Immersion circulators, which were once only available to high-end chefs and science labs, have now made their way into the home market.
We put ten of the most popular ones to the test to determine which is best for home sous vide cooking.
WHAT IS A SOUS VIDE COOKER?
FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS SOUS VIDE?
Sous vide is a French term that translates literally as “under vacuum.” When we talk about sous vide, we usually mean the cooking method that involves immersing a vacuum-sealed food in a water bath at a low temperature for hours.
The key point of sous vide is temperature control, which is accomplished through the use of a device that can heat at a precise and constant temperature. Which is better, a Sous Vide Cooker or an Immersion Circulator?
WHAT FOODS CAN I SOUS VIDE?
One of the most impressive aspects of sous vide cooking is this. Most people immediately think of sous vide cooking steak – and I don’t blame them!
However, there are numerous other options available, all of which benefit from precise temperatures to ensure a perfect cook. Any sous vide machine will allow you to cook any of the following, as well as many others:
If you’re still not convinced, we recommend Claire Lower’s “Will it Sous Vide?” ” Lifehacker column She is constantly coming up with new and interesting ways to experiment with everyday foods.
Her sous vide hot pockets are an excellent example of her inventiveness! You can also find a plethora of delicious and simple sous vide recipes in our Recipes section of the blog. You’re very welcome!
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE A SOUS VIDE COOKER?
A sous vide cooker will undoubtedly transform your life. It is extremely convenient and capable of producing the best texture that a frying pan cannot. Here are some of the advantages of using it:
PERFECT OUTCOMES from Machine
- Sous vide cookers, as a sophisticated device, can consistently cook food at an exact temperature on recipes. It enables you to cook like a professional chef with no fuss, with no under- or over-cooking. You can also easily replicate the perfect result the next time by simply setting the same time and temperature.
- Even cooking is one feature that distinguishes sous vide cookers from the millions of other cooking devices on the market. Grilling steak with a probe thermometer may result in “correct doneness.” However, due to the temperature gradient, some parts may be overcooked while others may be undercooked. Sous vide cookers, on the other hand, can solve the problem through evenly distributed heating. As a result, perfect results are obtained.
TENDERING CAN HELP YOU SAVE MONEY.
- Ribeye and tenderloin are fantastic, but they’re not common on the dinner table because they’re so expensive. Choosing less expensive cuts can help you save a lot of money, and you don’t have to sacrifice texture. Sous vide cookers can aid in the tenderization of meats. They can tenderize tough meats by breaking down muscle tissues, allowing you to enjoy a delicious dinner at a lower cost.
- In general, high temperatures destroy a greater proportion of nutrients. Low temperature cooking, such as sous vide, can, on the other hand, retain more nutrients than traditional cooking. Furthermore, because sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing the food, water soluble minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients are not lost.
- An immersion circulator is a rod-shaped device that is less bulky than an oven. To use it, simply prepare a water bath in any container you have at home, such as a Dutch oven (not that OVEN you know), and place the circulator on top of it. It is easy to store, even in a drawer!
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SOUS VIDE COOKER?
When shopping for an immersion circulator, you should consider power, temperature and time range, accuracy, connectivity, noise level, and so on. Before pulling out your wallet, go through the following checklist.
- POWER. This is one of the most critical considerations when selecting an immersion circulator. You’ll need to read the wattages to figure out how much power you have. A higher wattage indicates a more powerful and faster heating system. Sous vide cookers with 1000 watts or more are generally quite powerful. Cooking for a large group, such as 6 or more people, necessitates the use of a more powerful cooker.
- TEMPERATURE AND TIME PERIOD. A wider temperature and time range expands your cooking options. Cooking times vary depending on the recipe and food item. Temperatures can range from 77°F to 203°F (25°C to 95°C), allowing you to cook everything from an egg to a steak.
- TEMPERATURE PRECISION. This is another critical point that can have a significant impact on the final outcome. A minor deviation can result in an overcooked or undercooked egg, or a medium and medium rare steak. A good sous vide device has an accuracy of 0.1°F / 0.1°C.
- CONNECTIVITY. Even sous vide cookers now have Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity. Many cookers on the market allow (or require) the use of mobile apps to control temperature and time. This advanced feature allows you to remotely control and monitor the process. This, however, raises the cost. As a result, if you do not require this function, the cooker with built-in control will be more appropriate for you.
- THE LEVEL OF NOISE. Humming sounds are annoying, especially when they last for a long time. You won’t enjoy being bothered by noises all night. As a result, opt for cookers with silent features. There are some other factors to consider, but we’ve selected the most important ones for you to review before making a payment.
BEST SOUS VIDE MACHINES FOR 2021
#1 THE BEST IMMERSION CIRCULATOR: BREVILLE JOULE SOUS VIDE
Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide, White Polycarbonate
- Smallest, sleekest sous vide tool available at just 11 inches tall and 1.1 pounds, with streamlined white body and finishes.
- Saves space: Half the size of other sous vide machines, it’s small enough to slip into a top drawer.
- Heats up fast: 1100 watts of power for hyper-fast water heating. Operating Requirements: Frequency 50 to 60 Hz, single phase
- Perfect results: Visual Doneness feature in the Joule app displays exactly how food cooks. Dinner comes out predictably perfect, every time.
- Wifi and bluetooth ready: Works with iPhone or Android—connect with Bluetooth alone, or cook from anywhere with Wi-Fi.
- The Joule is a powerful piece of sous vide equipment packed into a ridiculously small and light device. It has almost everything you could want in an at-home immersion circulator: it’s accurate, it heats up water quickly and quietly, and it has a sleek design with innovative features, such as a magnetic base that securely clings to the bottom of many pots.
- The Joule does have one major drawback: it lacks an onboard display and can only be controlled by a secondary piece of technology, such as a smartphone, tablet, or Amazon Alexa-enabled device. Having said that, the Joule app is intuitive, simple to use, and pleasing to the eye, with a slew of useful and well-thought-out features.
#2 THE BEST IMMERSION CIRCULATOR WITH ONBOARD DISPLAY: ANOVA PRECISION COOKER
Anova Culinary AN500-US00 Sous Vide Precision Cooker (WiFi), 1000 Watts
- Perfect results every time: Never over or under cook your food again. The Anova Precision Cooker circulates water at the exact temperature required for perfectly cooked meals, no matter what's on your menu. Use the Anova app to access thousands of free recipes and monitor your cook from anywhere via your smartphone.
- What to cook: Sous vide (pronounced “sue-veed”) cooking offers the perfect level of doneness for nearly any food. Chicken, fish, vegetables, eggs, beef, lamb, pork and more are all ideal foods for sous vide. The ability to lock in flavor and moisture during the cooking process results in texture and taste that is second to none.
- Easy to use: Whether cooking a simple meal or an extravagant feast, the Precision Cooker heats water faster and holds temperature precisely so you can get cooking quicker than ever. It easily attaches to any stock pot or container with an adjustable clamp, and is water resistant for when accidents happen in the kitchen.
- Customer experience: Designed in San Francisco, CA. Anova delivers thousands of sous vide recipes for free in the Anova app, created for cooks of every skill level by award-winning chefs and home cooks alike.
- Our favorite immersion circulator with a display and onboard controls is Anova’s Precision Cooker. We appreciate not having to use our phones to set up and calibrate a sous vide water bath, especially when working with messy ingredients.
- Fear not, app integration and connected devices enthusiasts! The Anova Precision Cooker comes with a WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled model, as well as its own app with a plethora of cooking guides and recipes (including content from a certain Kenji López-Alt). While it is larger and less powerful than the Joule, the Anova Precision Cooker is still a good sous vide machine.
Also See: Buy here
#3 THE BEST AFFORDABLE IMMERSION CIRCULATOR: INSTANT POT ACCU SLIM SOUS VIDE IMMERSION CIRCULATOR
Instant Accu Slim™ Sous Vide Precision Cooker, Immersion Circulator, 800W
- CREATE RESTAURANT-QUALITY DISHES: Precision-controlled sous vide immersion cooking delivers perfect results every time
- EVEN COOKING: Circulates heated water uniformly, with no hot or cold spots
- EASY TO READ: The tilted LED display and digital touchscreen with color-coded status indicator is easy to read from across the room
- QUICK CLAMP: Easily clamp the Accu Slim Sous to a cooking vessel with one hand
- PEACE OF MIND: Entire unit is waterproof to prevent damage in case of accidental immersion
- After dominating the multi-cooker market, Instant Pot has entered the immersion circulator market with the low-cost Accu Slim. Professional cooks who remember when the only circulators on the market cost more than $1,500 find it difficult to believe that one can now be purchased for less than a hundred dollars.
- The Accu Slim performed the best of the affordable immersion circulators we tested. It’s a simple machine with no bells and whistles, no paired app, no Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, but that’s what makes it appealing and such a good deal. It knows its lane and stays in it, effectively performing the essential function of an immersion circulator: heating and circulating water at a precise temperature.
THE CRITERIA: WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A GREAT SOUS VIDE IMMERSION CIRCULATOR
- Before conducting any performance tests, we examined each immersion circulator to evaluate its overall design and functionality. It can be difficult to judge design features and construction quality based on product photos and user reviews on Amazon, and there are a number of immersion circulators available for purchase with truly terrible designs. We discarded the worst of those models because simply putting them in a water bath was a frustrating experience.
CREATING A WARM WATER BATH
- We began by measuring how long each circulator took to bring a gallon of cold water—57°F (14°C)—to the temperature commonly used for sous vide cooking vegetables: 190°F (88°C). We held the circulators at the target temperature for one hour after they brought the water up to the target temperature (not all of them were able to do so).
COOKING CHICKEN BREASTS
- We were surprised by how many of the immersion circulators in the testing lineup did not perform well enough to advance to the second round of testing—only four of the ten devices passed. Two of these four (the ChefSteps Joule and the Anova Precision Cooker) belonged to the higher-priced tier, while the other two (the Anova Nano and the Instant Pot Accu Slim) belonged to the lower-priced tier.
- Eggs are well-known for being the most time- and temperature-sensitive food to be cooked sous vide. Chicken breasts cooked sous vide for one hour or two hours will taste the same. This is not the case with the chicken breasts’ precursors, eggs—because time and temperature can significantly alter the final texture of an egg cooked sous vide, we chose to cook soft-poached eggs to further test the accuracy and temperature recovery speed of our top four candidates.
IMPORTANT SOUS VIDE MACHINE FEATURES
- Water Capacity: If you choose a sous vide oven with a water bath, you’ll want to know how much water the device can hold. This will significantly increase the amount of food you can prepare sous vide. If you’re only cooking for yourself, a smaller meal will suffice. However, if you intend to prepare a meal for a large group of friends or family, a large water capacity is required!
- Heater & Circulator: For immersion circulators, this feature is more important to understand than for sous vide ovens. When using an immersion circulator, the food capacity is ultimately determined by the size of the container. Which is effectively limitless. However, if you use a large enough water bath, the immersion circulator may not be able to completely heat it.
- Temperature Range: Most sous vide machines can reach temperatures of 200 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Temperature Precision: The majority of available sous vide machines claim to keep temperatures within 0.1 degree F. Low water warning, for example, is an important safety feature. This will turn off the device if the water level becomes too low, preventing the unit from being burned. Another important feature to include is a power outage warning. It will notify you if the power goes out, which may cause food to spoil.
After reading our ultimate guide to the best sous vide machines, we hope that your purchasing decision will be easier.
We discussed the main ingredients required for sous vide cooking and identified our top picks for best sous vide machine.
Now, let’s go over some frequently asked questions to ensure that you leave this article knowing everything there is to know about sous vide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Immersion circulators that are inaccurate are largely ineffective. Keeping this in mind, the two main features we look for in a sous vide circulator are the ability to quickly heat water to a precise temperature and then maintain that temperature for an extended period of time.
Both provide the precise temperature control required for safe sous vide cooking, but they operate in different ways. Unlike immersion circulators’ single point heating systems, SousVide Supreme’s patented design and precision temperature control technology ensures even temperatures without the use of a circulator motor.
There’s no need to spend money on a vacuum sealer when cheaper Ziploc bags and water will suffice. Zipper bags that are food-safe are ideal for sous vide.
They are self-contained sous vide devices the size of a microwave that typically cost $500 or more. Sous vide water ovens heat water but do not circulate it, unlike immersion circulators.