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Sous vide, French for "under vacuum," involves placing food in a plastic bag and then immersing it in a heated water bath for extended periods of time. This slowly and evenly cooks the food to the exact temperature you want, allowing steaks to hit that perfect medium rare, lean pork to cook fully while staying completely moist and tender, and vegetables to be served perfectly tender-crisp. As a bonus, because the food is trapped in a vacuum-sealed bag while it cooks, none of the flavor or nutrients are lost in the cooking process.
Though commercially available sous vide machines have been around since 2009, it wasn’t until the creation of the immersion sous vide machine in 2012 that allowed most consumers to afford it. With machines that cost under $100, home cooks, kitchen enthusiasts, and sous vide-curious folks could now experiment with this modern cooking technique.
"I hate silly one-task kitchen gadgets but the sous vide machines are precision cookers that combine temperature accuracy and water circulation," says Eric Lundy, recipe developer, editor and food stylist. "Some come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth but I never use those features, instead focusing on a device that is all-in-one piece and not too big." We feel the same way and tested our top picks on their accuracy, water circulation, and usability. After 27 hours of testing, the Anova Culinary AN500-US00 Sous Vide Precision Cooker came out the winner.
Whether this is your first attempt at sous vide or you're an old pro, here are the best immersion sous vide cookers.
Best Overall: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
What We Love: Smaller than others, heats up water quickly, easy and intuitive interface
What We Don't Love: Expensive, requires more water
Anova is a leader and pioneer in the consumer sous vide space, and it’s no surprise that the Precision Cooker comes out on top. Smaller than some of the other machines, it stores easily and doesn’t take up tons of space in the pot or water container. But it still heats up water quickly with 1000 watts of power, bringing 6 liters of water from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in just over 21 minutes.
The user interface is intuitive and easy to use, with simple thermometer and timer icons for setting the temperature and time. It also comes with Wi-Fi capabilities and a downloadable app that allows you to control the machine from anywhere on your smartphone. The app also has free sous vide recipes, as well as the ability to save your own recipes (and keep a record of how they turn out with photos).
This model isn't without a few (very small) downsides. Our tester found the minimum water line a bit too high, and it has a slight, but noticeable, humming noise. Depsite that, its consistent and accurate temperatures, speedy heating of water, small size, and smart tech capabilities make the Anova Precision Cooker is the best overall sous vide machine we tested.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.1 x 2.2 x 12.75 inches | Temperature Accuracy: +/- 0.2 degree | Flow Rate: 8 liters/minute | Power: 1000 watts
Best Compact: Breville Joule Sous Vide
What We Love: Small and portable, heats up water quickly, sleek minimal design
What We Don’t Love: Expensive, mobile app only controls, clip is difficult to use
The Breville Joule is a sleek and modern sous vide cooker that is easily the smallest immersion "stick-style" sous vide machine available. To control the machine, you need to download the mobile app. This eliminates the need for a display on the machine itself, making it even sleeker. This does mean you need a smartphone to use the machine, but for most folks who are buying the Joule, that’s probably not an issue. The app also comes with recipes and guides on using the machine as well as sous vide in general if you aren’t familiar with the process.
The white minimal design will appeal to those Apple enthusiasts. The small size means it doesn’t hog up real estate in your kitchen cabinet or in the pot, leaving more room for your food. Its compact size also means it’s super portable, making it an easy piece of equipment to bring with you on vacation or to a friend’s house if you plan on impressing them by making them a meal.
And despite the tiny size, the powerful 1100-watt machine heats the water fast, faster than most machines. A container of 6 liters of water was heated from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in just under 17 minutes. This is the perfect machine if you’re looking for something powerful but compact, or if you like the idea of a sleek minimal looking machine that you can operate from your phone.
"I absolutely love my Joule and have been using it for almost 4 years now to make everything from spare ribs to weeknight salmon! It's also very quiet when running, simple to use with an iPhone app, and easy to disassemble and clean." — Emma Christensen, Associate General Manager
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13 x 4 x 4.1 inches | Temperature Accuracy: +/- 0.2 degrees | Capacity: 40 liters | Power: 1100 watts
Best Budget: Monoprice Strata Home Sous Vide Immersion Cooker 800W
What We Love: Low minimal water line, water flow direction can be changed and customized
What We Don’t Love: Large machine, angled screen is harder to read
With an affordable price point, the Monoprice Strata Home is a great choice for those who are curious about sous vide but don’t want to invest a large amount of money into it. With an easy user interface, and a simple scroll wheel in the center to adjust temperature and timer settings, this no-frills sous vide machine gets the job done with a steady temperature and water flow.
Though the cooker is on the larger size and doesn’t come with Wi-Fi capabilities, it does have some nice functions, including the ability to change the water flow directions or set the water flow to only output into the side of the container for more delicate food. You can also calibrate the temperature gauge if you find the internal thermometer is slightly off, a feature that most other sous vide machines don’t have.
During testing, we did find that water was slower to heat, as the machine is only 800 watts, with 6 liters of water going from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in just under 25 minutes. But one of the best parts of the machine is the low minimum water line. "I prefer a machine that heats up fast and allows for low minimum water so you’re not wasting quarts of water just to do eggs," says Sheri Codiana, a recipe tester and cook who is a sous vide machine enthusiast and has strong opinions about machines.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.25 x 4 x 14.5 inches | Temperature Accuracy: +/- 1.8 degrees | Flow Rate: 8.5 liters/minute | Power: 800 watts
Related: The Best Food Vacuum Sealers
Best for Beginners: Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Precision Cooker & Immersion Circulator
What We Love: Reasonably priced, fairly quiet when on, easy to use
What We Don’t Love: Clamp is weak, timer is an auto shut-off, buttons are a little difficult to use
The Accu Slim sous vide machine is from the folks that brought you the Instant Pot multi-cooker. And much like the Instant Pot, this sous vide machine is user-friendly, reasonably priced, and heats the water to an accurate temperature. It’s also slimmer and less bulky than other machines in its price category. When we tested this, 6 liters of water was heated from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in just under 25 minutes, which is comparable to other 800 watt-machines tested.
The machine has simple controls on the screen that allow you to adjust the temperature and timer, which means you don’t have to fuss or worry about other features. It’s waterproof so if you accidentally drop it in the water, you don’t have to worry about it (trust us, it happens!). And best of all, there’s a bright color-coded bar that tells you what stage it’s at when you are using it. Blue means it’s heating the water, orange means it’s at the temperature and cooking it, and green means the timer has run its course and the machine has shut off. If you’ve never cooked sous vide before, a quick look at the screen will tell you exactly where you are in the cooking process, making this a great entry-level machine for beginners.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.9 x 2 x 13.25 inches | Temperature Accuracy: Not listed | Flow Rate: Not listed | Power: 800 watts
Most Convenient: KitchenBoss G320 Pro
What We Love: Individual custom saved settings, heats water fast, removable knob for easy cleaning
What We Don’t Love: Very large and bulky, high minimal water line, complicated user interface
If you’re the type of person who actually uses the preset buttons on an Instant Pot, the Kitchen Boss G320 Pro is probably the perfect sous vide machine for you. Though it’s not the most user-friendly machine, once you get to know the screen interface, you’ll love how convenient it is. The machine itself comes with a color screen that has 20 presets that allow you to dial through to find the recipe you like, from New York steak to scallops to a beet salad, all set programmed into the machine. There's also an accompanying cookbook which gives more detailed instructions on how to make each recipe, plus extra vacuum sealing bags and a storage bag for the machine.
Beyond the built-in recipe presets, there are also 5 individual custom saved settings, which allow you to create presets on your own. So, if you like your sous vide eggs cooked for 40 minutes at 150 degrees or your ideal steak is cooked at 137 degrees, you can program the temperature and time and then always have that stored in the machine for you to use. No need to reset the time and temp every time you use it. Just turn the dial to the saved preset and you're good to go.
The G320 Pro also has an innovative dial that is removable, allowing you to clean the all-metal machine thoroughly. In fact, the machine is rated IPX7 waterproof, which means deep cleaning is possible if you want. Though the machine itself is bulky, the largest we tested, it has a powerful 1100-watt heating coil, and a great water flow that speeds through 20 liters a minute, heating water fast, taking 6 liters of water from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in a zippy 19 minutes. The fact that you can clean it thoroughly, store custom recipes, and get the water to temperature fast, makes this machine the best choice for those who prioritize convenience in their kitchen appliances.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.75 x 3.25 x 15 inches | Temperature Accuracy: +/- 0.1°F | Flow Rate: 20 liters/minute | Power: 1100 watts
Related: The Best Stock Pots
Best for Experts: Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Pro
What We Love: Heats water fast, low minimal water line, fast water flow rate
What We Don’t Love: Expensive, customer service isn’t great
The Precision Pro is designed for a professional or a back-of-house restaurant kitchen. But it’s compact and small enough to be used by enthusiastic and experienced home cooks. This is the machine for those folks who love using sous vide, for those who know their way around a kitchen, or for those people who love to entertain. The minimum water line is fairly low, meaning you can cook eggs or small batches of food without using a lot of water. But the flow rate and circulation are powerful enough to heat up to 100 liters of water (in a closed container). Water comes to temperature quickly with 1200 watts of power, faster than any other machine tested, bringing 6 liters of water from 90 degrees to 155 degrees in just over 16 minutes.
The stainless-steel construction means it’s IPX7 waterproof and drop-tested for those folks who are a little bit clumsy, or who tend to work in a busy home where…accidents can happen. And you can continually heat a container of water for over a year (10,000 hours) without shutting it off. It would be useful if you are the host of an extended holiday, where you’re making back-to-back meals for large groups, or going into food service professionally. All this along with a Wi-Fi-enabled app that allows you to control the device anywhere you have your smartphone and access to tons of free sous vide recipe, makes this machine ideal for those who are looking to bring their sous vide game up a notch.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.25 x 3 x 13.75 inches | Temperature Accuracy: +/-0.09 degrees | Flow Rate: 12 liters/minute | Power: 1200 watts
It’s no surprise that Anova is a leader in the sous vide market. The Anova Precision Cooker strikes a good balance between compact size, ease of use, and consistent temperature, as well as Wi-Fi capabilities and a robust app with plenty of sous vide recipes included. If you looking for something more compact and portable, the Breville Joule is a great solution as well, with a powerful 1100 watts of heating in a tiny little package.
What Are the Other Options?
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano: This lightweight model from Anova pops up on a lot of lists due to the brand's known accuracy and slightly more affordable price. When we sent it to Irvin for testing, he agreed that the accuracy was spot-on, but this has a few flaws. He found the minimum water fill line annoyingly high, it lacks the speed of other Anova products, and the clip wasn't adjustable. If you're in the market for an Anova, we feel you'll have more success with our best overall pick.
Inkbird Sous Vide Precision Cooker: Irvin tested out the 1000-watt Inkbird as a contender for our best budget option. During his tests, he found the water fill line was among the lowest, which is great for those who need to be mindful of water use. Yet, there was little else he liked about this cooker. Though a powerful machine, it was incredibly slow at warming up the water, he found it large and cumbersome overall, and the screen's resolution made it difficult to read.
How We Tested
Our tester Irvin Lin reviewed our previous roundup and added a few of his own picks, after closely looking at consumer reviews and available manufacturer information. We then purchased these products for Irvin so he could put them to the test in his home kitchen. First, he tested each sous vide cooker for speed and accuracy by warming 6 quarts of water from 90 degrees to 155 degrees. He also allowed the water to circulate and took the temperature from various spots to assess the cooker's consistency. Next, to further test the machine's accuracy, he used each to poach an egg in its shell. During these tests, he assessed the machine's user-friendliness and how easy or difficult it was to set up.
After testing, Irvin submitted feedback about what he liked and didn’t like about each product and rated each one on the following features: Setup, Performance, Usability, Accuracy, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for in a Sous Vide Machine
Accuracy and Stability of Temperature
The key to sous vide lies in maintaining a consistent temperature for a prolonged period of time, so you’ll want to look for a machine that does just that. Sous vide machines should be able to get to the desired temperature quickly, and they should be able to stay at the temperature for the duration of cooking.
Compact machines don’t always equate to power. Smaller machines, like the Joule, heat the water fast and accurately. Pick a machine that fits your lifestyle, whether it’s one that is small and compact or one that is a larger that has a built-in screen or controls so you aren’t always reaching for your phone. Understand that size isn’t just about storage either. The large the piece of equipment, the less room you have to put the food in the water container or pot. So keep that in mind and take a look at the pots and containers you have when selecting a sous vide machine.
What Else You’ll Need
Most sous vide machines do not come with the attendant accessories. If you intend to vacuum-pack your proteins and vegetables yourself, you will need a vacuum sealer and a roll of bags that can be used with it. Otherwise you can use a heavy duty freezer Ziplock bag and use the water displacement method to seal and cook your food.
You will also need a vessel in which to cook, which can be anything from a durable plastic bin to a stock pot. You may also want racks, weights or magnets to prevent bagged items from moving around in the water.
Some features of sous vide machines include Wi-Fi compatibility, apps, temperature control, timer, clamp, basin, and digital display. Wattage determines how quickly the machine achieves the desired temperature. "And it’s nice to have a timer that kicks in when the water is up to temperature, not when you turn it, on so you don’t have to sit around next to the container of water waiting for the temp to come up before adding the food," says Sheri Codiana.
What can you sous vide?
Proteins benefit significantly from this cooking technique, but you can also sous vide vegetables, eggs, and even sauces, like Hollandaise. Sous vide is a flexible technique that amplifies many different types of food.
Do you sear meat before or after sous vide?
Meat should be seared after sous vide so that its crust remains crunchy and firm. Cook protein a few degrees under what you prefer and then sear it just before you serve it.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Hannah Selinger has written about food and drinks for local and national publications since 2015. A former sommelier, Hannah has worked for some of New York’s top restaurant groups, including Laurent Tourondel’s BLT group and David Chang’s Momofuku group. Her work has appeared in Eater, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, and more. Hannah is also a graduate of the International Culinary Center, where she learned the importance of sous-viding.
This article is written by Irvin Lin, a cookbook author of Marbled, Swirled, and Layered and an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes. He runs his own blog Eat the Love, is a professional recipe developer and writer. His work can be found here on Simply Recipes, as well as in publications like O Magazine, Washington Post and All Recipes Magazine. He’s been a sous vide enthusiast since he tasted his first sous vide steak at a friend’s house eight years ago.
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