Sous vide is a cooking method where food is sealed and then cooked in temperature-controlled water. Its an increasingly popular method of cooking as you can prepare food to an exact level of precision.
Sous vide machines enable you to monitor the temperature of your food, allowing you to stay in charge of the cooking throughout. Some even come with included vacuum sealersthat seal the pouches you put food inas part of the package, making the process more accessible than ever.
A key advantage of the machines is that you can start cooking, leave, and then come back later; the food will be ready and waiting for you. As the food is sealed, it doesnt dehydrate or lose vital nutrients, either.
Our guide on the best sous vide machines will tell you what to look for in one of these magical devices and includes our top picks for the year.
When youre ready, well begin!
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide
- Best Budget: Monoprice Sous Vide Immersion Cooker
- Best Water Oven: Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven
- Easiest to Use: Anova Precision Cooker
Why we Picked It
The Joule sous vide machine is our favorite overall. Its streamlined, good-looking and is the perfect way to get into sous vide cooking. You wont have any problem finding a space to keep the Joule, either, thats for sure.
With 1100 watts of power, the device heats water quickly and evenly, ensuring the food you cook comes out exactly how you want it. Believe us when we say that for the size of the machine, this is powerful indeed.
The Visual Doneness feature found within the dedicated Joule mobile app displays the progress of your food, and you can keep track of it anywhere in the house via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology.
To do that, at the top of the machine, youll find a single button, which seamlessly begins the synch process between it and the mobile app. You can connect the machine to Amazon Alexa, toothats right; you can even control it with your voice.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of all, though, is the Joules magnetic base. It removes the need for clamps and clips; instead, you can attach the sous vide machine directly to the bottom of your water container. For those who prefer it, the Joule does still feature a clip on the back that enables it to attach to almost all water baths.
If youre not happy with the Joule for any reason, a full refund is available within 90 days of purchasing it. You certainly cant grumble about that!
Keep in Mind
We do like to see physical controls on sous vide machines in addition to wireless connectivity, and the Joule doesnt provide in that area.
In a Nutshell
- 1100 watts of power
- Streamlined and attractive design
- Magnetic base and handy clip
Why we Picked It
Our best budget pick for this year is the Monoprice sous vide immersion cooker. It features 800 watts of cooking power, and allows you to get the job done at a fraction of the price.
The Monoprice comes with an adjustable clamp so you can attach it to a large variety of cooking pots. As for adjusting the cooking temperature and time for your food, you can do that via the easy-to-use LED touch screen. You can start and pause cooking by merely touching the button in the middle.
While it may not be as advanced as some of the other picks on our list, the Monoprice is the ideal choice for those looking to get into sous vide cooking. In other words, you could comfortably start with it and then move on to other machines if you find yourself completely in love with this style of cooking.
We can confidently say that youd be hard-pressed to find a better sous vide machine at this price.
Keep in Mind
The Monoprice is louder than some of the other sous vide machines out there, although, for the price, its not a dealbreaker.
In a Nutshell
- 800 watts of cooking power
- Reliable, inexpensive and easy-to-use
- LED touch screen
Why we Picked It
Our favorite water oven is the Sous Vide Supreme Demi. It gives you the chance to cook sous vide style food with minimal cooking time, and everything you need is in the box.
While it might not be quite as small as the more modest immersion cookers, its still compact enough to fit on your counter. That, of course, comes with the added benefit that no extra container or pot is required to use the Supreme Demi. In fact, the only things youll genuinely need are the appropriate bags, and a vacuum sealer if you prefer to use one.
The Supreme Demi even offers a universal pouch rack where you place your sealed bags. This keeps the food in place while it cookswithout any extra fuss.
While were talking about temperature control, the water oven offers ultimate precision, making it close to impossible to overcook your food (it will only vary within one degree of its setting).
We were also impressed with how quiet the machine is while doing what it does best. You always know whats happening throughout the cooking process, too, as the LED display keeps you up to date. You can even readjust the temperature at any time while cooking.
Its sleek, energy-efficient, and easy-to-use. Welcome to the new standard of sous vide home cooking!
Keep in Mind
The Supreme Demi carries a higher price tag than immersion circulators, but it more than makes up for it.
In a Nutshell
- Compact and slick design
- Precise temperature control
- Simple and accessible push-buttons
Why we Picked It
In terms of being easy-to-use, the Anova Precision Cooker leads the pack. It allows you to cook from anywhere using straightforward Wi-Fi connectivity.
You can control the Anova via your phone with a simple-to-use mobile app. The app enables you to monitor, adjust, and even directly control the sous vide machine. Notifications will keep you updated on the progress of the cooking, leaving you to enjoy some precious free time.
Just attach the precision cooker to any container with the adjustable clamp, place your sealed food inside, set the temperature and cooking time (you can do this via the app!), and then let the magic begin. No, really, its that simple with the Anova.
If you are worried about cleaning and maintenance, thats not a problem either. You can detach the stainless steel skirt and disk and can safely put the Anova in the dishwasher. Voila.
Its a precision cooker designed to simplify and enrich the entire cooking experience, and it doesnt disappoint. If youre looking for a practical and affordable option, look no further.
The Anova comes with a two-year warranty on Amazon.
Keep in Mind
You will need a separate container for the water, a vacuum sealer (if youd like to use one), and some bags.
In a Nutshell
- Easy to use, no matter your skill level
- Two-year warranty
- Dedicated app with over 1000 recipes
How We Chose the Best Sous Vide Machines
When we considered our top picks of the best sous vide machines, we looked at five key areas before making our decisions. From the accuracy and speed of the sous vide device to the price, ease of use, and customer reviews, no stone was left unturned.
For better clarity on our choices, here are the five key areas we looked at in detail:
The importance of accuracy cant be overstated. While cooking certain foods, even a single degree can change the overall result of the food. We, therefore, looked at sous vide machines that are accurate enough to perform exactly how you want them to, and without additional worry. Its worth mentioning that sous vide devices also need to guarantee that all of the water is at the same temperature. Sous vide machines that fail these necessary tests will not make our top picks.
When youre cooking food, you dont want to wait around for long, no matter the cooking method. Sous vide machines need to be able to bring the water up to the desired temperature as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this, they need a robust heating element that can swiftly heat a large amount of water and then keep it warm throughout the cooking process. Sous vide machines that take too long to heat are undesirable for everyone involved.
Ease of Use
Sous vide machines may look complicated at first, but the best of them should make them accessible and pleasant to use with little in the way of stress. We look for sous vide machines that are easy and straightforward to understand, and we prefer those that have onboard controls in addition to phone connectivity. Ideally, top sous vide machines will offer the best of both worlds with both controls on offer, giving consumers a choice on which they prefer.
We looked at a range of sous vide machines, from cheaper variants to more premium offerings. The more expensive the machine, generally, the more it offers. With that said, we dont necessarily think being more expensive qualifies those machines as the best choice. Instead, we look for sous vide machines that offer an excellent balance between price and the quality they provide. The cream of the crop shouldnt require a considerable investment, but will still give you everything you need to get startedeven the simplest machine might serve as an introduction to sous vide cooking.
We looked at more customer reviews than we can remember to form our final decisions on the best sous vide machines. Customer reviews allow us to see what real people are saying and how satisfied they are with their purchase, so theyre an essential part of the process. Frequent and recurring mentions of problems were noted, as was excellent customer service and reliable machines that performed how they should. This area is a meaningful part of our overall judgment.
What is a Sous Vide Machine?
A sous vide machine allows you to enter a style of cooking that emphasizes exactness and precision. By carefully monitoring the temperature of the food being cooked, sous vide devices give you a greater sense of control.
These machines heat up water to a uniform temperature and then slowly cook your foodthink slow cookers with a twist, and it all becomes a bit more clear.
The advantages of this way of cooking are clear: perfectly cooked food with a hands-off, yet accurate, process. Favored by restaurants for some time, the introduction of these machines for home use brings professional-level cooking into the kitchen.
Its important to mention that there are two types of sous vide machines. The first is immersion circulators that heat water and then circulate it around the container to maintain specific temperatures evenly. Theyre meant to be used with a cooking vessel you already have. They are often affordable, easy to use, and help make sous vide cooking a reality.
Water ovens (also known as water baths) tend to offer it all, including varying capacities for the water, and some can even come with included vacuum sealers and bags. Reusable bags, such as these, can be used as well, taking away the need to continually top up your supply.
What to Consider When Choosing a Sous Vide Machine
At first, the whole world of sous vide cooking can feel alien and complex. The thing is, its not as complicated as it seems. With that said, you do need to consider a few points before jumping in and changing the way you cook.
Weve listed below the critical areas that you need to think about on your journey to culinary mastery:
There are two main types of sous vide machines, as we discussed above: immersion circulators and water ovens. Immersion circulators allow you to measure and heat water to your desired temperature. They are almost always cheaper than water ovens and let you get into sous vide cooking without a tremendous investment. However, you will need to supply a container for the water to heat in.
Water ovens, on the other hand, provide almost everything you need, but are expensive and require more of an investment. If youre new to sous vide cooking, immersion circulators are, therefore, a great first option.
If youre not opting for a water oven, then youll need a container to hold the water that will slowly cook your food. Youll also need to ensure that your immersion circulator adequately fits in the container youre providing. Its worth noting that some of the clamps on immersion circulators are adjustable, making the setup process more accessible. With that said, the best sous vide machines will be able to accommodate a wide variety of containers with little fuss.
Sous vide circulators dont always come with a timer, but we think theyre a suitable extra to have. They can show you a countdown to the leftover cooking time and alert you with an alarm once finished. Others only show the cooking time elapsed, but this is still valuable enough to warrant inclusion. You dont really want a timer that shuts the machine down after a set time because the food can precariously drop in temperature. Timers are not essential then, but we definitely like to see them as part of the package.
Some sous vide machines are controlled via a second device, such as your mobile phone. The idea is that phone use is so prolific that managing your sous vide machine via it will feel natural. Plus, this option allows you to control the device when youre not in the kitchen. However, some people prefer traditional onboard style controls that give you more tactile control of the device. If a sous vide machine offers both control options, and some do, then that is the best option of all. Consider how important this is for you when buying your device.
Sous vide machines are at the point where theyre not fully mainstream yet, so that means the prices arent always consumer-friendly. That said, there are some excellent choices out there for $100, going right up to $500 (and more). You can be sure, like most new products, that these prices will fall over time as the popularity of the devices and demand continues to grow. Dont let that deter you, though, as we picked some prime choices in our reviews that dont necessarily break the bank.
How to Sous Vide
By now, you might be eager to dive into some sous vide cooking. Thats why weve detailed the key steps on how to do it below:
1. The first thing you need to do is to clip your immersion circulator onto a pot or container. If youre using a water oven, then you dont need a container.
2. Fill the container with water above the minimum fill line and preheat the water to your desired temperature, based, of course, on what you decide to cook. The sous vide machine should notify you when its ready.
3. Now the fun part. You need to seal your seasoned food in a plastic bag. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to do this:
- The first is to use a vacuum sealer and the required bagswe recommend using this one here.
- The second way is to use ziplock bags by slowly lowering the bagged food into a separate bowl of water (without getting water into the bag). The pressure of the water pushes air through the top. Once this is complete, you just need to seal the bag.
- The third method is to use reusable bags. These bags need to be cleaned and well maintained, but they remove the need to keep replenishing your stock.
4. Once youve sealed your food in bags, you need to place them in the container of preheated water. Selecting the correct cooking temperature comes down to knowing what you specifically desire. The cooking time is important, too, and your food must cook for long enough for it to be safe to eat. You can research the ideal cooking times and temperatures with a multitude of available resources online.
5. Once the food is cooked, some people like to then follow up by searing it. For example, you could sear sous vide steak to finish it off.
6. Cleaning is a breeze with sous vide machines; you just need to drain the water and perform a quick clean up.
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