Vacuum sealers are a staple in the sous vide cooking world. After all, sous vide literally translates to “under vacuum” (not sure what sous vide is? Read more about sous vide machines). Before we dive into our top picks for the best vacuum sealers for sous vide cooking, we’ll first talk about the different types of vacuum sealers and whether or not they are really necessary for sous vide.
Different Types of Vacuum Sealers
Chamber Vacuum Sealers for Sous Vide
Chamber vacuum sealers are hands-down the best method for sealing food for sous vide, especially if you plan on cooking sous vide frequently. Of course, the best comes at a cost. Sous vide chamber vacuum sealers are especially great for sealing bags that contain liquid because the machine never sucks air out of the bag like a vacuum would. Instead, bags are placed in a chamber and air is fully removed from the machine without agitating the food or liquids. Another major benefit is that the costs of bags are much cheaper than your regular FoodSaver type of sealer which uses specifically embossed bags. If you plan on doing a lot of sous vide cooking, chamber vacuum sealers may end up paying for themselves in the long run.
External Vacuum Sealer
External vacuum sealers are your typical “edge sealer” that you would find in your local grocery store or Target. The most popular brand, which many of you probably heard of, is FoodSaver. External vacuum sealers will not break the bank like chamber sealers, however the bags are a bit pricier. Nonetheless, these vacuum sealers are usually the best option for those looking to get started with sous vide cooking and are also smaller in size (easier to store in your kitchen). A typical model ranges from $100 – $150 but there are cheaper and more expensive choices out there.
Vacuum Sealer Hand Pump
If you’re really looking to cut down costs, you can give a fully manual hand pump a try. There are a few starter kits available for around $20 which includes a few bags and a hand pump to remove air from the bag. However, if you’re unsure if your sous vide endeavors will last long and just want to give it a shot, we personally recommend using the ziplock water displacement method instead of using one of these hand pumps.
Are Vacuum Sealers Necessary for Sous Vide?
No. However, vacuum sealers are recommended for sous vide for a multitude of reasons which we’ll dive into below. Essentially, you are perfectly capable of cooking sous vide with just your sous vide machine, sous vide container, and ziplock bags.
Ziplock bags are suitable for sous vide cooking as long as you purchase the food-grade and freezer-grade types. If you decide to cook sous vide with ziplock baggies, you can use the water displacement method – a fancy physics term for using the surrounding water to eliminate air from the bag. Basically, you leave the zip-lock bag open and slowly submerge the bag under water; the water will actually push the air out of the bag the further down it goes. You can then clip the bag to the side of your container to keep it in place.
Now that we covered an alternative to using vacuum sealers for sous vide, let’s talk about the main benefits of vacuum sealers and the reasons you should consider investing in one.
Why You Should Use a Vacuum Sealer with Sous Vide Cooking
Better Surface Heat.
Air does not transmit heat as well as water can. With a vacuum sealed meal, more hot water touches the surface of your food resulting in even cooking temperatures and faster cooking times. The more air you have around your food, the longer it will take for the air to efficiently transmit heat to your food.
We’re not being scientific here, but its pretty common sense. Vacuum sealed bags are air tight and seal in all flavors, juices, and aromas. You can even marinate your food in the vacuum sealed pouch before cooking! And of course, having open baggies (non vacuum-sealed) can result in juices spilling out during cooking, or even worse, having the ziplock baggie sink and next thing you know you’re boiling a steak.
Stays Fresh Longer.
Outside of sous vide, vacuum sealers play an integral role in keeping food fresh longer, both in the refrigerator and freezer. From a sous vide perspective, vacuum sealing meals in advance for the week not only keeps the food fresh but its also ready to cook! Simply drop the bag in your water bath and you’re good to go. Since the meal is still sealed after cooking, you can even refrigerate the food and place it in an ice bath until you’re ready to finish the sear.
Bags Won’t Float.
Floating bags are not only frustrating, but can even be dangerous. Bags with air float on top of the water which will result in portions of your food not being properly cooked. When cooking sous vide, it’s important to always have the food fully submerged in water for even cooking temperatures and safety. Vacuum sealers fully remove any air in your bag prior to your sous vide cook.
Best Sous Vide Vacuum Sealers
Best Overall: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealers
Note we didn’t list a specific model here. That says a lot! FoodSavers are amazing devices with a large array of models, prices, and features. If you’re looking for a countertop (external) vacuum sealer, we definitely recommend a model from this line-up. Below we highlight our favorite picks from low, middle of the road, and high cost.
Budget Friendly: FoodSaver V2244 with Starter Kit
We got a LOT of use out of this device. Before upgrading to the 4800 series (below), this was our primary vacuum sealer for sous vide. The price point is under $100 and it includes the option of vacuum + seal or just seal. The vacuum sucks air out quick and isn’t too loud overall. We even sealed in a few cuts of meat that were marinated (quite a bit of liquids in the bag) and it still sealed perfectly fine.
The FoodSaver V2244 comes with an accessory port which can be used with a hose vacuum to seal cans and even a full starter kit filled with various bag sizes. If you’re looking for a reliable vacuum sealer at a low cost, this is absolutely our favorite choice.
Best Value: FoodSaver 2-in-1 4800 Series
Much like the FoodSaver V2244, the FoodSaver 4800 Series comes with an awesome starter kit with different bag sizes. But more importantly, the features are what make this stand out. The two in one functionality of the FoodSaver 4840 combines a standard vacuum sealer and a manual pump. The benefits of this are that you do not have to break out accessories and add-ons to seal cans, containers, and zipper bags.
The FoodSaver 4840 also comes with bag roll storage and a convenient bag cutter right on the device so you can get the perfectly sized bag for your sous vide cook. We absolutely love being able to keep the rolls of bags inside the unit. This is currently our go-to sous vide vacuum sealer.
High End: FoodSaver Premium 5800 Series
The FoodSaver Premium 5800 Series is very similar to the previous model we recommended (FoodSaver 4840), but with a few more high-end features. The FoodSaver 5800 comes with fully automatic bag dispensing/rewind and automatic bag cut/seal. You literally just put the bag in and the machine does everything. If you’re looking to do a lot of sous vide cooking, but don’t want to break the bank with a chamber vacuum sealer, the 5800 series is a fantastic option.
Low Cost: Ivation Vacuum Sealer
The Ivation vacuum sealer was our first sealer we purchased when starting sous vide. At the price point of roughly $50, how can you go wrong? The Ivation vacuum sealer is a perfect entry-level sous vide package sealer that will surely get the job done. It comes with multiple settings including wet/dry foods and a gentle setting to avoid crushing delicate foods. However, it does not come with an accessory hose to seal canning equipment and also does not work very well with FoodSaver bags.
High-End: Weston Pro-2300 Vacuum Sealer
If you’re looking for the ultimate external vacuum sealer, then the Weston Pro 2300 is your machine. This fully stainless steel commercial-quality vacuum sealer is 935 watts and vacuums and seals incredibly fast. The sealer is automatic by default but also comes with a manual mode when working with delicate or moist foods.
The Weston Pro 2300 is also REALLY wide (15 inches) which can seal larger cuts of meat than most sealers on the market. If you plan on sealing a lot of food, the Weston Pro is an incredibly reliable machine that will help you get the job done faster.
Best Chamber Vacuum Sealers for Sous Vide
VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
VacMaster makes the best lineup of household and commercial chamber vacuum sealers. The company claims it’s perfect for small restaurants, catering, or hunters and fishers, however it is absolutely great for the veteran sous vide aficionado. The VacMaster VP125 can easily seal liquids including marinated meat and even soups. More importantly, the VacMaster VP125 chamber vacuum sealer is only 20” x 14” x 15”, which is surprisingly small for machines that are traditionally huge. For the home cook, this is a major desire.
Overall, VacMaster has the most reliable and sought-after chamber vacuum sealer line-ups available for household use. You can’t go wrong with these.
PolyScience 300 Series Chamber Vacuum Sealer
PolyScience has long been an industry leader in the sous vide revolution, offering amazing sous vide machines including the PolyScience CREATIVE series which we featured in an in-depth review. Their quality surpasses most of the competition, and that includes their chamber vacuum sealers. The PolyScience 300 Series chamber vacuum sealer is a commercial-ready device with great features (however we do know quite a few sous vide enthusiasts using this for regular home cooking).
The 300 series comes with programmable presets which will set the exact vacuum level, hold times, and seal times for specific foods. The price is, however, very high, so we only recommend this for serious sous vide enthusiasts or professionals.
Even though the sous vide name specifically references vacuum sealing, they are not 100% necessary for cooking. Nonetheless, we absolutely recommend using a vacuum sealer with cooking sous vide as the benefits largely outweigh the initial cost investment.
Sous vide is in the process of becoming a mainstream at-home cooking method, and for good reason. Thankfully, because of this, sous vide machines and vacuum sealers are dropping in prices as larger companies get on board to make the perfect product.