Top 5 Best Sous Vide Bags for Safety and Reusability

Often people will ask me “What bags should I use for sous vide?” but what is so great about sous vide is that we have a large array of choices to pick from.  The physical barrier you will need when circulating foods in a sous vide setup is what we are going to discuss today in my  Top 5 Favorite Sous Vide Baging Methods. That’s right, there are more options than what you probably know of for packaging sous vide foods.

This list has been build for you starting with my favorite options, and as you move down the page you will see other possibilities that you can try at home to see what you like the best!  There are things to consider such as cost, performance, reusability, and reliability.  However, this is a personal preference situation so use what works best for your situation.  Before we start this list, however, I want to share some safety information.

Are sous vide plastic bags safe?

The short answer – Yes, sous vide plastic bags are safe.  However, do the due diligence when shopping for your sous vide.  People often hold concerns about using un-safe plastics.  Whether they are wary about high temperatures melting the seal, or BPA being used in their plastics.

Bisphenol A is what is often known as BPA and it can be harmful to humans as it is able to imitate our bodies hormones.  Interfering with production, secretion, transportation, function, actions, and elimination of our natural hormones.  To help combat against this, make sure to look for food-grade products, specifically ones labeled BPA-free.  Most products you will find that are food-grade will be safe for you to use.   On the bright side, if the plastics in our food packaging is safe to use, then you won’t have to worry about the plastic material used in your water bath container.  It can not leach through the food-grade barriers.

If you are buying vacuum sealer bags, you won’t have to worry because they have been made for food.  For those who prefer ziplock baggies and other packaging methods, just keep an eye out for the BPA-free logos.

Vacuum Sealer Bags for Sous Vide
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Vacuum sealer bags are my go-to option for cooking.  They are safe and fairly easy to obtain.  Depending on what size you decide to purchase, or whether they are sold as custom roles, or specific sizes will cause the price to fluctuate lightly.  However they are the best option when cooking sous vide.  This is because they allow for almost all of the air within the bag to be removed, when used in conjunction with a Vacuum Sealer.  Check out my post here to find out how I get bags on a budget, generally less than $5.00.

Reusable Vacuum Seal Bags for Sous Vide
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With just a bit more cost to them than ziplock bags, but cheaper than a vacuum sealer setup, these sous vide friendly vacuum packaging bags are a great middle option.  They are reusable. Making them a nice alternative to normal vacuum bags, and unlike ZipLock bags, they don’t require the water displacement method.  Instead, the package provides a hand pump which can be used with the bags to remove the air from within them. Plus, they are food grade safe by being BPA-free.

Ziplock Bags for Sous Vide
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Safe (when under 150°F)
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Sous vide most definitely can be achieved on a budget, and to help supply those frugal cooks.  Ziplock bags will be a useful tool.  They are cheap and relatively reusable for at least a few cooks per bag.  They are sealable and using the water displacement method, you can achieve a relatively “vacuum” packaged cook.

How do you use the water displacement method?
Step 1.) Place food items into a ziplock bag.
Step 2.) Slowly lower the bag into the water with the seal kept open.  Do this until the water line is about 1 inch from the top of the bag.
Step 3.) Seal the bag.

 

It is simple and effective enough because the water forces the air upwards as it fills the gaps around the food inside of the bag.  Although its not as effective as a vacuum sealer, it will get the job done.  Please note, with a water temperature over 150°F, there is a potential to force the zipper lock to fail, i.e. water can get inside of the bag and ruin your food.  I suggest using some sort of binder clip or sous vide friendly way to secure the bag to the wall of your bath.  (More solutions discussed below).

Stasher Bags for Sous Vide
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These bags are a form of even more so, reusable ZipLocks.  This alternative uses a pinch lock system to close off the seal and I find that quite neat.  But I’d be worried that the pinch lock could easily be undone with high heat, the same as regular ziplock bags.  On the bright side, you can put them in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.  One more downside I want to include is that I dont think you’re going to get a great water displacement using these bags.  Made out of food-grade silicone, they seem to be just a bit too stiff to allow a good amount of air to be removed.

Silicone Bags for Sous Vide
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These silicone bags are quite a unique product.  Designed in Chicago, they come in a package of 2 large or 2 extra-large bags that can hold up to 2 gallons of liquid.  If you want to see a recipe I used these bags on, check out my “Sous Vide Honey Roasted Pork Chop”.  They do work, and the displacement method is eligible to remove the air.  However, I often found that because the tops can not be sealed you will need to continuously monitor the cook to ensure they have not fallen into the water.  Now I use food clips to secure them to the sides.  But I also use the supplied silicone “zip tie” which strings through the hole on the center of the opening, tying both ends closed.  Partially…  This style bag has landed this spot on my list because I prefer the other options above over using these bags.  For a quick recipe however, preferably a single serving that I want to take care of quickly, I may opt to use these bags as my first option.  They too are dishwasher safe & BPA-free.

Other Options for Sous Vide

There are some situations where a bag just wont cut it.  From Egg bites to cream brulee, here are a few other options for sous vide style food packaging.

Canning/ Mason Jars for Sous Vide
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Maybe you just want large egg bites, or something special served in a jar.  The sous vide cooking method is a magical tool that allows for a plethora of dishes to be made.  In the case where a bag  wont cut it, you can use a basic mason jar instead!

Tiny Jars for Sous Vide
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These jars are great for the famous Egg Bites recipe floating around the internet.  I love them and their versatility allows you to use them for more than sous vide!  A double whammy!

Why are my Bags Floating? Is this fixable?

Have you found that your bags are floating?  No matter the way you choose to package your food, this may become a common occurrence in your setup.  The reason being is that there are air pockets trapped within the bag that is causing the buoyancy to be at a high enough level to float towards the surface of the water.  It’s not an ideal situation, but there are a few things we can do to combat this problem. Of course, attempt getting a better vacuum where less air is within the bag.  If this is not possible here are a few other options to consider.

In Conclusion:

Plastic sous vide bags are completely safe to use for sous vide, so long as they are BPA-free.  Pay attention and purchase the right product for you.  We think sous vide bags, the vacuum packable bags are absolutly the best option for sous vide cooking.  They cost just every so slightly more, but will achieve the best surface contact area for the water to cook your food evenly.  If you choose to use an alternative, you can do so safely aswell with BPA-free silicone and plastic ziplock bags.  Just be sure to do the best you can with the water displacement method.  Lastly, if your bags are floating, i’ve provided you with four options to combat this.

Good luck cooking, make sure to leave a comment if you’re having problems, or have a suggestion for a new bag!

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