Sous Vide vs. Boiling: Are They the Same Thing or Different?

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When it comes to cooking, boiling and slow cooking are two popular names. While boiling is an old age tradition, sous vide is the new addition that has lit a fire in the kitchen with excitement and thrill.

However, one common question that most people ask is whether boiling and sous vide are the same. After all, both are cooking food immersing in water. So, here comes the million-dollar puzzle – boiling vs. sous vide.

No, boiling and sous vide are not the same. Sous vide is precise temperature-based cooking, but, in boiling, you cannot control the temperature. Sous vide doesn’t include direct contact between water and ingredients as food remains in a sealed bag. But in boiling, food and water have direct contact.

Along with them, there are other differences too. So, we are here to end the brawl of Sous Vide Vs. boiling once and for all. Stay with us.

Sous Vide Vs. Boiling: A Quick Comparison

Sous Vide Vs. Boiling

Put a pan full of water on the cooker, take some ingredients, and throw them in the water! Do you really think cooking is all about these steps? Especially when we are talking about sous vide and boiling.

There’s a common misconception that boiling and sous vide are similar – putting some ingredients in boiling water and cook. However, it’s not that simple. In fact, both are different on multiple levels.

If you ask me where the differences are, answering in one line will not be justified. Instead, let me give a quick sneak peek at the differences between sous vide and boiling before going for a detailed discussion.

Point Of DifferencesSous Vide Boiling 
TemperatureBetween 120-180°F212°F (100°C)
MethodLow-temperature cookingBoiling o the point of liquid 
OvercookingNever overcooks Tends to overcook 
Flavor and MoistureResults in the natural flavor and texture.Results in less flavor
The OutcomeTender and juicy.Tender and shreddy but not juicy
Suitable For.Suitable for most – meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, etc.Suitable for vegetables and meat; however, you can’t boil fish and seafood for long.
Retention Of NutrientsAll nutrients remain intact as vacuum sealing stops oxidation.Less nutrients for evaporation.
Water ConnectionNo direct connection between food and water.Food comes in direct contact with water.
Use of WaterNeeds less water.Needs more water.
Convenience‘Set and forget” like convenient and good for mass cooking.Need close monitoring.

7 Significant Differences Between Boiling and Sous Vide

7 Significant Differences Between Boiling and Sous Vide

We already know that sous vide and boiling are not similar. But to be precise, we have 7 significant differences that make the two methods differ the most.

1. Heat 

The heat used in both processes makes them different from each other.

In sous vide, the temperature is precise, and it is lower than boiling temperature. In sous vide cooking, the water does not actually boil. The goal is to provide a certain amount of heat to cook the meal properly.

On the other hand, boiling involves a lot of heat. The temperature is always the boiling point of water (220 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. Temperature Control And Consistency

Sous vide has a precise temperature. You can control the temperature according to your requirement. So, the heat is evenly distributed everywhere. It’s the best part of sous vide cooking.

On the other hand, in boiling, there is no control over temperature. The temperature gradually increases until the water reaches boiling point. So there is no consistency of heat too.

3. Water Contact

In Sous vide, there is no direct water contact with the food. The food is tightly sealed in a biodegradable bag and then put in water.

On the other hand, while boiling, we directly put the food into the water. As a result, there is direct contact with water.

4. The Result

When cooking food, if you get the perfect ending, it makes your day. And it’s fully possible with Sous Vide with its even and precise heat distribution. It truly ensures a perfectly cooked meal without undercooking or overcooking.

In addition, the taste, moisture, and texture remain perfect in Sous Vide cooking. The reason is that the food doesn’t come in direct contact with water. And due to the sealed bag, the flavor and moisture remain intact.

However, in the case of boiling, you must be very careful about how long your food is on the stove. Your food is likely to become overcooked. As the temperature is very high, your food can get overcooked instantly.

In addition, high-temperature boiling causes liquid release from your food. As a result, the final food becomes tender and shreddy but not juicy.

5. Convenience

If you ask me why I love Sous Vide, my answer is pretty simple – I am a forgetful fellow who tends to burn food frequently. But with Sous Vide, your food is always safe. You just set the machine and forget (well, not forget!); do your chores, read, gossip with friends, or even sleep. Your food is safe – neither undercooked nor overcooked, of course, not burned.

However, in boiling, you need monitoring now and then. You need to ensure all part of the food is getting enough heat for perfect cooking. Furthermore, there’s water – you may need to add water if evaporation causes the water level to decrease too much.

6. Suitability

Sous vide allows you to cook almost every type of food – meat, fish, vegetables, seafood, etc. To be precise, sous vide is best for food that needs a gentle touch – seafood, steak, tough-cut meat, or filleted fish. Moreover, for mass cooking, sous vide is a real saver. You can cook multiple items in a large amount using an immersion cooker.

On the other hand, all foods are not suitable for high-temperature boiling. For example – you can’t boil fish and seafood for a long time as they will fall apart. Boiling is mostly suitable for starchy foods and tougher proteins like pasta, grains, root vegetables, rice, or legumes. It’s also a great way to make soup, stew, or stock.

7. Nutrients Retention

With sous vide, you can be sure of getting all the nutrients of the ingredients – meat, fish, vegetables, spices you use, etc. The reason is the food-grade bag that contains all the minerals inside.

However, in boiling, you may lose 50% of the vegetable’s nutrients – especially those having water-soluble vitamins like cabbage, kale, beans, broccoli, spinach, etc. The reason is the water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water.

Moreover, when you throw away the water after boiling meat or vegetables, you throw half the nutrients too. That’s why cooking soup or stew is best for boiling, as the liquid contains all vitamins.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Sous Vide Cooking?

What Are The Disadvantages Of Sous Vide Cooking

Is sous vide flawless? No, of course not. Every method has a few flaws; so is the sous vide.

It requires a lot of time and utensils in comparison to boiling.

When you may need 15 to 20 minutes to cook or boil something, sous vide cooking may take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

As for utensils, when boiling requires only a pot and water, for sous vide, you will need reusable bags, silicon bags, and sous vide cooking devices.

These 2 are the main disadvantage of sous vide cooking.

Now, the moon has spots too, which didn’t lessen its beauty at any level. So, a few minor disadvantages cannot demean the effectivity of sous vide. The precisely set low-temperature cooking is more than credible in providing a perfectly cooked meal.

Which Are the Best Sous Vide Devices For You?

If you don’t have any sous vide yet, you can consider buying one to make your life and cooking easy. However, with so many options, it’s obvious to confuse you about which one is best for you.

Don’t worry! To help you out, we have done research on the market and users’ reviews to make a list of 3 excellent sous vide.

Top 3 Sous Vide DevicesBest For
Anova Precision CookerSmall yet powerfulPerfect cooking every timeWifi connectivity
Breville Joule Sous VideHyper-fast water heatingSmall and sleekWifi and Bluetooth connectivity
Instant Pot Accu Immersion CirculatorTouchscreen digital controlsPrecise temperature adjustmentsuper simple operation
Inkbird Sous Vide Precision CookerWifi connectivityTemperature accuracyLED screen and buttons
Wancle Thermal Immersion CirculatorBudget-friendly.Temperature accuracy.Overheat and low water level protection mechanism.Ultra quiet.


  • Can you boil instead of sous vide?

You can’t boil instead of sous vide. Sous vide is a type of cooking where the temperature is fixed. The temperature is always kept below the boiling point of water – between 49-71°C. But, in boiling, the temperature gradually increases to the point of the liquid, 100°C.

  • Is sous vide cooking better? 

Sous vide is healthier in many aspects. It requires less oil, fat, and salt. Besides, this slow cooking method preserves more nutrients and makes the food more accessible. Special diets like Keto, gluten-free, and paleo can easily be maintained using sous vide cooking.

However, every cooking method has its own usefulness. And finally, it’s your choice how you want to cook your food.

  • Can you sous vide a steak in boiling water? 

Cooking a steak in sous vide produces the best steak. As heat is distributed evenly from all sides, the meat gets perfectly cooked. You can even put your steak in the water bath for an hour or two, walk away, and come back to perfect medium rare cooked steak.

Take Away

Sous Vide Vs. boiling debate will never be put to an end. They are two different cooking methods with different goals.

Boiling makes food like soup and stew, which are easily digestible, have little to no bacteria, and are easily absorbent of particular nutrients. On the other hand, sous vide is recommended for cooking meals that require a delicate touch, like steaks and seafood. 

Both of these cooking methods have their benefits and demerits. So which one is better? Well, it ultimately depends on your preference and food choice.