Sous Vide Machine Guide

When you’re starting out shopping for a sous vide machine, it can be a bit daunting to figure out which model to get, which type to get, and how many of the bells and whistles you want or don’t want.

We’ve put together a quick guide that covers the basics for you so you know what you’re looking at when it comes to finding the best sous vide machine for any budget.


Top Picks: Immersion Circulators

Top Picks: Water Ovens


What Does Sous Vide Mean?

Sous vide literally means “under vaccum” in French. Sous vide is a cooking method that utilizes longer cook times and lower temperatures than conventional cooking methods.

Sous vide cooking is done by placing food in a sealed bag and into a water bath. The water bath is set to a precise temperature. This prevents overcooking your food because the food cannot reach a temperature that’s higher than the water bath.

Makes sense so far, right?

The beauty of this method is that it is so really simple and yet it allows you to be so precise with your cooking.

Many people don’t quite get sous vide cooking as a concept because it involves special equipment — specifically, an immersion circulator or water oven, and it’s so different from other ways that we usually cook food.

In addition, for a long time sous vide equipment was really too expensive for most home cooks to want to purchase them.

Now, sous vide immersion circulators and water cookers (another word for water ovens) are priced so that they’re a lot more accessible.

Still, since sous vide equipment is not as mainstream as, say, a Crock-Pot, there is still the perception that it is expensive to start cooking sous vide at home. You can find some really great deals these days, especially on immersion circulators. 

Sous Vide Pronunciation

Sous vide is often misspelled as “suvi” or “souvee” as a way to approximate the way the words sound. It is correctly pronounced as “soo veed” and although you will hear many people drop the final D sound (“soo vee”), that is actually incorrect.

Sous Vide Health Benefits

Sous vide offers health benefits because you can reduce the amount of fat in your meal since you’re not cooking in oil. You can also use less salt, since sous vide cooking packs in more flavor. Read more about sous vide health benefits. 

What Can You Cook Using Sous Vide?

The array of foods that you can cook with the sous vide method is wide open. The method is most popularly used for meat because of the controlled cooking and superior results over other methods.

However, vegetables, eggs, and even yogurt can all be prepared using an immersion circulator or water oven.

This is our list of the best and worst things to sous vide. Best foods include asparagus, steak, chicken, and potatoes. Worst: fin fish and chicken. Yep, chicken can be the best AND the worst.

Check out our sous vide ribeye steak recipe for a step-by-step guide to a steakhouse-quality steak.

And here is our list of ten surprising foods that you can sous vide.

sous vide machineWhat Equipment Do You Need for Sous Vide Cooking?

To get started cooking sous vide at home you’ll need a sous vide machine, a vacuum sealer and bags or heavy duty Ziploc bags, and a cooking container. (You won’t need a container if you’re going to be using the water oven style machine.)

Sous Vide Machine

One key piece of equipment you’ll need is obviously going to be a sous vide unit like an immersion circulator or water oven. You have a range of options in terms of budget and type of machine, which we’ll get into further in just a minute.

Sous Vide Bags

You’ll need to decide on what kind of bags you’ll be using. If you’re going to purchase a vacuum sealer, or you already have one on hand, this is the preferred bag type to use for sous vide.

They work better than Ziploc bags because they’re more durable and the vacuum sealer takes the air out for you so you don’t have to do the water immersion technique.

The durability of sous vide bags is important because you won’t have to worry about temperature and cook time limits like you do with Ziplocs. There’s a point when the Ziplocs can come apart in the water bath, ruining your food.

Here’s more information about using Ziploc bags for sous vide.

You can also use special sous vide bags that don’t require a vacuum sealer and that will hold up better than the Ziplocs will. Check out our full article all about sous vide bags.

Vacuum Sealer

As mentioned above, a vacuum sealer will allow you to get the best seal and get all of the air out of the bag more effectively than using the water immersion method.

(This is where you lower the bag of food slowly into the water, allowing the water pressure to push the air out before you carefully seal the bag.)

You can read our article that answers the question “Do you need a vacuum sealer for sous vide?” for more info.

Here’s my favorite vacuum sealer for sous vide that’s in the middle range of prices.

Cooking Container

If you’re using an immersion circulator you will need a cooking container. You can use a stock pot as your container, but I like to use Cambros like these because they’re clear and I like to see the food easily as it’s cooking.

You can get a silicone lid for your Cambro, which is nice because it keeps your water from evaporating during your cook. They have a special cut-out that the Anova immersion circulator can fit into.


Note: If you’re using a water oven style sous vide cooker then you don’t need to worry about a container. Water ovens are all-in-one machines.

How to Sous Vide

The basic process for how to sous vide is as follows:

  • Prepare your food for cooking
  • Vacuum seal or pack your food in Ziploc bags
  • Set up your sous vide cooker (and cooking container if using an immersion circulator)
  • Set your temperature
  • When the water reaches temp, place your bagged food in the sous vide water bath
  • Time your cook (Anova has a very useful resource right here for timing your cook)
  • Remove your food from the water
  • Let it rest for a short amount of time (it’s extremely hot)
  • Take your food out of the bags and enjoy

We have a more detailed guide for you right here on how to sous vide.

Types of Sous Vide Machines

Sous vide equipment comes in two types: immersion circulator and water oven.

With an immersion circulator, you’re using a wand-like device that you submerge into an appropriate container that will contain your water bath and the food you’re cooking.

Benefits of using an immersion circulator:

  • Since you provide your own container, you have flexibility in the amount of space you have for cooking. In other words, you can vary the size of container to suit what you’re cooking.
  • Immersion circulators can be more affordable.
  • Since they’re smaller, they’re easier to find storage space for in your kitchen.

When you use a water oven or water cooker, you have a self-contained unit.

Benefits of using a water oven:

  • It already contains the cooking area, so you don’t have to provide your own container to use.
  • You may find them easier to use because there is nothing to set up. With an immersion circulator, you have to make sure the circulator is properly placed in the water bath. This isn’t a big issue but it may be a minor advantage if you want a more “plug and play” experience.
  • Water oven sous vide units are available in a range of sizes so you can make sure you purchase on with the capacity that will work best for you.

Sous Vide Machine Guide

Top-Rated Immersion Circulators

Here are the best immersion circulator style sous vide machines in a range of price points.

Update:

At the upper end of the price range for immersion circulators, our newest favorite is the Joule Sous Vide.

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide, 1100 Watts, White Body, Stainless Steel Cap & Base
1,804 Reviews
ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide, 1100 Watts, White Body, Stainless Steel Cap & Base
  • Smallest, sleekest sous vide tool available at just 11 inches tall and 1.3 pounds, with streamlined white body and solid stainless steel cap & base.
  • SAVES SPACE: Half the size of other sous vide machines, it?s small enough to slip into a top drawer. IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi compatible 2.4 Ghz only
  • HEATS UP FAST: 1100 watts of power for hyper-fast water heating. System requirements: iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.4 or later, internet access required for some features
  • PERFECT RESULTS: Visual Doneness (TM) feature in the Joule app displays exactly how food cooks. Dinner comes out predictably perfect, every time. Vessel requirements - Minimum water depth - 1.5 inch (38mm). Maximum water depth - 8 inch (203mm)
  • WIFI AND BLUETOOTH READY: Works with iPhone or Android?connect with Bluetooth alone, or cook from anywhere with WiFi.
  • Voltage warning: Works with 120 V outlets only. Due to our precise heating technology, voltage transformers and converters can damage your Joule, and use outside of North America voids the warranty.

Entry Level

Sous Vide Cooker, Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator

 

850 Watts, with a temperature range of 77 to 211.8 degrees F. This is an affordable unit from a trusted brand, and it has very good ratings on Amazon right now. (4.3 stars)

This Wancle sous vide machine comes with a two-year warranty.

One of the quietest units on the market, this immersion circulator does not come with the WiFi and Bluetooth capability of other units. So you have to be OK with manual control if you’re going to get this Wancle machine.

Personally I don’t mind that at all since it’s just that much easier to plug it in, set the temp, and go for it. I know there is definitely a convenience factor with smartphone control but sometimes there’s also a hassle factor.

So I don’t consider the manual-only control to be a strike against this sous vide unit; however it is something for you to think about. If you want the WiFi/Bluetooth functionality then the mid-range Anova on our list is a good choice.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

Sale
Sous Vide Cooker, Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator, with Recipe E-Cookbook, Accurate Temperature Digital Timer, Ultra-quiet, 850 Watts, 120V, Stainless Steel/Black
710 Reviews
Sous Vide Cooker, Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator, with Recipe E-Cookbook, Accurate Temperature Digital Timer, Ultra-quiet, 850 Watts, 120V, Stainless Steel/Black
  • Sou Vide Cooker Brings Professional Restaurant Cooking Technology To Home: Michelin restaurant level quality, cook everything from Beef, Chicken, Pork, Seafood, Egg, Pasta, Chocolate, Baking, Salad, Dessert, Breakfast, Cocktail to Vegetarian. No fuss, no noise, no overcooking anymore, best deal to bring professional cooking to home.
  • PERFECT DONENESS AND ACCURATE TIMER: Digital control panel makes the temperature accurate to 0.1°C and time to minutes. Wide range of temperature (25-99.9°C)(77°F-211.8°F) and timecontrol (Max 99h 59mins) allows you to cook any type of food you like and Sous vide cooking retains more nutrients and vitamins than other cooking methods. Cooking at home with sous vide ensures and increases food safety.
  • INCREDIBLE EASY TO USE: Unlike other immersion circulators, those with WIFI and Bluetooth feature are thought as over-complicated and increase your cost. focus on the core functionality of the sous vide cooker itself. Stainless steel sleeve makes it extremely easy to clean and dry out. No need for other fancy equipment.
  • CLEVER DESIGN, SINGLE-HAND OPERATION: Attach sous vide cooker to any water-filled pot you already have, put your ingredients in a sealed bag or glass jar into the pot, set time and temperature, then press start with one hand to start the process; Curved design prevents control panel from mist; Food grade stainless steel; Overheat and low water level protection mechanism.
  • WORRY-FREE SHOPPING: With all the certificates, sous vide machine passed Reach, RoHs, TüV, GS and ETL, we are confident of the quality of our product, therefore, we offer a 24-months warranty, please feel free to place the order.

Update: The Wancle sous vide machine is no longer one of our top picks.

Mid-range

Anova Culinary A2.2-120V-US Sous Vide Precision Cooker Bluetooth, Immersion Circulator, 800 Watts, Black

This Anova model has been the go-to in this price range for quite some time. The highlights are the wifi/Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to connect to your smartphone, ease of use, as well as the capacity of up to 5 gallons.

It has over 4,000 reviews on Amazon as of this writing, so if you want to read in depth customer feedback you could spend some time learning all about this model.

There are a number of one star reviews, but the majority of users have had very positive experiences with the Anova. This is where Amazon’s excellent customer service comes into play: if you don’t like it, send it back.

Bad reviews usually seem to center on user connectivity issues for the most part. Some customers had trouble with temperature inconsistency.

I myself have used this immersion circulator for a long time and I’ve always found it to be reliable, accurate, and trouble-free.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

Sale
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker | Bluetooth | 800W | Anova App Included
3,358 Reviews
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker | Bluetooth | 800W | Anova App Included
  • Anova precision cooker Bluetooth - perfect to cook within Bluetooth range from the Anova app or from the device manually. Serves up to 8 people. Fits on any pot. Adjustable clamp.
  • COOK LIKE A PRO - The Anova Precision Cooker allows anyone to cook a restaurant quality meal at home. Our Sous Vide circulator is the perfect kitchen appliance for hands-off cooking of vegetables, meat and much more with consistent control and precision. We're so confident in our product Anova backs it with a 2-Year Warranty
  • Perfect results, every time - precision cooking enables you to produce results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. No Dry edges and no rare centers. Juices and flavors don't escape. Food comes out perfectly moist and tender. Continuous temperature control provides reliable and consistent results every time. Perfect for vegetables, meat, fruit, cheese and much more.
  • Smart device control & cooking notifications - our temperature cooker is can be controlled remotely with smart devices, allowing you to escape from the kitchen while you cook. Simply Download the Anova app to easily monitor, adjust or control the device from your iPhone and Android or other smart devices. The precision cooker also provides you cooking notifications while you're out of the kitchen so you'll know when your food is ready. The precision cooker's blue tooth connection allows you to control the device up to 30 feet away.
  • Easy to use - simply attach the precision cooker to any pot, add water, drop in desired food in a sealed bag or glass jar. Start cooking with the touch of a button on the device. The sous vide cooker's timer and precise temperature control allow you to step away and relax while your food cooks perfectly. No additional equipment needed.
  • Get Creative with 1, 000+ recipes - choose from sous vide guides and recipes created for home cooks of every skill level by award-winning chefs, with simple directions to walk through each recipe with ease. All available free of charge. Great for beginner and veteran chefs!

Best

PolyScience CREATIVE Series Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

 

PolyScience Culinary makes higher end units that may be ideal for home chefs who sous vide often, or even for commercial kitchens. This model does have some mixed reviews.

This immersion circulator has a sleek and durable body and can circulate up to 5 gallons.

You might want to take a look at the range of models from PolyScience Culinary. They also make a higher end unit that’s more durable since it’s made specifically for commercial use.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

PolyScience CREATIVE Series Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
46 Reviews
PolyScience CREATIVE Series Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
  • Take the technique of master chefs home! Sous Vide is a cooking technique widely-popular in restaurant kitchens for it's complete control over timing and food quality. Heater Wattage (120/240 V): 1100 Watts
  • Sous vide enables homes chefs to achieve stunning culinary results with little effort. Using the sous vide technique ensures consistent & repeatable results to make every meal memorable.
  • Rugged clamp design allows the circulator to be used in a variety of containers from stock pots to larger food-safe containers for entertaining a group of any size.
  • Sous vide can be used to cook a variety of foods to perfection - meats, fish, vegetables, desserts and more.
  • Repacking of left over side dishes such as mashed potatoes, stuffings, or sauces allows them to be easily reheated without fear of burning or a loss in texture and flavor.

Top-Rated Water Ovens (Water Cookers)

Here are the water oven style units that make the list of best sous vide units, in a range of price points. If you’re buying one of these the nice thing is that it’s a self-contained machine — no need to find a cooking container.


Entry Level

Hamilton Beach Professional Sous Vide Water Oven & Slow Cooker, 6 Quart Programmable, Stainless Steel

6 quart capacity, this water oven can also be used as a slow cooker. It actually has 11 cooking functions so you may find this versatile model takes the place of other appliances you use. The downside is that it’s capability for sous vide is not quite as highly rated as the mid-range and top shelf units.

In the case of water ovens, spending some extra money will make a noticeable difference in your results.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

Sale
Hamilton Beach Professional Sous Vide Water Oven & Slow Cooker, 6 Quart Programmable, Stainless Steel (33970)
51 Reviews
Hamilton Beach Professional Sous Vide Water Oven & Slow Cooker, 6 Quart Programmable, Stainless Steel (33970)
  • Dual functionality, twice the versatility
  • Sous vide uses precise temperature control to cook food evenly and perfectly throughout
  • Slow cooking gently cooks food over a long period of time, retaining its flavor and moisture
  • 6 quart nonstick metal vessel
  • Programmable controls

Mid-range

Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven, Black, SVD-00101

This beauty is the sous vide cooker that I personally would want in my kitchen, out of all of the models on this list. Check out the video featuring Top Chef star Richard Blais showing off some delicious-looking chicken made in the Sous Vide Supreme.

This unit has a capacity of 8.7 L, easy operation, a timer you can set to up to 99 hours, and a compact size of about 11 x 11 x 13 inches.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

Sale
Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven, Black, SVD-00101
146 Reviews
Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven, Black, SVD-00101
  • Provides an easy way to prepare gourmet meals
  • Silent operation and push-button convenience
  • Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting
  • Temperature can be held for hours or days
  • Holds 8.7 Liters of water

Best

Sous Vide Supreme Water Oven, SVS10LS

This unit is made by the same company as our mid-range water cooker pick. It’s the same high quality unit but with a larger capacity at 11.2 L. exterior dimensions are 11.4 x 11.4 x 14.2 inches.

64% of users gave this model a 5-star review, while 7% gave this one a 1-star review. Check out the customer feedback.

SEE MORE REVIEWS

 

Sale
Sous Vide Supreme Water Oven, SVS10LS
168 Reviews
Sous Vide Supreme Water Oven, SVS10LS
  • Provides an easy way to prepare gourmet meals
  • Silent operation and push-button convenience
  • Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting
  • Temperature can be held for hours or days
  • Holds 11.2 Liters of water.Interior Dimensions- 6.75 inches H, 9.75 inches W, 12.5 inches L, Max water bath depth 7 inches

Last update on 2019-09-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API