Grilling is probably one of the most popular (and oldest!) ways of cooking food like steak. However, there seems to be a new kid that is making its rounds to chefs and steak lovers alike: sous vide.
So, what’s the beef on sous vide vs grill? We’ll let you know shortly.
Grilling & Sous Vide Cooking: How Are They Different?
One of the main differences between sous vide vs grilling is the application of direct heat. In grilling, the entire surface of the meat touches direct heat, whereas, in sous vide steaks, they are cooked in temperature-regulated sous vide machine while still inside a vacuum-sealed bag.
While different, both methods will yield perfectly cooked meat when done right. Both cooking methods are not only limited to steak; you can also use fish, chicken, and even vegetables, and the food results will be amazing.
- Evenly cooked: The biggest advantage to sous vide cooking is getting perfectly-cooked steak every time. If you like a medium-rare steak, this method’s perfect cooking temperature ensures that you will get that perfect texture no matter what.
- Tender meat: Where it truly shines is producing tender steaks. Because sous vide steak does not use direct heat, no moisture will be extracted.
- Extremely convenient: Steak-cooked sous vide can be left alone. You can even sous vide frozen meat!
- A healthier choice: The sous vide cooking process will not release carcinogenic chemicals that are hazardous to our health.
- Expensive tools: Probably the biggest con is the required tools. A sous vide cooker typically costs $500, and you will also need immersion circulators (at least $100), a vacuum-sealer, and a sous vide bag.
- Not for the impatient: It takes a long time to sous vide steak.
- Appearance: Steaks are known for their characteristic brown, crispy exterior. No matter how long sous viding takes, it will never achieve that appearance.
- Great flavor: One of the reasons why people love grilled steak, to put it simply, is its flavor. There isn’t a better way for the seasonings to seep into the meat than by subjecting it to higher heat.
- Cooks quickly: You can get a good steak ready in 10 to 15 minutes with this traditional method.
- Great fun: Hosting outdoor grilling parties is great fun! You can get friends and family in for that much-needed bonding.
- Uneven cooking: It is impossible to regulate the temperature of a hot grill. This can cause you to have a thick steak that is unevenly cooked — overcooked at the outer edge and raw in the middle.
- Potential health hazard: Experts have noticed the correlation between heterocyclic amines (chemicals produced when meat is charred and cooked at high temperatures) and cancer.
- Messy: Grilling is messy; the fat that melts off the meat and collects at the bottom is a pain to clean. This point might be trivial, but hey, we hate cleaning grill grates just as much as you.
A Close Look At Their Differences
How It Works
Many would consider sous vide to be a more sophisticated way to cook steak. A water bath gently cooks your steak at your desired temperature and preferred doneness.
Grilling is probably one of the oldest cooking methods, conceived some 500,000 years ago.  This method uses direct contact with heat to cook, resulting in a perfect steak with a caramelized exterior.
This sous vide method makes use of complex technology to regulate internal temperature. Some devices can even connect to the wi-fi, allowing you to control it with your phone!
On the other hand, grilling is just that: using a grill for cooking your steak.
Control & Consistency
You have total control and consistency over the end results with sous vide. You can set the sous vide device to your desired steak doneness and leave it alone.
A grill is much more difficult to manage. It’s impossible to control the precise temperature of the hot grill, and if you’re not careful, that high heat from the open flame will turn any moist steak into a dry slab of meat.
We have to say that it’s a toss-up in terms of food quality. When both methods are done properly, this will result in amazing meat that is succulent and oh-so-flavorful. But, what’s the best steak for sous vide cooking?
Since grilling uses direct high heat, you only need a little time to cook the meat. You can have steak from the charcoal grill to your table in as little as ten minutes.
Conversely, cooking steaks sous vide is not for the impatient. This cooking method doesn’t use any direct heat, so naturally, its actual cooking time is longer.
We have to give this round to grilling; we can’t deny the beauty of a steak that’s caramelized to perfection. Grilled steaks are a thing of beauty.
A steak that’s cooked sous vide has a slightly gray hue. You can finish that sous vide steak with a pan sear to get that brown exterior.
Grilled steak has that characteristic smoky and caramelized flavor that is impossible to duplicate.
Since sous vide takes place within a plastic bag, you can expect that most of the flavor of your steak rub is retained. You won’t have to use as many spices and herbs.
Ease of Use
Grilling is a no-fuss way of cooking steak — slap on the meat and watch it do its job.
On the other hand, there is a learning curve to sous viding. The complex workings around the timing and temperature require some practice to get right.
It’s no secret that sous vide devices are costly. Most devices typically cost over $500, and you will also need an immersion circulator, sous vide vacuum sealer, and vacuum-sealable bags.
A full-sized grill ranges anywhere from $100 to $250. If you’re looking for something more space-efficient, you can get a cast-iron skillet for as little as $50.
Does sous vide steak taste better than grilled?
It depends. Both sous vide and grilled steak bring something different to the table. However, we will say this: sous vide results in more tender meat, while grilled steak has a better mouthfeel that is a combination of juicy and crispy. But, can you sous vide frozen steak?
Do professional chefs use sous vide or grill?
Many professional chefs use both sous viding and grilling. You won’t believe how many high-end restaurants have incorporated both methods to control the steak’s doneness and finish better.
So, what’s the final beef between sous viding and grilling? Well, it all boils down to your preference.
We recommend doing a combination of both! You can let the sous viding take care of the steak’s doneness for even cooking and finish it off with a pan sear to get that caramelized exterior that the steak is known for.
Agnes is a kitchen and cooking enthusiast as well as a fitness fanatic. She loves to help readers upgrade their kitchen with the best available products!