Sous Vide cooking takes away the guesswork. No more constantly poking thermometer around meats. Precise temperature control delivers an ideal result every single time.
There are many ways to cook meats; grills, stoves, ovens are the everyday choices that you have probably tried at home.
However, these methods require a lot of guessing works like poking the meats around with your finger to check doneness or a thermometer for its internal temperature.
Enter Sous Vide Cooking, a modern technique that utilizes a precise temperature-controlled water bath that cooks meat to the perfect restaurant-level "medium-rare".
Sous Vide means “under vacuum” in French; which refers to the method of cooking foods in vacuum-sealed bags, inside a precise temperature water bath. The water is usually circulated to ensure a consistent surrounding temperature.
It may sound complicated at first, but the whole process is simple. You can even walk away after dropping it into the water bath, and not overcook with Sous Vide.
This article shares a list of the best Sous Vide cooking wands you can find in the market. At the end of it, you’ll also find a dedicated buyer’s guide section to help you explore the secrets of precision cooking with Sous Vide.
So let’s dive right in!Quicklist to our top picks
- Best Overall: Breville Joule Sous Vide
- Runner Up: Anova Precision Cooker
- Best Compact Model: Anova Precision Cooker Nano
- Best for Budget: Inkbird Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
Breville Joule Sous Vide Wand
The Breville Joule wand is small, sleek, and powerful. You can expect consistent temperature and quick start-up time with its 1,100 watts of power.
The Breville Joule was previously known as the ChefSteps Joule before they were acquired by Breville.
This is a much more luxurious (and pricey) option than the our runner-up, but it is one of the most popular sous vide cookers in the market. It is near the top tier of the prices we’re considering today, but boy does it tempt you!
The main attraction that comes with having the Joule is the absolute convenience that comes with using it.
To start, it’s incredibly small.
It’s one of the smallest cookers you can find on the market is as little as half the size of other machines. This allows for effortless portability and storage.
A common misconception with smaller sous vide machines is that they will have less power than a larger device. In this case, it is entirely untrue as the Joule can deliver up to 1,100 watts, allowing you to have a much sleeker and more convenient model without sacrificing any power.
Having a significant amount of power is great in a sous vide cooker because it will heat your water more quickly, allowing you to begin cooking more quickly and in turn, the cooking process itself will take less time.
If you have a pot made of magnetic metal, then you will find it even more convenient with the Joule as you can simply attach the base of the Joule to it with the magnets located on the bottom for easy mounting.
This lets you mount it on thicker pots and containers than the clip itself may allow, increasing potential tub capacity.
The last of the main features of this product is the ability to operate the Joule directly from your smartphone or tablet using its app.
This allows you to not only control your device but also provides you with over 100 recipes and pictures that show the perfect cook. You can preview what your result will look like before even beginning so that you know what to expect and can consistently achieve the same results over and over.
The Joule does come with its flaws, however.
It seems that the only way to control the precision cooker is by using the app, creating issues down the line if the app isn’t regularly updated. It is also only compatible with 120 V outlets specifically and using any other voltage could damage your Joule.
For the right person, these wouldn't be an issue, but it's important to make sure the Joule is the right sous vide cooker for you.
Assuming that you have a smartphone and the app is kept alive by the developers, you’ll probably love the Joule sous vide cooker.
It comes with the bells and whistles you’d expect for a higher-priced model, but they may not be necessary for everyone.
Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker
The Anova Precision cooker is just as good as our best overall wand above. It costs slightly lesser and has 1,000 watts of power.
Starting with a beautiful black and stainless steel sous vide precision cooker from Anova, this immersion circulator is a great high-tech option for anyone looking to step up their cooking game.
In addition to advanced tech, it’s also very straightforward to use for new cooks. The only things required to use this device are a water-filled pot and air-sealed bags such as Ziploc, so startup is quick and easy.
Simply use the attached clip to clip the precision cooker to your container that is already filled with water. Next, you can set both the time and temperature manually on the device, seal the food in your Ziploc bag, drop it in the water, clip it to the side of the cooking pot, and you’re done.
Perhaps the handiest feature of using this product is the ability to cook directly from your phone. You’re able, or you can download the Anova Culinary App for on-the-go control.
With this app, you can not only set both the time and temperature of your cook from your phone or tablet, but you also have access to over 1,000 recipes.
Along with the recipes, you have a guidebook for simple foods such as how high of a temperature and for how long you’ll need to cook a cut of steak to medium-rare.
When it comes to cleaning, you won’t have any issues either.
Cleaning can be an issue for some precision cookers, but fortunately, it is incredibly easy with this product. The stainless-steel parts of the sous vide machine is completely removable and safe for dishwashers.
An aspect of this product that could be improved is the power and price.
At this price point, it is more common to see sous vide cooker with higher power closer to 1,000-1,200W, resulting in faster temperature changes.
We would like to see either a lower price point or an increase in power to make it a can’t-miss value.
Another area that could improve upon is user-friendliness for smartphone cooking.
Currently, to operate the device via Wi-Fi using the app requires a login either by creating an account or using a Facebook login.
This may not be an issue to some, and to others, it can be a mild inconvenience resulting in them missing out on a significant perk of this model – the app.
When it comes to an immersion circulator, this model ticks off practically all the necessities.
While it is slightly expensive for its power, you likely won’t run into any problems at all using it, and it is quite beginner-friendly.
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano
Best Compact Model
This smaller version of the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker is extremely sleek and space-saving.
These Anova Nano sous vide cooker is considerably smaller than the original Anova precision cooker we mentioned above.
Also, unlike the Breville Joule, it comes with a display, and controls on this device.
You can see the remaining cooking time and temperature settings even without the mobile app.
There are 3 touch-sensitive icons on the top of the display that allows you to view the current water temperature, remaining cooking time, and your target temperature; and more buttons at the bottom screen to set temperature, time, and to start and stop the cooking process.
Despite having lower power (750-Watt) than the original Anova, the Nano model manages to heat 5.5 quarts of water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in 25 minutes, about 3 minutes ahead of the original Anova.
The downside of this sous vide wand would be the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. Without the Wi-Fi connection, you're not going to get notifications about your cooking when you're out from your home.
This is less likely going to be a problem if you're a home cook and can be around when those proteins are cooking.
So it is certainly not going to be a dealbreaker since the immersion cooker will still work with the same Anova Mobile App through Bluetooth.
If you are already into the Sous Vide cooking technology, but still haven't got your first Sous Vide machine, this Anova Nano Immersion Circulator is the best option to get started with.
It is easy to use, with or without your mobile phone.
And in case if you do pair the device with your smartphone, the Anova App offers a huge library of recipes and guides that will help you make the most of Sous Vide Cooking.
Inkbird Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
Best for Budget
This Inkbird model is a very cheap option for people who are just getting started with Sous Vide cooking but do not want to spend too much.
It doesn’t innovate in the look department, but is still as stylish as most options, with perhaps the most significant appeal being its price.
There is a big, bright LED display that offers precise temperature control on-screen for manual settings.
The mobile app comes with recipes, temperature, and timer controls if you choose to control it remotely via WIFI.
Cleaning it can be relatively simple. The cap at the bottom comes off, but otherwise, the unit stays entirely together, allowing you to clean it as a single piece.
It’s not too big or bulky so keeping it in one piece and cleaning in most areas should not be a problem.
If you’ve been looking for a way to bring your cooking to the next level, you’ve come to the right place.
Sous vide cooking is not only very easy, but it’s also inexpensive while producing restaurant-quality food in the comfort of your home.
It won’t earn you any Michelin stars, but your family will thank you.
But what are sous vide machines?
- What can you cook with it?
- What should you be looking for when buying sous vide machine?
These are all questions we’ll answer in this guide (and then some).
In no time you’ll be able to compare our recommendations above or find your perfect sous vide machine online.
Many people have heard the term “sous vide” on television or a restaurant menu, but unsurprisingly not everyone knows what it means.
This French term, meaning “under vacuum” refers to a cooking process that combines your stove or oven, and a hot pot into a single cooking appliance.
That may sound a bit confusing, but don’t worry; world-renowned chefs around the world have been using this approach to cooking for years.
Now that residential models have become more popular, nothing is stopping a kitchen-savvy individual from cooking like the pros at home.
Sous vide cooking involves cooking foods (usually meats and other foods that require specific temperatures) by submerging them in hot water and clipping them to the pot so they can cook.
Unlike boiling water on the stove, this method of cooking is all about precision when it comes to temperature.
The foods are placed in sealed bags, jars, and other containers that are resistant to heat and will not let water in to degrade the food. Vacuum bags, mason jars, and similar containers are popular choices.
Depending on your machine, you will either place your packaged food into the machine’s “water oven” and secure it or attach it to your pot, where its thermometer and water heater will monitor and maintain the temperature you set it to, with little to no fluctuation in temperature.
This gives you consistency and the utmost control over the final product, leading to high-quality meals.
Benefits of Sous Vide vs. Traditional Cooking
If you cook regularly, you’ve probably been using the same methods and techniques for most of that time. You’re used to grilling meats, boiling water for pasta, and baking dishes in the oven.
So why would you make the change to a relatively new method of cooking now? For the benefits, of course!
Once you get past the fancy French words and the rather unique cooking process, you’ll see there are many things sous vide cooking can do that your grill simply can’t.
It won’t replace all of your other appliances, but it can sure take your cooking up a few notches.
Sous vide cooking is:
Have you ever made a great steak, but were never able to replicate it after that one time? Are your vegetables sometimes perfectly crisp but other times just plain mush?
With sous vide machine, you can have the same high-quality cook every time thanks to the controlled temperature of the water. It will never drop below or exceed your heat setting so you can achieve the same interior temperature and doneness without worrying about overcooking it.
When cooking in pans or on the grill, you’re going to have “hot” and “cold” zones where the temperature is inconsistent.
You’ll also have varying thicknesses of meat so your cook may not reach the center in the same amount of time. Instead of dealing with variable quality, simply use a sous vide machine and then add a layer of crisp with your grill or pan once it is already cooked.
For your vegetables, skip the microwave or stove pot and let them cook in a consistently heated environment so that they cook without losing their natural crunch.
Healthier, juicier, and more flavorful foods
If you’ve overcooked a piece of chicken and ended up with what resembles a hockey puck in terms of consistency, you’ve seen what traditional cooking can do to the quality of meats.
That may be good if you’re trying to cut down a few pounds, but dry, boring chicken does not a meal make! All those juices in the bottom of the tray or grill are going to waste, leaving you with a less than ideal meal.
Fortunately, with sous vide machine you’re going to be able to keep all the natural juices and flavorings (as well as any marinades) inside the meat while it cooks.
This results in the juiciest and most flavorful meat you’ve ever had outside of a restaurant. It’ll also keep your vitamins and minerals inside, giving you a healthier meal, so you don’t feel as bad about taking another pork chop.
Safe and convenient
Anyone who has been cooking for a while has had one of those near-catastrophic cooking situations. If you’ve ever put your stove, oven, kitchen, or even home in danger while cooking, you’d benefit from a sous vide machine.
Most importantly, the sous vide machine will keep the temperature of the water the same no matter how long it is on. That means even if you accidentally fall asleep for an hour, you’re not risking it catching on fire, food burning to a crisp, or other wastes of good food.
The ability to set it and forget it also lets you focus on the other parts of your meal, with one less thing to worry about.
Additionally, because you’re not leaking juices onto your grill, stove, or pan or burning vegetables to a crisp, you lower the risk of a grease or oil fire.
The self-contained water bath offers incredible safety, with the only danger being the relatively hot water. That’s much better than oil and grease spitting everywhere.
Immersion Circulator or Water Oven?
When looking for sous vide machine, you’re going to come across 2 different types of devices:
- immersion circulator
- water oven models
While both of these choices can achieve similar results, they have their pros and cons that you’ll have to consider when making your decision.
If you’re looking for versatility, the immersion circulator is a solid choice for your sous vides cooking.
The immersion circulator machine can be attached to your “tub” of choice and will sit in the water with a thermometer and heater.
When you set the desired temperature, it takes water into its heating storage, heating the water and then pumping it back into the tub.
This allows the water to constantly circulate, which prevents hot and cold spots that may hurt the consistency of the cook.
This type of sous vide machine is an attachment rather than an entire appliance, which means that you can use it with nearly any container you want.
From pots you already own to hard plastic tubs and drink coolers, anything that has a lid and can be sealed for temperature control can be used with the circulator (and even those without covers, but your machine will have to work harder to maintain temperatures).
This means that your cooking capacity is nearly unlimited as well, the only restriction is your imagination and available containers.
Not only is the immersion circulator versatile, but it’s also convenient.
They are usually quite small, allowing them to be stored easily and fit most pots. You’ll also find that in general, they are the cheaper option when compared to water ovens.
You will have to supply your container though, but who doesn’t have a whole cabinet of pots lying around?
There’s not much negative to an immersion circulator, as its effectiveness primarily depends on the container that you use with it. It can have less capacity than some water ovens, but can also have much more.
A potential negative is that it doesn’t come with a container that insulates heat well, which means that if you use an open-top pot, you’re losing a lot of heat which will make your machine have to work harder, potentially causing more noise than you’d like.
However, again this depends on the container you end up using!
If you’d like to get an all-in-one solution for your sous vides cooking, a water oven may be the choice for you.
Unlike the immersion circulator models, this option will come with a “tub” for you to fill with water, as well as the temperature gauge and heater included. It’ll heat the water to your desired temperature and maintain it, allowing you to cook your delicious meats, veggies, and more.
As long as you have the counter space, this option that will include a cooking tub (that often comes with an insulative lid) is an excellent way to make it easy for a newbie to start with sous vide cooking.
Depending on your choice, you’ll likely end up with either a 5-liter, 8-liter, or 10+ liter tank that allows for larger cooks than you may get with your pots. They are also very easy to clean, similar to any standard dish you own that can be cleaned with a wipe down.
Price is one of the larger negatives of a water oven, with larger models reaching into the multiple hundreds as compared to the usually single-hundred range of an immersion circulator.
The other significant shortcoming is that the water ovens don’t circulate the water inside the tub. They heat in a singular location rather than focusing on heating the entirety of the tub. This allows for cold spots to pop up, hurting cook time and consistency.
Finally, water ovens are much larger and harder to store than immersion circulators because they are an appliance rather than an add-on.
If you’ve got the counter and storage space, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a water oven.
They are perhaps the simpler-to-use model, with everything being contained in a single package. However, they do not quite offer the level of value, versatility, and convenience that an immersion circulator does.
Due to the extra benefits at a lower price point, we would recommend you go with an immersion circulator for residential use, scaling your containers based on your individual capacity needs.
If you plan to use it commercially, a deluxe water oven may offer better capacity and convenience to you (as long as you have room for it).
How Safe is Sous Vide Cooking?
We can admit that the idea of sous vide cooking is a little intimidating at first. After all, food safety is incredibly important, and you don’t want to risk getting your family sick.
So naturally, you may be skeptical of cooking meats in a plastic bag in hot water being a safe way to kill bacteria and not absorb chemicals from the plastic. Fortunately, a sous vide machine allows you to do so safely and efficiently with just a little discretion.
Cooking meats with hot water
Primarily, when people think of cooking meats, they think of a grill or pan, not hot water.
The idea that the scalding heat from your appliance removes bacteria and allows the meat to cook safely is correct. However, cooking outside-in is not the only way to achieve this level of sterilization (and can often lead to overcooking or inconsistent doneness).
For meat to be safe, it needs to reach a specific internal temperature; how it reaches that temperature doesn’t necessarily matter, though many believe that you should just cook it at high temperatures until the inside is cooked from the outside heat source.
In the case of a sous vide machine, the food sits in the packaging immersed in specifically heated water. Due to its total immersion, it is consistently being cooked from every side at once, allowing the heat to reach the core without overheating the exterior.
This way you can be sure that all parts of the meat are at a safe temperature, and the whole piece is evenly cooked and delicious.
Cooking food in plastic
You may be thinking, “hot water, plastic, and food together? That doesn’t sound safe!” and in some cases, you may be right to worry. However, in this case, you can trust the millions of chefs around the world who have safely used this method for years.
Outside of the inherent dangers of being around boiling water, you’re in total control over the safety of your cooking.
Heating plastics can indeed allow BPA to leak from the material, mixing with whatever is nearby and becoming potentially dangerous. Fortunately, the creation of BPA-free plastics like microwave-safe containers and Ziploc plastic bags has practically eliminated the need for concern over BPA exposure.
All you have to do is make sure your packaging is BPA-free and heat resistant, and you’re good to go.
Packaging Options for Sous Vide Cooking
When it comes to the actual packaging for cooking your food, you have a few options to choose from.
This makes sous vide cooking even more convenient than it already is because as long as it seals, resists heat, and is BPA-free, you should have no problems.
That being said, certain containers work better than others for different foods.
Perhaps the most economically friendly (but not environmentally friendly) option is Ziploc-style bags.
You’ve probably already got them in your drawer or cabinet so you can start right away without special supplies.
These plastic bags will come with a “zipper” on the top which allows you to seal them to prevent leaks safely. You should look for freezer-quality bags as well because they are less likely to have their seams burst in warmer temperatures (above 155 °F) and overall resist the heat better.
You’ll find them to be almost exclusively BPA-free, making them safe to use in hot water. You can easily make any type of meat in these bags, but if you’re considering other foods like vegetables, you may want to consider sous vide bags.
Vacuum-sealable sous vide bags
The fancier alternative to Ziploc bags, the sous vide bag is specially crafted to resist heat and stand up to the max temperature your machine can reach.
This makes them useful for cooking vegetables, which need more heat than many types of meat (depending on your cooking preferences). You can also vacuum-seal these bags, which takes away any air bubbles and allows for an evener heat distribution and cooking experience.
If you’re willing to pay a little more, you can’t go wrong with this versatile packaging option.
We’re taking a bit of a left turn here, moving from plastic to glass containers.
This is not the option for meats but may be a better choice for some more unconventional sous vide cooks. You’ll primarily want to use these jars for things with a high liquid content, which allows them to cook more easily despite the lower heat exposure glass offers.
These would be foods such as eggs, yogurts, and more that need to be set after cooking. Another tip is to put the jars into the bath as it heats, as the glass is susceptible to shattering when heated too quickly.
Overall, you’ll probably want to stick with either a Ziploc or sous vide bag (depending on your budget) for most cooks, as they offer more versatility than jars.
If you can afford to use them regularly, the sous vide bags with vacuum-sealing potential are the cream-of-the-crop. If not, you’ll likely be fine with a Ziploc bag.
What to Look For
Now that we’ve (hopefully) convinced you that you need sous vide cooker, it’s time to start looking.
When you’re browsing the web (or our recommendations above), you’re going to see a lot of different products using different terms, metrics, and information that you may not be familiar with.
Knowledge is your best friend in this case, which is why we’re going to lay out everything you need to look for in a listing to decide if that product is right for you.
Use them to filter your search, compare products, and feel confident in your decision!
Cost is going to be a deciding factor in any decision, and in this case, it will likely point you towards buying an immersion circulator instead of a water oven.
For an immersion circulator, you can expect to pay between $100-$200 on average, with some value and deluxe models available to it in your price range.
Many quality water ovens fall above $200, although you will find smaller-capacity models for cheaper if you’re looking for minimal capacity.
As outlined earlier in the article, your 2 choices for types of sous vide machines are immersion circulators and water ovens.
Capacity refers to how much you can cook at once, which is essential for those with larger families.
You will only find a storage capacity on water oven models, however, as immersion circulators are simply placed onto an existing pot of nearly any size.
You will need to find a water oven that has a capacity matching your needs, with typical sizes being 5L, 8L, and 10L.
The whole idea behind using a sous vide machine is precision and consistency in cooking.
You will want to find a machine that is as accurate as possible, with a .1° C margin of error being the standard you’ll want to seek.
Heating power (wattage)
Simply put, the heating power will be described in wattage, with more watts meaning that you can heat the water faster.
While this will get you from 0 to cooking more quickly, it will not reduce cook time because once it reaches the desired temperature, it will only maintain the heat.
For immersion circulators, the pump strength will tell you how much water it can heat and circulate at a time.
The more water can be circulated at once, the more efficiently the temperature can be maintained throughout the tub.
While most meats will not require more than 160°F, you’ll find that vegetables benefit from temperatures as high as 190°F.
You’ll want a machine that can reach that – and then some. Aim for 200°F as a minimum, with more being a bonus.
As with most everything else late in this decade, many sous vide machines come with smart technology which allows them to sync with your smartphone, allowing you to monitor the cook’s temperature, timer, and more on the go.
This is not vital for everyone, but it sure adds to the convenience of being able to set it and forget it.
Further adding to the fantastic “set and forget” benefits of the sous vide machine is an automatic timer that can alert you when it is complete, or even turn off the heat automatically.
Many of the higher-end models come with the timer but be sure to check the description to double-check. It’s quite convenient for recipes.
It never hurts to have a company back up their product. When browsing sous vide machines, you will find a one-year warranty often, and anything after that should give you even more faith in your purchase.
If they are willing to back it up for more than a year, it is probably a solid choice!
Frequently Asked Questions
Will sous vide cooking give me a grill-like crust?
Unfortunately, no. You’ll have to sacrifice that outer crust in favor of a juicier cut of meat. Rather than cooking outside-in to form an outer crust, the sous vide machine evenly cooks all the way through.
Fortunately, you can always put it into a pan or on the grill for just a few minutes after your sous vide cooking, adding some solid texture to the outside without drying it out.
What can I cook in sous vide machine? Simply put anything that benefits from an incredibly consistent and precise cooking temperature! You may be surprised to know that sous vide cooking is not isolated to just meats.
- Custards like pudding and yogurt
- Purees like mashed potatoes
- French Fries
- Hot Pockets
Does it take longer to sous vide?
Yes, it does take longer to cook using sous vide. Rather than intense heat, the slow and steady method leads to longer cook times.
However, you can easily leave the machine on and the food cooking while you do something else, making the time difference manageable as long as you plan. Plus, you can’t rush perfection.
Hopefully, you learned a thing or two about one of the best ways to take your cooking to the next level.
Now that you’re a sous vide expert, you’re ready to begin choosing the perfect machine for you. Be sure to go through the list of features and make sure your choice fits the bill.
If you’re like most people, you’ll end up deciding on an immersion circulator for the convenience and price.
They’re versatile enough to work in most containers, pots, and tubs that you’ll want to use and allow you to expand your capacity as you need to.
While you’re browsing, pick up some Ziploc freezer bags, or sous vide bags as well so that you can safely heat your food without risking chemical contamination or leaks into your food.
Depending on your budget, you’ll likely want to consider our recommendations above.
We’ve laid them out for you so that you can easily compare them based on what you value most. No matter your choice, you can’t go wrong with one of the 10 above as they each excel in one way or another.
If you got this far, it's clear you care about your cooking.
If you want the juiciest meats, crispiest vegetables, and easiest cooking of your life, invest in a sous vide cooking wand.