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Ribeye is my favorite steak cut! I tend to cook it until heated through, usually 2 to 4 hours, at 131°F (55°C). It is a very fatty cut though so some people like to use a slightly higher temperature, by 3 to 5 degrees. I prefer to finish it by chilling it in an ice bath for 5 to 10 minutes and then throwing it on a scorching hot grill.
Ribeye is hands down my favorite cut of meat and it is what I order every time I go to a steakhouse. It is tender but filled with flavorful marbling that breaks down into a mouthwateringly tasty meal.
It is cut from the rib roast area and can also be known as rib eye, rib steak, and prime rib steak. It is located in the rib primal, which also has the back ribs.
Because it is such a rich and heavily marbled cut, it is packed with flavor and it is the go-to cut for many steakhouses. The rib roasFt it comes from also ages very well, making dry aged ribeye a very common cut to find.
A good ribeye will be full of marbling without having more than one or two large chunks of fat on the inside. It will often have a fat cap or bone on one end, which will not affect the timing of the cook.
Even though I tend to use my standard temperatures on it, ribeye is a very fatty cut, so some people like to use a slightly higher temperature than they usually use on steaks, by about three to five degrees.
Ribeye is tender so it only needs to be heated through, usually 2 to 4 hours for an average one. However, ribeye does have a lot of bite to it so it is fine going for a few hours longer without any negative results.
Due to the high fat content, finishing the ribeye with a great sear is critical. Ribeye is one of the few cuts that I almost always chill first in an ice bath before searing. This allows it to get a better crust and reduce a lot more of the fat.
When I eat ribeye I generally don’t need a sauce, but when I use one I look for something on the lighter and more acidic side. This helps cut the fattier flavor of the ribeye.
That's a good question. Ribeye steaks are a "controversial", for lack of a better word, cut of meat to sous vide because it contains so much fat. During a traditional cooking process a lot of the fat is broken down. Since sous vide struggles to replicate this action, why should you sous vide ribeye steaks?
Depending on the type of cow your ribeye came from, sous vide is not always the best choice, especially if it's a thinner ribeye. If my ribeye is an inch thick or less, I almost always just throw it on the grill to quickly heat it up and let it render down some of the fat.
But I do use sous vide, when the pieces of ribeye are thicker and then it shines.
I know you can do reverse sears. You can do a lot of different things to try to cook through a thick steak, but using sous vide makes the process dead simple. So anything over an inch in thickness I'll sous vide.
I use a slightly different process for sous vide ribeye than I do for other steaks. For this one, I'll fully cook the ribeye through sous vide, fully chill it in cold water or an ice bath and then reheat it using whatever traditional searing method that I prefer. This technique allows me to get a better crust on the outside and render some more of the fat that you would get with the traditional process.
But because the inside of the ribeye is already heated to the perfect temperature, I don't have to worry about heating it all the way through. This allows me to ensure that it is perfectly cooked while still having a really, really flavorful outside on my sous vide ribeye steak.
The best way to dive into this question is to first look at what temperature to use and then address the timing for sous viding a ribeye steak.
The temperature is going to be whatever steak like temperature you prefer. For a ribeye, I prefer doing around 130°F (54.4°C), 131°F (55°C) which is at the low end of medium rare doneness scale.
The general range is the same for all steaks. About 120°F to 130°F (48.9°C to 54.4°C) rare, 130°F to 135°F (54.4°C to 57.2°C) or 138°F (58.9°C) for medium rare. Between 138°F to 145°F (58.9°C to 62.8°C) for a medium and above that, you're looking at well done.
I recommend not going above 150°F (65.6°C), 154°F (67.8°C) because at that point you really start to lose a lot of moisture. So, there's a cutoff line around 154°F (67.8°C), below that you have a well done steak, but it's still has some juiciness to it. However, above that, you squeeze out a lot more of the moisture just by crossing that threshold.
For ribeye cuts of steak, one thing some people like to do is cook it at a higher temperature than they cook other steaks at. So if they like medium rare and they might normally do 130°F (54.4°C), they might do 135°F (57.2°C) for ribeye. We're not talking a drastic increase, but a little bit higher to render just a little more of its fat.
As for timing, it's all about heating it through or pasteurizing it. Heating it through all depends on the thickness of the meat. It's normally about 1 hour per inch of thickness, but you can get the specifics at Sous Vide Cooking Times by Thickness, they'll get you down to the minute.
The other option is you can pasteurize it. If you're serving the ribeye steak to someone who is immuno-compromised, if the meat has been blade tenderized, or if you don't know if it's been blade tenderized, then you may want to cook it long enough to pasteurize it.
This can be a great way to ensure safety on the inside of the meat, not just on the outside, like you would normally be able to do through a traditional cooking method. It's another benefit of sous vide, you can pasteurize it all the way through without overcooking the food at all.
And finally, on the timing of sous vide, while a ribeye steak is a tender cut, it has a lot of bite and chew to it. So, going longer on the cooking time, doesn't really matter very much. You have several hours of leeway before you would even notice a difference in the tenderization of the meat.
Comparing this cut to a sous vide filet mignon, if you go for an extra 2 or 3 hours, you really start to lose the structure of the meat. A ribeye can be sous vided for a much longer time than a filet.
When I sous vide prime rib for Christmas, I'll often go 6 to 10 hours for it to heat through. And since we're opening gifts and enjoying other family activities, I don't really worry about the timing. I know it's going to turn out perfectly cooked every single time!
One other thing to consider is using what's called Delta T cooking. This really comes into play if you have a thicker piece of meat, something that's 2 inches, 3 inches thick. At that thickness, you're talking 6 to 7 hours or more to heat the meat all the way through. Using Delta T cooking would shorten the time needed significantly.
For this technique, you set your water bath at 2 to 3 degrees higher than you want your core temperature of the food to end up at. So if you like your steaks at 131°F (55°C), then that's what you want it to be. You instead set your water bath to 133°F (56.1°C), 134°F (56.6°C).
This small change in temperature will shave about 30 to 40% off your cook time. It's amazing. That's because those last 2 degrees seem to really take forever when you're heating your food. That's 30% of the cooking time is spent getting the temperature up the last 2 degrees.
So if you set your bath a little bit higher, especially if for something like ribeye, you're never going to be able to tell the difference between those temperatures, and it's going to shave off a lot of your cooking time.
So what's the best way to sear a ribeye after you have sous vided it? I use a slightly different method for ribeye most of the time than I do for other steaks. I chill a ribeye even longer than normal.
Most steaks after the sous vide time is completed, I'll let sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes to cool a little bit. Or even put the unopened sous vide bag in some cold tap water for a few minutes and that gives me a little bit longer sear.
But for a sous vided ribeye steak I do that even longer. Often, I'll fully chill it in an ice bath until I can put it in the refrigerator. Then I can pull it out at a later time and reheat it using one of the traditional cooking methods, either using a cast iron pan or putting it on the grill.
Heating the ribeye from that cold temperature allows me to really develop an amazing crust on it without overcooking it. I already know the middle of the steak has been cooked to 130°F (54.4°C), so I'm not worried about having to raise the middle temperature up that much.
I can focus on getting a good crust and once I've done that, the inside's warm and that's all I really care about.
But searing it this way renders a lot of the fat, adds a better crust and provides a lot more flavor to the sous vide ribeye steak than it does if you just do a 30 second sear on each side, straight from the sous vide machine.
The only caveat comes when I am doing a thicker piece of meat, that's 2 inches, 3 inches, or if I'm sous viding a slab of prime rib In those cases, I'll use sous vide to reheat it to about 100°F (37.8°C), 110°F (43.3°C) before I can sear them.
This allows the thicker steaks to fully heat up all the way through on the inside so I can still focus on the outside crust.
Even just trying to heat a 2 or 3 inch piece of meat through on a cast iron pan, it's going to be hard to not overcook a wide swath of it. When you reheat it with sous vide first, it eliminates a lot of those issues.
The other day I was asked by someone who had a 2 to 3 inch thick piece of ribeye if they could smoke it. Smoking it is how they traditionally cook it. And the answer is yes. Sous vide and smoke work amazing together.
What I prefer to do is I will fully sous vide the ribeye. You can do this with any cut of steak. I'll sous vide it first, and then fully chill it down. At this point, I will put it on the smoker or on the grill and I will smoke it back up to below the temperature that I sous vided it at.
I like 130°F (54.4°C) for my ribeye. So, I will sous vide it to 130°F (54.4°C) and make sure it's heated all the way through. Next, I'll fully chill it down, using the three-step chilling method.
Then I will put it on the smoker and reheat it up to normally about 120°F (48.9°C), 125°F (51.6°C). It doesn't have to be exact at this point because it's already cooked through. When I pull it off the smoker, I have a great smoky, perfectly cooked sous vide ribeye steak to enjoy.
The answer is yes! I sous vide frozen food, including ribeye steaks, all the time.
I often get my sous vide ribeye steaks from online butchers, like Snake River Farms, Porter Road, or Allen Brothers, and almost all the time it comes frozen. I have to admit that I rarely plan ahead, so I never think to put the ribeye steaks in the fridge days ahead of time to ensure it's going to be thawed for the sous vide machine.
So I first take it out of the packaging that it came in. Often the original packaging has small holes in it, so a leaky bag during the cooking process is a likely problem. This also allows me to add salt at least, if not some other seasonings to it, before I sous vide the ribeyes.
Now that it's removed from the packaging, I reseal it in my own sous vide pouches. Then I just throw it into the water bath. You need to add about 40 to 50% to the length of your cook time.
For more specific cook times, you can use my Sous Vide Cooking Times by Thickness charts that have a cook from frozen column included.
The longer cooking time isn't a bad trade off since you don't need to stand there watching the sous vide machine work. It also removes the need to really thaw or defrost the meat in the refrigerator ahead of time, which is a big benefit for people like me!
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Do you have experience cooking ribeye steak? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Looking for more beef? Check out the sous vide beef time and temperatures for all the sous vide information you need.
Here are several of the Beef Ribeye Steak recipes that I recommend trying out.