Anova, Sansaire, and Gourmia. These are the Best Sous Vide Machines on the home consumer market. Manufacturers are using a few different terms out there so I took a look at everything. Sous vide machines, sous vide immersion, sous vide circulators, sous vide water ovens, sous vide cookers. If the words sous and vide are in front or behind it, I got the deets!
Now let’s talk price. I’ll show you updated links to the best sous vide machine deals online – I comb the web with a microscope to find specific deals at Amazon that are way better than what you’ll get at other retailers (just compare the regular prices!).
After you check out my picks of the best sous vide machines, scroll down and take at look at my handy guide to see what to look for when choosing the right sous vide machine for you. Let’s get to it!
The Top 3 Sous Vide Machines
Anova Precision Cooker
Anova’s sous vide machines have been ranked # 1 by America’s Test Kitchen and other pressure cooker reviews. The Anova Precision Cooker is my favorite, too. Read my full Anova Precision Cooker report here.
Quality construction from a lab equipment manufacturer including a dishwasher safe stainless steel skirt. Easily clips onto pretty much anything you’re likely to use as a pot – and because it’s an immersion stick it tucks away into a drawer when not in use. Heats the water quickly, accurately, and maintains the temp. Plus, this baby can be entirely controlled and monitored from your smartphone. That’s right. Remote control cooking! It’ll even send you push notifications. The app is step-by-step and at the touch of a button. Anova even throws in some recipes on the app to help get you started. Clean up is super easy – as with the sous vide technique in general. It’s not the cheapest sous vide machine on the market but it’s damn sure the one I want in my kitchen. I’ve got you covered with the best deal so grab it while it’s hot (way less to by in Amazon’s competitive marketplace). Just scroll down the page and check out the deals.
Sansaire Sous Vide Machine
This may have come in at #2, but don’t let that make you think this sous vide machine should take a back seat to anyone. It’s a little more expensive than the Anova Precision Cooker but the Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator is a dynamite unit. It looks beautiful and has an incredibly simple operating system. It held its own in side by side tech tests against the Anova Precision Cooker even outperforming it by heating the bath up to temp in less time. It doesn’t have an app to help you get your dinner ready, but the ease of use scores high. It mounts safely and securely onto the pot and is easy to read (read my full Sansaire Sous Vide Machine report here). To get the best deal we found just click on the link below (as usual, Amazon comes through with better prices than other retailers and with free shipping). Keep scrolling down for my next recommendation and more hot deals.
Gourmia Sous Vide Pod
Does it work in a 3.5 gallon pot? Check. Digital display? Check. Temperature settings within +/- 0.1°? Check again. The Gourmia Sous Vide Pod Immersion Circulator Precision Cooker (whew! that’s a mouthful!) hits all the key points you’re looking for in a sous vide machine. On top of that it’s available in black, bronze, or white to match you kitchen’s color theme. It boasts what they call an exclusive ACT (Active Control Thermostat) system that does pretty much what it sounds like it does – it heats and regulates water temperature. The manufacturer also calls the unit the Gourmia Pod Sous Vide, so watch out for it under that much easier to manage name as well (here’s a link to my full report on the Gourmia Sous Vide Pod Immersion Circulator Precision Cooker). Now for the best part. This sous vide machine is a bargain compared to the others. It doesn’t look as nice as its Apple inspired competition, but this is about great tasting food, not aesthetics. On the down side, it’s not as easy to clean as the Anova or the Sansaire and the build quality isn’t as top notch either – but great price on this one. Here’s the link to the best deal online (Amazon is the king for great prices on small appliances like this. Other retailers can’t compete with the big boy!) Scroll on down the page to see hot deals on all the popular sous vide machines.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SOUS VIDE MACHINE
Sous vide. It’s the worst kept secret of the best chefs in the world.
If you made it to this blog page, you probably already know what sous vide cooking is. In case you don’t, it basically means putting food (usually meat) inside a plastic bag, vacuum sealing it, and setting it in a hot water bath to cook to its perfect serving temperature.
The results are awesome. The most tender, evenly cooked, restaurant quality steak, chicken, chops, salmon, short ribs – whatever! – you’ve ever produced.
Best of all, it’s done with little to no effort. Once you get the water to temp, you drop in the bag of food, start a timer and walk away. When it’s finished, remove bag, open and enjoy. Voila! If you want to brown it off just slap it in a pan, grill, or broil till you get the look you love and you’re done.
You’ve heard the hype. Now you want the machine. But which one is right for you? Here’s what you should be looking for in a sous vide machine.
There’s two styles of sous vide machine on the market. First, there’s the immersion circulator.
It clamps onto the side of your pot or container. It’s got a motor inside that moves the water around, heats it up, and maintains it at your desired temperature.
The other version is the water oven.
This is the all-in-one contraption. It’s an insulated box with a heating element in the walls that passively heats and maintains the water.
Immersion Circulator vs. Water Oven CHEAT SHEET
This could turn out to be the Ali vs. Frazier of the sous vide world. Here’s my pros and cons cheat sheet to help you get the picture quick.
– Less expensive
– Small. Can store in a drawer
– Capacity is variable. Can attach to a range of pot or container sizes
– Fastest water heat up time
– Some noise. Quite minimal, but it can be heard running
– Water evaporates from open containers. Should only be an issue on long cooks (12+ hours) or at higher temps. Pro tip: cover the pot with foil to reduce evaporation.
– Models with poor design make a little work on clean up
– Runs silent
– No evaporation
– Easy cleaning
– Can be quite expensive
– Large. Basically the size of a microwave
– Capacity maxes out at size of unit
– Slow water heat up time
Heat Up Time
This may or may not matter to you. Fact is, sous vide is not a quick cooking method. Compared to high temp grilling, you’re gonna have to take your time with this. Don’t get me wrong. There’s no extra work. It’s pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it situation just like a slow cooker. I’m just saying that if it takes 20 minutes to heat the water to temp or 40 minutes, it’s really just setting a timer and walking away. Plan accordingly.
That said, faster is usually better. There’s obvious ways to make heating up to temp quicker. Use the hot water tap from your sink. Boil some water on your stovetop or in a kettle. The unit won’t care what the start temp of the water is. It only cares about the temp you set it to, getting it there, and maintaining it.
Which brings us to…
This is really the main issue with sous vide cooking. It’s all about putting your food into a heated environment and gently bringing it up to that temperature. So long as the thermometer on your unit is functioning properly you’ll get the results you’re looking for. So how do you know it’s really the temperature it says it is? Fact is, thermometer accuracy – especially digital – can be suspect. But a good quality machine will have a high quality thermometer. These machines use scientific equipment that’s far more sensitive and accurate than the typical thermometer you’d buy at a store. You can always dip an instant read thermometer into the bath to make sure you’re happy or hang a candy thermometer on the side of the pot. Pretty much every sous vide machine out there can be set +/- 0.5°F.
A few years back, America’s Test Kitchen did a cool test comparing immersion circulators against water ovens. They used 6 quarts of water for each and added one drop each of blue and yellow food dye into the containers. It took 15 seconds for the immersion circulators to turn the water green. The water ovens took 10 times longer to do the same. That helps explain why immersion heats the water faster than water baths. It also translates into a more even temperature maintained throughout the water with an immersion circulator.
This is a popular question for obvious reasons. Some like it well done while others like it rare. How do you give everyone a great steak/lamb/chop cooked to order? Easy. Start with the highest temp order first. Let’s say 160°F. You set the temp and cook the first steak. When it’s done, you take the steak out. You lower the temp to the next order at 150°F. When it’s ready, you put the cooked steak in with the raw and leave them in for 1 hour or so until the second steak is done. The first steak will be served at 150°F but has already been cooked to 160°F. The second steak never went a degree above 150°F. Sear them both off and everybody’s happy! They will be exactly to order. It just takes a little longer.
Yes, you can leave your food in the sous vide machine for well past the cook time. It’s quite flexible that way. Keep in mind that different proteins vary. Some, like short ribs, will become more tender and succulent. Some recipes might call for a 48-72 hour cook. Other proteins might take on a mushy quality after 3-4 hours. You can experiment yourself as the perfect doneness is in the mouth of the eater (does that work? You know what I mean) or you can find plenty of guides online for ideal sous vide cook and hold times.
Sous vide, by nature, is a low maintenance cooking method. It’s a water bath! How messy could it be? There’s no spatters, flare ups, or boil overs. Non-stick really doesn’t apply here. What you do want to make sure of is that the unit you choose has simple components that disassemble easily for basic drying and cleaning.
The long cooking times required for sous vide cooking mean that the food products are pretty much always pasteurized in the process. It’s a safe and widely used method.
Power interruptions can be a problem for some units. They simply turn off and don’t come back on again. If that happens, how do you know what’s happened to your food? Power failures aren’t exactly an everyday problem for most people with a sous vide machine but it is a consideration. A unit that can alert you if there’s a power outage could save you from ending up with a batch of spoiled food. You can also check for a machine that has a max temp making it impossible for it to overheat.
Apps and Tech
A digital control panel is pretty much standard with all types of sous vide machine. There are manufacturers who make apps that pair with your machine so you can set and monitor you cooking remotely – even turn the unit on or off. Pretty cool! If you like the extra tech, go for it. But it’s a bonus, not a necessity.
All in all, I think the immersion circulator is the way to go. If money and space are no object, professional kitchens use ultra expensive industrial water oven units. But in my opinion they’re overkill for home use.
Free Online Resource
Pretty much all the manufacturer sites have guides and recipes to help you use your sous vide machine. That’s a great place to start. If you want more, Douglas Bladwin put together a free web book. Here’s a link to A Practical Guide To Sous Vide Cooking http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html There’s tons of detailed information that should answer all your sous vide questions. Plus he’s got links to videos of some basics like salmon, steak, even crème brulee.
Anova Sous Vide 2nd Gen 900 WattsSee Price At Amazon!See Price At Target!
Sansaire Sous Vide MachineBuy It At Amazon! See Price At Target! But It At Amazon! If you want to know even more about sous vide just click the links below: