Lack of flavor

I’ve used my Sous Vide cooker several times for steak, lamb and pork. While the appearance is great I find a distinct lack of taste.
I’ve tried several different searing methods , hot hot grill, hot oil in caste iron skillet etc. but the results leave a lot to desire.

Any thoughts?

Buy better quality meat?

Here’s the thing. Sous vide processing is a cooking method, not a performer of miracles. You can only ensure the flavour within something is not lost, you can not miraculously inject flavour which is not there. It can’t ‘enhance’ and ‘condense’ flavours only ‘protect’ it.

If you give us a run down of your methodology perhaps we can offer suggestions.

I second what @Ember says. Telling us what you did, specifically, will greatly help us help you.

Ember’s probably got it, David.

Or, - could your perceived lack of taste be due to something you’re doing differently? What’s changed lately other than your cooking technique?

You don’t describe your flavour expectations.
And you don’t reveal most cooking details so we don’t have much evidence to problem solve with you.

Your use of the word taste instead of flavour indicates it might be something about you.
Got a cold?
Taken up chewing tobacco or cloves lately?
( I learned long ago to never trust a cook who did either. )

You can get yourself a flavour injector (sorry Ember) and implant a highly seasoned solution in your meat, that usually works. However that’s an extreme method for most cooking except maybe BBQ, but it works.

I find sealing fresh herbs with meat enhances flavour and aroma enough for me and my guests. Have you tried using fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, or tarragon in your cooking?
I always add some freshly ground black pepper too.
Salt, the best flavour amplifier, goes on before and after searing.

Unfortunately most retail meat is raised expeditiously and given minimal aging resulting in little meaty flavour. Have you changed your meat source lately? Fast growing breeds combined with commercial feeds and lack of exercise results in generally flavourless animals.

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Thanks for everyone’s thoughts.

My Sous Vide method is as follows. I’ll use my Filet Mignon as an example. I get my meat from the same place so no changes there.

I vacuum pack it then freeze. With Sous Vide I’ll add some herbs, salt and pepper to the meat prior to freezing.

Cooking Sous Vide is pretty standard. Allow meat to thaw, then water bath at 128-130 for an hour or so.
Meanwhile get my gas grill as hot as it can the. Pat dry. Sear each main side of the meat for about 30-45 seconds.

Alternatively I’ve seared in a cast iron skillet with canola oil and a knob of butter heated until the oil just smokes.

My non Sous Vide method is to add salt and pepper to the meat and cook on hot grill for 3 minutes the first side and 2 for the second.

The flavor/taste for the straight grill is superior although the appearance of the inside is not so good.

I don’t smoke, have no cold and use no tobacco products.

You’ve got yourself a bona fide culinary mystery then.

I’ve never found there was any advantage gained from the time invested in SV for Filet Mignon and don’t do it. If i were you, i’d stick with your grilling technique. Quick, easy, and flavourful, - can’t be beat.

Now if you’re serving an inside chuck steak or some tri-tip you’ve got some good reasons to use your SV.

And i apologize for getting personal.

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A couple of things spring to mind. Filet mignon is not a high flavour piece of beef. It’s a really low work muscle, which means naturally tender but not much else. Personally, I’d avoid it at all cost… Mind you, cost is another reason why I avoid it… It’s expensive for not much flavour.

Another thing in your methodology that I noticed is that you thaw the meat before you cook it. With other cooking methods this is the norm, however, with sous vide you can go ahead and drop that lump of packaged meat ice straight into the water bath. You’ll need to increase your cooking time by about half but it’ll still work out quicker than letting it hang in the bottom of the fridge to defrost.

I don’t put herbs in the bag when I’m cooking sous vide. I don’t find that they really achieve much, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I also don’t salt meat prior to packing for sous vide as I like to use the cooking purge, which is essentially meat essence, in reduction sauces. I do salt just before searing as it helps in the browning process and another sprinkle afterwards for brightness.

Having seen your process, I can really only suggest that you are perhaps expecting too much from what is just another cooking method. The brain can play some strange tricks on us. It’s possible that you’ve heard so much about how great sous vide is for preparing proteins that your expectations are much higher than normal when you go to eat your piece of sous vide steak. It is possible that the flavour is really no different and no less than what you produce with your more traditional cooking method, it’s just not living up to the build up and making your taste buds dance and sing. Perhaps rather than doing the frenetic Lindy Hop that you were expecting they’re doing a much more stately Gavotte which still compares favourably with the usual Minuet. The only way to see if this is the cause of your disappointment would be a double blind side by side comparison with your traditional cooking method.

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David… I purchased a product on amazon labeled Takii umami powder. It adds a lot of flavor that I would describe as salty and mushroomy (is that a word???) It immediately disapates on your tongue. I love it on chili and burgers but haven’t tried it on filet as of yet. One suggestion is to put this in a spice/coffee grinder first as the granules are on the larger side.

Sounds like using that powder would provide the same salt and umami boost that fish sauce does.

Fish sauce is the best as long as you know nothing about how it is made.


Haha…kinda like eating sausage. It tastes great but stay out of the factory…Cool thing about fish sauce is nothing bad can live in it. Plus…you can store it in the ground.

And the cockroaches will be able to drink it post apocalypse. :slight_smile:

The fillet discussion was just as an example. I find the same issue of lack of full flavor with pork and lamb chops.

The other interesting this is all the recommendations to enhance the Sous Vide’s flavor, very interesting as they are, are only to get the meat to the same point I can get it either roasting or grilling.

I think the “prolonged “exposure to higher heat definitely improves the flavor, at the sacrifice of some appearance and convenience.

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Perhaps, then it is your searing technique which is in need of work.

I’m the first to admit sous vide is not for everything or everyone. But you’re reporting something that is completely contra to my experience and that of most people.

Hi. Why would you want to freeze your meet before heating it. Freezing doesn’t complement your food. Freezing breaks your cell structure so it will have influence on your taste.

I find the taste of my meat amazing to be honest. If you take some steak. Pack it, coock it, grill it, eat it.

Do not freeze. Maybe that helps.

I buy my meat in bulk.

I know this is an old topic, but in case somebody is still reading :slight_smile:

Increase your seasoning. In other forms of cooking, evaporation reduces moisture which would intensify your seasonings. In sous vide, evaporation does not occur in the same way. The seasonings are diluted with the meat juices and collagen.

I did chicken legs tonight (first time, as a test really). The cook time and temp were perfect and I got the results I wanted, although I noted that I could barely taste the rub even though it is the same amount I normally would use for another cooking method. Similarly, I know from experience and testing that pressure cooking does the opposite, and intensifies some seasonings.

Already planning my next cook!

Hi Krysta, at what point in the SV cooking technique did you apply the rub to the chicken legs?

I coated the legs right before sealing then let them rest for 1 hour before putting in the bath. I also sprinkled just a bit before broiling (I wanted to crisp the skin and char some sauce) but not much because I was worried it would burn.
I tasted the juices left in the bag after the cook, and they were not overseasoned so it was a case of them just washing off into the bag. It also set up to HARD gelatin at room temp, good to know and something I will experiment with.

It was my first cook, using a commercial rub and commercial sauce I had never used before (which I did taste beforehand to judge the salt level), which I know is not the best method LOLOLOL. I was focusing on the cooking itself to get the texture I wanted and to try everything out.

Is there a better time to apply the rub? Maybe the day before to get more penetration? Next try I will add a touch more, and maybe a BIT of the sauce to the bag. It seemed that the sauce was just sort of sitting on the chicken.

Looking forward to learning!


Hate to be a downer but I agree with David. I love my sous vide for many things, and while there are great advantages to sous vide cooking meat, like texture and control, I have noticed a less rich meaty flavor , than I would normally get with using the traditional cooking methods.
For me, sometimes it’s worth the trade off but sometimes it’s not.
I’m not expecting a choice tri tip to taste like prime, I’m comparing (for instance) cooking a tri tip completely on the grill vs sous viding it and then putting it on the grill. Dry brine, pre salt, no pre salt, salt and pepper…tried it all. Kind of like the miss you get cooking something in a crock pot but not as bad.