The Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker is one of the most popular and highly reviewed sous vide immersion circulators on the market today. It’s also one of the more expensive devices. In the light of increasing competition and more competitive pricing, the question arises as to whether the Anova Precision Cooker can still be warranted as the best sous vide in 2020.
What is Sous Vide?
If you just happened to stumble in here, you might have come across something that could transform the way you cook and relate to food. Sous vide is a French innovation that emerged from the commercial food sector way back in 1974, but only stormed the world of common kitchen folk around 2014.
The technique involves vacuum sealing food, most popularly meat, in a (BPA free) plastic bag, immersing it in a pot of water, and cooking slowly at a low temperature for at least 45 minutes to a few hours, or even a few days. The result is a perfect doneness, less risk of overcooking, and more nutrients are preserved. Sous vide simply means ‘under pressure’.
If you want to know more about sous vide cooking, see our sous vide guide.
Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker: All You Need to Know
We took the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to task on its merits and demerits, looking at key points that make for a great sous vide machine. This is what we found:
The Anova Precision Cooker remains one of the best sous vide machines on the market. It’s professional looking, well designed and made from durable materials. The Anova maintains a very accurate temperature, is easy to use and the noise level is minimal. It has a two year warranty and excellent customer service.
Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker Rating Score
We evaluated the Anova Precision Cooker – WiFi / Bluetooth 900W according to the following criteria:
The Anova is a very well designed product. Because it’s made from stainless steel and polycarbonate, it looks very professional too. The display is bright, easy to read, and there’s a convenient scroll wheel to adjust temperature and time settings.
The only place for controls on a sous vide machine is the minimal space on the head. For this reason, a lot of machines are not so easy to use, but the Anova’s scroll wheel helps a lot. Moving the scrollbar up or down will adjust the temperature, and then you just push start.
For the timer, you hold down the play/start button for a few seconds until the time logo appears, press that for three seconds, scroll in your cook time, press the time logo again, and then play.
Some sous vide machines have a clamp clip, but the Anova uses a crew clamp which is easily adjustable for height. The device can be used in a large range of pots or containers, except that it sits a little high. However, you wouldn’t need to top up water unless you’re cooking for more than 14 hours with no container cover.
The stainless steel jacket removes easily for cleaning off mineral deposits on the element. As for the internals, it just has a heating element, a thermostat and a small propeller for water circulation. The product also comes very nicely boxed, with a tutorial guide and an owner’s manual.
Take away: The Anova is well designed and made from quality, durable materials. It is, however, a little large and bulky, and hopefully this will change with future upgrades. It’s user friendly, secure and not too noisy.
Maintaining a constant, stable temperature is important for sous vide cooking. As a leading popular product, the Anova has been subjected to various tests and comparisons. It maintains a very accurate, stable temperature, and the device and app readings are accurate too.
Despite its 900 watt motor, the Anova doesn’t get the water up to temperature the fastest, but it’s not the slowest either. The ChefStep Joule typically heats up water almost twice as fast. Although definite room for improvement, this issue can be overcome by filling up from the warm water tap, and not room temperature water.
It seems to be the trade-off with heating speed is the quietness of this machine. Some sous vide machines are much noisier and the water flow is more turbulent. The sound of this circulator is a low hum, but a little high pitched and this can be annoying for some people. You won’t notice it if you’re busy with other kitchen work, and you certainly won’t hear it if you’re in another room.
There are few problems with Wi-Fi connectivity or ease of setting up, but some people have had problems with Bluetooth operating at longer ranges. The Wi-Fi also doesn’t work with 5 ghz networks. Despite these issues, overall connectivity is generally better than other key competitors.
Things have changed somewhat with the app since its earliest release. The main Cooking Guides is now under development and partnership with the leading culinary website SeriousEats.
The layout is clear enough, and it’s easy to follow the step by step instructions, but the main guide still lacks serious content. The selection of meat cuts is adequate, but as for vegetables, at least they now have carrots in addition to corn. It’s easy to select your meat, and there’s doneness pic guide for temperature and time.
Other contributors are various professionals in the sous vide community and anonymous users, so the additional recipes are actually quite plentiful. However, the organization is not as good as it could be, and it’s difficult to tell one level of contributor from the next. There’s also no video content, which would put it in a different class.
Takeway: While the app isn’t the best out there, it’s still much better than most other device apps, which often have only minimal content and no community involvement.
Accessories and Added Value
This is where the Anova has a big advantage. Because it’s such a popular product, it’s really easy to get third party supported products such as containers and storage cases or customized pots, if you want more of a value package. Anova product development is also well funded through its parent company Eletrolux. Anova were actually the original innovators of the home sous vide machine, and remain dedicated to sous vide development.
Warranty and Support
Not many sous vide manufacturers, especially smaller knock-off brands, will give you a two year warranty like Anova does. Sous vide machines can run for lengthy periods of time, so product durability and assurance is really important. Although products aren’t made in the US (very few are), quality issues are quickly sorted out, and customers are very satisfied with the fast and friendly customer support.
Anova have just released a new generation model – AN500-US00 Precision Cooker. The key design changes are: It’s two inches smaller with a 1 000 watt motor, and there’s no scrolling wheel. The new version is still not compatible with 5ghz Wi-Fi networks.
Who is Anova Culinary?
You could choose a sous vide machine from a dedicated manufacturer, a knock-off brand, or one from a big brand name needing to jump on the trendy bandwagon. However, you’re more likely to get a better experience from a dedicated manufacturer and developer.
Although the origins of sous vide are quintessentially Friench, it was the true spirit of American innovation that brought it to the home kitchen.
Anova culinary started as a small, smart kitchen device company in San Francisco, and they pioneered the first commercially available home sous vide cooker. The first Bluetooth only model came out in 2014, and part of the project was funded through Kickstarter. In 2017, Anova Culinary was acquired by Electrolux for $250 million USD, but maintains its independent brand name and status.Go here to see our full sous vide guide and product reviews.