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Sous Vide Chuck Roast (for French Dip Au Jus)

Sous vide chuck roast is magical. You can achieve a flavorful, tender, medium rare cook with a normally very tough cut of beef. It’s perfect for a delicious French dip au jus or just plain with gravy.

Yes, the cook time is long (a couple of days), but with the cost of meat these days, it’s worth it. If you need something quick, skip this recipe or use a higher end meat.

beef chuck roast sliced on bread with caramelized onions

Some sous vide enthusiasts swear that a sous vide chuck roast tastes the same as a prime rib. I’m not sure I would go quite that far, but the excellent flavor and tenderness are pretty remarkable. Especially for this inexpensive cut of beef.

Sous vide is a perfect method for chuck roast

There is NO way to achieve a tender, medium rare cook with any other cooking method for this cut of meat. The longer cook time, though, is er, long!

The sous vide method cooks the meat in a sealed bag in a water bath to the precise temperature you choose, edge to edge. And it’s stress free.

What is French dip au jus?

French dip au jus or beef dip – a classic deli food – is simply a beef sandwich dipped in natural beef juices or beef broth.

Au jus is a French term for ‘with juice’. If there aren’t enough natural juices from the cooked meat, supplement with beef broth or beef stock.

The origin of the French dip is not actually French. It’s American. The French part comes from the fact the sandwich is typically served on a baguette or French roll.

What to serve with beef dip sandwiches

Healthy side dishes to pair with the sandwich are a good coleslaw, a cup of soup or a fruit salad. But don’t count out fries and a pickle if the mood hits 🙂

french dip sandwhich with small cup of au jus

Cook Time and Temperature

As always, you will need to experiment to find your sweet spot for the doneness and tenderness you prefer.

I researched 6 well-respected sous vide websites. There was surprising consensus on the temperatures for medium rare (usually there is not!). Five of the six suggest a temperature of 135-136F (57.2-57.8C). This is because fat is rendered well and collagen breaks down well at this temperature.

Timing is another story. Almost all sites landed on 24 hours as the best cook time, but the minimum and maximums ranged from 20-48 hours. Reader experiments varied widely, many with 36-48 hour cooks. Tip: If your meat is very thick (more than 2 inches/5 cm), cook for longer e.g 30-36 hours.

I use 135F/57C for 24 hours. The meat was medium rare-ish, tender and still had a bit of a bite.

The longer the cook, the more tender, but I find too long a cook results in meat that is not as moist and juicy as I would like. I found 31 hours too long for example.

See cook times in the recipe notes for medium and well done.

How to make a French dip sandwich with sous vide chuck roast

raw chuck roast seasoned
Season chuck roast with kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
bagged chuck roast in sous vide container filled with water
Heat sous vide bath to your desired temperature. I use 135F/57C. Seal roast in a bag. Cook for 24 hours (or up to 30 hours). If using caramelized onions, sauté onions in skillet while beef is cooking.
cooked sous vide chuck roast on paper towel
Remove meat from bag and reserve juices. Ugly! Dry meat well with paper towels and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
seared chuck roast on cutting board
Smear on a thin coating of mayonnaise and/or mustard. Heat grill or cast iron skillet to high and sear 90 seconds on both sides and edges.
sliced medium rare chuck roast on cutting board
Slice thinly across the grain.
sliced chuck roast in pan with au jus
Pour juices into skillet to make au jus gravy. Add slices of meat just to warm through for a minute.
sliced beef on bread with au jus
Toast bun if you like. Place warmed beef on bun.
french dip sandwhich with small cup of au jus
Top with onions. Serve with a small cup of au jus on the side for dipping.
bitten french dip sandwich dipped in au jus
Dig in!

Recipe Tips

Tips for sous vide chuck roast

  1. Seasoning and flavor: To maximize tenderness and flavor, season the chuck roast and place it in the fridge, uncovered, for 24 hours or overnight.
  2. Cooking temperature: To better break down the connective tissue (collagen) in the meat, set the sous vide temperature to 135F/57C or more.
  3. For the long cooking time:
    • Reduce evaporation: Cover the sous vide container with a lid or aluminum foil to reduce evaporation
    • Pay attention to the sealing: if you have a vacuum sealer, use it. If not, use a strong sealable high quality freezer bag (like ziploc) and keep the seam of the bag out of the water with a clip (the kind you use for chips) or the lid (close with the bag hanging out).
  4. Final steps:
    • Rest the meat after sous vide cooking for 15-20 minutes before searing to let the juices redistribute in the meat.
    • Slicing: Make sure you slice the meat across the grain of the meat. Note that different sections of the meat will have grain going in different directions.

Tips for au jus (for French dip sandwich)

  1. What to use: If you have seasoned the chuck roast well, the beef juices in the bag will have good flavor. If you don’t have enough juices (or threw them out by mistake – I’ve done that!), make the au jus recipe with beef broth.
  2. To thicken: I like to thicken the broth slightly with a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water). Add to boiling broth to thicken.

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are several variations and substitutes to try.

Instead of chuck roast: the French dip sandwich will also work with flank steak (only 2-3 hours in sous vide), trip tip (6-8 hours in sous vide), bottom round or rump roast (24-48 hours in sous vide).

Sandwich bread: Typical for this sandwich is a baguette or French roll. Other options are panini, hoagie roll, sub roll.

Add-ins: charred onions or caramelized onions (my fave), melted cheese (swiss, provolone, havarti, gruyere), horseradish sauce.

Au jus: If you don’t have enough natural beef juices, add a good beef broth. If using cubes, powder or condensed broth, add less water than called for to deepen the flavors. Enhance the flavors of the au jus with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, hot sauce, fresh herbs (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary) or a pad of butter.

Shortcuts

  • skip the homemade au jus and use a packaged demi glace beef sauce (e.g. Knorr Swiss)
  • skip the sautéed onions and/or cheese
  • skip the final sear step and just slice the meat thinly (let it rest first, though)

Make ahead, store, freeze

  • Store leftover chuck roast in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
  • To make a few days ahead: Cool the chuck roast and place in the fridge. To reheat, place in a water bath of 135F/57C for 10-15 minutes. Dry, sear, slice.

Other sous vide beef recipes you might like

Or check out our full list of best sous vide recipes and tips.

beef chuck roast sliced on bread with caramelized onions
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Sous Vide Chuck Roast (for French Dip Au Jus)

Sous vide chuck roast is magical. You can achieve a super flavorful, tender, medium rare cook with a normally very tough cut of meat. It's perfect for a delicious French dip au jus or just plain with gravy.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 d 3 mins
Dry brine in fridge8 hrs
Total Time1 d 8 hrs 13 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 -5
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Equipment

  • Sous Vide immersion circulator or oven-type sous vide machine ( plus a water bath container eg. large pot or plastic container)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless beef chuck roast Note 1 about 1 1/2-2 inches thick (3.75-5 cm)
  • kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder
  • Optional: sprig of thyme of rosemary don't over do it
  • For sear: mayonnaise, oil or mustard

French Dip Sandwich

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 French baguette cut into 4 pieces and sliced in half, Note 2 (or 4 buns/rolls)
  • Optional (Note 3): cheese, horseradish sauce

Beef gravy (au jus), Note 4

  • natural beef juices accumulated in sous vide bag
  • beef broth to add to beef juices to make 2 cups/473 ml, Note 5
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water. (for thickening slurry)
  • Optional flavor boosters: splash of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Dijon, dash of sherry, hot sauce, fresh herbs (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary), pad of butter, salt, pepper

Instructions

  • PREPARE CHUCK ROAST: Season chuck roast all over with kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Place in fridge, uncovered, for 6-8 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours). This will enhance flavor, but if you don't have time, skip it.
  • SOUS VIDE CHUCK ROAST Heat sous vide water bath to 135F/57C for medium rare (note 6 for other temps).
    °For water displacement method: place roast in large zipper freezer plastic bag. Lower bag into water, unsealed, until top of the bag is just above water level. Then seal bag once all air is pressed out by water.
    °For vacuum seal method: place roast in vacuum sealer bag. Seal bag with vacuum sealer machine. Lower bag into water.
    Bag should not float. Use clip to attach to side of container or hang bag over side when you put on lid. Cover container with lid, towel or aluminum foil to reduce evaporation.
    Sous vide chuck roast for 24 hours (or up to 30 hours). If roast is thicker than 2 inches/5 cm, you can sous vide up to 36 hours. When finished, remove beef from bag and rest it for 15 minutes. Reserve juices. Dry meat well with paper towels.
  • CARAMELIZE OR CHAR ONIONS: While meat is cooking (or day before), heat skillet to medium heat and add oil, sliced onions and pinch of sugar and salt. Stir onions occasionally until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high heat for quicker results. This will char rather than caramelize onions which need a slower lower-heat cook. Set aside.
  • SEAR BEEF: If you are making sandwiches, you can skip this step unless you prefer to brown the meat for presentation and extra flavor. Then grill or pan sear the meat.
    Spread a thin layer of mustard or mayonnaise over surface of meat. Or just spray with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    °To grill: Spray grill with oil and heat to high heat (500F+/260C+). Do a quick sear for 60-90 seconds per side and edges to brown it.
    °To pan sear: Heat large skillet to high until almost smoking. Turn on vent or open windows. Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil to hot pan and sear meat for 60 seconds per side and edges.
  • MAKE AU JUS BEEF GRAVY: Pour the beef juices from sous vide bag into the skillet (same one you used for searing meat). I strain the juices sometimes through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any bits but you don't have to. Add beef broth (about 1 cup/237 ml or a bit more) and thyme. Bring to boil, add cornstarch slurry and stir until thickened, 1 minute. Add seasonings as you like e.g. a dash of worcestershire sauce or sherry, a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if you like heat. Gravy should be thin. If too thick, add more broth or a bit of water.
  • MAKE FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES AU JUS; Slice bread if half. If desired, add cheese on one side (or both) and broil for about 3 minutes until cheese is melted. Slice meat across grain (the grain may be in different directions on parts of roast). Add sliced meat to au jus gravy to warm through for 1 minute max (you don't want meat to cook). Place slices on bread, top with cooked onions. Pour gravy into small individual cups. Serve sandwiches with gravy and horseradish sauce if desired.

Notes

  1. Instead of chuck roast, the French dip sandwich will also work with flank steak (only 2-3 hours in sous vide), trip tip (6-8 hours in sous vide), bottom round or rump roast (24-48 hours in sous vide). NOTE: if chuck roast is bigger than 2 pounds/1 kg, use the same time and temperature. If very thick e.g. 3 inches/7.5 cm, cook for 30-36 hours. 
  2. Sandwich bread options: Typical for this sandwich is a baguette of French roll. Other options are panini, hoagie roll, sub roll. Just be mindful that the bread gets soggy when dipping it into the beef juices, so you need bread that has a bit of structure. Or toast the bread before serving.
  3. Add-ins for sandwich: charred onions (or caramelized onions as per recipe), horseradish sauce, cheese (provolone, havarti, swiss or gruyere). If using cheese, melt it on the split open buns in a 400F/204C oven before adding the beef. 
  4. Shortcut for gravy/au jus: Skip the homemade au jus and use a packaged demi glace beef sauce (e.g. Knorr Swiss)
  5. Beef Broth: If you don’t have enough natural beef juices, add beef broth. I like to use condensed broth in a can like Campbell’s beef broth (no water added) or a Beef Better Than Bouillon base with water. If using cubes, powder or condensed broth, add a little less water than called for to deepen the flavors.
  6. Time and temperatures:
    • medium rare 130-136F (54.4C-57.8C)
    • medium 142F (61C)
    • medium well 148-152F (64.4-67C)
    • well done 158 – 160F (70-71C)
  7. Make Ahead:
    • Store leftover chuck roast in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
    • Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
    • To make a few days ahead: Cool the chuck roast in an ice bath after sous vide (or cool to room temperature on counter), place in fridge. To reheat, place in a water bath of 135F/57C for 10-15 minutes. Dry, sear, slice.
 
Nutrition values are estimates for 4 generous sandwiches, including buns, onions, beef and au jus gravy (with a mayo smear). 
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Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Sous Vide Chuck Roast (for French Dip Au Jus)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 640 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Fat 33g51%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Trans Fat 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 157mg52%
Sodium 1500mg65%
Potassium 921mg26%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 51g102%
Vitamin A 36IU1%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 119mg12%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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