How to Make Buttery-Soft Canadian Bacon With Your Sous Vide Cooker

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Like bacon, sliced Canadian bacon (a.k.a. breakfast ham) is not one of the meats you'd think would benefit from being cooked sous vide. It's such an easy meat to cook, not to mention that it's already par-cooked when you buy it. What benefit could there be?

But as it turns out, sous-vide ham is every bit as revelatory as sous vide bacon. Cooked low and slow overnight, it retains all of its juiciness, but gains an incredibly luxurious, buttery-soft tenderness as its connective tissue and muscles break down. It's also convenient: Once cooked, all you have to do is sear it on a hot skillet or griddle to crisp up the outside and give it browned flavor, and it's ready to serve.


The key is to keep the temperature relatively low. Any higher than 145°F (63°C) or so and it'll start to dry out and turn stringy. But cooked overnight right at 145°F? It's perfect.


The great thing is that if you get yourself Canadian bacon or ham that's already vacuum-sealed, you can cook it directly in its packaging (for overnight cooking like this, there's no need to keep things in a single layer, so stacking is just fine). After it's cooked, you can refrigerate it for up to a week, taking out slices and searing them as needed. Of course, you may just end up eating them all at once, because they're that good.

To sear the ham, I use my Baking Steel mini griddle (a big skillet will work fine) with a little bit of oil, which improves contact with the metal and provides better browning. I prefer searing my ham on one side only, using a stiff spatula, a griddle press, or better yet, a light finishing trowel to keep them in firm contact with the pan for optimum searing.


The best bits are the crispy fatty edges, though when you cook sous-vide like this, even the lean portions come out buttery-soft, moist, and tender.