Sous Vide Octopus is the easiest and fail-proof method to cook the perfect octopus – tender and flavorful, with a beautiful char on the outside! Cooking octopus in the sous vide water bath at 171ºF (77ºC) for 5 hours, and then quickly grilling or searing at the end produces the best octopus EVERY TIME!
It may seem daunting to cook octopus at home due to their very tough tissues. They can easily become chewy and rubbery as they sit in the pot. But with sous vide method, this seafood is actually quite easy and requires nothing more than time.
Sous vide turns octopus into beautiful and tender curls, and then you can finish up by grilling or searing them to a nice charred exterior with a crispy texture.
Making homemade sous vide octopus is much cheaper than going to a restaurant, and it’s much better as it’s evenly cooked to the precise temperature edge to edge. So tender and buttery soft. Serve it as an appetizer or main, a perfect dish for the grilling season!
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. It’s known for being a precise and consistent way to cook the food with the guaranteed results. Just vacuum seal your food in a bag, and cook them in a water bath to a very precise temperature. Perfect octopus every time!
How to make sous vide octopus
This recipe works for octopus of any size: baby, medium, or large.
- Season the octopus with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Place the seasoned octopus in a large zip-top bag and vacuum seal the bag using “water displacement” technique. (An easy method – see the recipe below for details).
- Cook in a sous vide water bath for 5 hours.
- Let it chill, and then pat dry with paper towel.
- Grill or pan sear with lemon butter sauce until caramelized on the surface.
What temperature to cook at and for how long?
I like to cook it at 171°F (77°C) for 5 hours. At this temperature, the octopus become very tender and soft. (Make sure to submerge the octopus completely in the water. ) If you’d like to try other temperatures, follow the guidance below:
|Sous Vide Temperature||Time||Texture|
|140 °F / 60 °C||24 hours||Tender but a bit chewy, great for stews|
|171 °F / 77 °C||5 hours||Very tender and soft, great for salad and appetizer|
|185 °F / 85 °C||4 hours||Tender and soft, great for salad|
Use ice bath to prevent the skin from falling off
If you cook your octopus immediately after they come out of the warm water bath, the skin can easily fall off. Through chilling the meat with an ice bath (about 10-15 minutes), you can help the skin to set with a better presentation.
Just remove the bag from the water bath when the timer goes off, and submerge it in an ice-water bath. Then use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Don’t forget to pat dry before searing
In order to get a proper searing, a dry surface on the sous vide octopus is very important! Pat dry the cooked octopus with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible. This improves the contact between the skillet and the octopus, creating less steam during cooking.
How to prepare octopus
You can use both fresh or frozen octopus for this recipe. I used medium-sized fresh octopus, but you can use baby or large ones.
If you are buying fresh octopus, make sure that it doesn’t have any fishy smell. Wash and clean the octopus, and remove the ink sac and internal organs. Pull away the beak. For larger octopus, you can cut them into smaller portions so that they can fit into bags easily.
If your octopus is frozen, it’s most likely that it’s already pre-cleaned. You don’t need to thaw it before sous vide cooking.
Ways to serve sous vide octopus
- You can serve it cold by cutting it into pieces and add to salad or ceviche.
- Serve it as a tapas-style appetizer.
- Add the cooked octopus over pasta or rice, and pair with green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
More Sous Vide Seafood Recipes
Tender Sous Vide Octopus with Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 pound octopus (rinsed well and prepared properly, see the post above)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 2 garlic cloves minced (or 2 teaspoons minced garlic)
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley optional for serving
- Fill a medium-sized container or pot with water, attach the sous vide precision cooker and set the temperature to 171ºF (77ºC).
- Wash and clean the octopus, and remove the ink sac and internal organs. Pull away the beak.
- Lightly season the octopus with salt, pepper, and half tablespoon oil.
- Place the octopus in in a large zip-top bag or vacuum seal bag. (If your octopus is really big, you can cut it into smaller portions and use multiple bags if necessary).
- Seal the bag using the “water displacement” technique: seal all but one corner of the bag and slowly place it in the water bath. Make sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. Then seal the rest of the bag. (Use a vacuum sealer if you have one.)
- Once the temperature has reached 171ºF (77ºC), place the sealed bag in the water bath and set the timer for 5 hours. Make sure to submerge the octopus completely in the water.
- When the time goes off, remove the bag from the water bath and transfer to an ice bath. Leave for 15 minutes (or you can chill them in the refrigerator for about 1 hour).
- Once the octopus are chilled, pat dry with paper towels (wet octopus won’t sear properly).
- On a very hot grill or a large skillet, brush with the rest of the oil, sear the octopus for 2-3 minutes each side (4-5 minutes in total) until nicely browned. Remove from the grill or skillet and transfer to a place.
- In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Season to taste.
- Drizzle the octopus with the mixture and garnish with parsley if desired.