You see it everywhere these days. Sous Vide. That fancy cooking style that used to be exclusively limited to expensive restaurants. Now people are doing it at home. You may have heard the words before, but quickly brushed them aside thinking it’s some impossible French cooking technique. Well, technically it is, as sous vide is French for “under vacuum”. Plus the food prepared with this method tastes like it was ordered from an expensive restaurant. So you really weren’t that far off. Sous vide is truly something special.
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. Everyone can cook with sous vide. Yes, even you. The next time you host a dinner, you could impress your guests by telling them that you prepared their meal sous vide. They’ll be impressed and wonder how you possibly pulled it off. The truth is that this cooking technique is actually surprisingly easy, even if the results don’t taste like it!
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 the process. 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. From there, you can let the sous vide machine do the rest (these kitchen appliances are very similar to crockpots, even if the results are infinitely more impressive). When you return, a perfectly cooked steak or delectably tender salmon will be waiting you. All accomplished in one easy “set it and forget it” process. 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. So the time has come to discover the best sous vide machines that the market has to offer. Once of these beauties will have you preparing sous vide cuisine like a master chef in no time at all.
Sous Vide Machines: Comparison Chart
The Best Sous Vide Machines
Once these 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 even an old plastic cooler. Beyond that, immersion circulators are portable and easily stored. These unique kitchen gadgets can be placed in a drawer when finished, and work just as well as the larger sous vide machines. Because of their flexibility, the following circulators top our list for the best overall sous vide machines. These circulators will create delicious meals with ease.
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, the Joule’s performance is not limited due to its smaller size. In fact, Joule outperformed the majority of the machines that we have 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. If you want to explore the exciting world of sous vide cooking, but don’t have much counter space or time to learn a complex cooking process, this machine will get you sous vide-ing like a pro in no time at all.
Anova is one of the best-selling sous vide machines, and that’s no big surprise either. Their new Bluetooth and WiFi compatible sous vide immersion circulator can send notifications to your mobile phone, keeping you constantly updated on cooking temperatures and status. That means you can leave the kitchen without fear of losing track of your meal. The Anova will keep you up to date on all the key specs from your phone. 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 quick sear. That’s a dream that home chefs never could have even imagined possible before now!
The Sansaire immersion circulator is definitely one of the best-designed sous vide machines on the market. Not only does it look gorgeous, but its performance is immaculate. Sansaire’s 1100W circulator heats water quickly and accurately within 0.1 degree Fahrenheit. 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. This is an excellent way to get started on your sous vide adventure without much of a financial or time investment.
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. Nothing too fancy here. Certainly no phone notifications! Yet, there’s no denying that this machine still gets the job done without much fuss.
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 litre polycarbonate container with 6 litres of water at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and set each circulator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This chart below outlines how long it took for each sous vide machine to reach the desired temperature. You will notice that PolyScience CREATIVE heated the water the fastest, even though Gourmia GSV140 has a higher wattage heater. That’s why these sorts of tests are important. It’s not always easy to guess which machine will perform better based purely on the tech specs.
All-in-One Sous Vide Machine Comparison Chart
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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 combine both an immersion circulator and the water container into one single 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 easy purchase. The only real negative of the all-in-one sous vide machines is their size. So if you have an issue with counter space and don’t want to clutter your kitchen, than an immersion circulator would be a better choice for you. Otherwise, these all-in-one sous vide specialty machines are the best way to go.
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. This combines is everything that you could possibly want out of a sous vide cooker in a sleek, slim, and undeniably handsome package. In other words, it’s a sous vide that you would be proud to bring home and introduce to your parents.
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 can 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 audience! 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. If you’re looking for a sous vide machine that will offer more cooking options than the competition, this is one for you.
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 delivers the goods with a powerful sous vide 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. Instead, a small window will let you keep an eye on your meal 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 out. Everything is straightforward, and the performance is spot on. Simple, sleek, effective, and affordable, this is an ideal machine for anyone just starting out on their sous vide journey.
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, just in a far smaller and less bulky package than the competition. There’s no question why Amazon users have this as 4.5 stars. This machine delivers the sous vide goods without dominating your entire countertop.
Sous Vide Machine Buying Guide
At this point it’s safe to say that you’ve already decided that you want to try cooking sous vide. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even be here! We’ve recommended 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 specific needs? Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Let’s dive right in to all of the important the details that help make your sous vide decision a little easier. 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 whether you would prefer a sous vide oven or immersion circulator. As discussed above, sous vide ovens are all-in one devices. There’s no need to invest in additional sous vide equipment, such as containers, if you opt for one of those. 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. So, which investment makes the most sense for you depends entirely on your budget and needs.
- 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. However, 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 to help make this decision a little easier.
- Sous Vide Vacuum Sealer or Bags
A vacuum sealer is not a prerequisite for cooking sous vide, but it is always 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 one prepared by the usual methods. The reason for this is that the steak 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 even more 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 simply wouldn’t be of the restaurant-quality that you’ve come to expect. 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 in. 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 in the flavor, 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’ll 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 the 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. It’s a hassle-free technique 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, delivering absolutely delicious fall-apart juicy pork. Plus, the set-it-and-forget it method ensures 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 in 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. This will make a huge difference in the amount of food that you can prepare in sous vide. If you are just planning on cooking for yourself, a smaller meal with do. But if you plan on preparing a meal for a large group of friends or family, you need a big water capacity to make it possible!
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. Now, let’s answer some frequently asked questions to ensure that you’ll leave this article with all of the information that you could possibly want to know about sous vide.
Sous Vide Frequently Asked Questions
How do you pronounce Sous Vide?
A: It’s hard to talk about this exciting mode of cooking with your friends when you don’t quite know how to say it out loud, right? Don’t worry. It’s easier than you think. Let’s use phonetics. Think of it as “Sue Veed.” That should get you out of any potential French mispronunciation mishaps.
Does Sous Vide cook faster?
No, it actually takes longer than most cooking methods. The trick with Sous Vide is that it allows you to cook at a consistent temperature to guarantee more consistent results. So generally speaking, Sous Vide will take longer than traditional modes of cooking, but the results will be so much tastier.
Are Ziploc bags safe for Sous Vide cooking?
Surprisingly, yes! Ziploc bags can work for Sous Vide cooking if you are stuck in a jam. Now, we would caution against using no name bags or cooking at high temperatures to avoid any melting or leaking. You also have to be careful to remove all of the excess air from the bags before cooking. So, it’s not the ideal solution, but yes Ziploc bags will do fin in a Sous Vide emergency.
What are Sous Vide Ping Pong Balls used for?
Sous Vide Ping Pong Balls are used to prevent water and heat loss while cooking. These handy balls will help your water get up to the desired temperature faster, prevent you from having to add more water throughout cooking, and insulate your water bath for a more eco-friendly and power-saving cooking experience. Just make sure to buy specially designed Sous Vide Ping Pong balls that are up to the task and it’s probably a good idea to avoid playing actual Ping Pong with them as well.
Can I leave the Sous Vide machine running unattended?
If you’re comfortable leaving a crock pot unattended, then you should feel similarly about a Sous Vide. Obviously refer to your Sous Vide’s manufacturer’s instructions for further details and any safety issues that come up with leaving any cooking appliance running unattended still apply, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.
Can you Sous Vide frozen meat?
Absolutely. However, you will need to factor that into your cooking time because frozen meat will take a little longer to cook than thawed or fresh meat.
Does Sous Vide use a lot of electricity?
This depends on the power consumption of your specific Sous Vide. But in general, it takes about as much energy consumption to cook something in a Sous Vide as it would to cook it on a stove.
Can you Sous Vide more than one bag at a time?
Yes. However, you will want to ensure that there is still plenty of space for water to circulate between the bags in your Sous Vide to ensure that they cook evenly.
Can you reuse Sous Vide water?
You can reuse Sous Vide water, but you shouldn’t reuse it too many times. Replacing it every 10 days is a good rule of thumb and make sure to immediately replace the water if your bags ever tear or open during a Sous Vide session to avoid bacterial growth.
Are Vacuum Sealers necessary for Sous Vide?
Not really. This is a common misconception given that vacuum sealers were central to the invention of Sous Vide and…you know…the fact that “sous vide” translates to “under vacuum.” Some items like vegetables do turn out better with a vacuum seal, but it’s not a dealbreaker.
Is sous vide expensive?
While Sous Vide machines have gotten more affordable in recent years, these machines certainly aren’t cheap. It’s also worth nothing that you often get what you pay for with a Sous Vide. So consider it an investment if you are serious about getting into Sous Vide cooking.