Silicone sous vide bags hit the market a few years ago. They are clearly one way to reduce plastic usage and waste. But do they perform any better than regular Ziploc bags?
Do Silicone Bags Perform Better?
In side by side tests using the same food in the sous vide cooker, the food produced is exactly the same. The silicone sous vide bags are more thicker, sturdier, and more durable, but they don’t produce better results. There is simple no difference in any aspect of the cooking. The cooking temperatures and times are the same. The taste and texture of the food is identical. So in terms of performance alone, we don’t think the expensive silicone bags are worth the added expense.
In fact, the only real difference is that the silicone sous vide bags are more difficult to use. Their thickness made loading more difficult, even with larger bags. The open end of the bag gets dirty during loading, so you have to clean it off before it can be sealed. It’s not so bad, but it’s another step. The clean up is another added step. Sure you can just pop them in the dishwasher, but in terms of convenience, traditional Ziploc bags is the clear winner. It is also more difficult to get the air out of the silicone bags, so you get more floaters.
Are Ziploc Bags Unsafe?
Safety was our biggest concern. It is probably the primary concern for most of our readers too. We found that Ziploc bags (and all their other products) were a lot safer and more sustainable than we expected. Here’s the official company website.
They are made with BPA free plastic that is also free of dioxin, lead, and other nasty chemical. They meet all FDA tests for being free of BPA and the others. All the bags are also recyclable. On the website, you can find information about recycling centers in your area.
Of course, this is only true of the real Ziploc brand bags. Other cheaper, generic bags may not be made with the same quality of plastic. For us, we stick to the Ziploc brand for sous vide cooking.
It’s really a matter of personal choice to buy and use silicone sous vide bags. We have many silicone bags, and we use them for a variety of purposes. We use them mostly for storage, but we sometimes use them for sous vide cooking. But that is a personal choice to try to reduce plastic usage and waste. In terms of sous vide results, the silicone bags are the same as the cheaper plastic bags. In terms of convenience, the Ziploc bags win by a mile. Our top pick for sous vide performance and results are the vacuum sealed bags from Food Saver. But you also need to have the vacuum sealer. Our top pick overall, is the humble Ziploc bag.
These are our favorite Ziploc bags for sous vide. The triple seal is excellent protection for sous vide cooking, even if you are completely submerging the bags. The normal water displacement method has always created a proper cooking vacuum. The only restriction is when using temperatures above 158° F – which is rare. The seams of the plastic bags will begin to soften and come apart at that temperature. In those rare cases, silicone sous vide bags are the better choice.
Stasher is industry leader in silicone sous vide bags. These bags have the added benefit of being multi-use. They’re made for general storage and organization purposes too. For sous vide cooking, the larger size bags are best. You can get Stasher bags in a bundle to save a few bucks, but the smaller bags are not great for sous vide cooking. Stasher bags are the highest quality. We’ve had some for years with very few signs of wear. The biggest draw back is the price.
This set by Difenlun is one of the best values we’ve found in silicone sous vide bags. The medium bags are too small for much sous vide cooking. In our opinion, the large bags work well for most applications. For example, we tried to cook some nice ribeyes in these bags. They were too big for the medium bags, but fit well in the large bags. And there are 4 large bags for the price of one Stasher bag. Of course, the quality of the Stasher bag is superior. These bags may end up lasting for a shorter period of time, but that’s offset by the lower price.
We bought this set by Housou mostly for storage purposes, but we have used the larger bags for sous vide. These silicone sous vide bags are basically identical to the Difenlun set in terms of materials, function, and quality. This set has only 3 large bags, but the overall price for the set was much lower when we purchased them. Because of that, we recommend the Difenlun set, but if the price is right, get the Housou set. It has basically the same bags.
So our top recommendation for performance is the real Food Saver bag. It gets the best vacuum seal. After all “sous vide” means under vacuum. This does produce the best results. But realistically and honestly speaking, we don’t use the vacuum sealer every time.
Our top pick overall is the Ziploc bag. The performance is excellent. The convenience is irresistible. We have all the available options in our kitchen. We have silicone sous vide bags handy. We have the vacuum sealer handy. But time and again, we just grab a Ziploc bag when we do sous vide cooking.
One final note, on some occasions you may want to double bag when using Ziploc bags. This is true when using high cooking temperatures or when there is even the slightest chance that the bag may be pierced with an edge like a bone. It would also be a good idea, if you choose to sous vide frozen items.