We all love watching cooking shows like “Chef’s Table” and “Masterchef Australia”. The chefs on these series often use the fanciest terms and apparatus. Sous-vide is one such machine that not many of us use but are curious enough to want to know more about it.
What is Sous Vide?
To break it down in simple words, Sous Vide (pronounced as ‘su-veed’), aka under-vacuum, is a French cooking technique in which the chef places food in either a glass jar or a plastic pouch and then immerses it in a water bath for a long duration. This can last anywhere between 1 to 48 hours! Its important to note that the temperature is usually maintained between 55∞C to 60∞C for cooking meats and slightly higher for veggies. At the end of it, the goal is to hold some moisture in and cook the food evenly. You can learn more about it in this article.
Why Should You Use a Sous Vide Machine?
There really isn’t much to explain here except that the aforementioned machine delivers super delicious food. The food that you cook using this technique will also turn out healthier as it does not use any extra fats.
Who is it for?
You may think that it is impossible to get a restaurant style steak at home right? After all,
a sous-vide machine is only supposed to be used by consummate chefs who work at fine-dining restaurants. Wrong!
Using a sous-vide machine is not a backbreaker and that’s probably it has gained so much momentum in the recent years. This machine can be used by everyone, be it a homemaker, a foodie, an experimental cooker, or a professional chef. All you need to do is buy one that is the most suitable for your needs, and a learn a bit more about how to use it.
In this article, we’ll take care of the former. The latter is usually written in the user-manuals.
Before we jump onto our list of the best sous vide machines, we’d like you to go through our buying guide to ensure an informed purchase.
The Best Sous Vide Machines (Immersion Circulators & Water Ovens)
Deciding on which sous vide machine to buy, can be a tough choice. But don’t worry! We have researched and tested the machines, before putting them on our list of the best sous vide machines.
Our list of products has undergone a series of tests, covering all the aspects mentioned under our buying guide. This includes maximum water capacity, safety warnings, controls, initial set-up, maker reputation, temperature precision, vessel attachment, loudness, final result, and value for money. We have also cross-checked with detailed reviews online.
Without any further ado, here are the sous vide machines which made it to our list:
In case you stumble upon other review sites, you’ll notice that the Joule model, is number one on most of the lists, and for good reason. First of all, it is one of the top-rated machines that not only performs well but also boasts of a tiny footprint (11 inches tall). Secondly, coming from the house of Chefsteps, we know that it has to be a super smart equipment.
This highly durable immersion circulator style sous vide machine takes very little time to heat up (1100W) while using minimum power (roughly 0.44 kWh) in almost half a day. The Joule also uses very less water (about 2 inches) to operate. At the end, you get perfectly cooked food, thanks to a very accurate temperate range throughout the process. All of this, without being too noisy!
Wondering how it attaches itself to containers? The Joule has a magnetic base that sticks to a pot without any clip.
As far as the smart features go, the Joule offers a Bluetooth as well as a Wi-Fi connectivity that is not just a gimmick. You can connect it to either iOS or Android smartphone and download their app. The app has a clean interface and comes with tons of pre-set recipes. It also asks you whether the selected protein is fresh or frozen in order to set an appropriate cooking time. Alternatively, you can set the temperature as well as the cooking time manually. Once you’re ready to start, it will begin heating up the water. The best part? Joule is compatible with any Alexa-enabled device. This way, you can control the app with your voice alone.
The only drawback of this machine is that it has no onboard display or controls. You will have to rely on a 2nd device for all the functions.
The Anova sous vide precision cooker is often compared to the Chefsteps Joule given its type and performance. However, its 2nd on our list mainly because it takes 5 minutes more than the Joule to heat up, is not as compact, and consumes slightly more resources (power and water) to operate. Moreover, it produces a little more noise which is still not noticeable unless you’re standing very close to it. All that aside, it is another one of the top-rated machines.
The Anova can cook vegetables, meat, cheese, and eggs with completely accuracy, without any rare spots. It latches onto a pot very easily, by means of an adjustable clamp. Similar to the Joule, this machine also allows you to connect your mobile device (iPhone or Android) via Wi-Fi and is both, Alexa and Google Home.
What gives Anova a slight edge over its competitors is that it sports a beautiful LED backlit display to control all the functions. This eliminates the need of using another device and comes handy for times when your phone runs out of juice.
Having said that, it is a bit less powerful compared to the Joule, with a wattage of 900W. That’s the reason it takes a bit longer to heat up the water.
If you like the sound of Anova but don’t wish to spend too much or are a casual home-chef, then the Anova Nano sous side machine maybe a more suitable choice. It is only 2.8 inches taller than the Joule, and can be affixed to any vessel for cooking. This model has a power of 750W and heats up roughly 19 liters of water up to a maximum of 197 ∞F. We love that this little machine also has a Bluetooth connectivity for controlling functions, and a beautiful app with a bunch of recipes ready at your disposal.
What we didn’t like about it is the fact that it isn’t very powerful. Though you can use it to cook all sorts of foods, you must be careful not to pile the water bath up with too many items. Also, the pot attachment clamp is not as strong as we’d like it to be. That said, you do get enough value for money.
If budget isn’t a constraint, the Sous Vide Supreme all-in-one machine is a great option. This beast can cook food for days on end (i.e. up to 99 hours) while maintaining a steady temperature between 86∞F to 210∞F and a maximum temperature variation of only 1∞F. Furthermore, it has a maximum water capacity of about 11.2 liters and can hold up to 12 4-ounce quantities of food.
What’s more? This machine sports a neat looking control panel which displays various statuses such as the temperature, heating, and timer. The timer allows you to set the cooking time anywhere between 0 min to 99 hours with a beep to alert you once the process is over.
What we personally love about the Supreme water oven is that it barely makes any noise while in operation. This is because it does not run on a motor pump. Instead, it features a bottom grill shoot full of holes which gives rise to thermal activity, thereby heating up the water uniformly. To boot, this sous vide machine retains as much moisture as possible, thanks to a lid. This helps to prevent the foods from drying.
Our only gripe is that it is too big compared to the aforementioned machines. However, even though it cannot fit into a drawer, you can place it on your countertop. In case you have very little space in your kitchen, this maybe something that you’ll need to consider before buying.
Another good product in the market, the Sansaire model gives a tough competition to the Anova precision cooker. It boasts of a wattage of 1000W and heats up 15 liters of water from 80∞F to 140∞F in just 16 minutes, even beating Anova. You can clip the Sansaire model to any virtually any vessel and set the cooking temperature manually, using the LED display on the machine itself. We noticed that similar to all the three sous vide machines listed above, this model also features temperature accuracy, thereby keeping the variance within 0.1∞C of the set temperature.
As far as the interface is concerned, the Sansaire definitely supersedes some of the most popular machines out there. It is extremely simple to operate, sports a minimalistic design, with a display that is easy to read, even from a distance. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have as many functions as the Anova. Also, it may not be as well-built or reliable compared to Anova.
Having said that, it does have one tiny advantage over its rival. It has an efficient drainage system at the bottom which enables you to lift off the machine out of the water bath without creating a mess.
Basics Of Sous Vide Machines:
Buying Guide for Sous Vide Machines:
There are two types of sous vide machines namely, immersion circulators and sous vide or water ovens. The former looks like a hair curling wand and requires you to have your own pot for cooking whereas the latter sports an all-in-one design, replete with an inbuilt heater and a cooking container. That said, they’re both devised to perform the same task of slow and even cooking.
In case there is lack of space, we’d suggest that you opt for an immersion circulator as it is quite compact, and can be hooked onto any type of a vessel such as a pot or a plastic container. On the other hand, a sous oven has everything you need to cook, thereby being a great option for beginners.
If you’re considering to buy a water oven, you must check the amount of water its pot can hold. Usually, the maximum capacity of a sous vide container is about 20-22 liters. In this case, higher the capacity, better the product.
When choosing a sous vide machine, it is best to go for a higher wattage (minimum 700W). A high wattage machine would heat the water up quickly and efficiently, without wasting any of your precious time.
It is important to note that if you’re opting for an immersion circulator and have a water bath that’s too huge, it may take more time to heat up entirely.
Temperature Range & Stability:
Majority of the sous vide machines can go a maximum of up to 200∞F while maintaining the desired temperature within a variance of 0.1∞F . This is extremely important as the results can be drastically different even with 1∞F of variance. Eggs especially, need a lot of accuracy as they’re quite delicate. In case of meats, the machine should be able to cook evenly, without any cold or hot spots.
Nowadays, you get smart sous vide machines that are both, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. These features allow you to connect your smartphone to the machine, thereby making it convenient for you to keep a check on the cooking progress. Yes, that means that you won’t have to make regular rounds in the kitchen.
You can also go for a sous vide machine with onboard controls. These come with LED/digital displays and don’t require you to have a secondary device.
One built-in feature that we personally love to have is the timer. The countdown alerts you once the food has ben cooked whereas the count-up shows you the cooking time remaining. This is great for monitoring the entire process of cooking. However, if the sous vide machine shuts off automatically after a certain amount of time, it maybe a bad thing because that will bring the temperature down and cause bacterial growth.
Ease of Use:
We all want the latest machines with the maximum number of features. However, setting up a fairly complicated machine can be very taxing. Before you go out and buy a new sous vide machine, make sure that you check for instruction manuals, and the ‘simple to use’ factor in ads. All this would surely add up as far as convenience is concerned. That said, don’t choose a model that is super simple, but compromises on far too many features.
Your budget can always be a starting point for narrowing down on a machine. When it comes to sous vide machines, costly is not always the best. For example, a $100 model can perform as well as a $500 model, barring a few features. You must base your decision on your needs and spending budget.
In case you have researched about this topic earlier, you may have noticed that we have omitted quite a few makers altogether. These include Nomiku and Gourmia. But we have a solid reason for doing so.
The Nomiku had earlier announced that they would be going out of business this year. While they have certainly managed to stay afloat, their product focus has shifted from sous vide machines to chef-prepared meal delivery. Gourmia on the other hand is still focused on sous vide machines. However, the quality isn’t top-notch and they’re not as durable compared to the rest of its competitors.
We hope that our list of the best sous vide machines helps you to make the most suitable decision for yourself. In case of any queries, please do get in touch with us.