Sous vide bags help ensure that your food stays fresh while in the fridge or the freezer, extending the life of your food, and ultimately your money as well! While we all love cooking with our awesome sous vide machine, we don’t want to waste money if we don’t have to!
They come in various shapes, sizes, and styles. Some are only compatible with certain food storage systems, such as clamp style sous vide bags, are only compatible with machines that are also clamp-style. When you’re done reading, be sure to check out our guide to the best sous vide vacuum sealers.
#1 – Commercial Bargains 2 Jumbo 11″ x 50
This jumbo-sized roll of sous vide style bags is completely transparent and greatly reduces the likelihood of freezer burn over a short period of time. Some other features that the Commercial Bargains’ sous vide bag boasts are;
- 2 layer 3.5 mil
- Compatible with all ‘Clamp Style’ machines
- Boilable, freezable, reusable and dishwasher safe
- BPA Free
This bag can be used for a wide variety of things such as freezing meals to eat later, resale of goods, storing of dried products, as well as restaurant use. It’s freezable, dishwasher safe, boilable, and resalable so you can continue to use it in your kitchen time and time again. Being two layers, the thickness presents durability and you won’t have to worry about purchasing a new one quickly.
This sous vide bag is super versatile and durable, allowing you to use it during meal prep time and time again. It’s a wonderful tool for hikers and campers and emergency (or everyday) meal prep as well. Being BPA free, you don’t have to worry about harsh and illegal chemicals within your product, which could easily transfer to you and cause adverse health problems.
It’s only compatible with clamp style machines such as Foodsaver, Black & Decker, Rival, Seal A Meal, Deni, Kenmore, or George Foreman. However, these are typically the most popular at-home food saver models.
#2 – Nutri-Lock Vacuum Sealer Bags
Nutri-Lock offers a clear bag to seal and store your food in. Their technology extends the life of your food better than some bargain-brands, but at a very affordable price nonetheless.
- Fits all clamp-style vacuum sealers
- Keeps food fresh
- Microwaveable and boilable
- BPA free
- 4 mil
The Nutri-Lock vacuum bags are compatible with all clamp-style vacuum sealers, they keep your food fresher, prevent wilting, and prevent freezer burn, which saves you time and money. They’re 4 mil thick, which is compatible with most clamp-style sealers.
You can take this bag right from freezer, to dinner prep by using the microwave or boiling it. It’s a convenient option for sous vide cooking as well as those who want an affordable bag to resell goods in.
This sous vide bag is not dishwasher safe or reusable, so after it’s done you will have to buy more rolls. This, however, shouldn’t be an issue as the rolls are quite large and are sold in pairs, they’re also very affordable for the average family to buy— even on a budget.
#3 – FoodVacBags 2-pack 11X50 Rolls Vacuum Sealer Bags
This rolls comes in two large sizes, 8” x 50’ and 11” x 50’, which is a great bargain at the price. Some other features of this sous vide bag include:
- Microwaveable, boilable, dishwasher safe
- 4 mil
- Keeps food fresh 5x longer
- Compatible with clamp-style vacuum sealer machines
This super thick 4 mil bag is highly durable, dish washer safe, reusable, boilable, and microwavable. It also keeps your food fresh 5x longer than it would last without the bag. Being reusable, you don’t have to worry about wasting your money on a new one every time. Saving time, money, and energy, this vacuum sealer bag is the real MVP of the sealing bag game. Because of it’s capabilities of keeping things fresh, you can expect your food to last 5x longer. In return, you won’t have to waste food and spend money on more food when you have usable leftovers.
This bag is not only reusable, but also highly versatile with the types of food and a storage it can handle. It’s also a huge money saver. Beyond the aforementioned, being able to be compatible with any clamp styled vacuum sealer machine will ultimately allow you to use any machine, anywhere.
This sous vide bag is only compatible with clamp style vacuum sealers. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since most in-home machines are clamp style. Some popular models include Foodsaver, Black & Decker, Rival, Seal A Meal, Deni, Kenmore, or George Foreman. However, these are typically the most popular at-home food saver models.
What to Look for When Buying Bags for Sous Vide
Although I did touch on a variety of options that sous vide bags above, there are quite a few more factors to look for when you’re considering the overall quality of the bag. Here are some tips on how to choose a quality sous vide bag regardless of what you intend on using it for:
Style: Some bags are clear, others are opaque. Some allow for a spot on the front where you can write the date and the contents while others do not. It’s important to consider your needs in sous vide bag and what your preferences are for its appearances. While they may not be critical to most, some situations require that you write the date and contents on the bag (like in resale or restaurants.) While others it may not be as important, like when you’re just prepping food out for freezer meals.
Compatibility: There are various Sous Vide bags that are only compatible with clamp-style sealer machines while others are compatible with a variety of machines and models. Compatibility is obviously a very important factor to take into consideration before buying any sous vide bags. If you’re in the market for a machine as well as bags, it may be an important to take both the machines and the bags available into consideration as well.
Size: You should consider how much food you will need to store as well as how much space you are going to need. It’s better that you go over on the amount of bag space you will need as you can always trim it down a little after it’s had a firm seal (and potentially even reseal it after if it needs to be drastically cut.)
Material: Next, you’ll want to consider how many mil and layers you want. The thicker the mil, the less likely it is that it will leak contents, and the same goes for the number of layers. The more secure your food is, the longer it will last in the freezer or fridge as well. It’s also important to consider how you feel about BPAs and other plastic additives.
Shelf-life: Ultimately, the shelf-life of your food is the whole purpose of a sous vide bag, so this should be one of—if not the—most important factor in deciding which bag you go with. Not all bags give you an estimate of the extended lifespan of your food, but some do. It’s certainly worthwhile to look at reviews of customers who have used the products as well.
Tips on Choosing the Best for You
Now that we’ve covered a lot of the basics of buying a quality bag and you know what to look for, we can move onto finding a quality sous vide bag that will work well within your life and specifically for your needs:
What and where you plan to store: If you plan on storing a more liquid-like substance in the sous vide bags you may want to consider a higher mil and additional layers to the bag. On the flip side if you intend on storing dried goods in a pantry you can probably opt for a lower mil and layer count. If you intend to store food in a freezer you will want to ensure that the bag is freezer safe (which sounds obvious, but can be very easily overlooked when it doesn’t state that they “are not freezer safe.”)
How long you plan to store food for: It’s worth nothing that if you intend to store dried foods for an indefinite amount of time you will want to ensure that the bags will last. Some equipment and bags do come with an unexpected expiration date or instructions on when the food in the bag will no longer be viable. This would be an important consideration even if you only intended on keeping food in your freezer for a few months as well.
How you plan to use the bags: If you’re planning to use the bag for simply storing food, this should be an easy decision for you. However, they do also make sous vide bags that are boilable, microwavable, dish washer safe, and reusable as well. If you want to make dinners ahead of time and think that boiling would be a good option, you may want to opt for one that is boilable. On a similar note, if you intend on reselling goods it may not be all that important if they have any of those features.
What you plan to do with the food: While this one may seem odd if you’re only intending on using the food stored in the bag for your own consumption, there are other options such as the use in restaurant kitchens, food resale, and packaging of dried goods for long-term storage use. You should also consider if you plan on freezing the bags or refrigerating them, and for approximately how long you plan to do so.
There are a number of people out there that do not like the thought of cooking their food in plastic bags. We will cover the safety aspects later, but the bottom line here is that sous vide cooking produces incredible results because it is all about temperature control and cooking times. The plastic bags are just required to produce a vacuum seal.
There are occasions where you do not need to use bags. You can use glass canning jars to cook yogurt, custard and other foods. When you are cooking eggs, they can stay in their shell as this is the perfect vacuum sealed packaging.
Is Cooking Sous Vide With Bags Safe?
The answer is almost certainly yes if you use the right kind of bags. You may have read stories in the media or have read studies, where cooking in plastic is not a good idea. The thing is that these reports hardly ever tell you which kind of plastic has been used.
There has been a fair amount of research in this area, which has confirmed that cooking with food quality bags is fine. These bags are made from low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene or polypropylene materials. So when you are choosing your sous vide bags, you need to make sure that they are made of these materials.
The truth is that most sous vide bags comply with this. The layer inside is almost always polyethylene, and if you chose bags from well known brands then you will not go wrong. A number of manufacturers of these bags have proven that there products are totally safe for cooking.
Don’t be tempted to just use anything that you have in your kitchen, as this could be dangerous. Avoid any kind of cheap plastic wrap. This wrap is usually made of polyvinyl chloride, and this can release plasticizers which are harmful into meat and cheeses when cooking at temperature. There have been quite a few cases of people suffering harmful effects when they use this plastic wrap in microwave ovens. It really isn’t worth taking the risk of saving a little money on the right cooking bags. You have been warned.
There is no way that we can completely guarantee that there are absolutely no health risks from suvee cooking with food grade plastic bags. The evidence is there at the moment to support the safety of this method of cooking, but who knows what will be discovered in the future? If you feel totally uncomfortable with this, you can cook food sous vide with canning jars. We believe that there is no risk using the food grade bags. You are probably at more risk by eating a fast food burger.
Not everybody will convert to sous vide cooking for a number of reasons, and one of those might be safety. There are no safety risks as far as we are concerned but that is fine. The results that can be achieved with sous vide cooking are amazing, and we believe totally safe if you use the right bags and cooking temperatures and times.
What About A Vacuum Sealer?
A lot of sous vide cooks use best sous vide vacuum sealers and swear by them. The translation of the French “sous vide” means “under a vacuum” so this would seem to make sense, but the truth is you do not need an expensive vacuum sealer to get good results. When you are getting started it is best to invest in a high quality suvee cooker review, and you can use zip lock bags for cooking your food. Sometimes this is better than vacuum sealed bags.
Recommended reading: Ultimate Guide to the Best Sous Vide Vacuum Sealers
When Should You Choose Proper Sous Vide Bags?
You can actually use proper sous vide bags for any of your cooking. The bags have very strong seams that are designed to withstand high temperature cooking. If you intend to cook at over 70°C or 158°F then they are the best and safest option.
You can vacuum seal these bags too. They are the only recommended solution when it comes to cooking a number of braised meats that need to be cooked at high temperature. If you intend to cook vegetables or beans then they will also be safe for this.
There is no sous vide cooking occasion where you shouldn’t use sous vide bags. They are suitable for everything. If you do have a best sous vide vacuum sealer then this will help to keep your food fresher for longer.
How About Zip Lock Bags?
The main advantage of zip lock style bags is that they are easy to find and inexpensive. Having said that, always go for the most robust type of zip lock bags. You can purchase large zip lock bags (up to one gallon), which means that you can cook several items of food in one bag.
You can use these zip lock bags with complete confidence to cook chicken breast, fish fillets, steak, burgers and pork chops. You should not use zip lock bags for high temperature cooking, as the seams of the bags can fail and your food ends up in the water. Avoid using zip lock bags for cooking at 70°C (158°F) and above.
Can You Cook Sous Vide With Canning Jars?
Yes you can, but you need to know a few things first. What we are talking about here is glass jars that are used for pickling and canning. They are readily available, and can be used many times for cooking unlike bags.
If you want to cook sous vide foods that need to set such as yogurt, custard and pate then canning jars are an excellent choice. It is possible to cook other foods sous vide using these jars, but the jars do not conduct heat as well as the food bags will, so the cooking times need to be extended.
If you want to try this then cover your food items in cooking oil first. You will need to experiment with cooking times to see what produces the best results. You do not want to plan a dinner party and then have to serve up food that is undercooked. This will not do your reputation any good or that of suvee cooking!