Do You Need To Preheat Water For Sous Vide? (Steps To Follow)

Sous vide is a slow cooking method for many types of foods like meat, fish, vegetables, and even desserts. The method began in France before taking root in most kitchens.

For sous vide, a chef will require a water bath and a thermometer to measure the temperatures. More serious chefs will also invest in immersion circulators.

Immersion circulators regulate the water temperatures and circulate the water around to ensure that its temperatures are consistent. Sous vide requires precision and you have to follow the exact temperatures required for your recipe to ensure that your food cooks well.

This may make you wonder if you should heat the water bath first before cooking or turn on the heat after putting in your food. Well, here I will answer that question for you. Read along.

Do you need to preheat water for sous vide

You will need to preheat water for sous vide when you are preparing food for shorter periods of time. If you are cooking for a short while, then you put in food before letting water heat up, this may consume some of the food’s cooking time. This will make it not cook as precisely as it should have.

However, for longer cooking periods you can put food in the water before preheating. This is because the food will have more time to recover and get fully cooked. It all depends on the length of time needed for your specific recipe.

How to prepare food for sous vide

When you decide to use sous vide, you know that it is not a quick process. The process needs and takes time.

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First, you will need to assemble the food that you are cooking. Season it at this point if the recipe requires that you do so beforehand.

Place the foods in vacuum bags, then seal them. You can use the water immersion method or a vacuum sealer.

It’s now time to begin your cooking.

How to preheat sous vide

Whether you are using the sous vide machine or a pot, you know that temperatures are key for this type of cooking. You will need to get the accurate temperatures for your recipe.

Pour enough water into your pot. More food requires more water.

The water should at all times be above and fully covering your bag. If the water is low, it will lead to half-cooking.

The part not covered with water will not get cooked. Avoid too much water too so that the water does not flow out when you place in your bag.

Use a thermometer to measure the water temperatures. You can clip it at the edge of the pot so that it remains steady during cooking.

Turn on your heat to medium to allow the water to begin heating moderately. Medium temperatures allow the water to heat up evenly. You can stir the water to spread out the heat if you like.

You can also use an immersion circulator. This small device controls the temperatures while making sure that your water gets evenly heated up.

If you are using sous vide machine, you can simply set your desired temperatures directly through the machine.

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How long does sous vide take to preheat

Now that we have seen how to heat sous vide, you are probably curious about how long it takes. Preheating does not take long and you can seriously wait for the few minutes required.

After all, sous vide is not a quick process. If you use water at room temperature, it should take around 15 minutes to heat up well.

However, there are some factors that will reduce or increase this wait time. For instance, if you use hot water for the water bath, you will not need to wait for any preheating.

Also, if you use ice-cold water, it will take longer to heat up compared to normal temperature water. So the temperatures of the water you use will determine your overall wait time.

When do you put in your food for sous vide

You should place food in the water bath after it has attained the right temperatures. Make sure you follow the temperatures given in your recipe.

If the vacuumed bag was in the freezer, you can take it out before preheating your water bath so that it may thaw. Very cold foods will lower the temperatures of the water.

Importance of preheating

Preheating will make the water get the right temperatures needed to begin cooking your food. It’s like preheating an oven before placing in your food.

This makes your food to begin cooking right away. It is especially important for foods that will cook for short times.

Preheating may take roughly 15 minutes. If you place in the food before preheating yet your recipe requires 2 hours of cooking time, you will lose 15 minutes where the food will not cook.

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This may lead to an inconsistency in your food which is not something you want. The cooking of all sous vide begins when water attains the right heat temperatures.

When is preheating sous vide not required

As much as preheating is important, it’s not always required. This is especially if you are cooking food for longer periods.

Sous vide can take for as long as 8 hours and some recipes are perfect for overnight slow cooking. This will not necessarily require preheating.

When the food cooks for long periods of time, it will recover that time lost when you placed it in before preheating water.


Some sous vide cookers have Bluetooth and you can even control the temperatures with your phone. This is very efficient and convenient for sous vide lovers.

As we have seen, preheating is an important step. It will not take much of your time.

You can simply preheat your water bath as you prepare and vacuum-seal your foods. The process is more vital for foods that need less time to cook compared to those that need more cook-time.

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