Cooking time and temperature are not the only factors you need for successful sous vide cooking. Choosing the right sous vide bags is equally crucial. So, let’s look at the different types of bags that you can use for precision cooking. More importantly, note the sous-vide best practices to ensure food quality and safety each time.

Vacuum Sealable Bags

Vacuum bags are the gold standard of sous vide, especially in terms of cooking results. A food vacuum sealer is necessary to use them, though. Commercial kitchens often have chamber vacuum sealers. But for home cooks like you, you can choose either the external or the pistol type. You can learn more about these from my guide on how to seal food with a machine.

Both vacuum-sealing types can create an airtight seal that allows a more direct food-to-bag contact with the hot water. These BPA-free sous vide bags are also heavy-duty to withstand high temperatures up to 70C, resist damage and allow 6 hours or more of cooking time.

Bag rolls are available, too, so you can cut them to size based on your food item. So, if you want foolproof sous-vide cooking, vacuum sealer bags are your best option. And if you want the safest plastic to cook with, look for high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene and polypropylene on the label.

Pros Cons
Food safe and good performance May require a compatible vacuum sealer
Sturdy and inexpensive Semi-reusable
Ideal for meal prep
Suits freezer storage and preservation
Works for any food item

How to seal a bag properly

  1. Fold the edge of the bag over to keep it clean for easy sealing.
  2. Put your food for cooking inside the bag. Do not overfill.
  3. Unfold the edge, then seal the end of the bag, following product instructions.
  4. Remove the vacuum-sealed bag from the machine and place it into the preheated water bath.
  5. Use clips or sous vide rack to keep the bags in water. Or put your cooking bags in the fridge or freezer for later use.

Simply Mumma_Food Vacuum Sealer and Sous Vide Bags

Resealable Bags

For economical home cooks, sous vide Ziploc bags are the perfect packaging. They are affordable, accessible and easy to use. And even without a tool or machine, you can remove the air out of these bags using the water displacement method. Some cooks also like how these allow them to check the doneness of meat during cooking. Resealable sous vide bags are ideal if you often sous vide marinated meats, sauces or food with cooking liquid.

One thing to note about this packaging option is that not all resealable bags are for cooking purposes. You have to look for high-quality ones from reliable brands to ensure good performance and safety. Also, for longer cooking times, you might need to double bag your food to prevent leaks.

Pros Cons
Average cooking performance May tear or require double bagging
Easy to seal and reseal Not for heavy loads or bone-in meats
Readily available and cheap Semi-reusable
Comes in several sizes Limited to below 70C cooking temp
Works best for liquids and sauces

How to do the water immersion method

  1. Put your food inside the bag, then zip it but leave a small section unsealed.
  2. Next, lower the cooking bag into a pot of water. The water pressure should push the air out.
  3. Seal the bag completely, then put it into your preheated water bath to start cooking.

Plastic Wrap

We all probably have a box of this at home. Like resealable sous vide bags, plastic wrap is very affordable and available in any grocery store. But you need high-quality ones for sous vide.

You can use plastic wrap to keep the shape of your sous-vide food like roulades, burgers, sausages or roasts. Make sure to have the tools to secure the plastic wrap while in the hot water bath. And if your cooking vessel does not have a lid, plastic wrap can also work as a cover to reduce evaporation.

Pros Cons
Safe and convenient Substandard cooking performance
Readily available Not reusable
Can be cut to size Not for long cooking periods
Works best for shaping food items

How to poach eggs sous-vide style

  1. Line a small bowl with enough plastic wrap.
  2. Crack an egg at the centre, then add your seasoning.
  3. Form your plastic wrap into a small bundle. Tie it with a piece of twine.
  4. Put your egg bundles in the heated water to cook for a few minutes.
  5. Serve on top of your toast with avocado or hollandaise!

Simply Mumma_Plastic Wrap and Other Sous Vide Bags

Reusable Silicone Bags

Silicone snack pouches have been available for quite some time. And now, aside from being a zero-waste bag extraordinaire, they also have sous vide bag alternative under their belt! Unlike Ziploc sous vide bags, these are 100% reusable and more durable. They are also odour-resistant, dishwasher-safe, microwaveable and freezer-friendly. Talk about multi-talented!

However, keep in mind that you might need to cook your food longer in these thicker bags. The thick silicone material also makes it harder to do the water immersion method. And even if you manage to get the air out, it is not as tight as vacuum-sealed or resealable bags. The upfront cost is high as well. But it is a more cost-effective choice in the long run, especially if you sous vide often.

Pros Cons
Average cooking performance A bit pricey
Easy to seal and reseal Thicker material may affect cooking time
Reusable and sustainable Not as airtight
Multipurpose May require weights to prevent floating
Comes in several sizes
Works for any food item

How to remove the air out of a silicone bag

  1. Put your food inside the bag, then zip it but leave a small section unsealed.
  2. Next, lower the bag into a water-filled container, then use your hand to press the air out.
  3. Seal the bag completely, then put it into your preheated container of water to start cooking.
  4. Alternatively, do step 1, but instead of putting the bag in water, roll the bag tightly to press the air out. Then proceed to step 3.

Simply Mumma_Canning Jars and Other Sous Vide Bags

Glass Canning Jars

Here’s another packaging to take care of your environmental concerns. Now your reusable Mason jars at home can do more than preserves and pickles! With your precision cooker, you can use these jars for sous vide custards, yoghurt or pate. Your food will take longer to cook in glass containers, though. But then, once set and cooled, you can directly serve your creation in individual jar portions.

Just remember that jars with plastic screw-on lids are not for sous vide cooking. Use those with two-part or hinge-clamp lids instead. Make sure to tighten the jar lids with your fingertips only to let air pressure escape during cooking. If you have solid food items in your recipe, keep them submerged in your sauce or cooking liquid, too. That way, the long cooking process will not affect the texture.

Pros Cons
Average cooking performance Thicker material may affect cooking time
Reusable and sustainable Heavy and prone to breakage
Multipurpose and food safe Food may dry out
Works for grains, sauces and desserts Needs careful handling

How to cook sous-vide egg bites in jars

  1. Prep your container of water and set your cooker to 77C.
  2. Grease the inside of your small Mason jars (118ml) with oil.
  3. Next, whisk eggs, milk, shredded cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. You can also add fillings of your choice like bits of sausage or bacon, chopped onion, garlic and herbs.
  4. Pour and divide your mixture into each jar, about three-fourths full.
  5. Screw the tops on but not too tight. Put your jars into the hot water bath and cook for an hour or so, but not more than 2 hours.
  6. After cooking, carefully remove the jars and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lids, then run a small knife around the edges to release your egg bites! Serve it with hot sauce if you like.
  8. Also, you can completely cool them, then put them in the fridge for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack.

Are you a sous-vide newbie? You might find this precision cooker buying guide and reviews interesting!