Sous vide, a method of cooking often used at fine restaurants, is fast becoming a popular way to prepare food at home. The process involves vacuum sealing food in special sous vide bags and submerging them in water that is heated to a temperature that usually doesn’t exceed 158° F. The instrument used to heat the water is called a sous vide immersion circulator.
If you’re not yet familiar with this unique, slow-cook way to render most foods tender, juicy and flavorful, you may want to get on the bandwagon. The way to start is with a sous vide circulator, the device that creates and maintains an even and accurate cooking water bath for food, with perfect results every time.
Sous vide circulators come in a variety of styles with different function and features, including digital touchscreen displays and Wi-Fi controls.
We feature five different sous vide circulators you can purchase online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
Top Pick Best Basic: Instant Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator with digital touchscreen display
If you’ve been thinking of dipping your toes – and food – into the sous vide cooking waters, you’ll need an immersion circulator to navigate through all the recipes you’re going to want to try.
This basic sous vide circulator from Instant Pot won’t bust your budget, but it will give you a satisfying introduction to the world of food prep perfection with consistent cooking, creating and maintaining an even and accurately controlled water bath.
This model has an easy-to-read display with digital touchscreen controls, and is made with lightweight stainless steel and a handle coated with rubber. The active pump system of this unit circulates water without relying on convection currents, resulting in a uniformly heated water bath free of hot or cool spots.
The 12V DC motor, which is extremely quiet and more durable compared with standard AC motors, stops when you remove the sous vide circulator from the water. Convenient to use, the circulator clamps securely to a six or eight-quart pot either in or out of an instant pot or it can be used with any pot that you have.
You can adjust the circulator for up to 72 hours of cooking time, and set the temperature from 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 203 degrees Fahrenheit, in one-degree increments. With this easy to use circulator, your entry into the sous vide way of life will be smooth, successful and delicious!
- Stand up design
- Removable skirt for easy cleaning
- No smart features or remote control options
Top Pick Best Overall: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano
If you’re looking for a compact sous vide circulator that will fit into your kitchen drawer for quick and easy storage, but is powerful enough to prepare food for a table of four, then you may want to consider this model from Anova.
The Nano attaches easily to any stockpot or container with a fixed clamp, and is constructed of super durable plastic that is water resistant and easy to clean. Versatile to use, it attaches to any size pot or container. Just fill a pot with water, add your food into a sous vide bag, seal it and put it into the water bath that has been heated with the circulator.
This model has two convenient control options. You can cook manually using the built-in controls or you can use the Anova app on your smartphone. Monitor the progress of your food from anywhere plus have access to thousands of free sous vide recipes. Spend more time with your guests while your food is cooking, and app will notify you when it is ready to eat. Cooking time is up to 99 hours.
From near or far, this sous vide circulator is all about options and convenience.
- Compact and lightweight
- Water resistant
- Attaches to any pot
- Has touch pad controls and Bluetooth control
- A bit noisy
Top Pick Best Kit: Sousvide Art Sous Vide Cooker Immersion Circulator
When it comes to sous vide cooking, you can start small, one item at a time, and then build as your knowledge and expertise grows. But why not have everything you need at the get-go to start your sous vide cooking journey?
This sous vide cooker immersion circulator and sous vide kit is so convenient, you’ll have everything at your fingertips the minute you open the box.
It all starts with 15 sous vide bags. Depending on what you’re cooking, pick one or two bags and put in the food, complete with seasonings and marinade, if you like, and seal it with a white clip. Then, using the hand pump, suck the air out of the bag through the round valve.
Once that is done, you place the sous vide circulator into a pot with water and set the temperature needed according to the recipe, and the food, you are cooking. The included recipe book is a good guide to follow. Once the water reaches the desired temperature, put the bags in and then let the circulator do its job of maintaining the bath at precisely controlled low temperatures so your food will be cooked evenly from edge to edge.
This circulator offers up accurate temperature control, a simple and intuitive interface and attaches to any pot or container with an ergonomic, rubberized grip. This kit is ideal for anyone starting out and makes an ideal gift for the budding chef in your life. Say hello to tasty, juicy, and delicious meat, fish and poultry.
- Includes everything for sous vide cooking
- Sous vide circulator attaches to any pot or container
- Maintains accurate water temperature
- Recipe book and instruction manual included
- Timer sounds when the food is ready
- No app or Wi-Fi connectivity
Top Pick Best App Controlled: Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide
Precision and successful sous vide cooking go hand in hand, which means finding a sous vide circulator that delivers precise and consistent temperatures is the key to perfect results.
This sleek sous vide circulator may be small and unassuming – it measures just 11 inches tall and weighs 1.1 pounds – its packed with 1,100 watts of power and is designed to heat water quickly and accurately, with a precision of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
And while these qualities are important, there’s more to this sous vide circulator that makes it a good choice for the serious chef who enjoys the slow-cook magic of sous vide. The joule sous vide circulator is all about ease of use. All you need is a smartphone, Wi-Fi, a pot, Ziplock-style bags and water.
The circulator has a magnetic base and a versatile clip, so you can attach it to almost any container, from a small saucepan to a stockpot, and leave it there to do its work. The visual doneness feature in the Joule app displays exactly how the food will turn out before you even start cooking.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ready, it works with an iPhone or Android – connect with Bluetooth alone, or cook from anywhere with Wi-Fi. Oh yes, you can also control Joule with your voice using the custom Joule Alexa skill. Now that’s versatile!
- Holds temperature with accuracy
- 1,100 watts of power
- Attaches to any pot
- Can be controlled from anywhere
- Compact, lightweight
- More expensive than other models
- No touchscreen controls
- Won’t work if not connected to Wi-Fi
Top Pick Best Versatile: Imersa Elite Sous Vide Cooker with Unique Folding Design
There are a lot of small, lightweight sous vide circulators on the market, and while many do a good job, they not big enough to heat a large pot of water. If you’re looking for a small sous vide circulator that delivers the same power as a large immersion circulator, then consider this model from Imersa Elite.
The innovative, foldable design of this sous vide circulator gives it a smaller, vertical footprint. Not only does this mean that it is easy to store away, but you can also use it in shallow containers as well as tall ones. And even though it is small, it can efficiently heat up to 30 litres of water for accurate, precise and stable temperature control for perfectly cooked meals.
As far as the unique design goes, the immersion circulator is built with dust and water resistant components while the “Flip-Display” design positions the critical electronics away from the hot water bath to prevent any damage from steam. It also features a minimum and maximum water level protection system, ideal for long cooking times.
Simply attach the sous vide circulator to a stockpot or large plastic container filled with water. Set the temperature, and put the vacuum-sealed food into the pot. You can easily real the large display from across the kitchen and set the time and temperature quickly with the touch display.
You can also control it from anywhere using your smartphone by downloading the Vesta app. Put your food in an ice bath before you head to work, then remotely turn on the circulator whenever you’re ready for the food to start cooking. It’ll be ready to finish when you get home.
- Compact foldable design
- Works on shallow containers
- Touch screen controls
- App to remotely control cooking process
- Passed European IP68 safety requirement and European IPX7 submersible safety requirement
- More expensive than other models
Things to look out for:
Consider these things when looking for a sous vide circulator so you will choose one that best suits your needs:
Cost: When they first came out, a sous vide circulator was pretty costly but they have now become more affordable, with many price points. This really opens the door to trying the cooking method without spending too much money. Of course, the affordable models are more basic with a simple display interface and no paired app, Bluetooth or We-Fi connectivity, but those bells and whistles are not necessary for a sous vide circulator to do a good job. However, if you do have a larger budget, you do like to have all the options and functions available to you, and you intend on doing a lot of sous vide cooking, then it’s a worthwhile investment to spend more to get more.
Functions and features: The main function of a sous vide circulator is to heat and circulate water at a precise temperature and maintain it for the duration of the time needed for the food in the water to be cooked. It does this through a heating element that turns on and off with a thermostatic control, bringing the water up to the target temperature and holding it at that temperature once it’s reached its goal. Look for a sous vide circulator that effectively and constantly circulates water for even and accurate temperature control. If it doesn’t do this, the water will develop hot spots close to where the device is placed, and cold spots.
It’s best to find a sous vide circulator that works in any sized pot or container you’d like to use. It should clip on easily, or have a magnetic base, although these models won’t adhere to some pots that aren’t magnetized. Make sure the display interface is easy to read and simple to use. Some people enjoy being able to connect the sous vide circulator to an app so they can control it remotely. This can come in handy, but of course, won’t work with connectivity issues. If you do choose this kind of model, make sure it also has a touch screen or manually controlled display so you can use it with or without Wi-Fi.