Sous Vide vs Grill – Is Sous Vide Worth The Extra Cost?

Researched & Written by Editor

Which side do you fall on? Sous vide or grill? Both let you create some amazing steaks, fish and even vegetables. Sous vide is not for the impatient though. And a sous vide pressure cooker also costs more than a grill.

So, is a Sous Vide worth the extra cost?

By the end of this post you’ll be in a much better position to answer this question.

I love steaks so I’ll be using that more frequently as an example throughout this article.

If you enjoy a good steak, you must have tried making one at home. Or if you haven’t yet, I recommend you try it.

While grilling remains the traditional favorite for most (especially steak lovers), sous vide is now an emerging favorite cooking method for a lot of cooking enthusiasts.

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at sous vide and whether it’s worth it.

Sous Vide Machine
Sous-vide machines come in a range of styles – none of which are cheap!

How Does Sous Vide Work?

Sous vide is a temperature-controlled method of cooking. It’s the process of cooking food by sealing it in a vacuum bag and cooking it to perfection by immersing it in a controlled water bath.

It’s also called low temperature long time (LTLT) cooking.

Sous vide literally means under vacuum in French. It works by creating precisely measured conditions for the food you’re cooking. You regulate the water inside the vessel, circulating it to keep it consistent.

Any proteins in the food you’re making are essentially cooked in its own juices. There’s little-to-no need for extra fat.

To get started you’ll need a sous vide precision cooker and a pot filled with water.

vacuum-sealed meat submerged in water for sous vide
Food is vacuum-sealed and submerged in water to get the perfect cooking temperature

Here’s what you have to do:

  • You put your food in a vacuum-sealed bag
  • Attach your sous vide precision cooker to a pot of water and fill it with water
  • Set your water bath’s temperature according to your desired level
  • Emerse your food containing bag into this water bath
  • Cook according to instructions
  • Complete your dish by grilling or broiling for the perfect texture

Is Sous Vide Better than a Grill?

For a fair comparison, let’s look at the different aspects of both cooking methods/appliances:

Price

While an average grill costs $100 to $250 depending on whether it’s charcoal or grill. A grill pan costs about $20-$60 depending on the quality.

There are no other tools that are a prerequisite to cooking on a grill pan. your usual kitchen accessories like a tong which I’m sure you have.

Sous vide devices typically cost over $500. You’ll also need immersion calculators that start around $80 and run up to $200 depending on features.

You’ll also need vacuum-sealable bags or a bag vacuum sealer.

So in terms of the price, we see that grilling is the more affordable way to go.

Features

I feel like it’s a bit unfair comparing a simple grill to a modern-day tool. But here goes.

A grill is obviously, a grill. The basic – heat it up, cook it, flip it, and done routine.

A sous vide cooker uses more complex technology to control and regulate a fixed temperature for optimum cooking. Some models even come with an integrated Wi-Fi system that lets you monitor your cooking from your phone.

We know the sous vide is a clear winner when it comes to impressive features.

Cooking Time

Since a grill is more heated up, the actual cooking time comes down. It takes about 5-10mins to cook a steak on a grill, depending on how you want it done.

However, since a sous vide is a more temperature-controlled environment, it regulates the heat according to your settings without getting too hot. So naturally, it takes longer to cook food with this technique.

Even though it might be worth it, the cooking time for sous vide is higher compared to a grill. So if speed is a dealbreaker for you, the grill seems the better choice here.

Ease of Use

If you’re not too experienced at cooking, a grill might be more suitable for you. It’s easier to use, with no complex workings to figure out.

However, with sous vide, you need to figure out the optimum settings according to what you’re cooking. It also requires a little bit of preparation, like putting your food in a bag and vacuum sealing it.

And this might be a bit of a hassle. In terms of convenience, you might prefer a grill to the sous vide

Food Results

Coming to what actually matters! How does the food turn out with either of them?

Well, it depends on what you prefer, but sous vide gives you a thoroughly, evenly cooked dish.

For instance, a steak is perfectly cooked at 130 degrees. And sous vide ensures every corner of that meat is 130 degrees. This prevents fibers from seizing up, resulting in tender, juicy, non-chewy meat.

However, you don’t get that slightly charred exterior, so it might need a quick trip to a pan for some searing.

Evenly cooked meat using sous vide

A grill gives you the beautiful charred exterior, but your meat might not be as tender or juicy due to the high heat element. This is why you need to rest your steak before eating it.

So in terms of flavor and texture, I think sous vide takes the cake. But hey, that’s just me. I feel how the food turns out can be quite subjective.

Do Professional Chefs Use Sous Vide?

Yes! You’d be surprised to know how many high-end restaurants and destination restaurants use sous vide to achieve better-than-ever steak results.

A big reason chefs prefer sous vide over grills is the lower rate of contamination. So this method also allows better quality control.

Can You Put Frozen Food in Sous Vide?

Absolutely! No need to wait for your meat to thaw before you can cook it.

One of the advantages of sous vide is that you can put frozen meat directly in the bag, and into the water bath. And it will get cooked to perfection, without being too cooked on the edges or too soggy in the middle.

It will just take a little longer than usual though.

Sous vide is an amazing way to cook, especially meat. Even though it requires a little time, investment and some skill, I assure you – the results are worth it!

Here’s a quick round-up of why sous vide might be better for you:

  • If you’re looking take your kitchen expertise up a level or two, sous vide is the answer
  • It lets you create restaurant quality dishes at home
  • It gives you perfectly cooked meat, every time – no more undercooked or overcooked episodes
  • No need to rest your meat before eating
  • Lower chances of cross contamination

However, there’s a reason why grilling is a cult favourite. You might wanna stick with it for these reasons:

  • You enjoy barbecuing
  • You like the smoked, charred look and taste on your meat
  • It takes less time to cook on a grill
  • You’re a beginner at cooking and want to get the basics down first

If price isn’t that big a concern, I believe sous vide is worth the extra cost.

If you found this article helpful, feel free to check out similar ones on our site.

Thanks for reading, and have an amazing day!

-Craig