Sous Vide Burgers

I had read about the advantages of cooking burgers using the sous vide technique and have been looking for an opportunity to try it. Recently we had some of the kids & grandsons over for some fishing and dinner, so I decided it would be an excellent chance!

Why sous vide?
It’s so easy to just throw some burgers on the grill, give them a couple of flips and serve them up! Well, how many times have you undercooked or worse, overcooked them ending up with dry, chewy or crumbly burgers? The grill temp can vary from one cook to the next and certainly from one area of the grill surface to another, giving inconsistent results. How about juicy, perfectly cooked burgers with pink insides? Yes, pink ‘store-bought’ hamburger meat, but safe from any bacterial contamination. Sous vide is the route to these results.

How Sous Vide works:
(1) Sous vide (French for under vacuum) is a method of cooking protein or vegetables in vacuum-sealed bags in a temperature-controlled water bath. This method is used in many high-end steak restaurants for rapid cooking of perfectly cooked steaks – remove it from the water bath (maybe 125-130*), sear it briefly on the grill and serve it to the customer.

(2) Restaurant quality sous vide machines can be purchased for home use (though they are expensive and take up a good bit of counter space). There are a few smaller precision immersion sous vide products on the market that are more convenient and less costly. I have the original Anova model (they now make Bluetooth and WiFi-compatible versions). Sansaire makes a similar product and there is a WiFi-only product called Joule. These all clamp to the side of a large pot or plastic tub and work on the principle of an immersion heater with tightly-controlled temperature and a fan to circulate the water, ensuring even temperature throughout the water bath.

(3) Food safety: Pasteurization of meat (reduction of the harmful bacteria in the meat) is based on a combination of internal temperature PLUS the length of time it is maintained at that temperature. For example, from FDA pasteurization charts hamburger meat is safe if cooked at 135* for 27.33 min., while it only takes 5.19 sec. at 160* internal temp. The beauty of sous vide is the ability to maintain an accurate water bath temperature for extended period of time, thus allowing one to pasteurize meat at a lower temperature, which when combined with a finishing sear, produces juicy, tender results that would be difficult to obtain otherwise.

Sous Vide Burgers:
For the burgers, I purchased a 4# pack of ground chuck (80/20) from Sam’s Club. I formed the meat into eight 8 oz. balls, then shaped these into seven, thick 4” wide patties & two 4 oz. child patties. I pressed a dimple in the middle of each patty to help them keep their shape while on the grill, then generously seasoned them with Cluck & Squeal Beef Specific rub. I carefully placed four patties each into gallon freezer ziplock bags, compressed the air out by immersing in a sink full of water, and placed them in the sous vide water bath which was at 133*. I placed serving spoons between the bags to keep them weighted and separated for better water circulation.


After 60-70 minutes I removed the bags and let them cool to room temperature (to help maintain their shape when grilling) while preparing the grill. In the following picture, they are patiently waiting for the grill:

I prepared my large Big Green Egg (BGE) for a direct cook at 350-400* with the grid at the fire ring level and Grill Grates on the grid. At a dome temp of 400*, the Grill Grates measured 500* on an infared (IR) thermometer. I seared the burgers for about 90 sec. on one side, flipped and seared another 90 sec. on the other side.

Love my Grill Grates!

I then flipped once more and added bleu cheese. At this point I closed the bottom vent and let the ambient heat soften the cheese.


After a minute or so, I topped them with previously sautéed mushrooms, allowing them to warm for another 30-45 sec., then removed from the grill.


(I apologize for forgetting to take a picture of a cut burger, because the inside was juicy and pink throughout)!

Guests made burgers or ate like hamburger steaks.  I heard a comment: “This is the best burger ever“!

Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 8

4 lbs ground chuck 
Favorite hamburger seasoning
Fresh bleu cheese (or other cheese)
Optional – sautéed mushrooms, peppers, etc.

(1) Prepare the sous vide water bath per the instructions with the sous vide immersion heater and set the temperature for 133*F.
(2) Form meat into 8 oz. balls, then shape into 1″ thick patties and make dimples in the center of one side. Season well on both sides.
(3) Carefully place the patties in gallon ziplock bags (4 per bag) and immerse in water, squeezing the air out before sealing. Place the bags in the sous vide water bath, separating them with a utensil, if needed to allow for good water flow around the bags. Set the timer for 60 minutes or up to 90 minutes.
(4) When the meat is done, remove the bags from the water bath and rest on the counter to let them approach room temperature while you are preparing the grill.
(5) Prepare the BGE (or other grill) for a direct cook at 400* or so. Grill the burgers for 45-90 sec. on each side, then make one last flip before adding the cheese. Close down the vents to let the ambient heat soften the cheese, then add any mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc. on top. 
(6) Remove from the grill and serve immediately (a rest is not necessary when using the sous vide method).

Hot-tubbed Steak


There are multiple ways to cook an excellent steak on the grill. In today’s post I will describe one of my favorite, simple ways to produce a perfectly cooked steak using a technique called “hot-tubbing” combined with a quick, hot sear.

Hot tubbing’ is a po’ man’s version of Sous Vide, which is a recently popular home cooking method. Sous vide is French for ‘under vacuum’ and it involves placing vacuum-sealed foods (meat, chicken, fruit, vegetable, etc) in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time, then finishing the food on a grill, a griddle or a skillet. I will have more information in a subsequent post on the advantages and disadvantages of sous vide cooking.

Back to hot-tubbing….. Before I ever heard of sous vide, I saw many people on the BGE forum preheating their steaks in a water bath, then searing on the BGE. The principle being that you basically ‘cook’ the steak through and through during the water bath period, then only sear it at the end. The final result is a steak that is the same doneness from edge to edge – not one that is well done on the outside 1/4″ or so, then medium well, then medium rare in the middle. A hot-tubbed (or SV) steak is medium rare (or your choice of doneness) from the outside sear on one side to the sear on the opposite side.



The first step is to vacuum seal the steak. Many people have vacuum seal units like Food Saver, Game Saver, etc. they use for freezing steaks bought in quantity or cut from larger (sub primal) cuts like whole ribeye, tenderloin, or sirloin. In that case the steak is already in a vacuum bag, so it only needs to be thawed in the bag before hot tubbing. With a fresh steak, one can either use their vacuum sealer to bag it, or use a zip lock-style bag. With the zip lock bag, one seals all but about a 1/2″ corner, then submerges the bag into water, forcing the air to the top and quickly closes the bag before it goes completely under the water. The water pressure will collapse the bag around the steak and create an almost perfect vacuum bag. One can season the steak before it goes in the bag, or it can be seasoned after it comes out of the water bath prior to searing. If the bag tends to float, a small saucer on top of it will hold it under water.

The following pictures are from an 8-week, wet-aged ribeye steak I recently hot tubbed and seared on my Mini Egg.


My hot tap water is about 110*, so I usually mix it to get around 100* in my sink. The steak stays in the water bath for 45-60 minutes. In the meantime, I get the grill ready for a direct cook at 500-600*. I remove the steak from the bag (it usually measures 86-95* internal), season, then sear it for 2 minutes on each side. If it is not to my desired internal temperature, I will cook longer, flipping if one side starts to get too done. I might even close the top and bottom vents on the EGG and let it continue to cook until the desired doneness is reached. Hot-tubbed and sous vide steaks do not require a post-cook rest period and can be served immediately from the grill.


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1-1.25 pound steak (ribeye, sirloin, flat iron, etc)
Steak seasoning of choice

(1) If using a previously vacuum-sealed steak (thaw if frozen), place the bagged steak in a hot water bath (about 105*) for 45-60 minutes. If using a fresh steak, apply the seasonings, then either vacuum seal or evacuate the air in a zip lock bag by submerging under water, forcing out the air before sealing. Place in the water bath like above.
(2) Prepare grill for a direct, hot cook (500-600*).
(3) Remove the steak from the bag, season if needed, and then place it on a hot grill for 2 minutes per side. If not quite done to your preference, leave it on until done, flipping a time or two to prevent burning, or shut down the grill (close the top and bottom vents) until it’s done.
(4) The steak can also be seared on a griddle (grill or stove) or in a heavy skillet if desired.
(5) You can serve immediately, or cover and rest until ready to serve.