Perhaps we saved the best for last? We just got our hands on an Anova Precision Cooker to review and to see where it will land on our list of best sous vide machines. We’ve reviewed just about every other sous vide machine on the market already, so you may be asking – why are you just reviewing the Anova now? Well, Anova quickly took the sous vide market by storm, becoming the most popular and well-known immersion circulator out there as proven by their outstanding Amazon reviews and recent product launch in Target stores. Because of this, we didn’t want the most popular (and potentially the best?) model to skew the results of future reviews (ie. “Well this isn’t as good as Anova!”).
Anova also recently announced a partnership with Serious Eats to develop and co-create extensive sous vide guides backed by research. Their findings and recipes are then included in the Anova app for everyone to enjoy. This outstanding partnership not only adds value to Anova customers, but to the entire sous vide community.
With such a prominent presence in the sous vide world, it’s no wonder we’re eager to test this product. Let’s dive right in to the main features, benefits, and performance of the Anova Precision Cooker.
We’re suckers for great product packaging, and Anova nailed it. Inside the box you will find the Anova immersion circulator securely tucked in place, in addition to the user manual and quick reference guide. The Anova is made out of polycarbonate and stainless steel which prevents rust and ensures durability for years of kitchen use. The bottom steel skirt is also removable which makes cleaning the calcium deposits over time much easier.
The high resolution display is very minimal and modern, with just a single start/stop button. Changing the temperature is even very creative; spinning the illuminated blue “mouse wheel” on the front of the device changes the temperature.
Perhaps one of our favorite design features of the Anova is the clamp, which is FULLY adjustable (you can even remove it). Because of this, the minimum and maximum water height range can be set to 3.5”; as a comparison, the Nomiku min/max range is only 1.5”. The clamp also secures the Anova in place much better than many other immersion circulators out there, such as the Sansaire circulator, which has a very weak clip.
Overall, the design of the Anova is phenomenal – everything from aesthetics to practicality. We personally think the Sansaire is a more creative and fun design, however it also loses practicality in certain usability aspects because of it.
Depending on which Anova version you purchase, the features may vary slightly. Anova went through quite a few different versions of their precision cooker in their journey to perfect sous vide. In this test, we’re using the Anova Culinary Bluetooth Precision Cooker (PCB-120US-K1), which is one of their two latest models. Anova also has a WiFi version for slightly more money, which enables you to control your cooker from anywhere in the world. Personally, we’re always home when starting a sous vide cook, so the Bluetooth version made more sense. We’ll dive more into the Bluetooth/WiFi functionality below when discussing the app. In the meantime, let’s review the physical specs and features.
Heater and Circulator
The heater in the Bluetooth Anova is only 800W, significantly lower than most of the competition which range between 900W – 1100W. Because of this, heating larger water baths can take more time. While this seems like a pretty big negative at first glance, it’s important to note that by simply filling your container with hot tap water, you can save the majority of your pre-heating time. Our hot tap water comes out at roughly 128 degrees F and our typical cooking temperatures are in the 130s. The temperature range of the device also ranges from 77 degrees F to 210 degrees F.
To fully test the heater, we timed how long it would take to warm up 6 liters of water to 135 degrees F, with a starting point of 75 degrees. Anova took over 24 minutes to make this temperature climb; as a comparison, the PolyScience CREATIVE Series only took 12 minutes.
As for the circulator itself, Anova wins. The directional pump has 360 degree circulation which ensures precise temperatures throughout the entire water bath. One thing to point out of course is if you place the Anova on the edge of a container, the rear-facing pumps (facing the wall of the container) may not be very effective. We saw a few readers cut holes in the middle of their container lids so the Anova sits further away from the wall to provide better circulation. In our review, we simply attached it to the wall of the container and did not see any circulations issues. Here is a quick video showing the speed and noise level of the Anova circulator:
Anova App (Bluetooth + WiFi)
The Anova app is available to download for free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store – we used the app on both an iPhone and Android phone, both of which ran flawlessly. As soon as you launch the app, a notification pops up which automatically searches for a nearby Anova device. It instantly connected, so there really was no “setup” involved. Perfect!
One of the biggest reasons to have an app-capable sous vide machine is to be able to check the progress and temperatures. Anova knew this was important to users, so they actually made a little bar on the top of every page which shows your Anova’s set temperature, current temperature, and set time. You can even browse recipes while monitoring the progress bar.
Recipes and Guides
Apart from the device monitoring, the Anova App has three main sections:
- Time and Temp Guides – this is the main partnership between Anova and Serious Eats. These consist of incredibly in-depth cooking guides.
- Recipes – Tons of recipes from professional chefs. What we like most is that the recipes are pretty easy to follow and the ingredients tend to be easily found in your every day grocery store.
- Chef Ming Tsai – Specific recipes created from the world-famous chef, just for Anova.
The Anova app also lets you adjust the temperature settings, push notifications, and calibration. There’s also a quick start guide and user manual included within the app settings, which is a great feature if you end up losing the one that came with the device, like me.
It wouldn’t be a full review without putting it to the test! Once our design and features walkthrough and heating/circulation test were complete, we opted to make one of J. Kenji Lopex-Alt’s recipe (remember that Anova + Serious Eats partnership?) directly from the app. The lucky recipe was… sous vide pork shoulder! (which we turned into pulled pork sandwiches)
We set our Anova to 165 degrees F, followed the dry rub recipe, vacuum sealed the pork shoulder, and let it cook for 24 hours. After pulling it out the next day, we dried it off, added a little more dry rub, and crisped up the bark in the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Here are the results…
Spoiler: it was phenomenal. We then made the best pulled pork sandwiches.
Overall, Anova definitely stood up to the expectations. This immersion circulator is one of the most popular choices out there for good reasons: precise temperatures and performance, phenomenal and practical design, and one of the largest recipe collections which can be accessed via their app. We can’t recommend the Anova precision cooker enough, as it truly enables 5-star cuisine in your home through a connected kitchen. Oh, and did we mention the price is great? That’s just a bonus.