Cod Sous-Vide Temperature Experiment


When you look on-line for the best temperature to cook cod sous-vide, you will find answers ranging from 41C/106F to 60C/140F. On this blog, I have posted a recipes at 41C/106F and 54C/159F. Especially if you are new to sous-vide cooking, these different temperatures may be confusing. And so it is time for another installment in my never-ending series of side-by-side experiments, to compare the different cooking temperatures.

The main conclusion is that all temperatures produce an acceptable result. The temperature you choose to cook cod sous-vide, is therefore mostly a matter of personal preference.

A note about food safety: cooking cod at temperatures below 60C/140F assumes you have ‘sushi grade’ cod, or cod that has been frozen (which will kill parasites). If the cod is not ‘sushi grade’ or frozen, cook it for 50 minutes at 60C/140F.

Cod is a fish that flakes easily and tends to become dry very easily. By cooking it sous-vide, it is however possible to make it unbelievably juicy and tender.


For this experiment, first I cured the cod for an hour with salt, and then I cooked it sous-vide with good extra virgin olive oil. This is like cooking it ‘confit’, but the advantage of cooking sous-vide is that you only need about a tablespoon of olive oil to surround the fish by olive oil (rather than a saucepan full of oil). And so you can use good quality extra virgin olive oil without having to worry about the cost, and that will make a huge difference.


I started with a nice piece of cod loin, cut it into 4 pieces, seasoned it with salt, and allowed to salt to cure the fish for an hour in the refrigerator.


Then I vacuum sealed the four pieces individually, each with a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil. I labeled the bags with the cooking temperatures, and cooked the cod at each temperature for 30 minutes.


At 41C/106F, the cod melts in your mouth and is unbelievably juicy and tender. Despite the low temperature, it already starts to flake. Also due to the temperature, it is noticeably lukewarm instead of hot. Still, this is one of my favorites.


At 46C/115F, the cod has slightly more ‘bite’ to it, which you may prefer. It is however also slightly less juicy and tender. It flakes so much that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to serve it in one piece.


At 52C/126F, the cod is a bit dry, although the olive oil does help to mask that. At this temperature, it flakes very easily.


And finally, at 60C/140F, the cod is starting to get quite dry, but due to the olive oil it is still acceptable. It has more bite.


My favorite is 41C/106F, but this may not be for everyone as most people expect cod to be dry and may be put off by the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and lack of ‘bite’. So go as low as you dare.


Pisarei e fasö is a typical dish from the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna: breadcrumb gnocchi with beans.



14 thoughts on “Cod Sous-Vide Temperature Experiment

  1. Thank you your testing. I personally find that just over 50c is great (51-52) but that is my taste. I also dry brine for 30-40 minutes with an 8% salt, 2% sugar mix, then rinse and dry well.
    For me, this gives a perfect consistency, for what it is worth.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Stefan, I’m really late to the conversation, but I just started using a sous vide machine and I’ve fallen in love with it. The only fish I’ve cooked so far is salmon, though. I’ve found that for two thick fillets in a bag with lots of butter, dill and lemon juice, the perfect temp is 48-49C for 35-40 minutes. The fish is just threatening to fall apart at this stage, but the texture is incredibly moist and buttery more than flaky. I haven’t cooked cod yet, but I love smoked cod loin and I’d like to try. My question is whether cod would behave very differently in a water bath? The loin is thicker than the salmon, the flakes can be huge, but being a non-oily fish, would it require more gentle cooking even with lots of butter in the bag, or should I just use the same time and temp as I use for salmon? I like cod cooked to the stage where those lovely big flakes separate, but I much prefer soft to firm fish. The problem with the loin is that it’s so thick that if it’s undercooked, there can be an unpleasant sticky fibrous quality left between the flakes – more slippery than soft. I’m thinking a longer cook at a lower temp perhaps? 45 minutes at 46C for approximately 2 or 2.5 inch thick fillets?


        1. Hi Isla, I prefer cod cooked at 46C, so just a bit lower than you use for salmon. Cod is more likely to dry out.
          If the fillets are 2 or 2.5 inches thick, you will need much more time than 45 minutes, more like 3 hours. The table in this article also applies to fish:
          You may want to consider slicing your cod such that it is not more than 1 inch thick or so, which will cut down the cooking time by a factor of 4. With sous vide, the cooking time quadruples if the thickness doubles.
          By the way, the butter in the bag will only help if you flake the fish after cooking and then mix the juices/butter mixture from the bag with the flakes. This is because butter will not penetrate into the fish.
          Hope this helps!


  2. Hi Stefan, thanks for this very useful comparison. I just bought my first sous vide machine and am still learning. So far I love the rich flavors and have bought a bunch of caste iron pans and skillets to do the meat searing. Some friends mention that plastic bags contain chemicals which ‘seep’ and get in the food cooked sous vide style. Have you heard these concerns before? Also what kind of bags do you use for your vacuum sealer?

    Thanks and keep the articles coming!

    Warm wishes from sunny Singapore.



    1. Hi Ray,
      Thanks for visiting.
      I have heard the concerns about chemicals leaking from the plastic bags before. This is not an issue as long as you use bags that are “food grade” and suitable for cooking. This means they are free of phtalate and BPA.
      I use bags that are suitable for my chamber vacuum sealer and suitable for cooking (if you look closely at my photos, you may notice there is red lettering indicating they are safe up to 130C). If you use a ‘clamp’ style vacuum sealer, the bags need to have a certain texture on the inside as otherwise you won’t get a proper vacuum.
      Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I hope you will find a lot of nice recipes here.
      Best wishes from the (unseasonably) cold Netherlands,


  3. I should try. I should buy a sous-vide machine, but it’s very expensive. A slice of cod like this, in a pot, takes a few minutes to be ready. Do you think that the nutrition intake are better in case of sous-vide cooking?


    1. Hi Paola, to try cooking fish sous-vide, you do not need a sous-vide machine. All you need is a ziplock bag (suitable for cooking) and a digital thermometer. Then you can cook the fish in the bag in a regular pot with water. You only need to watch the temperature carefully. For half an hour that is possible. Then when you like it, you can consider to buy a sous-machine.
      The nutrition intake of sous-vide is better than for boiling or poaching, and you don’t add any fat as in the case of frying.
      More about sous-vide without the machine here:


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