June 21

Sous Vide VS Poaching | Guide to Making the Best of Each Cooking Process


Author: Ana Stanar
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Sous vide and poaching are two gentle cooking methods. Food is cooked evenly without overcooking or undercooking. However, these methods have some differences.

Sous vide vs poaching: In this guide, we will explore the differences between sous vide and poaching, including the cooking time, equipment needed, and the types of foods that are best suited for each method.

Key Takeaways

  • Sous vide relies solely on the water for cooking, whereas poaching allows for the use of various liquids like wine, water, melted butter, stock, or vegetable juice
  • Poaching is ideal for delicate foods such as fish, eggs, and fruits, while sous vide is suitable for both tough and delicate foods, effectively tenderizing tough cuts of meat
  • Sous vide typically requires hours to cook, while poaching is a quicker process, often taking only minutes.
  • In sous vide, food is not in direct contact with water, unlike poaching where the food is immersed in the liquid.
  • Sous vide food is cooked at lower temperatures ranging from 130–160°F or 55–71°C, while poaching usually cooks at around 160°F

What is Poaching?

Poaching is a cooking technique that makes use of a simmering liquid, such as water, melted butter, broth, or wine to cook food. The liquid is usually seasoned with herbs, spices, and other aromatics to infuse the food with flavor.

Poaching is typically used for delicate foods such as fish, chicken breasts, and eggs, and it is a great way to cook these foods without drying them out or making them tough.

The food is then cooked until it's done, which can vary depending on the type of food being poached. For example, eggs may take only a few minutes to poach, while a chicken breast may take closer to 20 minutes.

Poaching process

Equipment for Poaching

To poach food, you'll need a pan that's designed for poaching, called a poacher. Alternatively, you can use a regular saucepan or skillet, but you'll need to be careful to keep the liquid at a low temperature and avoid boiling it.

Sous Vide Cooking

This cooking method involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath using a sous vide cooker. The food is added spices such as pepper, and salt before being sealed so as to enhance its flavor.

The temperature of the water bath is set to a specific degree, usually 130–160°F or 55–71°C, and the food is cooked at that temperature for an extended period of time.

Sous vide cooking method is known for its ability to cook food consistently and evenly, while also preserving the natural flavors and nutrients of the food.

Sous vide cooking process

Sous Vide Vs Poaching

Sous Vide and Poaching Liquid

One major difference between sous vide and poaching lies in the cooking liquid. Sous vide cooking relies solely on water, allowing the ingredients to slowly cook in a controlled environment.

On the other hand, poaching offers greater versatility by allowing the use of various liquids. Whether it's wine, water, melted butter, stock, or vegetable juice, poaching lets you infuse the food with different flavors during the cooking process.

Sous Vide and Poached Food

Poaching is particularly well-suited for delicate foods such as fish, eggs, and even fruits. The gentle cooking process of poaching ensures that these foods are cooked to perfection, preserving their delicate textures and flavors.

In contrast, the sous vide cooking method excels at cooking both tough and delicate foods. Unlike traditional grilling, for example, its ability to maintain a consistent temperature for extended periods of time allows it to break down tough cuts of meat, resulting in incredibly tender and flavorful results.

Cooking Time

Cooking times are significantly different between sous vide and poaching. Sous Vide cooking is known for its longer cooking times, often taking several hours.

This extended cooking period allows tough food to break down and soften.

Poaching is a quicker cooking method, often requiring only minutes to achieve the desired level of doneness. This makes it a convenient choice for those seeking a faster cooking process.

Cooking Vessels

The equipment used in sous vide and poaching also differs. The Sous vide method requires to cook with a sous vide machine, a specialized cooker which also regulates the water temperature.

The food is put in a vacuum-sealed sous vide bag, sealed, and then submerged in a water bath. Poaching is a more straightforward technique that can be achieved with a pan and a stove. The food is gently simmered in the liquid of choice, allowing for even cooking.

Images of sous vide and poached food

Cooking Temperature

Temperature is another differentiating factor between sous vide and poaching. Sous vide dishes are cooked at lower temperatures, ranging from 130–160°F or 55–71°C.

This lower temperature ensures that the food cooks slowly and evenly. In contrast, poaching uses a higher temperature of around 160°F to 180°F, ensuring that the liquid is at a simmer. The higher temperature helps to cook the food more rapidly.

Direct Contact with Food

The direct contact of food with water sets these cooking techniques apart. With cooking sous vide, the food is sealed in a bag, ensuring that it is not in direct contact with the water.

This method provides a consistent environment for cooking, maintaining the food's moisture and flavors.

On the contrary, in poaching, the food is immersed directly in the liquid, allowing the flavors to infuse and the food to cook in direct contact with the cooking medium.


Images of various meals

What Is the Difference between Sous Vide and Poaching Eggs?

Eggs Cooked Sous Vide

There is a huge difference between sous vide and poaching eggs. With sous vide cooking, you vacuum-seal eggs in a bag and immerse them in a temperature controlled water bath. Sous vide eggs are cooked slowly and at low temperatures. This cooking technique ensures even doneness and custard-like texture throughout the egg.

Poaching Eggs

On the other hand, poaching eggs entails cracking them directly into simmering water with a bit of vinegar.

The eggs cook in their natural form, and the hot water helps to set the whites while keeping the yolks runny. Poached eggs have a tender, delicate texture and are often served with a creamy center.

What Are The 2 Methods For Poaching?

Poaching is a cooking method that involves gently simmering food in liquid. There are two types of poaching: shallow and deep poaching.

Shallow poaching involves placing food on top of aromatics such as herbs, and carrots, in a shallow pan then you add enough liquid to partially cover it but not fully submerge it. In deep poaching, food is fully submerged in liquid.

What Equipment Is Needed For Sous Vide and Poaching?

Sous vide cooking requires sous vide machines for precise temperature control, hence eliminating the risk of overcooking or undercooking. Poaching, on the other hand, typically relies on a simple pan to cook gently in liquid.

About the author

Ana Stanar

An Art Teacher, entrepreneur, and a mother of three, Ana considers cooking a form of art - pleasure for all senses as well as a process that requires creativity, passion and devotion. Since she leads a busy life, Ana just loves testing various kitchen appliances for Kitchen Gearoid, especially those that save her time while preparing food and cooking but also make every meal a masterpiece!


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