Why Drying Your Meat After Sous Vide is Key to a Good Sear

When it comes to searing your food after sous vide, I see people make the same mistake time and time again. They wonder why they always smoke out their apartments and they don't get a great crust on their food. I'm going to share with you why that is.

Sous vide pan torch sear 4

Today I wanted to dive into something that I see a lot of people do wrong when they're trying to sear their food after they've sous vided it...and that's forgetting to dry it off.

It's such a critical component of getting a quick, hot sear on your food. The biggest goal you're trying to accomplish when you're searing your food after sous vide is to keep it as quick as possible.

The inside of your food's already perfectly cooked, and so you don't want to raise that internal temperature any. One of the keys to do that is to make sure the outside of the food is dry before starting to sear.

The moisture on the outside of your food has to boil off first. At boiling temperatures, you are not browning your food. You want to get that nice crust on there. And as long as there is moisture, it's not going to develop.

So the key for how to maximize your sear after sous vide is to remove that moisture. This is true whether you are searing with a cast iron pan, searing on a grill after sous vide, or searing with a sous vide torch.

How Do You Get the Moisture Off Your Food Before Searing?

Drying off your food is not a hard thing to do. And there are a variety of different ways you can accomplish it.

Drying after sous vide 7

Dry Your Food with Paper Towels

I use paper towels a lot of the time. I know almost everyone has them in their house and they're easy to use. So, pull some off and really dry the outside of the food.

I put a few paper towels on a plate, add the food to them, then take several more and pat them dry until they stop pulling up moisture.

When drying with paper towels you will instantly see how much moisture is still on the outside and gets sucked off. I usually have to go through 4 or 5 towels before it stops getting soaked!

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Dry Your Food with a Designated Dish Cloth

Another thing you can do is what I do for most of my food at home. I dry the food with designated dish cloths. They are just regular dish cloths that I bought for the purpose of drying off sous vide food.

The dish cloths do a great job of taking most of the moisture off of the food. They're also reusable so I can throw them in the washing machine afterwards, and I'm not going through a lot of paper towels which is really nice.

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Other Ways to Keep Your Meat Dry

While removing the moisture using paper towels or dish cloths is critical, here area few more tips to ensure that the meat stays dry.

Wait to Salt Until Ready to Sear

The other thing to keep it dry is not salting until right before searing. If you are going to salt first, do it right before you put it in the pan.

A lot of times it doesn't matter too much when you're cooking traditionally. But with sous vide, that salt can draw some of the moisture out, and that's going to make it harder to sear. So, save the salt until right before it goes in the pan or salt it before you put it in the sous vide bag.

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Dry the Food in the Refrigerator

If you're really looking to fully dry out the outside, one of the things you can do is put it on a wire rack and put it uncovered in the fridge overnight.

Now this is overkill for a lot of sous vide steaks, sous vide pork, and even sous vide chicken. But when it comes to things like chicken wings or things with skin on it, it's a great way to dry them out fully.

Sous vide buffalo wings 12

It's one of my keys to making sous vide chicken wings. I cook them with the sous vide process, then I'll take them out and dry them off using paper towels or dish cloths.

Next, I'll put them in the fridge overnight uncovered, and that evaporates all the rest of the moisture from the outside. When I go to deep fry them or cook them in some oil, it's not spitting. There's not moisture on the outside, so the skin gets crispy really, really fast.

As I said, it's overkill for a lot of different preparations. But for some of those where you really want that crunchy outside, especially things that have skin on it, it's a great way to maximize the dryness before you go to sear them.

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So now you know that the next time you go to put a sear on your food, take a few minutes, dry it off really well, and you're going to see a huge improvement in your searing process.

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If you like this you can get more than 85 inspiring recipes to get you on your way to sous vide success. It's all in my best selling book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide - Get Your Copy Today!

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All tags for this article: Sous Vide, Sous Vide Searing, Sous Vide Searing Equipment


Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger 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.
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