There was a time when sous vide cooking belonged to the world of haute cuisine. The low temperature cooking method was tough to repeat at home, limiting it to professional kitchens. But these days sous vide is more of a mainstream fad—thanks to the slew of innovative home sous vide cookers now available to amateur cooks. If you’re ready to get in on the trend, which promises precise, perfect results, we’re ready to help you choose the best sous vide machine for your kitchen.
What Is Sous Vide?
Sous vide is a cooking method in which food is vacuum sealed into a plastic bag and immersed in water that’s heated to a low, sustained temperature for an extended period of time. A sous vide circulator is what you need to heat and circulate the water for an even, accurate temperature. Some devices clip onto the side of a pot, while others are self-contained water ovens. Some even connect to an app on your phone so you can monitor the progress of your food remotely.
The origin of sous vide can be traced back to French scientist Henry DePoix’s invention of shrink-wrapping food. Scientific observations were made into how this vacuum technique not only preserved food, but also concentrated flavor and improved texture.
Another Frenchman, Bruno Goussault, started using this vacuum technique to pre-cook meats in massive water baths for commercial food production. He was a food engineer who had researched the effects of time and temperature on different foods as well as non-chemicalized food preservation.
Simultaneously, yet another Frenchman, a restaurant chef named George Pralus, had gained fame for his technique of cooking foie gras in a water bag, which saved almost a quarter of the foie gras volume. These two cuisiniers later collaborated in advancing the use of sous vide techniques in restaurants, hospitality, and catering. The word “sous vide” itself simply means “under vacuum”.
Five Reasons Why You Should Try Sous Vide
- More precise cooking
- More flavorful
- More Nutritious
- Longer lasting
- Much less time in the kitchen
As sous vide emerged from the synthesis of scientific research and discoveries in the commercial food sector, its safety, efficacy, and application are very well documented. So, if you are undecided about giving it a try, take some time to look into it for yourself.
1. More Precise Cooking
With sous vides, the transfer of heat between the water and your food is more gradual and evenly distributed than with an oven or stovetop. Because the food is evenly cooked, this low-temperature method is perfectly safe for cooking meats and avoiding pathogens, as long as you don’t go below the recommended temperatures or cook for a shorter time than recommended.
Your food will never get hotter than the temperature of your water bath, thus limiting over cooking. With the sous vide technique, the difference between done and ruined is measured more in hours than minutes, which gives you a lot more room for error when it comes to cook time.
2. More Flavorful
When you cook food under high heat, flavor, nutrition, and juices are literally pouring out. Sous vide, on the other hand, traps all natural juices and flavors, practically marinating your food in the process. The pressure created in the bag actually promotes osmosis, and whatever flavors or seasonings you add beforehand penetrate deep into the food. This technique is essentially the gourmand’s gourmet because it can even turn lower quality meats into something worth eating.
3. More Nutritious
It is a well-researched fact that high temperatures ravage nutritional content. As the great Goussault explained, “Higher temperatures do irreparable damage to food. The cell walls in the food burst, making it impossible for the food to reabsorb the liquid it loses.” Sous vide cooks food at low temperatures, which makes it less likely to lose nutrients and moisture during the cooking process.
4. Longer Lasting
Vacuum-sealing food keeps oxidation to a minimum which means it lasts longer. The amount of time that you can safely store or refrigerate the food depends on a number of factors, including how long you’ve cooked it. Food that has been cooked at slightly higher temperatures can often be refrigerated for anywhere between 48 hours and up to a week before you’ll have to trash it or toss it in the freezer.
5. Much Less Time In The Kitchen
This is a fairly hands-off, set-it-and-forget-it technique, which means far less time watching over the fry-pan or stirringpots. Cooking dinner is a simple matter of setting up your sous vide, placing the vacuum-sealed bag in the water, and coming back when it’s done. Afterwards, a quick sear and cooking up a tasty sauce is often all that’s left to do.
How To Choose Your Best Sous Vide Cooker
The key is to keep a constant temperature, usually around 140°F / 60°C (although temperature varies based on the type of food, the time of your cook, and your own preferences), coupled with a minimum of a few hours of consistentwater circulation. When picking the best device, you should consider temperature accuracy, ease of use, power costs, and the noise of the motor and water circulator.
1. Types of Sous Vide Machines
There are basically two major types available to the home chef. The popular immersion circulator is a rod-shaped device that clips onto the side of a pot or water container. This gives you some choice over volume and capacity. Another option is a water oven, which comes in a more typical box-shaped design or a cheaper jug-shaped model. Both of the latter types have fixed capacities and are a bit less compact.
2. Sous Vide Power Consumption
Because sous vides can run for an average of four hours, but can also go up to 24 or even 72 hours, the biggest concern for many is the power bill. Based on 24 hours of continuous running, the cost somewhere in a range of $0.17 to $1.10 at $0.15 / kWh.
This summarized data table comes from a test run on the popular Anova immersion circulator, as well as a high-end oven type, the Oliso Smart Top, using 2.64 gal / 10 L of water. The Anova was placed in three different environments: a lidless container, then a container with a lid, and a lidded container wrapped in bath towels for better insulation.
As a self-contained water oven, the Oliso has only one set of results. The Anova also used two start-up temperatures, one with room temperature tap water (75°F / 23.89°C), then again with hot tap water (125°F / 51.67°C) to speed things up.
|Room temp. Startup||32.10 min||29.20 min||28.400 min||21 min|
|Hot tap startup||10.20 min||8.30 min||8.20 min||5.30 min|
|12hr consumption||3.84 kWh $0.58||2.09 kWh$0.31||1.38 kWh$0.21||0.81 kWh$0.12|
|24hr consumption||7.30 kWh$1.10||3.77 kWh$0.57||2.30 kWh$0.35||1.16 kWh$0.17|
Obviously, the conclusion is that running costs are very affordable, but can vary significantly with the degree of insulation you choose. Oven-type models, although fixed in capacity, limited in choice, and priced differently, tend to be more cost effective.
For immersion calculators, using a proper lid and extra insulation will help cut running costs. If you choose to go lidless, evaporation will usually allow 14hrs of cooking for 10 liters of water, which is quite within the range of average cook times.
3. Sous Vide Cooking Times
Red meat generally takes the longest to cook, with cook times running from two to 72 hours! Poultry usually takes a little less time on average, though tougher game might require a little longer, and seafood often cooks in less than an hour. Veggies and fruit can vary between 30 minutes and two hours.
Parameters vary widely between different groups of food, so you should cook each separately. Other time factors include the size and thickness and how well you’d like the food done. Most models will come with a comprehensive temperature and cooking guide. If your device has WiFi or bluetooth connectivity, you can use the app to select the food type and how you like it cooked, while the time and temperature are automatically calculated.
4. Sous Vide Water Bath
Make sure whichever container you use is large enough for the proper circulation of water between the food bags, taking care not to overcrowd the vessel. Placing weights in the vacuumed pack can help stop bags moving around or floating to the top. Check manufacturer’s instructions carefully for minimum water levels and the maximum volume of water that the device can handle.
5. Sous Vide Noise Levels
Most sous vides are fairly quiet to run.That said, any noise created by the machine will be going on for a few hours or even up to two days, so make sure your device has a noise level you can live with.
Noise types and levels can vary somewhat between different models. Immersion circulators tend to emit a low, continuous buzzing or humming sound. Some devices are almost silent except for the gentle whoosh of water, while others are on the noisier side. Water ovens, on the other hand, are usually completely silent. Models that produce a low pitch buzz are generally a lot more tolerable than those with a high-pitched sound.
Sous Vide Accessories
Buying an immersion circulator or water oven is a necessary first step, but be aware that there may be additional costs involved in cooking with sous vide.
- While a few bags might be included with your purchase, you will need to buy more. You can make do with BPA-free Ziplock freezer bags, however, there are also numerous reusable BPA-free sous-vide bags.
- A plastic hand vacuum pump is useful too if you don’t want to use the water displacement method to get air out of bags. Alternatively, you can just use a straw!
- A vacuum sealer leaves the least room for error and is also handy for general food storage.
- It’s more economical to have a container with a lid and insulated sides. You can make your own, but there are many custom ones available, as well as pot lids and pot insulators.
- To prevent bags moving and clumping up, you can purchase various cheap sous-vide weights, including some magnetic options. Bags should stay fully submerged for an even cook with good food safety standards.
- Finally, you may want to invest in a quality flame searer or a good, solid searing pan. Searing adds additional flavor and color. Meat cooked sous vide style can look a bit greyish or dull, and may lack in flavor before the post-sear.
Reviews of the Best Sous Vide in 2021
Now that you are ready to try sous vide for the first time—or perhaps just upgrade your gear—here is our selection of the 7 best sous vide machines in 2021.
- Anova Nano Bluetooth Sous Vide – Best To Buy In 2021
- Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide – Best Value Immersion Circulator
- Anova Culinary AN500 – US00 – Best With Wifi
- Yedi Total Package Sous Vide – Best All Inclusive Package
- Gramercy Kitchen Sous Vide – Best Delay Start Immersion Circulator
- Breville Joule Wi-Fi Bluetooth – Best Design For a Sous Vide
- Dash Chef Series – Best Sous Vide Water Oven
Here are our picks for Best Sous Vide.
1. Anova Nano Precise Cooker – Best Sous Vide To Buy In 2021
The Anova Nano maintains an even temperature, and emits a comfortable white noise. It’s a bit different from other sous vide machines for its sleek, solid aesthetic and it fits snugly into most kitchen drawers. Additionally, you can manage your device from your phone app, or browse and export numerous recipe settings into your device.
- Easily storable
- Accurate temperatures
- Bluetooth or manual controls
- Large recipe collection
- 4 star rated App
- Clamp not adjustable
- Requires a deep pot
The all black plastic design gives this sous vide a different look to others. The plastic is high quality and durable, and it makes for a much lighter device. Even though it only has a 750 watt, it heats up the water bath almost as quickly as more powerful devices, and emits a more or less comfortable white noise. The flow rate is neither too fast nor too slow, so you don’t have issues with excessive noise or evaporation, but more importantly, it maintains a very accurate temperature.
The controls are easy enough to use, and it shows the current temperature as well as the target temperature in celsius or fahrenheit. The Bluetooth uses a BLE 4.2 connection, and, unlike Wi-Fi devices, there are not too many reports of connection issues.
One disadvantage is the clamp which is fixed, so it cannot be adjusted or removed. This makes the clamp quite solid, but it also means that you are limited to using this sous vide in a fairly deep pot. If you’re using a pot, you can make enough for four people, but if you use a plastic container, you can do a little more.
The Nano only has Bluetooth, but this option operates through the same app as the Wi-Fi enabled Anova AN500—the app is free for download from the App Store or Google Play. Through the app you can select recipes with cooking presets, start your device and monitor your cooking status, or enter any cook time and temperature you prefer.
There are three recipe sections in the app: a basic official guide, a recipe collection from sous vide professionals, and a community recipe board. Out of all sous vide machines with apps, Anova has by far the most content and the best community support and participation.
The basic Guide layout is clear enough, and it’s easy to follow the step by step instructions. There aren’t a lot of recipes, but even so, it’s easy to select the type of meat, and there’s a doneness pic guide for temperature and time.
The Home button takes you to a large collection of recipes by various professionals in the sous vide community, and you can rate recipes and put them in your Favorites folder. You can search by food types, but you cannot search by contributor or by star rating. Once you register your profile, you can add your own recipes and mark them private or public, and you can access your cook history. One additional thing is a check box by the ingredients list, which is useful if you want to print the recipe.
Although it would be nice if the app had more functions, you can also use the mobile web browser site (or desktop) with easier tag searching and printing options. Browsing recipes doesn’t require an account, but if you open a free account, you can participate in the forums, contribute recipes, like, star, favorite and earn different kinds of community badges. You cannot export recipes and settings via the mobile browser to your device— for this you have to use the app.
Overall, this is a very good starter model with a great collection of recipes as well as community support and participation. It’s also a good choice for more serious sous viders who need an extra device to do smaller cooks on the side.
2. Instant Pot Accu Slim – Best Value Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
If you’re looking for a budget sous vide around $50 or less, there are a few available, but scraping the bottom of the market isn’t really worth it.This Instant Pot, however, is a popular pick for a more affordable sous vide.
- Very quiet
- Incremental settings
- Durable DC motor
- Weak clamp
- Shorter power cord
Sous vide circulators undergo many hours of wear and tear, which is why low-priced models may not last very long. Instant Pot is a Canadian company and their Accu Slim sous vide has some added features for its price range.
One key feature is its incremental settings. Temperature can be increased by increments of 0.1 or 1°F and from 68 °F to 203 °F (20 °C to 95 °C). The timer works in one minute increments up to 72 hours. Incremental time is kind of meaningless for sous vide cooking, but a distinguishing point nonetheless.
Compared to other immersion circulators, this Instant Pot is very quiet— something attributed to its unique 12V DC motor, which is claimed to be more durable than an AC motor.
One weakness in the design is that the clamp is not adjustable, nor can you detach it from the device. The clamp is not so strong, but some people find that the device works well even just standing on its base. It sits comfortably in a 6 to 8 quart pot, but not so with thick rimmed pots. Also, some people find the cord to be a little short.
While it has an automatic default setting of 113°F (56°C) / 4 hrs, this can be annoying because if you try to pause your heating, the settings go back to default. The beep emitted to signal the start-up and completion of a cook cycle is a little quiet, but the device will switch off automatically if the water level runs low.
With a comfortable size and powerful 800W DC motor, this well made Instant Pot Accu Slim should give you a no-hassle, quality experience at an affordable price.
3. Anova Culinary AN500 – Best Sous Vide With Wi-Fi
If you’re looking for a device that can remote start with Wi-Fi and which has a good quality app, then this upgraded Anova AN500 is the best choice.
- Not bulky
- Detachable clamp
- Even temperature
- Good app
- 2 year warranty
- Plastic parts
- Connectivity issues
- Not best for high temperatures
Wi-Fi and Connectivity
People often wonder what is the value of having Wi-Fi on a sous vide machine? Basically, it allows you to set up your water both and start your cooking remotely, you can also see how much cooking time remains, or get an alert when the cooking finishes. The other benefit is to import settings from recipes in the app, and take advantage of the various features on the app. Bluetooth does much the same, but within a very limited distance range.
The device doesn’t work with newer 5 Gz Wi-Fi connections, and to avoid connectivity issues it’s recommended to set up the connection close to the machine, and not to use any special case characters in the password.
Compared to other sous vide machines with Wi-Fi and an app, the Anova has the best app and the least amount of trouble with Wi-Fi connectivity. Even so, users still experience connectivity issues, and this has not really improved with this latest Anova update. The app is well rated with good content, and you can read more about it in the Anova Nano review above.
Advantages and Disadvantages
This Anova is shorter, lighter and less bulkier than the previous model, so it’s a lot better suited for doing standard sous vide in a pot. The upgraded motor is 1 000 watts strong, but the circulation is not as good as it could be— probably because it uses a plastic propeller, and not a stainless steel one. There are no issues with the clamp, it is removable and slightly adjustable, but it is made from plastic, which doesn’t do justice to the price you pay for this device.
This immersion circulator maintains an accurate temperature, but users reports that the device head gets quite hot at temperatures over 175 ℉, and it’s not such a great choice if you want to cook hard vegetables at high temperatures for a long time, but for meats and steaks it’s fine. On the positive side, though, it does have a two year warranty and their customer service is not too bad.
If being able to remote start your device through Wi-Fi is important to you, then this new Anova is a good choice. If not, the Nano is the better deal and uses the same app, or our Best Value Instant Pot Sous Vide, is just as good.
Related post: Anova Sous Vide 900W WiFi + Bluetooth Review
4. Yedi Total Package Sous Vide – Best All Inclusive Sous Vide Package
This Yedi package has everything you need to get a sous vide operation going, and it comes with a two year warranty so it’s also perfect for gifting.
- No extras needed
- Perfect for gifting
- Two year warranty
- Low level water alarm
- Clip mechanism
- Recipe book insubstantial
- High flow rate
Yedi is a small manufacturer of kitchen appliances, and their sous vide immersion circulator comes as well-reviewed as their other products. The package includes 10 reusable, gallon sized, BPA free bags, 4 clips to attach the bags to the side of the pot, a hand pump to vacuum seal the bags, and two additional bag sealing clips. Most people really appreciate these extras, and many reviewers received this as a gift.
This small machine has a powerful 1,000 watt motor, so it heats water pretty fast. It does, however, have a high flow rate and evaporation can be a problem. If you’re cooking for a long time, there’s a low-level water alarm that notifies you when the water level is getting low. That way you can add water before the device automatically shuts down. Unlike most other immersion circulators that use a screw clamp, this device has a much better kind of clip, so the device secures very nicely to any kind of pot.
If you’re doing sous vide for the first time or looking for a unique gift, then this Yedi Total Package, with its added extras and two year warranty, is our recommended choice.
5. Gramercy Kitchen Sous Vide – Best Delay Start Immersion Circulator
The Gramercy immersion circulator is a rare sous vide with a delayed start-up function. If you want your eggs cooked and ready the moment you wake up, this gadget will do it.
- Unique delay start-up
- Adjustable clamp
- 100℃ / 212℉ max temp.
- First class customer service
- No proper guide
Typically, if you want to delay start your sous vide, you need an expensive WiFi enabled device, you need to be awake to start it, and hopefully the connection works. With this Gramercy, you can do it the easy way.
With any kind of delayed or remote start-up, especially if you’re cooking meat, it’s best to put meat bags in a container with half water and half ice in order to maintain a safe temperature before cooking. The thermostat can be increased in small increments from room temperature to 100℃ or 212℉ — which is a little more than most other circulators.
Choosing settings on this device, however, can be a bit counterintuitive, because you have to set the delay time first, then the temperature, and then come back to the same time button to set the cooking time. But once you figure it out, everything else is easy enough. Other than that, people are happy with the performance of this device, it doesn’t make a lot of noise, and the adjustable clamp is sturdy and handy.
There have been reported malfunctions with some units, but users are quick to praise Gramercy’s excellent customer service and speedy, no questions asked, replacement policy.
The Gramercy works just as well as most top tier immersion circulators. Although the price tag is a little on the higher side, we feel that the adjustable clamp, delayed start option, and great customer service make it a good deal.
6. Breville Joule 1,100 Watt – Best Design Sous Vide
The Breville Joule is unique in that it doesn’t have controls on the device itself and operates exclusively via an app. It also doesn’t have a clamp, but stands on a magnetic bottom, and is eminently small and portable. For these exclusive features, it comes at a higher price.
- Fast heating
- Even temperature
- Magnetic bottom
- 10 gal / 40 L capacity
- Quality cooking guides
- App dependent
- Connectivity issues
- 1 year warranty only
This is one of the most versatile sous vide cookers for container size because it stands on its magnetic base, and the minimum water depth is only 1.5 inches. For its compact size, the Joule can heat one half gallon (5 L) of water from 60 °F to 140 °F in around 15-20 minutes. That’s what you would expect from a 1 100 watt motor, and it can handle up to 10 gallons while maintaining an even temperature. It does, however, emit a rather high pitched sound, which some people may find annoying.
App and Connectivity
Many users have reported issues with app speed, dicey connectivity, frequent crashes, and inability to start the device. Reviews in both Google Play and Apple App Store gave the app an average rating of only three stars, with many users rating the app an extreme of one or five stars. With this kind of technology, it’s difficult to know where the issues lie—with the app, the machine, or the user?
The cooking guides on the app are really well done. The recipes are plentiful, beautifully photographed, and laid out with step-by-step visual instructions. You can select the thickness and doneness of the meat, pre-programmed settings appear, and then you press start. Each recipe includes a video which also shows a slice-through of the cooked meat, but these can be disabled to save data.
The Breville Joule is a quality sous vide machine and unique in many ways. Most users are happy with it, although it doesn’t offer the most trouble free experience for everyone. If a compact, high-tech device is what you need, then this is a good choice.
7. Dash Chef Series Sous Vide – Best Small Sous Vide Oven
At the end of the day, if you don’t want the fuss of clamps, clips, weights and insulators, and just want to shut the lid until your food is done, this Dash might be for you.
- Well-made and reliable
- Consistent temperature
- Magnetic water circulator
- Only holds 4 pouches
- Temp. recalibration a little slow
There are a few contenders in this small oven category, but the Dash Chef Series is a consistently good product. Water ovens like the Hamilton Beach and the VonShef may be cheaper, but the Hamilton Beach has had quite a few reported temperature issues, while the VonShef a few too many manufacturing bloops.
The Dash is about the size of a regular cake box, although a little taller, and holds 2 gallons (8 liters) of water. It comes with a four-slot rack, so it’s limited to four bags. However, if you get a flat rack replacement with legs to stand above the magnetic circulator, you can fit in a little more without compromising the circulation. This magnetic circulator is actually far more reliable and innovative than the typical convection type.
Users are consistently happy with this product, though it can take a little time to stabilize the temperature, and is somewhat noisy when starting off. The temperature range is a basic 104-194°F (40-90°C), and the timer that can be set for anywhere from 10 minutes to 72 hours.
This Dash sous vide water oven can cook steaks for a family of four, and provides a more trouble free way to enjoy sous vide cooking.
Top-rated Sous VideComparison Chart
|Model||Size inches||Powerwatts||Temp℉ (℃)||Volume||Smart Tech|
|Anova Nano||12.8 x 2.2||750||197 / 91||5 gal (20 L)||Bluetooth, App|
|Instant Pot Accu Slim||12.9 x 2.6||800||203 / 95||2 gal (7.5 L)||No|
|Anova AN500||12.8 x 3.1||1000||5 gal (20 L)||5 gal (20 L)||Wi-Fi, App|
|Yedi Total Package||16 x 3.2||1000||203 / 95||5 gal (20 L)||No|
|Gramercy Kitchen||16.5 x 4.3||800||212 / 100||4 gal |
|Breville Joule||11 x 1.85||1000||208 / 97||10 gal (40 L)||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, App|
|Dash Water Oven||14W x 11D x 9.4H||700||194 / 90||2.1 gal(8 L)||No|
Related post: How Long to Sous Vide a Steak
The sous vide market is getting quite crowded these days, but our selection of the best sous vide immersion circulators in 2021 will help you narrow down your choice. If you have any questions, or anything to ask, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.