Can I Sous Vide Using A Ziploc Bag?

You are here because you want to figure out whether or not you can utilize the bags you already have laying around in your kitchen and thereby sous vide using a Ziploc bag. Trust me, the answer is here – but first a bit on what sous vide actually means as this will provide part of the answer as to whether you can sous vide using a Ziploc bag.

Can I Sous Vide Using A Ziploc Bag?

The word “sous vide” is French and means under vacuum. Thereby it implies that you vacuum your meat (or food item in general) in a plastic bag while removing all the air. However it has been proven many times, that other means can be used rather than the traditional vacuum packing method. For more information on the origin of sous vide, check out our article on who invented sous vide.

We have read about great results using a container, such as a glass jar, and then lowering the container into water. Essentially what you are looking for is to ensure that the item you want to sous vide, is fully covered by the water. This ensures a consistent and even spread of temperature to the item you are cooking.

So.. Can I Sous Vide Using A Ziploc Bag?

The short answer to your question “Can I Sous Vide Using A Ziploc Bag?” is yes. The longer answer is of course a little bit more complex.

Here on Sousvideity we tend to go the traditional route when we sous vide and utilize a vacuum sealer. This ensures are tight fit and removes all unnecessary air from our meat before placing it in the plastic container with the water bath.

While Ziploc bags can be used to accomplish this you will not be able to remove the same amount of air. However, while that is said, you should still be able to accomplish great results using a Ziploc Bag when cooking sous vide.

Are Ziploc Bags Safe For Sous Vide Cooking?

The answer here is, it depends. While Ziploc bags themselves should be safe for sous vide cooking, this is not a guarantee that other manufactures of easy-close bags are manufacturing their bags with food and human safe materials.

A couple of things to look out for when shopping for Ziploc bags for sous vide use: The bags should be BPA and dioxin-free. Also I would stay away from any bags made out of PVC. You should be able to find this information either on the product it self, or on the manufacturers website.

The Ziploc brand states on their website that all their bags are are both BPA and dioxin-free. This should bring some comfort to you, although it would be great to find another source than one of the largest manufacturers of food bags.

Luckily other such sources exist. According to the Modernist Cuisine the safest plastics to use with food are high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene. Polyethylene is commonly used in biology and chemistry labs for storing and the material has been extensively studied. This is the type of material that Ziploc bags and many other store-branded food bags are made from.

Obviously, since Ziploc bags are made out of plastics it will melt if subjected to too much heat. The polyethylene plastics typically used for making these bags will start to soften at around about 195 degrees °F or 90.6 degrees °C. Since we are never reaching those high temperatures as we sous vide cook, melting plastic should not be a concern of ours.

How To Use Ziploc Bags For Sous Vide

Using Ziploc bags for sous vide is an easy and very accessible way for you to start sous vide cooking. They are easy to get a hold off since almost all grocery shops have them in stock. Typically you will also find the Ziploc bags cheaper than traditional vacuum sheets or bags.

One of the issues with Ziploc bags compared to the traditional vacuum bags is that air will still be retained inside the bag. Luckily we have a great trick to minimizing the amount of air left in the bag when using Ziploc bags for sous vide.

Here’s what you can achieve with our little trick:

Water Displacement Method aka. Vacuum Without A Machine

Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 6

How to use the Water Displacement Method aka. vacuum without a machine.
Great trick if you sous vide with Ziploc bags.

Total time: 5 minutes

  1. Fill up a bowl with water

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 1

    First we start out by filling a bowl with water. Alternatively you can use your sink or any other container capable of holding onto water.

  2. Place your meat or ingredients in Ziploc bag

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 2

    Add all you contents to the Ziploc bag and ensure you leave up to 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters of space to the opening.

  3. Close the zipper (but not all the way)

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 3

    Almost close the bag fully, but leave a little bit of room for air to leave the bag. Now you are almost ready for the magic to happen.

  4. Submerge the Ziploc bag

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 4

    Now slowly, submerge the Ziploc bag into the water. Be sure to do this slowly.
    Leave just the zipper area above water.
    The pressure from the water will now force most of the air out.

  5. Close the Ziploc bag

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 5

    Before raising the Ziploc bag out of the water ensure that no more air can be released.
    Once the air have been release from the bag. Close the bag.
    Now you are ready to take it out of the water.

  6. Take the Ziploc bag out of the water

    Sous Vide Water Displacement Method Step 6

    Final step, take the Ziploc bag out of the water.
    You are now ready to place the bag in the container you will be using for sous vide.

Let us know in the comments below – have you tried to sous vide using a Ziploc bag or do you use the traditional vacuum method? Maybe you have gone away from plastic and only use glass jars?

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *