You may have heard the word before, but quickly brushed it aside thinking it’s some fancy French thing. Well, technically it is (French for “under vacuum”). However, you do not have to be a seasoned master chef to use a Sous Vide machine – in fact, they’re incredibly easy to use.
There are two main types of sous vide cooking methods – sous vide ovens (also called sous vide cookers) and immersion circulators (we’ll dive into each type in a second). Both methods serve a similar function, which is to cook food at a consistent temperature throughout. This is done by vacuum sealing your food prior to cooking, and then immersing the packed food in hot water. Sous vide machines allow you to set your preferred temperature prior to cooking, and then letting the sous vide machine do the rest (very similar to crockpots). When you return, a perfectly cooked steak will be awaiting.
If you’re a complete newbie to sous vide, I’d highly recommend you check out my new book, Learn Sous Vide. It’s written specifically for beginners and will teach you everything you need to know to get cooking fast!
Sous Vide Machines: Comparison Chart
Best Sous Vide Machines
Immersion circulators took the food industry by storm recently, introducing an innovative new way to cook sous vide. Immersion circulators can be used with an ordinary pot – or even a bucket of water – and you don’t even have to be in the kitchen! These unique kitchen gadgets can be placed in a drawer when finished, and work just as great as the larger sous vide machines. Because of their flexibility, the following circulators top our list for the best overall sous vide machines.
ChefSteps, a pioneer in the “smart kitchen” arena, recently introduced their first sous vide machine. Meet Joule. ChefSteps perfected the immersion circulator on their first attempt by creating a gorgeous design that is nearly half the size of some other sous vide precision cookers. More importantly, performance is not limited due to the smaller size; in fact, Joule outperformed the majority we reviewed. The combination of design, ease of use, performance, and features makes ChefSteps Joule our most recommended sous vide machine.
Anova took the sous vide market by storm with their new Bluetooth and WiFi compatible sous vide immersion circulator. This innovative device can send notifications to your mobile phone, keeping you updated on cooking temperatures and status. One of the most impressive features of this is the ability to set up the Anova cooker before you leave for work, and then being able to start the cooking before you leave work. This lets you come home to a perfectly cooked steak, just waiting for you to finish it off with a sear.
The Sansaire sous vide machine is undoubtedly the most unique and well-designed immersion circulator on the market. Not only does it look awesome, but its performance is immaculate, within 0.1 degree F. Sansaire’s 1100W circulator heats water quickly and accurately. We find ourselves using the Sansaire sous vide machine regularly over many others out there since its so easy to use, doesn’t take up much space, and works wonderfully. Oh yeah, and the price isn’t bad either.
Gourmia improved their flagship sous vide immersion circulator by rolling out the GSV140 sous vide machine. Gourmia packed in an unbelievable 1200 watt heater while also remaining as one of the most budget-friendly sous vide machines available. The improved circulator can also handle much larger water baths to allow cooking more food at one time, and the design and interface was also enhanced to make cooking easier. For the cost, you can’t go wrong with the Gourmia GSV-140.
Gourmia introduced the GSV130 immersion circulator as an alternative to their sous vide oven models. Not only does the Gourmia GSV130 perform just as well as competition, such as Anova, but Gourmia also costs quite a bit less. This is an impressive sous vide immersion circulator for entry level cooking. Simply clip the GSV-130 to a large pot or container, fill it with water, and cook your vacuum sealed food.
Hands-On Test: Comparing Sous Vide Performance
Here we conducted a quick test with each of our most preferred sous vide immersion circulators. In this test, we filled a 12 liter polycarbonate container with 6 liters of water at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and set each circulator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This chart below shows how long it took each sous vide machine to reach 135F. You will notice that PolyScience CREATIVE heated the water the fastest, even though Gourmia GSV140 has a higher wattage heater.
All-in-One Sous Vide Machine Comparison Chart
|Name / Image||Price||Rating||Heater (Watts)|
|View Lowest PriceRead our Review||1000w|
|View Lowest PriceRead our Review||1500w|
Sous Vide Supreme
|View Lowest PriceRead our Review||500w|
|View Lowest PriceRead our Review||800w|
Best Sous Vide Cooker
Sous vide ovens are the all-in-one package for cooking sous vide. These appliances contain a water reservoir to place your vacuum sealed food and digital thermometers and timers to properly cook food to your desired temperature. The only real negative of the all-in-one sous vide machines is the size. If you are limited on storage or don’t want such a large cooking appliance, an immersion circulator is a great choice for you.
Tribest absolutely perfected the Sousvant by creating the easiest sous vide machine on the market. It’s vertical design saves counter space while also looking amazingly modern. The water container is larger than it appears and the powerful circulator ensures precise temperatures. The combination of practical and creative design matched with precision and ease of use makes the Sousvant our go-to sous vide oven.
We’re calling this the Tesla of sous vide. Oliso took innovation to a new level with this all-in-one smart sous vide and induction cooktop. Not only can you cook to a perfect temperature via the sous vide oven, but you can also sear the food on the cooktop once finished. While sous vide ovens are typically viewed as too bulky of an appliance to store, the Oliso PRO sous vide machine serves as a multi-purpose kitchen appliance which is perfect for small spaces that may not warrant a full stove (RVs, tiny houses, etc) and just as suitable for standard kitchens.
The Gourmia GSV900 is a personal go-to sous vide machine. The 10 quart water bath and 12 slot oven rack is large enough to cook for multiple people at the same time. The top window allows you to keep an eye on your food as its cooking without opening the lid and disrupting the even temperatures. In addition, the LCD control panel is incredibly easy to use. This is the one sous vide oven that I didn’t even have to open the manual. Everything is straight forward, and the performance is spot on.
The Sous Vide Supreme Demi water oven makes our list as an ideal compact sous vide machine. If you’re looking for an all-in-one sous vide machine (instead of an immersion circulator), the Demi model fits the bill. Holding up to 8.7 liters of water, this sous vide oven can still cook up to 12 four-ounce portions of food at a time. There’s no question why Amazon users have this as 4.5 stars.
Sous Vide Machine Buying Guide
You’ve already decided you want to try cooking sous vide, or else you wouldn’t be here! So let’s dive right in to the details to help make the buying decision easy. You will want to ensure you make the correct decision on what type of sous vide machine, whether or not you will need a water bath or large pot, and a vacuum sealer.
- Sous Vide Oven vs Immersion Circulator
The first thing you will want to decide is if you would prefer a sous vide oven or immersion circulator. As we discussed above, sous vide ovens contain the water bath and oven racks. Think of the ovens as a crockpot with water in them. The only thing remaining you will need to have in order to cook sous vide is a vacuum sealer. Immersion circulators on the other hand, are small gadgets that attach to the side of a pot or container which heats the water. With an immersion circulator, you will need to have a water bath suitable for cooking and a vacuum sealer.
- Sous Vide Container or Pot
If you elect to purchase an immersion circulator, you must ensure to either purchase or own a large pot or container for the water bath. Rubbermaid sells perfect containers for immersion circulators from 2 quarts all the way up to 22 quarts, and they’re relatively cheap. Depending on the amount of food you plan on cooking at a time will determine which size you prefer. If you’re doing a single steak at a time, a large pot in your kitchen may suffice. Check out our suggestions for best containers for sous vide.
- Sous Vide Vacuum Sealer or Bags
A vacuum sealer is not necessary for cooking sous vide, but it is preferred. Not only does it protect your food from simply boiling in water (can you imagine a boiled steak?), but it holds all of the juices and flavors infused in the meat. Simply sealing a steak without any seasoning will still be much more flavorful just from the juices. If you’re looking to take it a step further, you can marinate the steak within the vacuum sealer resulting in intense flavor. If you elect to forego a vacuum sealer, simple food-grade ziplock bags can be used with the water displacement method. Check out this amazing guide by ChefSteps for simple sous vide packaging. We encourage you to read the packaging on the bags before buying to ensure you get BPA-free food-grade bags and not just your everyday sandwich bags. Depending on which route you wish to take, we put together reviews for the best vacuum sealer and a guide to sous vide bags.
- Searing Equipment
Sous vide isn’t complete until you get an amazing sear on your food. Traditional cooking methods give a great texture to the food by being in direct contact with high heat. Since sous vide cooks a lower temperatures, it does not develop a crispy crust that people know and love. As a result, you will need to use a cast iron pan to get a good base crust and even a searing torch! Check out our ultimate searing guide to master the finishing touches.
Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking
To cut to the chase, sous vide provides consistent temperatures throughout your food while retaining all flavors. By simply setting the temperature to your desired setting and placing the food in, you can ensure consistent and delicious food every single time. Seriously, it’s very difficult to mess up! Moreover, many cuts of meat that are traditionally tougher in nature become very tender after cooking them sous vide over longer periods of time.
Let’s use an example of cooking a medium steak. When using a traditional method, such as pan searing, incredibly hot temperatures are cooking the steak over short periods of time. This means you get a steak with very overcooked edges and a pink center, usually resulting in a gradient of color. On the other hand, with sous vide, I can set the temperature to 135 degrees F and cook the steak to that exact temperature over a period of 1-2 hours. The end result is a steak exactly 135 degrees F, whether it’s the center or exterior of the steak. Now you can drop it on a hot pan for a minute or so to develop a nice crust and you have a fancy-restaurant-quality steak!
Many tough cuts of meat can be cooked for longer periods of time to become juicy and tender. Roasts are ideal for cooking sous vide for 24-48 hours. We cooked a pork shoulder (after applying dry rub) for 24 hours and it was unbelievable – fall-apart juicy pork.
Since the food is vacuum sealed (or simply bagged) beforehand, none of the juices can escape and evaporate. This means your steak can be cooked with all of the amazing flavors that are trying desperately to escape. Even better, once you are done cooking, the “escaped” juices are left over in the bag, allowing you to pour it into a pan and create a delicious sauce, if desired. Dang… now I’m hungry.
Cooking sous vide is unbelievably easy. You certainly do not need to be a cook in order to start with sous vide. Someone with zero experience can purchase a sous vide machine and have it up and cooking within minutes by simply adding water, adding your food, and waiting! Sous vide machines may be especially beneficial to the following:
Working parents or stay-at-home parents running busy lives can maintain healthy diets and scrumptious meals by cooking sous vide. Work with your children to find a few meals they love, and you can set a schedule to start your sous vide machine at a certain time or even use Anova’s app to start your device before you leave work!
We all remember dorm-room-eating – Hot Pockets and ramen. Let’s eliminate this trend by introducing college students to sous vide machines! Immersion circulators can fit in a backpack and cook pounds of chicken, beef, or vegetables in one sitting.
Sunday meal planning has honestly never been easier. This is our personal favorite for sous vide cooking. Every Sunday we cook up a weeks worth of food in water baths and toss them in containers for the week. Perfectly cooked chicken and salmon are my go-to.
What Foods Can I Sous Vide?
This is perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of sous vide cooking. Most people immediately think of cooking steak with sous vide – I don’t blame them! However there are so many more options out there that all benefit from precise temperatures to ensure a perfect cook. Any sous vide machine will enable you to cook any of the following plus many more:
If you’re still not sold, we encourage you to check out Claire Lower’s “Will it Sous Vide?” column on Lifehacker. She consistently creates unique and interesting experiments with everyday food including sous vide hot pockets!
Important Sous Vide Machine Features
Many new sous vide machines have fun and unique features to help set them apart from the rest. While these are great selling points, it’s important to remember a few of the key features necessary for sous vide machines in order to make the best buying decision.
Water Capacity: If you decide to go with a sous vide oven, which includes the water bath, you will want to know how much water the device can hold.
Heater & Circulator: This feature is more important to understand for immersion circulators than sous vide ovens. If you use an immersion circulator, the food capacity ultimately depends on the size of the container you are using (which is basically limitless). However, if you use too large of a water bath, the immersion circulator may not be able to heat the entire container.
Temperature Range: Most sous vide machines can reach 200 degrees F or higher.
Temperature Precision: The majority of sous vide machines available claim to keep temperatures within 0.1 degree F.
Safety: The important safety features include low water warning (shuts off when water is too low to prevent burning the unit), power outage warning (to let you know if the power went out which may spoil food), and timers, among others.
Hopefully your buying decision will be easier now that we went over the main ingredients necessary for cooking sous vide and identified our top picks for best sous vide machine. If you’re looking for more information about sous vide including how it became such a growing industry, we highly recommend watching this amazing video by PolyScience Culinary about the sous vide revolution: