Sous vide fruits and sous vide vegetables have much more leeway in the timing compared to traditional methods.
Almost all sous vide vegetables are cooked at 183°F (83.9°C) or higher and all entries below assume that temperature, unless otherwise stated. Hotter temperatures will cook the vegetables more quickly, but they will basically have the same texture at the end.
There is also a lot of variability in a specific type of vegetable, with both their ripeness, variety, and size having an impact. So sous vide times can vary across vegetables, even of the same type.
Sous vide helps preserve the nutrients present in fruits and vegetables by not cooking them above the temperature that the cell walls fully break down. This allows them to tenderize without losing all their structure. The bag also helps to catch any nutrients that do come out of the vegetable.
People do not love all vegetables cooked sous vide but some vegetables really can benefit with this cooking method. It's worth experimenting and seeing which ones you prefer.
Time and Temperature Guidelines
While time and temperature do not factor into safety for fruits and vegetables they do have the a unique effect on their structure. There are two components to vegetables that make them crisp, pectin and starch.
Pectin, which is basically a type of glue and is also used in jams and jellies for structure, breaks down at 183ºF at a slower rate than the starch cells do. In many cases this allows for more tender vegetables that have a unique texture to them.
The time component just governs how long the starches and pectin are breaking down for and how tender the vegetable will become.
Why are Vegetables Cooked at Such a High Temperature?
The International Sous Vide Association (ISVA) has been hosting monthly Sous Vide Showcases. These are deep dives presented by multiple home and professional cooks on a variety of sous vide cooking topics. The following article captures Jason's discussion on sous viding vegetables from their ISVA Meatless Showcase.
I wanted to talk about something that not only was briefly mentioned earlier, but is also a question that comes up in a lot of the Facebook groups, "Why are vegetables cooked at such a high temperature?" The basic answer is because they don't really tenderize at lower temperatures.
150°F (65.6°C) for 7 Hours
I threw some sous vide carrots in the bath at 150°F (65.6°C) at 7:00 this morning. I just pulled them out right before the showcase started. So these have been cooking for about 7 hours at 150°F (65.6°C).
The carrot is still very, very crunchy when you bite into it. You can also still hear some of that good crispy crunch. So after 7 hours at 150°F (65.6°C), these carrots were still very crunchy and almost raw tasting.
They don't really tenderize quickly at all. You need those high temperatures in order to break vegetables down and start to allow the different components to tenderize and to become something that we generally consider cooked.
When I went to CREA they talked about the different components of the vegetables and some of them start to breakdown, very, very slowly at these temperatures. This doesn't taste raw, but it's pretty close.
Breakdown Starts Above at Least 170°F (76.6°C)
At like 170°F (76.6°C), 180°F (82.2°C). They start to break down more quickly and you're going to have a more, it's going to taste cooked, but not like a traditional steamed or boiled vegetable.
And then once you get above 183°F (83.9°C) other things start breaking down and above 185°F (85°C), everything starts breaking down.
So, if you cook your vegetables between 183°F (83.9°C) and 185°F (85°C), you kind of get this magic mix where they're tender but still have good bite to them.
They are also still not mushy, not fall apart, or not squishy, which is why I've really been enjoying sous vide carrots lately at 183°F (83.9°C), 184°F (84.4°C). They're amazing to eat at that temperature.
Higher Temperatures Equals Faster Cooking
The higher you set the temperature above 185°F (85°C), the faster it cooks. So a lot of people will do 190°F (87.8°C), 195°F (90.6°C) because you reduce some of the cook time for tenderizing it.
How to Sous Vide Vegetables and Meat at the Same Time
The temperatures needed to cook vegetables is something to keep in mind as you're doing vegetables. That's why you need to do a higher temperature and why you can't do vegetables and meat at the same time because you really don't want meat cooked at 190°F (87.8°C), 195°F (90.6°C) unless you're using a pressure cooker.
I believe Patty Whysman mentioned earlier in the comments that she likes to cook the vegetables ahead of time, cool them off and chill them. And then she reheats them when the steaks are done the next day. It's a great way to do it and something that I've done before.
Your vegetables will store in the sous vide bags in the refrigerator for a week or two, which is great. Then when I pull the steaks out of the sous vide bath, I'll throw the vegetables in the same water. And by the time the steaks are seared, the vegetables have been reheated.
If you're doing more complicated dishes, Stefan Boer from StefanGourmet does this. When he is doing Italian classics, he will make a Ragu sauce and cook all the vegetables in the sauce ahead of time and cool it off.
Stefan then seals the sauce with the meat and sous vides that long-term. At the lower meat temperature, the vegetables can break down a little bit. It doesn't matter because the vegetables have already been cooked and they're already ready to go.
So that's a few approaches to cooking vegetables.
Just remember, you can't really throw the meat and raw vegetables all in at 135°F (57.2°C), because the vegetables will never be tender. You will end up with a kind of warmish, raw tasting vegetables that aren't going to be very good.
General Sous Vide Vegetable Process
Cooking vegetables with sous vide is very simple and fast.
First, preheat your sous vide machine to the temperature desired, normally 183ºF for most vegetables and many fruits.
Skin the vegetable if desired and place it in a sous vide pouch, sealing it with any normal seasoning such as:
- Fresh or dried thyme or rosemary
- Any spice powders such as onion, garlic, paprika, coriander, or cumin
- Chili powders like ancho, chipotle, cayenne
- Butter, olive oil, etc.
If adding a liquid, make sure your vacuum sealer does not suck it out, you can normally seal it before all the air is out to prevent this just fine. After sealing the pouch place it into the water bath for the indicated cooking time. You might have to weight the pouch down with a plate or lid.
Once it's fully cooked remove it from the pouch and pat dry. You can use it as you would normally by eating it plain, adding it to a rice or stir fry or any other use.
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Sous Vide Fruits and Vegetables Temperatures and Times
Sous vide helps preserve the nutrients present in fruits and vegetables by not cooking them above the temperature that the cell walls fully break down. This allows them to tenderize without losing all their structure. The bag also helps to catch any nutrients that do come out of the vegetable.. Below are more sous vide time and temperatures for many of the specific items.
Sous Vide Acorn Squash
Sous vide acorn squash is best when cooked for 1 to 2 hours at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). I usually cut it into 1/2" to 1" cubes before sous viding it and place it in a single layer in the pouch.
Sous Vide Apples
For a very tender and soft cooked apple it is usually be cooked for 1 to 2 hours at 183°F(83.9°C). For a lightly poached but still very firm apple, as little as 25 to 40 minutes in the sous vide machine works great.
Sous Vide Artichokes
Artichokes become tender when sous vided for around 45 to 75 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). Adding some butter, lemon juice, or olive oil to the pouch can help add some richness.
Sous Vide Asparagus
There is a wide range of timing to sous vide asparagus, because there are so many different sizes. It may be tenderized in as little as 10 to 20 minutes or upwards of 30 to 45 minutes when cooked at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Banana
Bananas becomes rich and creamy, especially in purees, when cooked for 10 to 15 minutes.
Sous Vide Beets
I usually cut beets into 1/2" to 1" cubes, or slice them into rounds, and place them in a single layer in the bag. Then I cook them at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) for 60 to 90 minutes, until tender.
Sous Vide Broccoli
When sous viding broccoli I usually cut it into florets, place them in a single layer in a sous vide bag, and then cook them at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) for 30 to 60 minutes, until tender.
Sous Vide Brussels Sprouts
When sous viding brussels sprouts, place them in a single layer in the sous vide bag, I'll often cut them in half as well. They usually become tender when cooked for around 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is usually cut into 1/2" to 1" cubes, or sliced into rounds before being placed in the bag in a single layer. It is often tenderized when cooked for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Cabbage
Sous vide cabbage becomes very tender when cooked for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C). It is usually chopped or grated and then placed in the sous vide bag in an even layer about 1/2" to 1" thick for even cooking.
Sous Vide Carrot
Carrots can be peeled and cooked whole, sliced into rounds, or cubed, then cooked in a sous vide bag in an even layer about 1/2" to 1" thick. I usually cook carrots for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Cauliflower
When sous viding cauliflower I usually cut it into florets or slice it into slabs. Then I place it in the sous vide bag in a single layer. I usually cook it at 183°F(83.9°C) for 30 to 60 minutes.
183ºF for 20 to 40 Minutes (83.9ºC)
- For Puree:
183ºF for 60 Minutes (83.9ºC)
183ºF for 60 to 75 Minutes (83.9ºC)
- How to sous vide cauliflower
Sous Vide Celery Root
Very starchy, sous vide celery root usually needs 60 to 75 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C) to become tender. It is usually peeled first, and then cut into rounds or cubed before placing them in a single layer in the bag.
Sous Vide Chard
Sous vide chard can either be done whole, or cut into pieces and placed into a bag in a single layer to ensure even cooking. Chard becomes very tender when cooked for 60 to 75 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Cherries
If you just want to heat them through, then 15 to 25 minutes works well. If you really want to break them down then you may want to go longer. They are usually cooked a 167ºF (73.8°C) to 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Corn
There is a wide range of sweetness and tenderness in corn, depending on the type and how in season it currently is. I usually cook it on the cob for 15 to 25 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Eggplant
When you are going to sous vide eggplant it is usually best to cube it or cut it into rounds. It depends on the type of eggplant but will usually soften up nicely after 30 to 45 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Fennel
I really enjoy sous vide fennel and usually cook it for 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). You can cook it whole, cut in half or dice it.
Sous Vide Garlic
You can make confit sous vide garlic by cooking it with some olive oil for 60 to 90 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). Just peel the garlic first and you can use the cloves whole, smashed, or diced.
Sous Vide Golden Beets
Golden beets are often more tender than red beets so I have found 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) works well to soften them up. Whole beets will take a lot longer than 1/2" to 1" pieces.
Sous Vide Green Beans
The type of bean and how ripe it is will affect how long you want to sous vide green beans. They are often cooked at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) for 30 to 45 minutes to fully soften them.
Sous Vide Leek
Sous vide leeks soften up nicely when cooked for 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). They are usually cleaned, diced or sliced, and placed into a sous vide bag in a single layer.
Sous Vide Onion
Sous vide onions usually soften up and become sweeter when cooked for 35 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). They are usually peeled, then diced or sliced and placed into a sous vide bag.
Sous Vide Parsnip
When I sous vide parsnips I usually peel them and then either cook them whole, slice them into rounds, or cube them. I usually cook parsnips for 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Pea Pods
The type of pea you are cooking and how ripe it is will affect how long you want to sous vide pea pods. They are often cooked at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) for 30 to 40 minutes to fully soften them.
Sous Vide Peaches
I was surprised how much I enjoyed sous vide peaches. For a slightly softened one I use 165°F (73.8°C) for 20 to 40 minutes. For a more tenderized and broken down peach, I've do 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Pears
Sous vide pears are great, and you have a lot of control over their tenderness. For a slightly softened one I use 165°F (73.8°C) for 20 to 40 minutes and for a more tenderized one 25 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Pineapple
If you just want to heat it through, then it will only take 20 to 30 minutes if it is cut into cubes or rounds. If you really want to tenderize it and break it down then 45 to 60 minutes may be required.
Sous Vide Plums
Sous vide plums become very soft when cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. They are usually cooked at least at 167ºF (73.8°C) or higher.
Sous Vide Potatoes
There are a lot of varieties of potatoes, and many different preparations. I've found most potatoes are tender after 30 to 60 minutes, especially when cubed, shredded, or cut into rounds, at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Pumpkin
The length of time needed to sous vide pumpkin can vary depending on how ripe it is and the size of the pieces, but it is often tenderized when cooked for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Radish
There are a lot of variety of radishes, but most are tender after 10 to 25 minutes in a 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) water bath. Some sous vide radishes are very tender and need an even shorter time.
Sous Vide Rhubarb
Sous vide rhubarb is great after 25 to 45 minutes in the water bath at 140°F (60°C) to 183°F (83.9°C), which ranges from slightly softened to completely tenderized.
Sous Vide Rutabaga
Sous vide rutabaga becomes very tender after 2 hours in a water bath set to 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C). It is usally cubed then placed into the sous vide bag in a single layer to ensure even cooking.
Sous Vide Salsify
Sous vide salsify usually becomes tender after cooking for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Squash, Summer
When you are going to sous vide summer squash it is usually best to cube it or cut it into rounds. In general it will soften up nicely after 30 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C), and be very soft after 60 minutes.
Sous Vide Squash, Winter
The length of time needed to sous vide winter squash can vary depending on the type of squash and size of the pieces, but a good rule is it is tender after 1 to 2 hours at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Sunchokes
Sous vide sunchokes become tender and lose some bite after 40 to 60 minutes of cooking at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Sweet Potatoes
Sous vide sweet potatoes are really great because of their high starch content. They cook for 45 to 90 minutes, and are usually cubed or cut into rounds. They are almost always cooked at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Swiss Chard
Swiss chard can either be sous vided whole, or chopped into pieces first. Sous vide swiss chard is very tender when cooked for 60 to 75 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C).
Sous Vide Tomato
Lightly poaching tomatoes with sous vide results in a tender and moist dish. They are heated through, not broken down, so almost any low temperature works. I usually serve them with steaks so I cook them at 131°F (55°C).
Sous Vide Turnip
Most sous vide turnips are cut into 1/2" to 1" cubes, or sliced into rounds, before placing them in a single layer in the sous vide bag. They are usually tender when cooked for 45 to 60 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C).
Sous Vide Yams
When I'm going to sous vide yams, I usally cube them or cut them into rounds. Most yams will take between 30 to 60 minutes at 183°F to 185°F (83.9°C to 85°C) to fully tenderize, though some can take longer.
Sous Vide Zucchini
When you are going to sous vide zucchini it is usually best to cube it or cut it into rounds. In general, it'll soften up nicely after 30 minutes at 183°F(83.9°C), and be very soft after 60 minutes.