a close up of a hot, classic cuban sandwich reveals tender cooked ham and melty cheese. Layered over top of the image of the sandwich, which is cut in half, is a headline that reads: Sous vide in Fast Casual Restaurants". This is above the DC Norris North America logo

Sous Vide in Fast Casual Restaurants

The secret to some of America’s favorite fast-casual meals is sous vide cooking. Sous vide in fast casual restaurants is a cooking method leveraged to seal in bursting signature flavors and guaranteed tenderness. 

What is a Fast Casual Restaurant?

Most common in the United States and Canada, ‘fast casual’ dining concepts are a blend of the efficiencies of fast food and the upscale menu options of casual dining. The average check value in a fast casual restaurant is $10-$12USD, above that of QSRs and below the average check value for casual dining restaurants like Applebee’s, Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Olive Garden, and Outback Steakhouse. 

In the fast-casual dining concept, table service isn’t typically offered but the ambiance of the establishment is more akin to casual dining than fast food. Customers pay for their meals at the time of order, much like fast food, and then take their meals to an open table. In some concepts, there are designated food runners, but never a dedicated wait staff.

What are the Most Popular Fast Casual Restaurants in North America?

Some of the leading fast casual restaurant concepts across North America include Qdoba, Chipotle, Firehouse Subs, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Five Guys, Potbelly, The Halal Guys, Jersey Mike’s, Au Bon Pain, and many more. Readily found in airports, strip malls, and stand-alone locations, these restaurants have experienced explosive growth over the last 15 years. The growth of the concept is attributed to diners desiring the convenience of fast food with the healthier choices typical of sit-down dining establishments. The growth of fast-casual dining concepts in the US alone is anticipated to increase by $28.8 billion by 2025.

Fast Casual Restaurants Using Sous Vide

So what’s the cooking secret behind our favorite burritos and paninis? Sous vide. In-location and at centralized production facilities, fast-casual chains are relying on sous vide cooking equipment to cook signature dishes and fillings to perfection.

And this phenomenon isn’t really all that new. Chipotle announced in 2016 that it would cook all of its steaks using the French culinary technique. The chain prepares the steak used in its signature burritos, tacos, and bowls using sous vide at centralized production kitchens. The steak is then marinated and seared before serving in each of its restaurants. 

In 2017, Starbucks launched their ever-popular sous vide egg bites which continue to be a cult favorite.

Just this year, Panera Bread launched its line of Chef’s Chicken Sandwiches featuring chicken filets that are first seared and then cooked sous vide to lock in juiciness and flavor unlike their other chicken dishes that use grilled and smoked meats.

What Equipment Does DC Norris Provide for Commercial Sous Vide Cooking in Individual Fast Casual Dining Locations?

For fast casual dining concepts that leverage the sous vide cooking concept in each of their locations, DC Norris North America is proud to offer the CT-1 sous vide cook tank. This 50-gallon sous vide cook tank is fully automated, NSF Certified, has no minimum batch requirements, and can be left to cook foods overnight, fully unattended. The CT-1 is designed to meet the floor space requirements of a commercial kitchen and operates on standard electric heating with available cook chill and data recording options.

Contact us to request a quote for the CT-1.

What Equipment Does DC Norris Provide for Industrial Sous Vide Cooking in Central Production Kitchens for Fast Casual Restaurants?

For those fast casual restaurants that prepare foods in centralized production kitchens, DC Norris offers larger sous vide cook tanks better suited to the batch needs of these industrial-scale sous vide cooking operations. 

The CT-5, CT-10, and CT-20 allow for the production of up to 1,700lbs per batch and also offer cook chill capabilities, data recording, and recipe management options.

Is Sous Vide Right for Your Fast Casual Chain?

Whether your chain is pioneering the best way to batch cook sushi rice or signature deli meats used to build America’s most loved subs – there’s a good chance that the culinary method is right for your operation. Sous vide helps reduce product waste, improve nutritional profiles, create reliable product consistency and increase labor efficiency.

How to Learn More & Get Pricing on Commercial Sous Vide Equipment

DC Norris North America is here to help businesses across the US and Canada secure the most innovative sous vide cooking equipment. Reach out to our team of experienced food processing equipment professionals for a fast and thorough quote.