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Beer Cooler Sous Vide

Serious Eats recently posted a great article about using a beer cooler to cook sous vide in. I hadn't heard of anything like that but it definitely makes sense that it would work.

They simply used ziplock bags and their beer cooler filled with the hot water to hold several steaks at temperature for one to two hours. Then they finished it off on the grill when everyone was ready to eat.

The only part I'm not sure of it how to heat up enough water to fill the cooler!

Here's how it works: A beer cooler is designed to keep things cool. It accomplishes this with a two-walled plastic chamber with an air space in between. This airspace acts as an insulator, preventing thermal energy (a.k.a. heat) from outside to reach the cold food inside. Of course, insulators work both ways.

Once you realize that a beer cooler is just as good at keeping hot things hot as it is at keeping cold things cold, then the rest is easy: Fill up your beer cooler with water just a couple degrees higher than the temperature you'd like to cook your food at (to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it), seal your food in a plastic Ziplock bag*, drop it in, and close your beer cooler until your food is cooked. It's as simple as that.

-- Serious Eats: Beer Cooler Sous Vide

Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm a passionate home cook who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the AmazingFoodMadeEasy.com website.