The Sous Vide Timing Ruler

Learn how to use your ruler

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Step by Step Directions

Step 1) Choose what food you are going to cook. Then trim and prep it before laying it out on a plate or cutting board.

Step 2) Next, hold the ruler up to the thickest point of the food you are preparing to cook and follow the time listed in the column you want.

Step 3) Heat up your circulator, seal your food in a bag and cook it for the indicated time before searing and serving.

Step 4) While the food is cooking, clean off your Sous Vide Timing Ruler, even with soapy water if needed.

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An Example for Beef

If you wanted to heat a piece of unfrozen beef ribeye steak you would hold the ruler up to the beef. If the meat was 2.5 inches thick you would then cook it for 5 hours and 10 minutes. Remember, these are the minimum times needed, you can cook it for an hour or two longer if you aren't in a hurry.

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Common Temperatures

When you are heating your food you can use any temperature you want. Here are some of the ones I recommend most.

  • Beef, Lamb, Red Meat, Pork
  • Rare: 120°F to 129°F (49°C to 53.8°C)
  • Medium Rare: 130°F to 139°F (54.4°C to 59.4°C)
  • Medium: 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C)
  • Well Done: Above 145°F (62.8°C)
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Extra-rare chicken breast: 136°F-139°F (57.7°C-59.4°C)
  • Traditional chicken breast: 140°F-150°F (60°C-65.6°C)
  • Fish
  • Slightly Warmed: 104°F (40°C)
  • Firm Sashimi: 110°F (43.3°C)
  • Lightly Flaky and/or Firm: 120°F (48.9°C)
  • Very Flaky and/or Firm :132°F (55.5°C)
  • Chewy: 140°F (60°C)

For beef, if you are unsure of the specific temperature in the ranges above you like your meat cooked, I recommend starting with 125°F (51.6°C) for rare, 131°F (55°C) for medium rare and 140°F (60°C) for medium.

For pork, my favorite temperature for sous vide pork is 140°F (60°C), though I sometimes cook it lower when I want to put a solid sear on it. Most people were raised on pork cooked above 155°F or 165°F (68.3°C or 73.8°C) and can't stand having any pink on the inside so 145°F (62.8°C) might work best for them. I generally recommend cooking pork long enough to pasteurize it.

For chicken, I've found 141°F (60.5°C) to be the sweet spot for me between maintaining a lot of moisture while still really tasting like a "normal" chicken breast.

Warning: Just a reminder that if you drop the temperature below 128°F (53.3°C) you are in the danger zone, not killing any pathogens, and shouldn't cook the steak for more than an hour or two.

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The Columns Explained

The Heating and Cooling Times specify how long it takes a piece of meat, with a particular shape, to heat all the way to the center. The center of the meat will come up to about 1° less than the water bath temperature in the time given. The final degree takes a much longer time and generally does not contribute to the final taste or texture of the food.

The temperature of the water bath does not affect the heating time, but remember that you should not cook food at less than 130°F (54°C) for more than 4 hours. If you want to cook a piece of food at a lower temperature, you can cut it into smaller portions so it heats more quickly. The times shown are also minimum times and food can be, and sometimes needs to be, left in for longer periods in order to fully tenderize the meat. 

The "Heating Beef, Lamb, Pork" section shows times both for frozen and refrigerated foods. These times generally do not vary much as the water bath temperature changes. These times usually apply to all types of meats except fish, though chicken and poultry are almost always cooked to pasteurization and have been left off for clarity. If you have some other type of meat (moose, bear, rabbit, etc.) you can use these heating charts as long as you remember it is not pasteurizing the meat.

If you are cooking food and then storing it in the refrigerator or freezer, the "Cooling Meat" section gives the times that food needs to be in an ice bath before the center is chilled out of the danger zone. Make sure the ice bath is at least one half ice.

The "Fish" column gives the heating times for fatty fish. Remember that these times will not pasteurize the fish.

The Pasteurization Times let you know how long you need to cook something for it to be effectively pasteurized and safe to eat. Like the Heating and Cooling times, they are not exact, but are also on the longer side for safety reasons.

With so many temperatures included it is easy to interpolate the times for any temperature you want.

For even more timing information, you can check out my detailed cooking by thickness charts.

Don't have a Sous Vide Timing Ruler yet? Pick one up today and start cooking with confidence!

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