As we find ourselves at home with more time to cook, few appliances will expand the quality and versatility of your cuisin than a sous-vide machine. Whether you want a sous-vide machine that you can control through your smart device with voice activation or an easy-to-read LCD panel to help you ensure the perfect cooking temp every time, our top recommendations won’t disappoint.
The best machines not only elevate your culinary skills but also have features that are easy to use regardless of your experience in the kitchen. Here are the best sous-video machines for 2020.
At a Glance
- The best sous vide machine overall: Breville Joule Sous Vide
- The starter sous vide machine: Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker WiFi
- The best budget sous vide machine: Anova Precision Cooker Nano
- The best sous vide pressure cooker: Instant Pot Duo SV
- The best sous vide water oven: Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven
Why we picked the Joule:
We picked the Joule for its durability, integration, speed, and power. The Joule is made out of extruded polycarbonate and stainless steel, which gives it added strength and durability. The machine also features a magnetic base, which makes it stick to your pot without a clamp.
In terms of integration, the Joule sets trends and rises above the rest of the pack. You can connect this immersion circulator to your smartphone or tablet, and use the app’s visual tool to select how you want your steak to look when it’s done. Have raw meat on your hands? You can even connect Joule to Amazon’s Alexa, which will allow you to simply say “Joule, cook a steak” after you’ve placed the steak in the pot. You can then walk away until your food is ready. Because of Joule’s smart integration, you can cook a steak and a side of vegetables and only spend a total of six minutes in the kitchen doing prep work.
Boasting 1100 watts of power, the Joule is powerful enough to heat your water quickly. Of all the immersion circulators we tested, the Joule heated water the fastest, bringing 4 quarts of water from room temperature (78 degrees Fahrenheit) to 135 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes. The manufacturer recommends a maximum water capacity of 2.5 gallons when you’re cooking without a cover, and 5 gallons if you’re cooking with a covered pot. This is a large enough capacity to accommodate a large family or a small dinner party. Some people worry about immersion circulators being annoyingly loud. Thankfully, the Joule is surprisingly quiet considering its speed and power. It’s about as loud as the sound of boiling water.
As with any machine, however, there is always room for improvement. The Joule doesn’t have a display that indicates the time or temperature, which can make cooking more difficult for some users. The only thing you can control from the actual device is the power setting, meaning you can turn the device on and off. You must control all of the cooking settings using an external application, such as the mobile app for Android and iOS. If you’re not the type of person who wants to use a smartphone app or something like Alexa to control your kitchen appliances, the Joule may not be for you.
Why we picked the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker:
Instead of using a magnetic base, the Anova clamps onto the side of your cooking pot. It’s secure once in place, but it does require you to fiddle with it for a few seconds to get it just right.
Flexibility is where this immersion circulator shines. It offers similar integration to the aforementioned Joule, allowing you to control the device with your smartphone, tablet, or smart home devices such as Alexa and Google Home. However, the Anova also features an LCD display and an LED-backlit scroll wheel for users who don’t want to control their device externally. If you’re the type of person who wants the flexibility to cook your meals with or without additional peripherals, the Anova is a good choice, as it offers more flexibility than most competitors.
When compared to the Joule, though, the Anova is less powerful in terms of its wattage. This doesn’t have much impact on its maximum capacity — 4 to 5 gallons, per the manufacturer’s recommendations — but it does impact how fast it heats water. For example, it took roughly 20 minutes to heat 4 quarts of water from room temperature to 135 degrees.
Check out our full Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi review.
Why we picked the Anova Nano Sous Vide Machine:
Anova, a well-known brand in the sous vide world, really hit the mark with the Nano. It’s only 12.8 inches tall, which makes it small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer, and you can attach it to virtually any pot that’s large enough to hold your ingredients and desired water capacity. Speaking of water capacity, the 750-watt Nano can heat up to five gallons of water to temperatures between 132- and 197-degrees Fahrenheit.
One issue we sometimes see with budget sous vide machines is a lack of accuracy. Maintaining the perfect temperature in that water bath is vital, as it means the difference between perfectly cooked steaks and unappetizing, dried out cuts of meat. The Nano maintains the water bath temp within 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit accuracy. Nano’s Bluetooth BLE 4.2 also allows you to use your phone to remotely control the machine, and the app has easy-to-follow recipes where you can push a button to start. You can also create your own recipes in the app.
While the Nano has a lot to offer, it’s not perfect. We felt the clamp was not designed as well as it could have been, as it doesn’t open wide enough. The Nano isn’t as powerful as other sous vide cookers, so you must be a bit more careful not to overload the water bath with too many food items. In spite of these downsides, the Nano is more than worth the small investment.
Learn more about the Nano in our full Anova Nano review.
Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo SV:
The Duo SV is one of the more recent Instant Pot models, and it serves as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, porridge pot, stewing pot, sauté pan, steamer, yogurt maker, and food warmer in addition to a sous vide machine. This means, you can sous vide cook and brown your food in the same appliance. The Duo SV can make pretty much anything, ranging from cheesecake to mac and cheese to filet mignon.
It has a large display with 14 cooking different smart programs, and sous vide cooking in the Duo SV is simple. You can fully customize the temperature and time settings, and there’s room in the pot to fit enough ingredients for a family of four. The Duo SV heats up a water bath relatively quickly, with both closed-lid and open-air cooking programs you can use for your different sous vide recipes.
Why we picked the Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven:
The Sous Vide Supreme brings sous vide cooking to home cooks. Their water ovens are high quality, yet affordable enough for non-commercial use. The Demi water oven is compact, measuring 29cm x 28cm x 33cm (approximately 11.3 inches by 11 inches by 13 inches). It’s about the size of a crockpot, and you can easily store it on a countertop or in a cabinet.
The Demi water oven has double-walled insulation and a steam containing lid, so it’s cool to touch on the outside, and no steam escapes. It also doesn’t release heavy smells into the air. It can maintain the water temperature between 86- and 210-degrees Fahrenheit, and it does so within 1-degree accuracy. If you want it to, the Demi oven can even hold the water at your desired temperature for several days, and you can set the timer for up to 99 hours.
The Demi Oven doesn’t run on a motor, so it’s completely quiet. It has a perforated bottom grill which makes it generate thermal turbulence. Although the machine’s interior appears small (the water bath has a 2.3-gallon water capacity), it can actually hold quite a bit of food. It comes with a stainless-steel rack, which positions your foods in the correct places. You can cook up to 12 four-ounce pouches of food at a time.
The major drawback to this appliance is the price. It’s more expensive than most of the immersion circulators on the market. But, what you’re paying for is the quality and the all-in-one functionality.
Research and buying tips
- How does a sous vide machine work?
- What can you cook in a sous vide machine?
- What do I need to get started with sous vide cooking?
- What is the best starter sous vide machine?
- What is the best sous vide machine for the money?
Sous vide is French for “under vacuum.” A sous vide machine maintains a water bath at a precise temperature, and it cooks foods contained within a vacuum-sealed or zip-lock bag. There are a few different types of sous vide machines. Immersion circulators use a heating element and a water pump to keep the water moving and at a consistent temperature. Sous vide water baths typically have a heating element surrounding the water that maintains the precise temperature. Because the food cooks at such a steady temperature and the water surrounds it on all sides, it cooks very evenly. Also, the fact that the food is encased in plastic helps to lock in moisture and flavor.
You can technically cook almost anything in a sous vide machine and have it come out edible. However, some of the best foods to cook in a sous vide machine are steak, eggs, turkey, and (believe it or not) last night’s leftovers. Some meats, like chicken breast, may not turn out as good though.
In addition to a good sous vide immersion circulator or sous vide water oven, it’s a good idea to have a vacuum sealing machine with vacuum seal bags. You can use zip-lock bags, but they just don’t work quite as well. Also, if you’re using an immersion circulator, you’ll need a container to hold your water bath. Any large container, like an insert from an Instant Pot, is sufficient. However, there arethat are specifically designed for sous vide cooking. Using a specialty water bath can help improve quality and consistency.
The Anova Wifi is a solid starter sous vide machine because it’s easy to use, and the Anova app has a ton of recipes that let you just put the ingredients in the water bath, tap, and go. Another good starter sous vide option is the Instant Pot Accu Slim.
Any of the options included in this guide are good value when you compare the price versus the features they offer.
How we test sous vide machines
We tested and compared ten different sous vide machines that received some of the highest overall ratings. During testing, we considered these factors: taste of the meal, quality and durability, features, ease of use, speed and power, and price. We also compared the time it took to heat water from 78 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit using each machine. Additionally, we considered factors like tech integration, maximum capacities, noisiness, manual instructions (and how easy the instructions are to follow and understand), comments from users, customer support, and overall value.
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