Anova Precision Cooker Review
- Performance - 9/109/10
- Ease of Use - 10/1010/10
- Design - 10/1010/10
- Features - 9.5/109.5/10
Could it be that 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 rapidly became the most popular and well-known immersion circulator out there, as proven by their outstanding Amazon reviews and recent product launch in Target stores. In fact, just recently, the impressive Anova Precision Cooker got the coveted role of Amazon’s Choice product in its category. 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!”). I mean, if it’s Amazon’s choice for the best sous vide machine, who are we to argue? This way, we ensured we were 100 percent objective in our reviews.
Our goal was to review everything about this praised immersion circulator: from its design down to what many think is the most important thing- the performance. We left no stone unturned, so to speak, looking at potential flaws and searching for upsides and advantages the Anova might offer over its competitors. And that’s exactly what we did! Read on to find out what are the pros and the cons of the Anova Precision Cookers and if it’s worth the money.
The Sous Vide Experience at Its Best
Before we start analyzing what makes this immersion circulator both good and bad, there is one thing worth noting that is not directly related to the machine itself. Instead, it’s a feature that the company introduced in hopes to better the sous vide technique overall, making sure that even amateurs can quickly advance enough to prepare restaurant-worthy meals at their home. Anova also recently announced a partnership with Serious Eats to develop and co-create extensive sous vide cooking guides. The combination of impressive experience, research and culinary creativity results in recipes that make your sous vide cooking on par with five star restaurants. The best part is that all of their findings and recipes are 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. Without constant innovations and creative efforts, we couldn’t keep saying that sous vide is a form of culinary art!
Having in mind that this immersion circulator is one of the most prominent in the sous vide world, and that that popularity is being backed thousands of Amazon users who love it.. It’s no wonder we were super eager to test out this product. So, without any more delay, let’s dive in and see what this gadget has to offer. We’ll review 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, complete with a user manual and quick reference guide. The Anova itself is made out of polycarbonate and stainless steel, which is a perfect combo for a kitchen gadget.
These materials are not only expensive-looking, but they make sure your sous vide cooker will endure years of use without any problem. The bottom steel skirt is also removable which makes cleaning a breeze. All kitchen appliances that are used with water tend to have issues with calcium deposits over time , but in the case of the Anova immersion circulator, you won’t have to struggle to remove it. Not only it’s taxing trying to get rid of plaque and mineral buildup on your immersion circulator, a lot of times the things you have to use for cleaning can even lead to damage of the material and reduce the longevity of the circulator. It’s important to make sure that your sous vide cooker is made from durable materials and can withstand heavy-duty use: once you get “hooked” on preparing sous vide meals, you can expect submerging your new favorite gadget in the water for a few times a week.
The high resolution display features just a single start/stop button. This type of minimalistic, modern design is not only in tone with the device’s general ease of use, but it also gives it a luxurious look. Even the way temperature is changes is creative. To switch from one temperature to other, spin the illuminated blue “mouse wheel” on the front of the device.
The clamp located on the back of the Anova immersion circulator might just be our favorite design feature. The clasp is fully adjustable, to the extent you can completely remove it if you want to. Because of this, the minimum and maximum water height range can be set to 3.5”. As a comparison, the Nomiku immersion circulator’s 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, whose clip is disappointingly weak.
Overall, the design of the Anova is absolutely phenomenal. From the tiniest details, everything was so beautifully made – both from the perspective of aesthetics and practicality. We personally think the Sansaire boasts a more interesting and creative design, however, it is also what made this particular circulator lose a few practicality points.
Depending on which Anova version you purchase, the features may vary slightly. Before they produced this particular model everyone’s raving about, Anova went through quite a few different versions of their precision cooker in their journey to perfection. In this test, we’re using both the Anova Culinary Bluetooth Precision Cooker (PCB-120US-K1) and the 2nd Gen WiFi version, which are two of their latest models.
Anova’s WiFi version is slightly more expensive, but it is definitely great value for the money. The latest model enables you to control your cooker from literally anywhere in the world and it also features a slightly more powerful heater. 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.
UPDATE: Even though the Anova Precision Cooker with WiFi and Bluetooth remains the company’s most popular and most sold immersion circulator, Anova released two more models in the meantime. Both of them promise to set new standards in the sous vide industry and are aimed at people with different sous vide skill levels and needs.
The Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano was released in 2018, and it’s touted as “a smaller, quieter, connected lab-grade sous vide precision cooker” built on the decade worth of experience that Anova has in designing and producing sous vide cookers. The sleek design and impressive performance of the Bluetooth powered Nano immersion circulator already won over many satisfied customers- and the price tag under $100 also doesn’t hurt.
The latest and the most ambitious project from Anova has to be their 2019 Anova Precision Cooker Pro, aimed at chefs and people who want to cook sous vide at a professional level. This commercial grade sous vide immersion circulator boasts a hefty price tag but it also has some seriously impressive features. These include 1800 watts of power, a flow rate of 12 liters per minute and a dual bearing brushless DC motor that can ensure that this gadget runs a minimum of 10,000 hours straight without shutting down.
Heater and Circulator
Bluetooth Model: 800W
The heater power in the Bluetooth Anova is only 800W, which is significantly lower than most of the competition which range between 900W and 1100W. Because of this, heating larger water baths can take more time than you’d expect. While this seems like a pretty significant downside at first glance, there’s actually quite a simple solution for it.
Just fill your container with hot tap water and you’ll save time needed for pre-heating. 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. That’s twice the time for the same task- there’s definitely some room for improvement in this department.
WiFi Model: 900W
Anova bumped up their heater power in the new Wifi model by 100w, coming in at 900w total. While it’ still on the lower end of the scale of their competitor’s standards, the increase in the power can definitely be felt with their new device. The power boost cut the time needed for preheat for a whopping 20 percent. This means Anowa Wifi heated 6 liters of water for a little over 19 minutes!
As for the circulator itself, Anova wins across the board. The directional pump has 360 degree circulation which ensures precise temperatures throughout the entire water bath. However, there’s one thing to point out when it comes to the temperature circulation.
If you happen to place the Anova on the edge of a container or a pot, as you usually would, the rear-facing pumps that will face the wall of the container may not be as effective. Some users propose a simple hack to avoid this conundrum: cutting a hole right in the middle of the container’s lid, rather than doing it near the wall. This way, you ensure that the circulation performance is at its best. For our review, we simply attached the Anova to the wall of the container- there were no circulation issues to speak of. 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. There is both an Android version in the Google Play Store and a one for iPhone in the Apple App Store. We used both, and they ran without any glitches or issues. 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! The last thing anyone wants is having to go through a complicated setup process even before the cooking part starts.
One of the biggest reasons to have an app-capable sous vide machine is to be able to check the progress and temperatures with great precision and accuracy without actually having to come up to the device. Anova knew this was important to users, so they actually came up with a solution. They 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 feature to monitor the device, the Anova App has three main sections:
- Time and Temp Guides – this is the part where you truly reap the benefits of the partnership between the Anova and Serious Eats. These consist of incredibly in-depth cooking guides that make sure that you get everything perfectly right on the first try.
- 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 everyday grocery store. No need to hunt for obscure foods to create a breathtaking sous vide meal!
- Chef Ming Tsai – Specific recipes created from the world-famous chef, just for Anova. A culinary mastermind guiding you through the whole process of cooking a meal created specially for the device you’re using? Honestly, there’s no beating that.
The Anova app also lets you adjust the temperature settings, push notifications, and calibration. In addition, 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! Also, it’s not like we’d miss a chance to enjoy a mouthwatering meal in the name of reviewing. 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. This way, we could test both the Anova’s performance and the recipes its app offers. The lucky recipe was… sous vide pork shoulder! (which we turned into pulled pork sandwiches)
We set our Anova to 165 degrees F. We 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, and added a little more dry rub. Then, we 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 we ever ate. It’s worth buying the Anova circulator solely to make these sandwiches day after day. And I say that unapologetically!
Overall, Anova definitely fulfilled the (very high) expectations. This immersion circulator is the Amazon’s choice and one of the most popular circulators out there for good reasons. Precise temperatures and performance, contemporary yet practical design, all followed by one of the largest recipe collections for sous vide cooking which can be accessed via their app. For the average user, there really isn’t anything else you might need or want in an immersion circulator- it’s not surprising that Anova now dubs this particular model the ‘classic’. If you do happen to want something for commercial use or prefer a more updated design, the Anova now offers the ‘get started’ option which is their Nano immersion circulator and the ‘epic’ Anova Pro immersion circulator for, as the name suggests, professionals.
All things considered, we can’t recommend the Anova precision cooker enough. It truly enables you to have 5-star cuisine in your home through a connected kitchen. Oh, and did we mention the price is great? That’s just the cherry on top.