Sous Vide Cooking

everything you need to know to get you started

(updated June 2020)

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There is so much about the sous vide topic online and it is growing fast. Products have developed a lot in the last few years, and there is a lot of old information online.  So we are reviewing, using, and tweaking it every day, in order to give you up to date sous vide information. We aren’t scientists or chefs, but professional foodies that are keen users, with experience. We’re diligent researchers, and avid foodies that want to provide people like us with, unbiassed honest information.

After all our research, we’ve summarised below the best pure sous vide machines to buy now.  So you have choices and your decision depends on your needs, preferences ( and your pocket !) Our research taught us which one to buy to suit us (the Breville chefsteps model).   But they are all brilliant, as are a few more on our shortlist. But here, we summarise, for the two main types of sous vide machine,  the very best models for entry level i.e. if you just want to dip your toe in the sous vide water, and the best overall sous vide machines if you want to dive right in.

We now use our sous vide machine almost every day to get the best out of our meat, vegetables and fruit, to cook the best steaks, the most moist salmon steaks, and get great joy and value out of making delicious moist meat meals with cheaper cuts. Poached eggs are now so consistently easy, and we’re able to get right lots of dishes we never had the skills to tackle before – the sous vide machine is the smart skilled chef in these cases ! We bought the Joule, and the app you get guides you through hundreds of recipes, step by step (with pictures) to make it easy.

On this page you will find all the information that answered our questions along the way, from the basic beginners questions, right through to the point where we got excited enough to part with our own cash and buy the best choice for us. We hope it takes you on the same journey. Just ask anything else in the comments section at the bottom.

 So, which sous vide machines would WE actually buy today?

 

Before giving it points in the comparison above, our first impressions after all the research was a toggle between the Anova and the Joule. We almost went for the Anova, then we dug deeper… our hard earned cash was going to go on one of these eventually ! We grew to love the Joule more and more and more – we have it now and not one regret… we are just loving it.

 

Our top 4…

 

1. Our overall winner is the Joule, by Breville

( n.b. Breville recently bought out the Joule from the original company that developed it i.e. Chefsteps )

It is an Immersion Circulator for Foodies, the Apple Mac crowd, and both beginner and advanced cooks. It’s the tiniest, yet most powerful and beautiful kitchen gadget that you can even store in the cutlery drawer with your whisks and ladles ! Made by chefs who provide a fabulous recipe database which can be constantly updated over the smartphone app. The Joule app is the easiest to use. If you’re not yet confident in your cooking terms or temperatures, you can even choose to cook your food according to a visual ‘doneness’ … how cool is that!  So, there is no excuse to not look fabulous,  whilst impressing your foodie friends with easy perfect cooking.

Click over to see our in depth review of the Joule, and the many reasons why it blows the other machines out of the water !

 

2. The Sous Vide Supreme Water oven.

If space isn’t an issue, we would opt for the brilliant, silent Sous Vide Supreme. We were tempted by the demi version ( a black, slightly smaller and cheaper version for the home – but we then thought if you are going that far in price and size, you should go for the original 11 Litre stainless steel larger oven. It’s top notch engineering, incredibly precise, and you can really just leave it to do a fabulous job, It was one of the first machines to be made for the domestic market and has had an excellent reputation for reliability.

 

3. Andrew James Sous Vide machine (also badged by Proficook SV1112 and Gourmia GSV550 )

These are all the same as far as we can see – they are just badged differently, and are probably the most convenient self-contained sous vide solution for beginners and general (but pretty perfect) home cooking. Compared to the usual expensive water bath solutions, this is so affordable, and there’s even a promo package including all the accessories you might ever want.

 

Andrew James doesn’t seem to exist in the U.S. but the Gourmia GSV550 seen here on Amazon appears to be the same look and specification. In the UK and Europe, the same machine also appears to be presented by Proficook. If we were looking at a higher spec.,  more expensive model, the SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven would be our next choice up the price scale. We also really love the cool looking, transparent design of the Tribest Sousvant sous vide machine. Howeverlooks aren’t everything, so the unfaltering reputation of the SousVide Supreme brand is what we need to recommend right now for you.

 

4. Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano

3. Anova is a well known reputable name in sous vide, and the Joule and Anova 900W are closest competitors right at the top. Anova are more recently taken over by Electrolux now, and the new Anova Culinary, Nano 750W model competes with the Joule in size, but nothing else yet. It is relatively new, great looking, modern, and precise. Our winner for an entry level immersion circulator cooker for beginners. Given it’s great price, it’s a good choice for those just wanting to dip their sous vide toes in the water !

 

Let’s compare them side by side

Top 2 domestic entry level, and top 2 overall machines for 2020

covering both immersion circulation and water bath styles 

Breville ( Chefsteps ) Joule Immersion circulator

overall foodie winner

great for the minimalists, and those that like high tech solutions to help them simplify life. 

£££

tiny, powerful, precise, chef driven, best app.

Heating power (watts)

1100 watts

 

Min/max cooking temperature

min : 68°F / 20°C

max : 208°F / 98°C

Capacity

10 gallons / 40 litres

 

Min/max water levels

1.5″/3.8cm – 8″/20.3cm

Display / Control / Connectivity

Smartphone display only. Connect and control by Bluetooth Smart 4.0 OR wifi, iOS 8.0 & Android 4.4 minimum

Clamp

Universal clip AND a magnetic base

Water circulator / pump

gallons / litres per minute

1.6 gpm / 6 lpm reported

Size

11″/ 27.9cm high x 1.85″/ 4.7cm wide)

Weight

1.28 pounds / 580g

Temperature accuracy

to 0.2°F / 0.1°C

Water Bath

has a universal clip to attach to a container but even better it has an ultra strong magnet underneath so it can sit anywhere in the container, and even a small pan!

Colour and Material

White, polycarbonate

Warranty

U.S. full refund 99 days after receiving your unit. One (1) year or 5,000hrs warranty provision.

Anova Nano Immersion circulator

entry level winner

Best compromise between it’s big brother Anova Precision cooker and the sleek Breville Joule. 

££

small, sleek, precise, affordable 

Heating power (watts)

750 watts

 

Min/max cooking temperature

min : 32°F / 0°C

max : 197°F / 92°C

Capacity

5 gallons / 20 litres

 

Min/max water levels

2.5″/6.35cm – 7.5″/18.41cm

Display / Control / Connectivity

Manual Display control + Bluetooth control and connectivity BLE 4.2 iOS & Android

Clamp

adjustable only up to 0.7″ / 18mm

Water circulator / pump

gallons / litres per minute

1.25 gpm / 4.6 lpm

Size

12.8″ / 32.5cm high x 2.2″ / 5.6cm wide

Weight

1.6 pounds / 725g

Temperature accuracy

to 0.2°F / 0.1°C

Water bath

clip to a pot or container

 

 

Colour and Material

Black and reported to be plastic

Warranty

U.S. full refund 99 days after receiving your unit. One (1) year or 5,000hrs warranty provision.

Andrew James / Gourmia / Proficook Water Bath

entry level winner

We have detailed the Andrew James model below, but there’s a reason we put 3 names in the title ! They all seem to be supplying the same generic water bath but with their own badge. Worth checking out , so, we will take you to the supply that is available in your country.

££

all-in-one, easy, affordable 

Heating power (watts)

520 watts

 

Min/max cooking temperature

min : 113°F 45°C

max : 194°F 90°C

Capacity

oven is 8.5L, cooking capacity is

1.6 gallons / 6 litres

Min/max water levels

unknown but min/max levels marked and alarmed

Display / Control / Connectivity

Manual Display and control all on the machine

Clamp

Not applicable

Water circulator / pump

gallons / litres per minute

none !

Size

16.3″ / 41.5cm(L) x 11.8″/30cm(w) x 8.4″/21.4cm(H)

Weight

10.5 pounds / 4.75 Kg

Temperature accuracy

to 2°F / 1°C

Water bath

included… with wire rack & tongs too

 

 

Colour and Material

Brushed stainless steel housing

Warranty

U.K. full refund within days (check how ) of receiving your unit. Two (2) year manufacturer warranty.

Sous Vide Supreme Water oven

best overall machine

This is the largest model, but if it’s not available, we’ll take you through to the less expensive 9L black model.

££££

most popular, silent, top reputation

Heating power (watts)

Incredibly energy efficient, equivalent to a 60watt lightbulb once cooking starts.

Min/max cooking temperature

min : 86°F 30°C

max : 210°F 90°C

Capacity

oven is 11.2L ( 2.96gallons), cooking capacity is

2.6 gallons / 10 litres

Min/max water levels

unknown but min/max levels marked and evaporation really minimal

Display / Control / Connectivity

Manual Display and control all on the machine, renowned for being very simple to use

Clamp

Not applicable

Water circulator / pump

gallons / litres per minute

so sophisticated, its not needed

Size

11.4″(l) x 14.2″(w) x 11.4″(h)

Weight

13 pounds / 5.89 Kg

Temperature accuracy

to 1°F / 0.5°C

Water bath

included… with wire rack, stainless steel lid (doubles as a drip tray to carry pouches), insulated lid blanket, perforated bottom to generate thermal turbulence, detachable power lead

Colour and Material

silver, stainless steel

Warranty

1 year from date of purchase

 

The basics of Sous Vide cooking

 

What sous vide means

Let’s start by getting a few niggling questions out of the way. The French word ‘sous’ means under, ‘vide’ means empty. Together it means ‘under a vacuum’. It’s a French term of course, but in the U.S. you might hear the term “Cryovacked” to describe the same cooking process.

Sous vide myths

The first thing people might think when you say sous vide is “perfect steak”… “unbelievable eggs”… “um, boil in the bag !”  O.K., let’s clear the last one up, because it’s a total misconception.

Boil in the bag was invented in the 1950s… but take away the boiling water from that and you have a nice gentle cooking method instead. The food is indeed usually vacuum sealed in a bag in sous vide,  but this is so that the water bath is in direct, even, contact with all of the food. In addition, it means that no water enters the food bag. The food never usually gets to boiling point though. For example, proteins are cooked at lower temperatures say 50 – 70℃, and only desserts and vegetables are usually cooked higher at 80 – 90 ℃.

So, why the obsession with sous vide ?

Essentially, sous vide is

professional cooking… simplified

What started as a trend, has become the norm. in restaurants. A restaurant kitchen can have 3 or 4 machines for batch prepping foods. For chefs…its all about product quality, economic and organisational benefits. It also allows them to create gourmet meals with consistent ease. This prepping or batch cooking is a big reason more people are getting obsessed with sous vide. Imagine how it helps organise the food prep for a busy family.

Since 2010, sous vide has crept its way into the developing cook’s kitchen ( with foodies like us). It’s a technical tool that helps level the playing field from cook to chef. That’s why we think all our readers will love this.

 

What sous vide cooking will do for you

Ok, this is the crux of the matter. Sous vide is for all levels of cooking abilities. Whether you’re cooking steak, chicken, fish, eggs for a weekday meal, or a fancy dinner party, sous vide is an extremely practical tool that takes care of the tricky part of cooking. Sous vide can both enhance your cooking, whilst making your life easier.

Even if all you need is to keep something (like baby milk ) at a constant temperature … the precision of sous vide takes care of that too.

It can even help you save money, and be more adventurous foodie-wise. That’s just a snapshot of the benefits. Read on to see why cooks are obsessed with sous vide, or have a look at our 20 reasons why this trend has a serious uptake. 

How and why sous vide works

 

 

Traditional cooking vs Sous vide cooking

When you heat food, it goes from uncooked to cooked when it reaches a critical temperature.

Normally when you cook, you have to have the temperature of the pan and cooking liquid a lot higher than the food ever needs to be when its cooked. This is because it cooks the food from the outside inward. Hence the chance of burning the outside while its still raw in the middle.

Sous vide is essentially precise cooking in water rather than using direct heating elements in a frying pan, or through air in an oven, or even through microwaves ! Sous vide also cooks the food at a lower temperature, for a longer time.

The whole idea of sous vide is to gently get the food to the precise scientific critical internal temperature that means the food molecules are perfectly cooked. It never goes beyond this temperature so the food never under or over cooks, and is never dried out.. So, unlike traditional cooking where the goodness literally bursts out of its cells and changes the form of the food, sous vide keeps it all intact. It does this by cooking for longer, at a lower controlled temperature.

The other important thing is that the precise temperature is delivered to the food evenly. That way, it cooks things to perfection , consistently. The food is cooked all the way though using water as the medium to cook it evenly from end to end, and from outside in.

The two main added benefits of sous vide cooking (because it preserves the quality of the raw food), are that the flavour of the food is more intense, and the texture is beautifully tender.

Smart cooking tool

Now you can cook like a chef too

If there was such a thing as a robot chef then a sous vide machine is it !  The main machine is the temperature and timer all in one. Apart from that you just vacuum up the raw food, set the temperature and timer, then when it reaches the temperature you want your food to be when cooked, you just place it in a water bath,  and wait till its done… tada!

Any extra seasoning or marinades cook into the food, rather than coating on it. Liquid isn’t lost, and any extras that you add like oils or butter just cooks back into the food rather than having it all cooked out, so it doesn’t dry up. No overcooking or undercooking, and more importantly, no chance of error.

How a sous vide machine works

You pick a temperature and time that will cook your chosen food to the perfect point for you or your guests.  Most machines give some guidance. Some have an app for your phone where you can even pick the temperature and time recommended and control the machine to start from the phone. It can also set off a beeper to let you know when its done.

Just think, you can serve everyone the same perfectly cooked steaks to everyone at the table, and even customise the seasoning, herbs or marinade in each one, if you know your diners preferences. You can sous vide them all, at the same time, to exactly the same temperature. The key is the precise low temperature, think of it like a much more high tech slow cooker… it takes a lot longer, but its hand off cooking. Just leave it alone, don’t interfere, and go do something more interesting instead 😉

See what chef’s say about sous vide machines

Click the image below to see how important chefs find sous vide,  in this promotional video for Escoffier school of culinary arts.

Buying Guide for sous vide machines

The three main elements required to cook sous vide.

 

1.  Temperature and time controllers

A heating coil heats up the water to the temperature you have chosen.

Then the temperature controller allows it to go on and off in order to maintain that temperature as precisely as possible.

A fan / pump can then be use to circulate the water in the cooking vessel, in order to maintain an even temperature all around the food –  to cook it evenly.

 

2. A deep container to cook the food in.

It could be a saucepan, a plastic tub, or an insulated cooler. The end of the wand / pod sits in the water and circulates it evenly around the food, at a set temperature.

 

3. Something to house the food so that the water doesn’t touch it.

Usually its a vacuum sealed bag that holds the food.  So you will need the bags and perhaps a vacuum sealer, although a lot of people successfully use Ziplock or BPA freezer food type bags. Some chefs are also even experimenting with glass containers instead of the vacuumed bag. You can see what kind of foods need the vacuum sealed bag and which the glass jars here.

 

Fourth optional element, to finish the prep.

Could be a frying pan, or a blow torch. Basically you will probably want to sear some foods like steak or burgers.

The two types of sous vide machines you can buy

 

1. Immersion circulation tool

A wand like machine that you put into the, also known as a pod, that you place in your own choice of water vessel.

The wand, or pod as its also known,  heats and circulates the water at the same time, around your protected package of food.

The vessel which could be a saucepan,  or you can buy an associated water vessel.

Usually this is the best startup solution, and also the most flexible for home and professional cooks because you can cook up any food size, and in almost any vessel.

 

2. Water baths

An all in one counter top solution which is in fact the water vessel with the heat source integrated within it.

So the domestic versions don’t usually have a water circulator element, although the more expensive options don’t tend to need one.

Water baths are usually more expensive, and in our opinion, often not as precise unless you go even more high end toward a restaurant grade model.

With some food ( particularly eggs), a temperature variance of just 1℉ can turn out a very different product !

The top 10 sous vide machines we recommend for 2020

It will probably be no surprise that more of our recommendations for sous vide at home are the pod style (I.C. immersion circulator sous vide). However, we have also included top choices for the all in one chamber style ( a.k.a. the water bath sous vide).

Like hand blenders, we have talked this subject endlessly in every shop and restaurant, and with cooks and chefs at every dinner we go to. We read supplier sites, and buyer reviews on sales sites. We check out all the tests and user blogs and reviews we can find online. Finally, after choosing our top sous vide machine, the one we believe in the very most…we then bought it !  So we will keep updating you with how its going.

Best entry level, and overall best sous vide machines for the domestic or professional cook at home

 

 

Best: Immersion Circulators

1. Anova Precision Cooker 900W (see on amazon UK) ,

2. Sansaire 1100W (see on amazon UK)

3. Breville (was Chefsteps) Joule 1100W (amazon UK)

4. Polyscience Creative Series (see on amazon UK)

 

 

Best: Self contained water ovens

5. SousVide Supreme Demi (or full) water oven

6. Tribest Sousvant Sv-101 Complete

 

 

Best entry level sous vide machines for beginners

 

Entry level: Immersion Circulators

7. Gourmia 2nd Generation 1200W

8. VonShef 1500W

9. Anova Nano 750W

 

 

Entry level: Self contained water ovens

10. Andrew James / Gourmia / Proficook Water bath 

bonus runner up… Severin SV 2447 

Sous vide buying check list

 

Power

which really means time to heat up.

 

Best heat / water circulation

which leads to the most precision and even cooking.

 

Noise

from the motor and the water circulating.

 

Size

Sous vide pods range from a few the size of a whisk to most the size of a champagne bottle and beyond. Domestic use water bath models aren’t too big, but professional models can take up a lot of counter space.

 

Design

Most wands are pretty industrial ( professional and robust) looking, but there is a new style of modernist sleek slimline wands, or water baths that are pretty much slow cooker / instant pot / deep fat fryer kind of size.

 

Lifestyle

How does it fit in with your lifestyle? That was a biggie for us. We imagined ourselves popping the sous vide in a carry on case when we travel… we are getting more and more mobile so using our smartphone to connect is good. 

 

Other buying factors

Price, robustness, reliability, user support,  connectivity, display, min/max water levels, cooking capacity, reputation, energy consumption, ease of use, cleanup, convenience, temperature accuracy, price, weight, attachability, accessories, cook time, warranty, alarms/beepers.

We could go on…just click over to our in depth buying guide to read in more detail.

Comparing the top models: Joule vs. Anova vs. Sansaire

Power: time to heat up

Fastest to slowest have been tested and touted online as 1. Sansaire , 2. Joule, 3. Annova precision

 

Best heat / water circulation – i.e. accuracy

All good, but which one moves the most water? The Anova precision tool, followed closely by the Joule, then the Sansaire

 

Noise from the motor and water circulating.

It’s worth noting that the best silent sous vide tool is actually the water bath by Sous vide supreme (it’s silent !), Immersion circulators move the water and can make other motor noises sometimes & usually that means there is a problem to fix though) So the quietist water movement has tested as the Sansaire, then the Anova . The Joule comes last but maybe that’s because it can circulate in the lowest depth of water so you will hear more bubbles if you are using less water ( we have this one and find the water sound soothing actually !)

 

Electricity consumption

The BEST on comsumption is Sous Vide Supreme 788w. Then Anova 885W, the Joule 1095W, Sansaire 1097watts.

Wifi / App / Bluetooth

Only 2 use wifi. With the Joules either Bluetooth or wifi is necessary, With the Anova, it’s optional. The Joules app is much easier to use than the anova one.

 

Operation

The Joule has no controls on it so you have to rely on the smartphone. The Anova precision has all the controls on the wand too. The Sansaire clip is the best..so easy to snap on quickly. The Sansaire is a little Large for a pot ( a little larger than the Anova) and the Joule just sits in any size pan without even needing it’s clip as it has a strong magnetic base to hold it !

 

Size

The Joule wins on size, so does the new Anova nano entry level version. All the water baths need counter top space ! The Joule and new Anova fit in the cutlery drawer, the Sansaire can stand on a shelf – about the size of a champagne bottle.

 

Design

Most wands are pretty industrial ( professional and robust ) looking, as they started as commercial tools. The Sansaire is sleek and modern but looks a little futuristic. The Anova looks ‘practical’ and the Joule is small and skinny, and mimimalist designer looking. The two water baths we chose are pretty neat and sleek looking, given that they still have to sit on the counter top.

 

Lifestyle

The Joule is smart, shows you how your food will look when cooked so you can choose your preference, and it guides and alerts you all the way through. So it’s loved by young and old, cooks and chefs ( it’s made by chefs!). You have to be committed to smartphone using though to love it !

It´s the sous vide blog !

 

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A foodie’s wish list

Little and big kitchen gifts for everyone. The kind of gifts that keep on giving back. Things we like, use, or would love to have. Just saying !

Red onion marmalade made easy

Red onion marmalade made easy

Discover how easy it is to make this savoury, sweet red onion marmalade with a sous vide machine. A great replacement for butter or sauces with meat or cheese.

How to make your food smell and taste better

How to make your food smell and taste better

Learn the secret to creating and maximising those distinctive smells and umami tastes when you fry onions or sear meat. What makes the crusty breads, golden roast potatoes and toasted marshmallows all so very tempting!

shortcut shopping links

shortcut shopping links

A visual listing with buying links to the equipment that we recommend, for various reasons, in our reviews. A work in progress !

Sous Vide machine buying guide

Sous Vide machine buying guide

An answer to all those questions we had when we were choosing our own sous vide machine ! The factors you need to consider and why they matter.

20 reasons why we’re obsessed with Sous Vide

20 reasons why we’re obsessed with Sous Vide

Sous Vide simplifies professional cooking… levelling the playing field between cooks and chefs. It goes even further than that. It can simplify your kitchen, your life… and more !

Sous Vide FAQs

Sous Vide FAQs

Here are all the silly, (and frequently asked), questions about sous vide. Answered here by our in house expert !

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As a gift, a sous vide is perfect for foodies and busy parents, a great wedding gift, or for those of you that like or need to be more organised, and have a consistent failsafe help in the kitchen ! 

Why we, personally, love sous vide?

Personally, we feel that these days we all worry more about how much goodness is already taken out of our food before you even get to buy it raw ! So a big reason for us to cook sous vide,  is the huge health benefits of keeping all the goodness intact in our food while it’s being cooked. ( You’ll see us using it more and more to cook our veggies.)

We love that it’s a very developing subject, so we expect to see it used more and more. Keep an eye on our sous vide cooking times and temperatures page for new ideas.  The most recent uses are: for ‘warm ageing’ ( i.e. to tenderize meat in the same way as dry ageing would); using it as a bain marie for desserts;  and experimenting with more sustainable food containers like mason jars, rather than just plastic ( albeit BPA free, and even reusable plastic) to hold the food in the cook’s water vessel.

 

 

Another little gadget that can fit in the drawer, or the suitcase!  Fits right in with our new simplified lifestyle. 

 

Follow us on our social media accounts to see how and where we find it in our own foodie life.

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