Sous vide circulators have an image problem. Initially, they were considered a tool for the culinary bourgeoisie. Years later, many chefs view them as one-trick ponies used to prepare steaks. (Of course, their real use reaches much wider.)

Part of the problem is related to the circulation pump. Do you need a vacuum sealer and special vacuum sealed bags? According to Lauren Savoy of American test kitchenyou don’t have to either.

Although sous vide translates as “under vacuum,” Savoia, a senior editor with hundreds of hours of testing sous vide equipment, says vacuum sealing is unnecessary. It was adopted because heat transfer through water more efficiently than heat transfer through air (such large air pockets can contribute to uneven cooking).

But there’s an easy—and much cheaper—workaround: Ziploc bags. Savoie recommends Sous Vide for almost any job Ziploc freezer bags (those with Easy Open Tabs rather than sliding closures) in whatever size is required for the task at hand.

The trick is to get as much air out of the bag as possible before you lower it into the tub. “We like to put food in ziplock bags and then remove the air by partially sealing the bag by immersing all but the unsealed corner in a water bath and then sealing the last corner,” Savoy says. Although not required, she also recommends using a binder clip to further solve the floating bag problem.

“Plastic bags filled with food tend to float in the circulator bath, which can create cold spots when the food is pushed against another bag or the side of the submersible circulator,” Savoy says. “I like to pin the bags to the side of the pot with old binder clips to keep them anchored.”

Do you need a vacuum sealer to make sous vide? No.

Ziploc Freezer Bags: $4 for a 28-pack

note: Buying products from our links may earn us a portion of sales, which supports the mission of our editorial team. Learn more here.

Previous articleGM is investing $760 million in a plant in Ohio to make parts for electric vehicles
Next articleA squirrel somehow managed to hide 558 walnuts in this Subaru Forester