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A Guide to Sous Vide Sauces

Every home chef should count these sous vide sauces among their kitchen secrets.

BY Morgan Fecto

If you ask French chefs, the sauce doesn’t just top the meal—the sauce is the reason for the meal. A drizzle of ponzu or spoonful of beurre blanc can take your dish from home-cooked to haute cuisine. But how do you go from the bought-and-bottled afterthought to a homemade sauce that shines? Sous vide can make saucing it up quicker, easier, and tastier, which is why we’ve created a helpful sous vide sauce roundup. Just remember: Don’t be too strict about what defines “sauce.”

Mayo-averse cooks should skip over this section—although if you ask the gourmands of Belgium or the Basque country, a good saffron- or garlic-infused aioli can add fatty richness to dishes as sophisticated as grilled octopus or as humble as the frite. For the mayo lovers, sous vide makes it easier to infuse aiolis with flavor. Sous vide cooking also ensures the egg in your aioli is pasteurized, so you can dunk away without worrying about foodborne illness.  

Our turmeric- and juniper berry–seasoned aquafaba aioli (featured in our Arctic Char Brandade recipe) is a great starting point—riff on it with any flavors you like.

Hollandaise, otherwise known as the glue that holds brunch together, is surprisingly simple—just lemon, egg yolks, and butter. As with bearnaise and other butter sauces, hollandaise usually requires continuous whisking over a double boiler to thicken. The process is tedious, and the sauce can turn into scrambled eggs if the temperature rises or if you don’t work at the right speed. With sous vide, it’s almost effortless: Just whisk once, bag, seal, and sous vide.

Our Quail Egg Mini Tartines are a finger-food homage to Eggs Benedict. Try the hollandaise recipe included to add a silky element to scallops and asparagus, too.

Waste not, right? “Jus,” typically made from the pan drippings of slow-roasted meat, is the cornerstone of the French dip sandwich—designed to add moisture and flavor to thinly sliced meats. Succulent sous vide meats don’t require the dip, but there’s no reason to waste all the jus left in your bag after cooking meat sous vide. It will be more savory than pan drippings, since sealed cooking retains more of the flavor that would otherwise escape as steam in dry-heat cooking.

For a sous vide take, simply add the leftover jus from the bag to a saucepan and bring to a boil on your stovetop, as we did in our Jamison Farm Lamb Shank recipe. Punch it up with black peppercorns and a bay leaf, strain, then enjoy.

Somewhere between a mash and a sauce, pureés add a creamy and hearty component to dishes that texturally skew either chewy or crunchy. With sous vide, you can whip up a purée without constantly seasoning or stirring ingredients. After sous viding, run the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to get the smoothness of a professional-level purée.

Starchy ingredients make the most satisfying pureés. Start with our sweet potato version from this Sous Vide Flank Steak recipe, then try rutabaga, turnip, or carrot pureés.

We’d argue that all courses need a sauce, even dessert. (Strike that—especially dessert.) In a dining culture that sees dessert as indulgent rather than essential, we want it to be as decadent as possible when we finally decide to order it. Sous vide can create syrups with clean flavors that sing out (as with mint and lemon) or more complex profiles (as with caramel-y bourbon and bright-and-sweet peach). The process also preserves the brilliant colors in fruits like dragon fruit and kiwi for syrupy sauces that look as good as they taste.  

Sous vide syrups all start with a base of sugar and water, but they can go anywhere from there. Try our takes from these recipes for Exotic Fruit Brochette and Sous Vide Bread Pudding.

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The first publication devoted to the art and science of sous vide cooking, featuring innovative recipes, visual inspiration, expert techniques for cooking sous vide at home, and exclusive interviews with world-class chefs.