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Porterhouses are a steakhouse classic and for good reason! Consisting of part tenderloin and part strip they have a great variety of textures. They just need to be heated through, usually 2 to 4 hours for a single portion or 3 to 6 for a thicker one. Because part of it is tenderloin, they are more sensitive to overcooking than many cuts of beef.
The porterhouse and T-bone cuts are dynamic steaks from the short loin that contains both strip steak and tenderloin, separated by a bone running down the middle. They are a favorite cut for many people because you get buttery tenderloin and flavorful strip all in one package, plus a bone to gnaw on if that's your thing!
Porterhouse and T-bones are very similar, but the porterhouse has a bigger portion of tenderloin than a T-bone does. Most high-end steakhouses serve porterhouse steaks due to the larger tenderloin portion.
The porterhouse is often cut thick and cooked to feed two or more people, making it a great family-style steak. For example, Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a classic Italian preparation with an olive oil and herb rub that is usually cut 2 to 3 inches thick.
Porterhouses and T-bones are tender and just need to be heated through, usually 2 to 4 hours for a single portion or 3 to 6 for a thicker one. Because part of it is tenderloin, they are more sensitive to overcooking than many cuts of beef, so you don't want to let it go too long after it has been heated.
With components of tenderloin and strip, the porterhouse and T-bone can stand up well to sauces.
A lot of people want to know why sous vide is used for a porterhouse steak. It's a great question. Porterhouse steaks, in my opinion, are some of the harder ones to cook using traditional methods. The grill works pretty well, but with a pan fry, it can be really hard.
The first reason is because there's a bone running down the middle of it which sometimes makes the meat not lay flat on the searing or the grilling surface.
The second issue comes from a porterhouse steak not being just one kind of steak. Half of it is in fact a strip steak and the other half of it is a tenderloin. You can easily dry out the tenderloin side while the strip side can be cooking a little bit longer.
That's why I like to turn to sous vide. With sous vide I know that my porterhouse steak is going to be perfectly cooked all the way through, on both sides. Since the filet does dry out a little bit faster, using sous vide on the porterhouse steak allows me to pull it right as it's heated through.
I don't have to worry about overcooking one side or under cooking the other. My porterhouse steak is going to turn out perfectly cooked every time. I then just give it a quick sear and it's going to be a spectacular dinner for me and my wife.
People frequently ask me, "How do you sous vide a porterhouse steak? What's the process that goes into it?" It's actually pretty similar to all the other steaks that you might want to sous vide.
The first step in the process is to season your steak. Usually when I sous vide a porterhouse steak, I just season it with salt. Since I normally buy a higher quality of meat when I'm doing a porterhouse, I don't want to obscure the flavor with a heavy spice rub, marinade or seasoning. I want the meat to shine through.
But if you prefer to use spice rubs, then by all means do it! You can use that as well to season it before you sous vide your steak.
Once seasoned, you can then put the porterhouse steak into the sous vide bag. Just make sure that you keep it in a single layer, otherwise the timing changes because you're making the food thicker. When using the sous vide technique, it means you have to cook it longer.
If preparing a larger quantity, you can use several bags, so the meat is in a single layer.
Set the temperature of your sous vide machine to whatever your preferred porterhouse steak temperature is.
I usually like around 130°F (54.4°C), 131°F (55°C) for the lower end of medium rare. Some people prefer rare and that would be around 125°F (51.6°C) to 129°F (53.8°C). If you're a medium steak person, select about 135°F (57.2°C) to 140°F (60°C) and medium-well is above there.
I generally don't recommend going above 150°F (65.6°C), no matter how you like your steak done. That's about the highest temperature you can use and not really squeeze out all of the moisture from the meat.
I ran a temperature versus moisture experiment with chuck roast. I think the specific temperature was above 154.2°F (67.9°C) is when you lose around an extra 50% of juice from the meat right away. So keeping it around 150°F (65.6°C), even if you like a really, really well done steak is about the max sous vide temperature.
Like I said, I enjoy a medium-rare sous vide porterhouse steak, so I'm aiming for the 130°F (54.4°C) to 135°F (57.2°C) range. Since a porterhouse is already tender, you just need to throw it in the sous vide machine and heat it through. You can use my time and temperature charts to get the exact timing, but a good estimate is usually about an hour per inch of thickness.
However, if you're serving it to someone who is immuno-compromised, you can cook it a little bit longer to pasteurize it. This will help reduce some of the danger for them of eating a medium-rare steak.
Once the meat is done sous viding, pull it out of the water bath. I usually let mine cool for about 10 minutes either just on the cutting board or in an ice bath so I can get a better sear on it.
Dry the porterhouse steak off really, really well with some paper towels or dish cloths before you sear it over high heat. I usually use a cast iron pan, or I throw it on the grill, depending on the time of year and whatever kind of end flavor notes I want to add to it.
At this point, you're ready to serve, eat it and enjoy!
So that's really all there is making a sous vide porterhouse steak. Not only is it pretty easy to do, but it also turns out perfect every single time!
There's not a wide range of sous vide times and temperatures to use for porterhouse steaks. You're going to be in the steak-like range, which is anything below 150°F (65.6°C). The general range is about 125°F (51.6°C) to 130°F (54.4°C) for rare, 130°F (54.4°C) to 135°F (57.2°C) for medium rare, 135°F (57.2°C) to 140°F (60°C) for medium and then above there for well done.
I don't recommend ever going above 150°F (65.6°C) for steak because you start to lose a lot of the juices out of the meat. So, if you prefer well done steak, in my personal opinion I recommend you stop around 150°F (65.6°C). The end result will be a whole lot more moist and more tender while still giving you a nice barely-pink color in the middle. You can tell that it is a, a well-done steak at that point.
So how long do you need to sous vide a porterhouse steak? You really have 2 options. You can either heat it through, or you can pasteurize it.
For both of these, the timing depends on how thick your porterhouse steak is. A good estimate is about an hour per inch of thickness. You can use my handy Sous Vide Timing Ruler or you can look up exact times from my time and temperature charts.
You can also speed up the cook time some by about 30% shorter, you can do what's called Delta T cooking. You basically set your water bath to 2 degrees higher than you want your core temperature to end up at and you pull it out about 30% earlier. You can also use a probe to accomplish the same thing.
I go into a few more details about why sometimes you might want to consider using the probe in my article about Delta T cooking, which is at AFMeasy.com/probe.
I was recently asked "After sous viding a porterhouse steak, what do you considered the best way to put a good sear on it?" That's a really good question and it's something that I occasionally run into trouble with. Sometimes the bone running through the middle of the steak can make it really hard to get a good even sear across it.
I've mentioned before that this is one of the reasons I really like to use sous vide on a porterhouse steak. I know it is cooked all the way through before I get to the sear. It helps you eliminate a lot of those issues associated with searing sous vided food.
However, I like to use either the grill or the broiler on my oven turned up to a really high heat. I chill it in either cold water or an ice bath a little bit before I sear it just so I can give it a bit more of a crust. It allows me to give the sous vided porterhouse steak some crispiness and some of that really good flavor buildup on it.
With your very hot grill or broiler, you only want to sear it for 30 to 60 seconds per side normally. When you chill it a little bit, you can get away with maybe 1.5 to 2 minutes per side. That time difference allows you to really get a lot more flavor development around the outside of it.
To purchase high quality porterhouse steaks for special occasions, I always recommend turning to your local farmers and local butchers. It's fun to get to know them and buying local allows you to support your community.
But if you don't have local options, there are some online places with really good products.
Snake River Farms has amazing high-quality premium beef. I also like Porter Road, they provide some top-quality products at a lower price point, but it has a very good, really beefy, meaty flavor. In addition, I use Allen Brothers, who has an amazing a range of qualities from American Wagyu down to choice meats.
Between those 3 you can get pretty much whatever you're looking for. So I recommend checking those out once you've exhausted your local options.
People are always asking about this controversial subject which falls squarely in the realm of sous vide - "Should you sear before you sous vide a porterhouse steak?" This innocent "to pre-sear or not to pre-sear" question always starts a lively debate.
Some sous vide people enthusiastically say you should always pre-sear. Some people say you should never pre-sear. And then there are people like me who acknowledge that pre-searing has some benefits. But for steaks, I almost never do it.
I really can't tell the difference between a pre-sear and a pre-sear, post-sear combo. You need to sear it at the end anyway, so I don't worry about it too much.
If you like pre-searing, you think it's adding something to your flavor, or you can tell the difference, then go right ahead and do it. There is no right or wrong, only personal preferences. Just pre-sear the steak ahead of time, then after it's cooled off, seal it, and sous vide it. Make sure you sear it again before serving.
The procedure does not eliminate the need for a post-sear. You still want to make sure you get the crispiness and the crunchiness on your sous vide porterhouse steak crust.
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