Sous Vide Halibut – tender and flaky fish that’s full of delicious garlic butter flavor! The sous vide method cooks it to the precise temperature you set, and then finish with a quick searing to get the halibut beautifully browned!
Enjoy a healthy and restaurant-quality fish at home! Great for a dinner party or just for your family!
Why sous vide halibut?
Halibut is a lean white fish that’s firm and flaky with a mild flavor. The biggest challenge in preparing halibut is that it’s so easy to be overcooked. There is a very short window of the perfect doneness with traditional methods like grilling, pan-searing and baking. Even slightly overcooked halibut can be dry and chewy!
Enter sous vide! It’s a French cooking technique that eliminates short windows of time for perfect doneness. The food is vacuum-sealed in a bag and then cooked to a very precise temperature in a water bath. If you are new to sous vide, here is a sous vide cooking guide that you’ll find everything you need to know.
This is the best way to cook halibut, and you will get the perfectly tender and flavorful fish every time! All you need is a Sous Vide Immersion Circulator and some zip-lock bags.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Halibut: The best sous vide halibut recipe starts with a high-quality fresh piece. Always ask to smell it before buying. Fresh seafood shouldn’t have any smell except the briny smell of the ocean. If it smells fishy, you should walk away.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Lemon: It helps to tenderize the fish while adding a wonderful flavor.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter.
- Salt and Pepper: For seasoning.
- Optional herbs such as fresh thyme.
Pro Tip: Store your halibut in the refrigerator with a bowl of ice underneath to keep it super-cold until ready to use.
How to cook sous vide halibut (step-by-step instructions with photos)
- Season the fish: garlic, butter, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. I recommend using unsalted butter so that you can control the salt level. I also like adding lemon slices for some tangy flavor. The combination of garlic and butter with fish is simply irresistible. Trust me when I say garlic butter makes a good halibut the best halibut!
- Vacuum seal the halibut: Add seasoned halibut and lemon into a zip-lock bag in one single layer. Vacuum seal it using the “water displacement” technique: seal all but one corner of the bag. Slowly place it in the water bath, making sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. Then seal the rest of the bag.
- Sous vide cook: Place the vacuum-sealed bag in the sous vide warm water bath and cook it for 30-60 minutes at 132°F (55.6°C).
- Finish with searing: A really quick searing adds a beautiful browned look to the fish.
That’s it, you’re done! So easy! Serve it with potatoes and green vegetables such as broccoli and green beans for a complete meal.
The best temperature and time for sous vide halibut
My favorite temperature to cook halibut is 132°F (55.6°C) which yields the perfect tender texture I like. It’s still tender and juicy but with a slight firmness. Below is the temperature chart if you’d like to try different texture:
|Halibut Sous Vide Temperature||Texture|
|120°F (49°C)||Very tender and just starting to flake (tastes half-raw)|
|132°F (55.6°C)||Tender, juicy, and flaky with a slight firmness|
|140°F (60°C)||Firm and easily fall apart (can be slightly dry)|
It takes 30-45 minutes to cook 1-inch thick halibut and 45-60 minutes for a 1.5-inch thick piece.
Vacuum seal the bag with the water displacement method
For the water displacement method, all you need is a zip-top bag and a pot of water. Start by adding cold water to a large pot or container. Season or marinate food as directed in the recipe.
Next, place in a zip-top bag it in a single layer. Squeeze out as much air as possible, sealing the bag in all but one corner. Start immersing the bag into the water, making sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. FInally, seal the last bit of the bag and your food is not vacuum sealed for sous vide.
Can I cook it from frozen?
Yes, just add 15 minutes of cooking time in the water bath.
Finish with searing
After the halibut is cooked in the sous vide machine, it’s best to give it a quick sear for the gorgeous presentation. If you cook it immediately after they come out of the water bath, any rise in temperature will overcook them.
Let it cook down in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Then use paper towels to wipe off any extra moisture as it inhibits proper searing.
Place a skillet on medium-high heat on the stove and add butter. Once butter is melted, add halibut (presentation-side down) and sear for 30 seconds. Remove from skillet immediately and transfer to a place.
Pro tip: Don’t leave it in the hot skillet for longer than 30 seconds as it might overcook the fish. Remember the fish is already completely cooked in the water bath.
How to serve sous vide halibut
You can serve sous vide halibut with your favorite side dishes such as steamed rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, carrots and more. It also takes well to various sauces such as tartar sauce and bearnaise.
How to select halibut
It’s best to buy halibut fresh from a reputable fishmonger. Ask them when it came in and try to buy on the day of arrival. Look for moist, white flesh with a bright, glossy sheen as signs of freshness. Avoid any halibut that looks dry or with blemishes.
Tools you’ll need
Equipment you’ll need for this recipe includes: a Sous Vide Cooker, Ziptop bags, Kitchen Tongs, and a Cast-Iron Skillet for searing. It’s also helpful to have a fish spatula.
Sous vide other fish
Similar to sous vide cooking halibut, other fish like grouper, flounder, and haddock can be cooked the same way.
Should I Sous Vide Halibut Skin-on or Skin-off?
You can sous-vide halibut with the skin on or off as you like. If you keep it on, make sure to sear the skin side afterward on high heat to make it crispy for an attractive presentation.
Do I need to brine the fish before sous vide cooking?
If you have the time, brining fish before sous vide helps to firm it up for added tenderness. It also helps to extract the albumin for a more attractive serving presentation. You can opt for a wet or dry brine.
How long does it take to sous vide halibut?
Sous vide halibut takes about 45 minutes on average. Thin sections may only need 30 minutes, while 2-inch thick pieces could need up to a full hour.
Should I sear the halibut before serving?
Searing halibut after sous vide is recommended. This process will produce a nice crispy exterior for an attractive presentation, while also crispening up the skin if any.
More sous vide seafood recipes
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your Sous Vide Halibut turns out in the comments below!
Perfect Sous Vide Halibut Recipe
Sous Vide Halibut
- 1 pound fresh halibut filet
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
- pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme optional
- 5 slices lemon optional
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- chopped parsley optional for serving
- Preheat Sous Vide Machine: Add water to sous vide container or a large pot, set the Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 132°F (55.6°C).
- Season the halibut filets: Season both sides with salt and pepper. Add minced garlic, thyme and butter on top of each filet.
- Vaccum seal the halibut: Add sliced lemon and seasoned halibut filets into a zip-lock bag. Arrange them so that they stay in one single layer. (It’s important to cook them in one layer; if your bag is not big enough, use multiple bags.)
- Vacuum seal it using “water displacement” technique: seal all but one corner of the bag. Slowly place it in the water bath, making sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. Then seal the rest of the bag.
- Sous vide cook halibut: Cook the halibut filets in the warm water bath for 30-45 minutes for 1-inch fillets, or 45-60 minutes for 1.5-inch fillets. (Make sure any part of the fish is completely submerged in the water, if you find your bag is half-floating, you can use sous vide weight magnets or kitchen metal tongs to secure it in place.)
- Remove the bag from the water bath and very gently take the halibut out of the bag. (Cooked halibut tends to fall apart very easily, I recommend using a fish spatula or your hands to carefully take it out of the bag and transfer to a plate.)
- Sear the fish: let your halibut cool down in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Then pat dry thoroughly with paper towels (It's important to dry it completely so that it can get browned properly in the skillet).
- Place the skillet on medium-high heat and add butter. When the butter is melted, carefully add the halibut filets to the skillet presentation-side down. Sear for 30 seconds, just to brown the surface. Remove from the skillet immediately.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
- If you use frozen halibut, follow the same instructions as cooking the fresh filet, and add extra 15 minutes of cooking time in the sous vide cooker.
Thank you for this recipe! DELICIOUS!
Wow! The flavor of this fish is incredible! It came out perfectly cooked and every bite was infused with flavor!
The amazing flavor and elegant presentation belies the ease of preparation.. You can take this from freezer to table in around one hour. I’ll make it again and again.
Hi Julie, great to hear that you like the recipe. Thanks for letting me know. Izzy
I have made this recipe several times and it’s always perfect. I usually increase the garlic a bit. We also usually have some herb and garlic butter on hand, so I often swap some of the plain butter for garlic butter.