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How To Sous Vide In A Slow Cooker

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: February 1, 2024

Maybe you have recently watched one of the plethora of cooking shows or looked over the menu in a fancy restaurant and seen the words sous vide against some delicious-sounding dishes. Sous vide is one of the new trending ways to cook your food and make food especially delicious.

If you have wondered if you can recreate it at home, then there is good news for you because now it is possible to do sous vide at home with no extra appliances. All you need is your slow cooker or crockpot and some additional household supplies to make it happen.

What Is Sous Vide?

Sous vide cooking was once the pride of only the most technically proficient chefs because it required extreme attention to detail and planning. Sous vide comes from the French phrase ‘under vacuum’ because the technique involves sealing the food, usually steak or a cut of meat with aromatics like rosemary and lemons, in a plastic bag.

This vacuum-sealed bag was then immersed gently in a pot of heated water to cook over a long period of time. The water temperature was kept low, under 175 degrees Fahrenheit and had to be maintained throughout the cooking process. It could not fluctuate, or it would ruin the dish. To achieve this constant temperature, you need a good immersion circulator (like the Anova). Sous vide adds a depth of flavour to the dish and renders the meat extremely soft with a melt-in-the-mouth quality.

It is more popular nowadays as proper sous vide appliances keep the water temperature steady and take much of the technical headache out of the cooking. Also, there are many ways to sous vide at home, including using your slow cooker crockpot.

How To Sous Vide With A Slow Cooker? 

Using sous vide to cook at home is an excellent option as it is low maintenance. The only thing it really needs is time in the slow cooker. It is also an excellent way to make even the more affordable cuts of meat taste better and more luxurious because of the slow cooking process.

This is a popular method to turn your slow cooker into a sous vide machine, but it does require some basic knowledge of working with wires and electronics. If you are not confident about it, seek help from a professional or watch this helpful video. Here are the steps to go about doing it-

  1. Get a thermostatic controller, an extension cord and a thermocouple. All of these things are available on major shopping sites and, in total, will cost you less than 100 dollars.
  2. Make sure you have an analogue-type slow cooker. That is, make sure the temperature on your slow cooker is controlled by a dial and not digitally. The digital dials will malfunction when the power is interfered with, as you are trying to do here.
  3. Cut the extension cord in half and then connect it again, leaving two loose ends of the wire to feed in through the thermostatic controller.
  4. Now that the extension cord and thermostatic controller are connected, plug your slow cooker into the extension cord.
  5. Attach the loose wire ends of the thermocouple to the thermostatic controller to measure the water temperature in the slow cooker.
  6. Drop the needle-like end of the thermocouple into your slow cooker. This will read the water temperature inside the slow cooker.
  7. Plug the thermostatic controller into a wall socket, switch it on, and adjust the temperature to the suggested level for the food you cook.
  8. Turn on your slow cooker, and there you have it. Your own homemade sous vide machine for delicious dinners with minimal effort.

There are many ways to use the sous vide method; apart from the vacuum-sealed bags, you can make soft eggs and tender vegetables by dropping them directly in the water.

You can also use your typical Ziploc bags to sous vide food if you do not want to pay extra for the vacuum bags and sealer pump. Just ensure the ziplock seal is airtight, and get as much air out of the bag as possible.

This is necessary because if you have too much air in the bag, it will cause your bag to float in the water and make your dish cook unevenly because it will not be submerged fully in the water.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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