any burger), avoid overhandling and packing the meat. To avoid dense burgers, form the patties as lightly as possible.
- Bagging: Contrary to popular belief, vacuum sealing a burger is NOT a good idea. It overpacks the meat, making the burgers too dense. The displacement method with plastic bags (e.g., zipper lock) works best for sous vide burgers.
- Seasoning: According to most experts, sous vide burgers should only be seasoned on the outside. According to reports, salt mixed into the meat draws moisture out of the meat, making the burgers drier. I put the seasoning theory to the test (without salt) – see below.
- Timing: Most blogs agree that the sous vide cook should take no more than 40-45 minutes. One person claimed that they cooked the burgers for three hours and found no difference between the 40-minute and three-hour cooking times.
- Temperature: Surprisingly, there is a wide range of temperatures recommended for the same medium-rare doneness as I mentioned earlier. I believe the following are the reasons for this variation:
- What people perceive medium rare looks like, and
- how some chefs taking into account the 10% increase in temperature that will take place in the finishing step (grilling or pan frying) – perhaps this is why they start with a lower temperature.
- Rest period: Do not skip this. To maintain juiciness, rest your burgers for at least 10 minutes after the sous vide process and before grilling. To achieve a brown crusted surface, immerse the cooked sous vide burgers in the bag in ice water (1/2 ice, 1/2 water) for 10 minutes. This cools them down and gives them an extra minute or two of searing time to get the surface charred.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE A HAMBURGER?
Hamburgers are the ultimate “build-your-own” meal, and here are some tasty toppings and sauce suggestions.
- Sauce/condiment options include mayo, mustard, relish, sriracha, or a combination of several.
- Lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles are standard toppings.
- More topping options include caramelized onions, bell peppers, guacamole, and chili, among others.
- While the patties are cooking, I like to start assembling my hamburger. Toast the buns and spread the sauce on the bottom one. Then there’s lettuce, tomato, and onions. When the patties are done, I quickly sear them on the grill and melt the cheese on top. Then I pile them on top of the burger and cover with the top half of the bun. Then gobble it up!
Frequently Asked Questions
Intuitively, you might believe that adding a flavorful fat, such as butter or olive oil, will result in a more flavorful burger. In fact, it accomplishes the opposite—it dilutes flavor. Fat-soluble flavor compounds dissolve in melted butter or oil and eventually wash down the drain. Place your seasoned burger in a bag by itself for the best results.
I’ve found very little flavor difference between pre-seared burgers and burgers that are seared after being removed from the bag. Pre-seared burgers are also a little drier. It is not something I would recommend.
Pre-ground beef packaged in Cryovac-sealed or shrink-wrapped trays is highly compressed, which can result in dense, tough burgers. I recommend buying whole cuts of beef and having the butcher grind them fresh for you for the best flavor and texture. Equal parts well-marbled boneless short rib, brisket, and sirloin are a good combination. Straight 100 percent chuck will be very flavorful as well.
To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, all meat should be handled and cooked carefully, but ground beef in particular necessitates extra caution. The surfaces of a large piece of beef may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, but the center is safe. Searing whole cuts of beef is a very effective way of getting rid of those pesky bugs. Ground beef, on the other hand, may have harmful bacteria mixed throughout its volume, making a simple external sear ineffective for destroying them.
I strongly advise against it. Seasoning the beef necessitates massaging it, which results in cross-linked proteins that can transform a burger from loose and juicy to dense and firm. To reduce beef handling, reserve the seasoning for the outside only.