You may have heard the word before, but quickly brushed it aside thinking it’s some fancy French thing. Well, technically it is, as sous vide is French for “under vacuum”. And the food prepared with this method tastes like it was ordered from a fancy restaurant, so you really weren’t that far off. 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 the same function, which is to cook food at a consistent temperature throughout. This is achieved 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 or the most tender salmon will be waiting you. Can’t beat that!
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! Even if the sous vide technique is not new to you, you’ll still need to get a sous vide oven or immersion circulator to get started. Find out what are the best sous vide machines that the market has to offer.
Sous Vide Machines: Comparison Chart
Best Sous Vide Machines
Once the immersion circulators were introduced, they took the food industry by the storm.These compact devices offered an innovative and practical way to cook sous vide. While experts recommend pairing these sous vide machines with quality water containers, you can just as easily prepare restaurant-worthy meals in a pot or an old plastic cooler. To boot, immersion circulators are portable and easily stored. 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. Joule makes the sous vide cooking process a foolproof one, and is a great choice for novices and experts alike. The combination of design, ease of use, performance, and features makes ChefSteps Joule our most recommended sous vide machine.
Anova is one of the best-selling sous vide machines, and it’s to no one’s surprise. Their new Bluetooth and WiFi compatible sous vide immersion circulator can send notifications to your mobile phone, keeping you updated on cooking temperatures and status. One of the most impressive features of this gadget is the ability to set up the Anova cooker before you leave for work, and let it do its magic while you’re away. This way, you’ll be coming home to a perfectly cooked steak, just waiting for you to finish it off with a sear.
The Sansaire immersion circulator is definitely one of the best-designed sous vide machines on the market. Not only does it look awesome, but its performance is immaculate. Within 0.1 degree Fahrenheit, 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 it is so easy to use, doesn’t take up much space, and works wonderfully. Oh yeah, and the price isn’t to shabby, 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 in their cooker but it still remains one of the most budget-friendly sous vide machines available. The improved circulator can also handle much larger water baths, which give you the chance to cook more food at one time. Additionally, the design and interface were 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 the set temperature. 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. Essentially, these sous vide machines replace both an immersion circulator and the water container with one unit. With a built-in digital thermometer and timer and a water container, you’ll be getting everything you need for sous vide with one purchase. The only real negative of the all-in-one sous vide machines is their size. In case you don’t want to clutter your kitchen counter or have limited space available, than an immersion circulator would be a better choice for you.
Tribest absolutely perfected the Sousvant, down to the smallest details. They managed to create one of the easiest sous vide machines on the market. Its vertical design saves counter space while also looking sleek and modern. The water container has a larger capacity 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 machines. Oliso took innovation to a new level with this all-in-one smart sous vide and induction cooktop. Not only that you can use this device to cook a meal at a perfect temperature via the sous vide oven, but you can also sear the food on the cooktop once finished. Talk about understanding your target group! 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. In turn, this makes it 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 one of the most affordable sous vide machines out there. Don’t let the price tag fool you, though- this device boasts a powerful performance. The 10 quart water bath and 12 slot oven rack is large enough to cook for multiple people at the same time. You won’t have to open the lid to check your food’s progress and disrupt the temperature- a small window let’s you keep an eye without touching anything. 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 to figure it out. Everything is straightforward, 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 that doesn’t take up much space, 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! We’ve recommended you the best sous vide machines that the market has to offer, but how do you know which one will be the best match for your needs? 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 the type of sous vide machine and type of water container. Also, you’ll need to find a reliable a vacuum sealer to prepare everything beforehand.
- Sous Vide Oven vs Immersion Circulator: Which One to Choose?
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 are all-in one devices. There’s no need to invest in additional sous vide equipment, such as containers. The only additional thing you’ll need to get 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, too.
- Sous Vide Container or Pot
If you opt for the compact version and get an immersion circulator, you must also buy a water container. Some people rely on large pots they already own, but it’s not always the best solution. Most immersion circulator owners decide on Rubbermaid’s containers as they’re relatively cheap and come in various sizes: from 2 quarts all the way up to 22 quarts. The amount of food you plan on cooking in one batch will determine which size you prefer. If you’re doing a single steak at a time, a large pot in your kitchen may suffice. If you want to make a full course or have friends over for an impressive sous vide dinner, you’ll need to up your game. Check out our suggestions for best containers for sous vide.
- Sous Vide Vacuum Sealer or Bags
A vacuum sealer is not a prerequisite for cooking sous vide, but it is better if you use one. If you don’t seal your food in a vacuum pouch, it will simply boil in the water bath. Could you imagine having to eat a boiled steak? Yuck! When you use a vacuum sealer for sous vide, it will ensure all the of the juices and flavors are infused in the meat. Even if you simply seal a steak without any seasoning, it will still be much more flavorful than prepared by usual methods. The reason for this is that it will essentially be cooked in its own juices. If you’re looking to take it a step further, you can marinate the steak within the vacuum sealer for an intense flavor. If you don’t want to invest in 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 do encourage you to read the packaging on the bags before buying, though. It’s important to make sure that 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
The searing finish is what ties all together and makes a stunning meal. Without searing, the sous vide meal just wouldn’t be of restaurant-quality like you’d expect it to. Traditional cooking methods give a nice finish or crust to the food since it’s in direct contact with high temperatures. Sous vide cooks at lower temperatures than that, and the food is encased in a bag, so there is no way for it to get that 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. Even a searing torch could be worth investing into! Check out our ultimate searing guide to master the finishing touches.
Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking
If you thought the only benefit to sous vide cooking is the unprecedented flavor, you’re mistaken. Sure, sous vide cooking relies on precise and consistent temperatures to lock the flavor in, but the biggest advantage of this method is its simplicity. All it takes is setting the temperature correctly and placing the food in the water bath. Each time, you’ll end up with a mouthwatering, gourmet meal. 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. You can save money on buying cuts that are not popular with traditional cooking and transform them into delectable, juicy meals.
Let’s use medium steak as an example. In case you are using a traditional method of cooking, such as pan searing, you cook the steak on high temperatures over a short period of time. As a result, your steak has 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 precise temperature over a period of 1-2 hours. The end result is a steak evenly cooked at an exact set temperature, whether it’s at the center or the exterior of the steak. The only thing left is to drop it on a hot pan for a minute or so to develop a nice crust and you have a fancy-restaurant-quality steak!
Nobody likes their meat chewy and tough. This is why certain parts of the animal are less popular, leading to their cheap price- like beef rump. But, with sous vide cooking method, you can easily transform a tough cut into a juicy and tender one. How? By cooking them at a consistent temperature for a long period of time. Hassle-free but with extraordinary results! Roasts are ideal for cooking sous vide for 24 to 48 hours. We cooked a pork shoulder (after applying a dry rub) for 24 hours and it was unbelievable – fall-apart juicy pork. Plus, the set-it-and-forget it method ensure that you don’t have to fuss over the meat to get the results you want.
Since the food is vacuum sealed beforehand, none of the juices can escape and evaporate. This means your steak can be cooked with all of the amazing flavors locked in in the sous vide pouch. Even better, once you are done cooking, the juices are left over in the bag, allowing you to pour it into a pan and create a delicious sauce. Dang… now I’m hungry.
Cooking sous vide is unbelievably easy. You certainly do not need to be a seasoned cook in order to start your sous vide journey. Someone with zero experience can purchase a sous vide machine and have it up and cooking within minutes by simply pouring water, adding your food, and waiting! Not to mention that there are tons of simple recipes that make the process foolproof.
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. Her sous vide hot pockets are a perfect example of her creativity!
Also, you can find a ton of delicious and easy to make sous vide recipes over at our Recipes section of the blog. You’re welcome!
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. After all, bells and whistles can be tempting, but it’s all about the foundation.
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 a water bath that’s too large, the immersion circulator may not be able to heat it entirely.
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, for example . This will shut off the device when water is too low to prevent burning the unit. Power outage warning is another important feature to include. It will let you know if the power went out which may spoil food.
Hopefully, your buying decision will be easier after reading our ultimate guide on best sous vide machines. 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: