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Culinary Arts

Sous Vide Cooking: Getting Started

Thomas Keller

Lesson time 16:29 min

In this introductory lesson on sous vide cooking, Chef Keller provides an overview of sous vide packaging and preparation as well as how the technique is used.

Thomas Keller
Teaches Cooking Techniques III: Seafood, Sous Vide, and Desserts
Chef Thomas Keller’s third MasterClass is devoted to preparing seafood, sous vide cooking, and making classic desserts.
Get Started


- Welcome to sous vide. This is something maybe you maybe have many questions about. Hopefully I'll be able to answer them and give you some confidence to be able to cook some things at home in sous vide, but also understand when you're in a restaurant and they tell you it's cooked sous vide you understand how it's prepared. There's a misconception for most people that sous vide cooking is convenient. It's not convenient from a time point of view within this environment at this specific temperature. But the flavors are going to be much more intense cooking sous vide. What is sous vide? Sous vide is about a machine that is vacuum packing. It's removing all of the oxygen from a bag. It's not a new technique. This is a technique that's over 70 years old-- one that was developed for preservation of food. Coffee was a good example. Turkey was another one. Maybe you've heard of it as cryo vac, and that's something that we're kind of all familiar with. We see in our grocery stores products that are sous vide all the time-- from deli meat to boil in a bag vegetables. Let me just go through some things, because the word sous vide cooking in and of itself is a misnomer. We think about cooking, sous vide cooking is really related to the immersion circulator here, or what I've always said all cooking regardless is about time and temperature. The great thing about sous vide cooking, or this type of cooking with an immersion circulator, is precision. You see here there is a temperature on here that says Celsius. It'll maintain this water bath at that temperature indefinitely-- until the electricity either runs out or the machine breaks down. The water is circulating, and certainly we know that water conducts heat more evenly than anything else. So being able to cook something in a water bath at a specific temperature gives us that precision cooking. But it's still about time and temperature. We want to have to make sure that the interior-- the middle of whatever we're cooking-- reaches the 57 degrees Celsius. And then we can take it out. We know that it is exactly at 57 degrees Celsius, which is about medium rare if we're cooking lamb or beef or another red meat. Now, we have to be very, very careful, because remember, I talked about safety. And safety is key. Safety is key here. We want to make sure that our food is really cold that we're going to put in our sous vide machine if we're going to sous vide it-- it's really cold. That our hands are really clean-- using gloves, I would suggest, in this case. That we're not touching the interior of the bag with anything that could create bacteria, and that the edge of the bag when we seal it is perfectly sealed. We have two vacuum packing machines here. One is for the retail market for the consumer at home. It's relatively inexpensive. It does a decent job in removing oxygen. This is some potatoes that I've run through this machine. And you still see there's air in there, which is the ba...

Elevate your cooking

In his third MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller focuses on preparing fresh seafood like lobster and salmon, making classic desserts such as apple pie and lemon tart, and showing how sous vide cooking can be done at home to enhance flavor and texture. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced cook, you’ll learn the techniques and principles that will give you the understanding and skills to get the most delicious results.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Learned a lot about baking pie and apple pie! I love Thomas Keller

Lots of practical tips. Need to review again 8o)

Just as brilliant as his previous two masterclasses! Bursting with knowledge and enjoyable to watch. Everything masterclass should be. Thank you

Some of these techniques are intriguing and I can't wait to try them to make dinners and deserts for my family and friends


A fellow student

Interesting but I don’t think it really applies to the home cook. For the best results it seems a commercial grade appliance is needed and I’m not buying one of those.

Samir K.

Why you use gloves if almost always a sousvide cook will pasteurize de food?

Dale D.

The seafood lessons were very interesting. The Sous Vide seemed rather clumsy.


For the watermelon recipe, and only if you have the big vacuum machine -not the little commercial, you do not need the plastic bag. You can put the water melon in a tray and do the vacuum. It will suck the air and moisture of the water melon or any fruit. Even better, if you want to surprise people, you can put in the tray a bit of any a high alcohol content drink (vodka, gin, tequila, etc). The vacuum will suck the air and the moist out of the watermelon, and the alcohol with lower evaporation point will get inside the watermelon by capillarity. You can do that with different flavor liquors in different batches and when eating different pieces of the same red watermelon you will get different surprising flavors. Other fantastic fruit to do: raspberries.

Greg B.

Its great to have a very expensive vacuum sealer as Chef Keller has to seal ingredients that have liquid or a fair amount of moisture but unless you are spending US$1000+ for a commercial vacuum sealer, you won't get these results. Even Chef Keller's fennel bulb recipe being coated in oil represents enough liquid that it will cause problems for consumer grade vacuum sealers. To prevent moisture from being sucked into the machine and messing up the seal, you can freeze anything that has enough liquid, which is hardly any to cause the problem (no thanks!) or, slowly extract as much 02 via 'pulse' as you can which results in sufficient air in the bag to cause the fennel etc to float to the top because of too much oxygen. If anyone can enlighten me on something I'm doing wrong or missed please let me know but multiple experiments on a highly regarded consumer vacuum sealer and plenty of other online comments seem to confirm this. Vegetables and other protein ingredients with much less liquid content or oil coating will successfully seal and sink to the bottom of the sous vide vessel. What it appears people do to solve the floating issue is vacuum seal with a 'pulse' setting so it removes some of the air but doesn't cause the liquid to get sucked up and ruin the actual bag seal, add a rack in their sous vide cooking vessel and a clip to make sure it stays submerged during cooking. If my understanding is correct as stated above (and I make no assumptions it is), my question is, does that impact cooking time or product quality as a result? Thanks, just asking in the spirit of learning. Cheers, Greg

Rick B.

PS - as opposed to using gloves for everything I use thongs to place items in the bag.

Rick B.

I am curious about the cut of the short ribs. Is this a specific part of the short rib or just trimmed down to the little square of perfection. Also, I always find it amazing when there are online discussions of sous vide cooking the amount of "nay sayers" who seems to pop up. Cooks should be open to new techniques and methods. SV does not replace anything in my kitchen but it is another tool that can do things that I can't replicate by any other means. Example, when you braise short ribs they resultant protein is gray inside due to he level of heat involved. When cooking SV short ribs I can get a nice, dark crust on the meat with the inside is still a nice medium rare pink color. Short ribs cooked SV can be sublime.

Valerie C.

Wow! I was basically unimpressed until I saw the watermelon. I never considered using the Foodsaver to compress something to change it’s texture and ultimately it’s flavor. Now my brain is spinning!

A fellow student

Is there a way to do this technique without all the waste? All that single-use plastic with the gloves and the plastic bags...

Karen L.

To me, just seems like an expensive way to cook, for the average home cook. You need a commercial grade vacuum sealer, vacuum sealer bags, disposable gloves, and a sous vide machine.