Sous Vide vs. Pressure Cooking: What’s The Difference?

Two popular cooking methods for anyone who wants to create a variety of tasty meals at home are sous vide and pressure cooking.

Each of these methods comes with its own set of pros and cons, and those are worth knowing so you can make the right choice when it comes to picking the technique that you’ll use to make a particular recipe.

How Does Sous Vide Work?

Sous vide might sound fancy and complicated at first, but it really isn’t. With a high-quality immersion circulator, a large pot, and a vacuum sealer and bags, you can begin preparing restaurant quality meals right at home. The immersion circulator can be set up with a convenient timer and temperature, and you just place it in a pot filled with water. Then, you put your ingredients in vacuum-sealed bags, drop them into the water, and let the circulator do the rest.

Related: Check Out the Best Juicers We’ve Squeezed Out

This cooking method delivers results that are really difficult to achieve with other cooking techniques. It works by gently cooking your food, so it uses a process that is slow and long, but because you don’t have to stand there watching it work, you can set it and go do something else while it cooks your food.

How Does Pressure Cooking Work?

Unlike the gentler sous vide method, pressure cooking uses extremely high heat in order to cook your food much more quickly than other methods. This is fantastic for anyone who wants to save loads of time without sacrificing flavor.

Put simply, a pressure cooker uses steam and pressure to cook your food. Like sous vide, it uses water to help cook your food, but it works differently. Your ingredients go into a sealed pot, and as it heats up, the water creates steam, increasing the pressure inside the pot. The amount of heat and pressure that are generated allow the ingredients to cook more quickly, and the food comes out flavorful and tender.

What Foods Can You Cook in a Pressure Cooker vs. Sous Vide?

With sous vide, you can cook a wide variety of ingredients with ease. This includes ingredients like meat, vegetables, and fruits. You can even prepare desserts the sous vide way.

Related: Our Guide to the Best Immersion Blenders

On the other hand, with a pressure cooker, you can also cook a wide array of ingredients. These include everything from rice, chickpeas, and beans, to meats and vegetables.

How Can You Decide Between Pressure Cooking and Sous Vide?

Because both of these cooking methods can be used to create delicious meals right at home, and they both make preparing various recipes really easy, it might be hard for you to decide which one to go with. Here are some things to consider:

First off, consider the temperature that your food should be cooked at in order to end up with the right results for a particular recipe. While pressure cooking can utilize extremely high temperatures that can reach almost 400°F, sous vide works by cooking your food in a gentler way at lower temperatures, such as 135°F. The nice thing about sous vide is that the temperature goes up gradually. The immersion circulator then ensures the temperature remains steady for the duration of the cooking time. And sous vide helps you avoid overcooking your food, but with pressure cooking, overcooking is more likely.

Secondly, consider what you want the texture of your food to be. When cooking the sous vide way, juices aren’t released, and the ingredients end up tender, rather than stringy. On the other hand, pressure cooking can also create tender meats, but they will be stringy. And the high temperatures used by pressure cookers causes the juices to leave the ingredients and end up in the cooker, leaving you with juices or gravies in the pot rather than in the meat.

Finally, there is the factor of time that is worth considering as well. As you might’ve guessed, sous vide takes longer than pressure cooking because its goal is to cook your food gently and slowly. It might take a couple of hours to cook the sous vide way, while it might only take a few minutes to get it done in a pressure cooker. So, when you are really short on time, pressure cooking is a great way to go. However, you do need to be careful to avoid drying out your ingredients from overcooking them accidentally.

Hopefully, after reading this short guide, you now have a better idea of when to use sous vide and when to use pressure cooking!

2 thoughts on “Sous Vide vs. Pressure Cooking: What’s The Difference?

  • October 26, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    When you say ingredients did you mean the meat too or just the ingredients like carrots and stuff. Wondering if souz vide cooking results in meat-falling-off the bone too like pressure cooker.


  • March 10, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    What I like about the sous vide is that the spices and liquids are in a bag and continuously in contact with your product.
    I was considering using sous vide packaging in a pressure cooker so that you have the same contact instead of just steam from the water or sauce medium to make the steam. My research has shows:
    When you cook in a regular pot at atmospheric pressure (14.7 pounds per square inch [psi]), water boils at 100°C (212°F). Inside a pressure cooker, the pressure can increase by an additional 15 psi, to almost 30 psi. At that pressure, water boils at 121°C (250°F). Instapots max PSI is 15.23, so that would put internal temp around 225F.
    As far as I can tell, Good quality sous vide bags will tolerate this temp. What are your thoughts.


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