It's the weekend, your family and friends - who you invited for your masterpiece smoked tri-tip - are starving, and you can't get your meat ready on time! Your spouse wants you to help with everyday meals and you don't have the time or the energy to grill for an hour after work! Well, if you are looking for an affordable, reliable, and easy to use solution that can help you cook your meat effortlessly and to perfection, then look no further! We have found the perfect cooking tool for you: sous vide precision cookers. And on that post, we will be going over the best sous vide cookers.
1 - Sous vide cooking
Sous vide is a French cooking method that involves sealing food in a vacuum-sealed bag and then cooking it in a sous vide water bath at a precise, consistent temperature.
This cooking method has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its ability to produce perfectly cooked food every time.
That sounds great, right? But how exactly is that going to help you getting your meal ready on time or make your life easier?
Well, sous vide precision cookers are hands off cooking tools that can help you get your meat cooked to perfection, right when you need it to be ready!
This incredibly easy process will allow you to season and cook your meat at a precise temperature over extended periods of time, to tenderizing it, to render the fat in the connective tissues to perfection - releasing the natural flavor of your meat.
2 - What can you expect from this post?
Well, rather than overwhelming you with a superficial review of the top 10 or top 15 best sous vide cookers, I have narrowed down this selection to a smaller selection of affordable, easy to use, and effective sous vide cookers to choose from.
Why? Because there are many different brands and models of sous vide cookers on the market but (unlike what most blog post will say) most of them have been created equal.
So, whether you are a barbecue aficionado or a home cook who is looking for perfectly cooked food every time, read on to find the best sous vide machines for your needs.
3 - Why should I get a sous vide cooker?
If you're like most barbecue aficionado, you probably spend a lot of time grilling or smoking meats.
And while this is a great way to cook up some delicious food, it can be tricky to maintain a precise temperature over long periods of time to get the inside of your meat cooked to perfection.
Particularly when you are cooking a thick cut of meat like a brisket, a tri-tip, or any other type of roast...
This is because traditional grilling and smoking methods are typically designed to create a good sear on the surface of the meat, often leaving the inside rare or undercooked.
Of course, there are cooking techniques that can help with temperature control, like the indirect grilling method, but they often require top of the line expensive barbecues, smokers, and thermometers.
And even with all these tools, it can be difficult to guarantee the perfect temperature control.
This can be a big problem, especially if you're cooking for a large group of people. Because, after all, who wants to eat an undercooked or overcooked roast!
Luckily, there's a solution: an immersion circulator. Immersion circulators or sous vide machines are designed to evenly cook food from all sides in a temperature controlled water bath, ensuring that your roast is cooked perfectly from start to finish.
And best of all, sous vide cooking is very simple and doesn't require any expensive equipment.
All you need is a good quality sous vide immersion circulator and a vacuum-sealed bag (which you can find at any kitchen store) or any plastic bag.
4 - So, why don't people use sous vide machines more often?
There are a few reasons why people might not use sous vide machines more often.
- they are relatively unknown. And because they they are not “essential” to the cooking process, most people see them as a luxury purchase;
- sous vide immersion circulators could require accessories such as a cooking bucket, a sous vide air vacuum, and vacuum sealed bags, which some people may not have on hand. This tends to increase the initial investment and discourage many buyers from trying it out;
- many people do not know than when cooking meat sous vide, an additional sear of the meat (finishing touch) on a cast iron pan or a grill (gas or coal) is essential in order to create a bark/crust on the surface of the meat. So, many people who get a sous vide circulator are often disappointed by the result of their first experience with sous vide and give up;
- the cooking process can take longer than other methods (I tend to agree that to get the best out of your sous vide precision cooker, one must devote at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours) so it might not be ideal for busy cooks who are looking for a quick meal.
5 - What are the benefits of using a sous vide precision cooker?
There are many benefits to using a sous vide immersion circulator, but here are some of the most important ones:
- COOKS FOOD TO PERFECTION EVERY TIME
one of the best things about sous vide cooking is that it allows you to achieve perfectly cooked food EVERY TIME! Whether you are cooking a steak, chicken, fish, or vegetables, sous vide cookers ensure that your food will be cooked evenly from all sides.
- Tenderizes meat to perfection
sous vide cooking is a great way to tenderize meat because it cooks the meat slowly and evenly from all sides.
This means that the connective tissues have time to break down, resulting in a more tender final product.
Additionally, sous vide machines retain moisture better than other cooking methods, so your meat will be juicier and more flavorful.
- Hands off cooking
sous vide cooking also allow for hands-off cooking. This means that you can set the temperature and timer and then walk away from your immersion circulator while it does its job.
This is ideal for busy cooks who want to prepare a meal without having to stand over the stove or grill.
- Retains Nutrients
another great benefit of sous vide machines is that they help retain nutrients in food. Because the food is cooked slowly and at a lower temperature, it doesn't lose any of its nutrients to evaporation like it would with other cooking methods.
- Added Bonus: there is no better tool to render fat
If you are a wagyu beef lover like me, this is a crucial selling point!
Using a sous vide immersion circulator is the BEST way to render fat in the connective tissues of your beef because it cooks the meat at a steady temperature over long periods of time and it cooks it evenly from all sides.
This means that the connective tissues have time to break down, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final product.
Sous vide cookers are perfect for busy home chefs who want perfectly cooked food without having to stand over the stove or grill. Additionally, they help retain nutrients in food and come in a variety of sizes and price points to fit any budget.
So, if you're looking for a new way to cook your food, sous vide is the way to go!
6 - Discovering cooking sous vide
One of the first things I attempted - when I got my PK360 - was to smoke a variety of roasts (brisket, tri-tip, etc.) and I quickly realized that while smoking gives meat a unique flavor, it can be difficult to maintain the same temperature in order to create a good bark on the outside while not undercooking or overcooking the inside. I had to remain by my smoker all day, constantly adjusting the vents and adding wood in order to keep a precise temperature. And I still got disappointed by the end result.
Eventually, I decided to invest in a FireBoard 2 Thermometer and fan (one of the only adaptable fan for the PK 360) which changed my life and made smoking a walk in the park (worth every penny). I was now ready to smoke to perfection and to impress my family & friends with a 12 pounds wagyu brisket from Snake River Farms. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out quite the way I predicted. I had invited everyone to be home around 5 and announced that dinner would be served within the hour. But it is only at 8pm that my brisket was finally ready to be sliced. My brothers in law were starving, my mother in law almost left to go get pizza, and my wife as furious...
Barbecuing for family and friends should not be so stressful!
I had learned a precious lesson on that day and I decided to thoroughly investigate the issue to never get myself in such a situation again. I found many solutions to my problem, beginning with basic time management techniques (Yep. That simple!). But as I kept on looking for solutions, I came across an interesting new cooking process which I had never learned about before and which appeared to be the miracle solution to my problem: sous vide cooking.
After pouring over research to find the finest sous vide cookers, vacuum sealers, plastic bags and other accessories for my first venture into sous vide cooking, I finally made a decision. After careful consideration of all the options available to me I chose Anova Culinary Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker - an appliance that still serves me well today!
I tried the sous vide technique on various cuts of beef, such as filet mignon and ribeye, for shorter periods of time (6 to 12 hours) then went onto experimenting with roasts like tri-tip and brisket over extended durations (12 to 48 hours). When I took my costly Wagyu out after its bath it looked dismal - almost as if it had been soaked in a large pool overnight! But fortunately I was aware that this phase was just one part of the entire process. My confidence grew when I started searing my meat.
At first, I used a cast iron pan and then I began using my PK360 to get that woodsy finish I like so much. It took a little bit of practice to figure out how to get that perfect crust at the end but once I got the hang of it, I was amazed by the results every time! Sous vide did everything it promised to do: it tenderized the meat to perfection, rendered the fat over long period, and increased the natural flavor of the meat.
7 - How to use your sous vide precision cooker to get the best barbecue?
Now that you know all about sous vide precision cookers, you might be wondering which one is right for you. Here is my TOP 3 sous best sous vide circulators list, available on Amazon:
- Anova Precision Cooker Nano
The Anova Culinary Nano sous vide immersion circulator is a great and affordable option if you are new to sous vide cooking or if you are looking for a new, compact, and easy to use sous vide circulator. I have used mine for a couple years now (the best sous vide machine in my opinion) and it has met all of my needs.
Some of the PROS of the Anova Culinary Nano sous vide cooker include:
-Affordable price point;
-Easy to use both when operating manually or through the Anova app;
-Anova gives its clients access to Anova Culinary via desktop or through their app, which is a great feature, especially if you want to take advantage of the the bluetooth mode or the WiFi mode. First, connect your precision cooker to the app. Then, pick a recipe your want to try (there are plenty to choose from) and vacuum seal your meat. Last, press START and relax until your meat is cooked.
-Easy to store and to travel with. I always take mine on vacation and not only does it make cooking easier but it is a success guaranteed, no matter where we end up staying.
Some of the CONS of the Anova Culinary Nano sous vide circulator include:
-It does not come with a water container, which is essential to the water bath process, so you will have to use a bucket or buy a water bath separately;
-It is bluetooth only (not Wi Fi). This has been a problem for me since, occasionally, the Wi Fi connection gets lost, which resets the timer. It is not too much of an issue as I always make sure I write down the start/end cooking times, but if you do not want to deal with the issue, I recommend getting the Anova Culinary AN500-US00 sous vide cooker (Wi Fi) instead. It is equivalent to the Anova Culinary Nano, but with the Wi Fi option.
- Instant Pot Accu Slim sous vide cooker
The Instant Pot Accu Slim sous vide cooker is very similar to the Anova in most aspects. It slightly stronger (800W instead of 750W) but this has never been an issue for me. The main difference with the Anova Nano is that it operated manually (no bluetooth/Wi Fi).
Some of the PROS of the Instant Pot Accu Slim sous vide cooker include:
-Affordable price point - slightly cheaper than the Anova Culinary Nano sous vide machine;
-Easy to use;
-Easy to store and to travel with.
Some of the CONS of the Instant Pot Accu Slim sous vide machine include:
-It does not come with a water container, which is essential to the water bath process, so you will have to use a bucket or buy another water bath option separately;
-It does not use an app.
- Dash Chef Series Stainless Steel immersion circulator
The Dash Chef Series Stainless Steel sous vide machine is a great option for those who are looking for a sous vide machine that comes with a water bath container. This immersion circulator is made of stainless steel, making it durable and long-lasting. Additionally, this sous vide machine is very easy to use, perfect for sous vide beginners, and it comes with clear instructions.
Some of the PROS of the Dash Chef Series Stainless Steel immersion circulator include:
-Made of stainless steel, making it durable and long-lasting-Easy to use;
-No need to buy a water bath separately;
-Programmable with a timer function.
Some of the CONS of the Dash Chef Series Stainless Steel immersion circulator include:
-The water tank is very small, so you will need to refill it often.
8 - Other useful sous vide devices
- Vacuum sealers
Vacuum sealers are designed to remove as much air as possible from food packaging, effectively preventing oxidation and bacterial growth. There are many different types and brands of vacuum sealers on the market today, making it easy to find one that is right for you.
Some of the key features to look for when shopping for a sous vide vacuum sealer include:
-Ease of use - look for a model that comes with simple, intuitive controls and easy-to-follow instructions. This will ensure that you can start using your vacuum sealer right out of the box.
-Design and material - a quality vacuum sealer should be made of durable, high-quality materials that will stand up to frequent use without breaking down. Stainless steel or BPA-free plastic are good options.
-Sealing power - some vacuum sealers offer stronger sealing capabilities than others, which can help to preserve food for longer periods of time. Consider looking for a model that offers multiple sealing levels so you can choose the level that is right for your specific needs.
So if you are looking for a convenient and effective way to keep your sous vide meats and other foods fresh and safe, be sure to check out the wide selection of vacuum sealers available today!
- Sous vide water bath
A sous vide water bath is a specialized cooking device that uses circulating heated water to cook food more precisely and consistently. Ideal for sous vide cooking, a water bath can be used to cook almost any type of meat or vegetable, from delicate fish fillets to thick slabs of steak.
To find the best sous vide water bath for your cooking needs, be sure to consider factors like size, temperature range, and build quality when making your selection.
With so many options available on the market today, it is easy to find a sous vide water bath that is right for your kitchen and your cooking style.
- Plastic bags
Plastic bags are an essential tool for sous vide cooking, a convenient and safe way to cook food in the precise temperature and humidity conditions required for cooking method.
Made from durable and heat-resistant materials like plastic or silicone, sous vide bags can be used to seal foods like meat, vegetables, and seafood before placing them in the sous vide water bath.
With a wide variety of sizes and styles available, you can easily find sous vide bags that are perfect for your cooking needs, whether you are preparing a single steak or an entire family-sized meal.
Sous vide tools like immersion circulators, vacuum sealers, and water baths can help you achieve the perfect level of doneness for your meat and vegetables every time. They also make it easy to cook foods in a way that preserves their flavor and nutrients, making them an excellent choice for busy home chefs who want to prepare healthy and delicious meals. Whether you are looking for an affordable sous vide tool or a high-end option, there is sure to be a sous vide cooker that is right for you.
So why wait? Start exploring the wide selection of sous vide tools available today and find one that will help you take your cooking to the next level!
9 - Sous vide recipes
If you're a newcomer to sous vide cooking, here are some of my favorite simple recipes shared on my blog that will get you started:
I personally favor the Anova Culinary Nano immersion circulator (best sous vide cooker). It is affordable and powerful enough to get all of my roasts cooked over up to 48 hours.
The free Bluetooth connectivity that comes with the Anova Culinary has been an immense aid for me in my kitchen. Its app allows me to experiment with various recipes and store them safely on my account - something that cannot be done using Instant Pot 800W Accu Slim immersion circulator.
Moreover, I have invested in additional accessories like water container upgrades and replacement parts which are not available from Dash Chef Series Stainless Steel Sous Vide, making this extra cost well worth it!
Now that you know all about the best sous vide immersion circulators on the market, you can choose the one that is right for you.
Now that I got mine, what’s next?
-Learn how to cook using sous vide immersion circulators on my blog;
-Pick a recipe to try out;
-Try out Wagyu. There is not better meat to use with sous vide immersion cookers.
How will using these amazing little devices help you improve your cooking?
There are many benefits you will get from using immersion circulators.
But, to me, these are the main ones:
- the inside and outside of your meat will always get cooked to perfection without you having to spend every hour of your day sitting by your grill or smoker. You will not be able to accomplish such a feat without a sous vide precision cooker.
- sous vide is the most effective way to tenderize your meat and to give it an incredible flavor, which no other cooking tool can give your meat. Your sous vide precision cooker will guarantee perfect control of your selected temperature cook over long period of time as no other tool can.
- there is no easier process than cooking sous vide. You are guaranteed to get your meat cooked to perfection by the time you want it done, no matter if you are planning a big barbecue party, a little treat during your weekend getaway, or a regular everyday meal.
Whether you're a beginner or a pro, there's a sous vide cooker on this list that's perfect for you!
So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking!
So, can you really not get yourself a sous vide slow cooker?
Sous vide precision cookers are relatively inexpensive in comparison with most cooking tools on the market. Still, it is only fair to wonder whether they are worth the investment? After all, it's not like you could not barbecue without one.
Well, I must say that it took me a while to explain to my wife what was sous vide cooking and to convince her that my sous vide precision cooker was not another useless gadget I wanted to try. But that was back then, before our Anova Precision Cooker became part of the family.
Of course it took us a while to get used to it, to try out new things, and to make a list of our favorite recipes. But now, we use it almost everyday, for pretty much anything: beef, chicken, fish, etc.
We also take it on our little weekend getaways. And it has made our weekend family barbecues not only delicious but also incredibly low stress.
So, are sous vide precision cookers worth the investment? To me and to my family, the answer is "absolutely!" Without it, daily cooking and weekend gathering would become a lot more complicated and a lot less flavorful.
And because I am cooking a lot of Wagyu beef, my sous vide cooker is also essential, as there is NO OTHER tool on the market that can render fat as a sous vide precision cooker.
But that is because we are taking full advantage of this amazing machine.
DISCLOSURE: I am a proud affiliate for some of these products, which means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me finance new purchase and continue testing new products for you. That being said, keep in mind that all of my recommendations are based on deep experience and knowledge of these companies and their products, and I only recommend them because I would genuinely use them myself in my cooking. All opinions expressed on my blog are my own only. Please, do not spend any money on these products unless you believe that they will help you improve your barbecue.