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Sous Vide Buying Guide: 5 Things To Consider

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: November 29, 2023

Sous vide cooking equipment has been used for decades but has been the exclusive preserve of professional chefs and a few culinary-loving consumers. This is because it was huge, costly and had more features and controls than the cockpit of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

That was before cooking shows, and the internet popularised this cooking technique and informed consumers of the amazing benefits of sous vide cooking. Anova keyed into this popularity and designed and manufactured the first consumer-friendly sous vide cooking device, which made the product available to anyone with a kitchen or what passes for one.

Key Takeaways

  • Evaluation Criteria: Assess technology features, maintenance, and integration into your kitchen, including connectivity, noise levels, and ease of use.
  • Temperature Control: Focus on temperature precision, range, and reliable heating capabilities, which are critical for sous vide cooking.
  • Additional Features: Consider the convenience of features like lid fit, rack size, removable baths, and included accessories, along with how well the device handles condensation and fits in your kitchen space.

        6. Key Features To Consider When Buying A Sous Vide Machine

        Today, the market is awash with various sous vide cooking equipment and making a choice could be daunting and often tasteless. So, to assist you, I have developed a simple guide based on 5 basic considerations.

        1. Immersion Circulator Or Water Bath?

        While many different types of sous vide cooking machines are available today, they mostly fall under two basic categories: immersion circulators and water ovens or water bath sous vide devices.

        Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

        As the name suggests, immersion circulators are small units immersed in water containers. They consist of a heating element that heats the water and a pump that circulates it to maintain a precise temperature evenly.

        The immersion circulators offer unparalleled versatility as they can be used with any size of water container, depending on the quantity of food you want to be cooked. This helps save energy and heat up the water to the required cooking temperature faster. 

        Immersion circulators simply clip on any container you already own, and since they do not come with an inbuilt water bath, they take up very little storage space.

        Sous Vide Water Bath

        Sous vide water baths consist of a self-contained temperature controller and heater integrated into a water bath.

        At about the size of a normal microwave oven, they are generally bulkier and often more expensive than immersion circulators. And unlike immersion circulators, they do not circulate the water, thus providing a less consistent cooking result.

        They are also limited in the food they can cook due to the built-in bath size. However, because of their self-contained nature, they are easier to use and can be used to make stocks and poach in oil or butter, which immersion circulators might not readily do.

        So, if you are considering getting a piece of sous vide cooking equipment, here are the 5 things to consider that we hope will considerably assist you in selecting the right sous vide device.

        2. Water Bath Capacity

        Sous Vide ovens usually have a water bath capacity of 2 to 3 gallons. This is believed to be the ideal size for most home cooking needs and portable enough to be carried to the sink and cleaned.

        On the other hand, immersion circulators have capacities to heat up to 10 gallons. They are not limited in water bath capacity like the sous vide ovens – any large container can do. They are, therefore, more suited for occasions when you might need to cook large volumes of food at home.

        3. Versatility And Convenience

        Ease of use and versatility are important considerations in choosing the right sous vide device. The immersive circulators offer great versatility as they can be used in different containers and cook a wider range of food quantities.

        They are also easy to clean and store easily due to their compact size. They are easy to use, and some models can be controlled from your mobile device through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. While the water oven types are also easy to use, they do not offer as much versatility.

        4. Cooking Duration

        The Sous Vide cooking method typically takes a long time. A sous vide water bath or oven is recommended for foods requiring really long cooking times. This is because they come fitted with lids that prevent water from evaporating. And even if you can get a cover to fit an immersion circulator and water container, they are designed for use with just about any container without insulation.

        Water ovens conserve more energy than immersion circulators because of their inbuilt insulated walls. Once the water reaches the set temperature, the insulation often maintains the heat without additional power. And since it doesn’t circulate water, it consumes far less energy.

        5. The Quantity Of Food

        A large water bath won’t be necessary if you only need a small amount of food cooked. Immersion circulators are ideal for cooking small quantities of food because any container can be used as long as the water covers or immerses the food.

        Also, you should ensure the water meets the minimum level required for the type of immersion circulator you intend to use. Immersion circulators are equipped with sensors that instantly turn off the device to avoid overheating if the water levels fall below a predetermined level. Different sous vide machine models have different minimum water depth level requirements.

        6. Size

        Immersion circulators are usually compact and don’t occupy much space. They can easily fit in the kitchen drawer to be stored until they are needed. Water ovens, however, take up valuable kitchen real estate. They are mostly left on the counter when unused as they cannot be easily stowed away.

        Some water ovens have recessed handles to help reduce the overall size and save space. Thus, you must consider the available kitchen space before you decide on the type and model of sous vide cooking device to purchase.

        Sous Vide Buying Guide: Summing Up

        While there are other factors to consider when buying sous vide cooking equipment, such as heating power, design, and price, having these 5 key factors at the back of your mind while shopping for sous vide machines and accessories will help you choose the perfect device.


        Anova Culinary

        • Precision in cooking
        • Compact size
        • Remote control

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        Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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