Looking to get started with sous vide? You probably have found out that knowing what you need to get started isn’t exactly straightforward for a newcomer. I put a list together of everything a beginner needs to start making excellent sous vide meals and I’m calling it the “sous vide starter kit“.
Everything you need has been compiled into a bundle below and should run you about $300-350 depending on sale prices. If this is more than you’re looking to spend, you can certainly cut some corners (especially if you already own a good vacuum sealer). I’ll discuss each item in the bundle after the table below and tell you what you absolutely need versus what’s only “nice to have”.
Starter Sous Vide Machine – Anova WiFi
There’s really no point in trying to save some money here, it’s best to go with a high quality sous vide machine than something cheap that won’t be as reliable or have the great customer service behind it.
If you want an in-depth look at the Anova sous vide machine, then head over to our Anova review. Anova offers a Bluetooth-only model (cheaper) and a model with WiFi added on. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled phone and don’t care if you can control your Anova sous vide machine outside of your home, then the Bluetooth model is fine. The WiFi model would let you control the machine from anywhere which may be a selling point for some.
Price: $120-150 (depending on model)
Necessary: Yes, a sous vide machine is a must.
Starter Sous Vide Container – Cambro
You won’t get very far trying to sous vide anything without a container to put everything in! This 4.75 gallon Cambro container is made from food-safe plastics that won’t leach anything dangerous into your foods. Using a clear container is also useful for keeping an eye on your cook to make sure everything remains fully submerged.
You might have a similar style container at home, or some people ever use a large metal pot for their sous vide cooks. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it might be harder to situate your foods in a pot compared to a container like this Cambro.
Necessary: Yes, unless you have another similar container that will work.
Starter Container Lid – Ping Pong Balls
Getting a lid for your container can be a little tricky since the lid must have a special cutout for the sous vide machine which will be both in the container and protruding from it. It’s possible to find a matching lid/container set, but an easier and cheaper solution is to use a set of these sous vide ping pong balls!
You simple pour the ping pong balls over your container as you start your cook, and they coat the top of the water forming a custom fit “lid”. The nice thing about this is the balls will adjust to fit any size container, so if you graduate from a pot to a polycarbonate container or need to buy a different sized container in the future, you can still use these.
That being said, having a lid is optional. It prevents too much water from evaporating which can be important for longer cooks, and it makes your sous vide machine more energy efficient so it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the water temperature up. If you really need to save some money, it’s possible to skip a lid as a starter and you’ll be fine.
Necessary: No, but nice to have especially for longer cooks.
Starter Vacuum Sealer
Having a waterproof, tight seal around your food is vital to a good cook. If any water gets into your bag, your food will be ruined. If your bag has too much air in it or isn’t tight enough to the food, it may not cook the food to the proper temperature all the way through which can be dangerous.
There are ways you can get by without a vacuum sealer. I cover the “water displacement method” in our best sous vide bags article. This method uses regular Ziploc bags to get a “good enough” seal on your food and requires no special equipment.
If you’re serious about sous vide though, I suggest getting a vacuum sealer as it just makes the entire process more reliable. The above FoodSover Vacuum Sealer comes as a “starter kit” with some bags to get you started. Of course, any standard sized vacuum sealer should work so if you already have one, use it!
Necessary: No, but highly recommended.
Sous Vide Cookbook for Beginners
Of course I’m going to recommend my very own Learn Sous Vide as your go-to cookbook for beginners because not that long ago, I was a sous vide beginner myself. I’m not a professional chef and I don’t write from the perspective of one. Instead I focus explaining sous vide for the average Joe in ways that I found useful to learn when I started my sous vide journey.
Learn Sous Vide is available in Kindle format, PDF, or paperback. You can view all the buying options here.
Also be sure to check out my sous vide recipes section of the site, all for free.
Price: ~$6-20 (depending on format)
Necessary: No, but I would appreciate it! 🙂
Sous Vide Searing Oil
If you’re going to be cooking a lot of meats (and who doesn’t with sous vide?), you’re going to be searing a lot of meats. I wrote a definitive guide to searing that covers everything you could possibly want to know on the topic, and one important piece of that is oils.
When you sear meat, you do so at extremely hot temperatures for a short period of time to get that perfect finish. The problem is, most of the cooking oils you’re used to have a very low smoke point. If you try to sear with something like extra virgin olive oil (smoke point of 320ºF), you’ll be filling your house with smoke!
Avocado oil has a much higher smoke point – 520ºF! You can try your luck with other oils, but it only takes one experience having to run fans in your entire house for hours to clear out the smoke for you to realize avocado oil is the way to go.
Necessary: Yes, if you’re serious about searing.