When you’re ready to start sous vide cooking, it can be confusing to know which equipment you might need, as some of it can be pretty specialized. We’ll be taking a look at what equipment you absolutely need, and what you might want as an additional add on. The essentials include a sous vide immersion cooker, a cooking vessel, and a lid.
Sous Vide Imersion Cooker
A sous vide immersion cooker is the must have essential piece of equipment. Most consumer level sous vide cooker will run from $80 to $300, our highest rated model was the Anova Sous Vide Machine for 109.00. If you are on a tighter budget the Gourmia GSV130 for $80.00 would be a great choice, it has everything you need to get the job done, just without any of the extras. You can learn more about choosing the right machine in our Sous Vide Buying Guide or our Sous Vide Reviews.
The next piece of equipment you’re going to need is a cooking vessel. If you have a large stock pot in 12 qt. range you can use that, but you’ll have to be careful not to over crowd the pot. An 8 quart Stock pot is going to be very small and tight. Most people use one of the square or rectangular food-safe polycarbonate food containers, like the Cambro 12 qt. container or Rubbermaid 12 qt.. A 12 quart container is 4 gallons and will allow you to get a good amount of food into the container without over crowding and maintaining good circulation. You want to make sure you put the container on a wire rack, trivet, or other heat safe product. Marble, granite, Corian®, Silestone® or any other natural or man-made stone countertops can crack at temperatures over 130°F.
Lid For Container
If you’re going to be using your sous vide for over 4 hours water loss through evaporation is going to be a problem. The most effective way to deal with it is to use a lid. You can purchase a standard lid and use a scissor to cut your own notch, or purcahse a lid with a whole cut for your specific model.
Sous Vide Water Balls
When you start trying recipes that have cooking times over 12 hours a lid isn’t going to be enough to combat water loss through evaporation. Water balls are small plastic balls about the half the size of a golf ball that floats on top of the water you are using to cook. The effects are pretty dramatic. The balls usually come with a mesh bag that allows you to air dry them.
Cast Iron Skillet
One of the downsides of sous vide cooking is you can’t get a golden brown crust on the outside of the food that comes from the Maillard Reaction. The best way to achieve this is to use a very hot cast iron pan. I like to put mine in the oven for 15 minutes at 350°F and then put it on a stovetop burner. It won’t take long 20-30 seconds on each side should be enough to do the job if you got the pan hot enough. Our favorite is a Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet.
One thing that was true for every sous vide machine we looked at was the timer was frustratingly difficult to set on actual unit. The model with Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity were easier to use, but still awkward. Using a standard kitchen timer was a lot easier and more reliablle. The models with a temperature probe are a lot more useful, just remember not to bring the probe over 450°F or it will become a lot less accurate. We prefer this Polder Kitchen Timer.
Depending on the flow rate of your sous vide model the water in your cooking vessel may be moving around quite a bit, and having the food moving around isn’t always a good thing. The easiest way to fix this is to use a food clip to clip the bag to the side of the cooking vessel. Any type of clip will do as long as you make certain the food is completely submerged. We like these clips because they are deep and reach down over the edges of most cooking vessels.
If you start cooking meals in individual bags, like four steaks, you’ll find that food clips might not be the best solution. An Expandable Sous Vide Rack is the best solution although at $45 it’s a little pricey for what it does. A Stainless Steel Pot Rack does almost as a good a job and only costs $15 making it much more reasonable.
Sous Vide Product Reviews
For more information you can check out our our Helpful Guides below:
- Sous Vide Reviews - read complete reviews of all the Sous Vide cookers we looked at.
- Sous Vide Buying Guide - Want to buy a sous vide machine, this guide will help you learn everything you need to know before making a purchase.
- Sous Vide FAQ - Here are our most frequently asked sous vide questions.
- Top 10 Sous Vide Cookers - Here's a list of our top 10 sous vide machines.
- Best Sous Vide machine - Here's our highest rated sous vide precision cooker.
- Sous Vide Recipes - Here's a collection of some of our favorite sous vide recipes.
- Sous Vide Time and Temperature Chart - Here's a chart to help you find the proper time and temperature to set your sous vide.
- How to Cook Sous Vide - Here's our guide to understanding sous vide cooking.
- Beginners Guide to Sous Vide - If you're a beginner to sous vide cooking this guide is for you.
- Sous Vide Equipment - Here's a list of commonly used sous vide equipment.
- Sous Vide Safety Issues - Got questions about sous vide food safety, this guide will answer them for you.
- Anova Sous Vide Review - A review of the Anova Bluetooth sous vide precision cooker.
- Anova WiFi Sous Vide Review - A review of the Anova WiFi Sous Vide precision cooker.
- Gourmia Sous Vide Reviews - Reviews for all of the Gourmia POD Sous Vide Immersion cookers.
- Joule Sous Vide Review - A look at the ChefSteps Joule sous vide immersion cooker.
- Sous Vide Instruction Manuals - Looking for a sous vide user manual or instruction we may be able to help you out.
- Bluetooth Kitchen Appliances - Looking for a Bluetooth enabled kitchen appliance here's a list.
- WiFi Kitchen Appliances - Looking for a kitchen appliance that can communicate via WiFi here's a helpful list.
- Sous Vide Instructions Manuals - Looking for sous vide instrutions manuals we have copies of many of the most popular models.
- Buying Guides - Buying guides for different kinds of small appliances
- How To Guides - How To guides to help you choose the right counter top appliances for your needs.
- Product FAQs - Common questions and answers for different types of small appliances in your kitchen.
- Cooking Information - Information and helpful tips to save time and money in the kitchen.
- Kitchen Small Appliance Brand Information - If you're looking for contact information, support, forums, instruction manuals or other information for small kitchen appliances we may be able to help.
- Small Appliance Instructions Manuals - If you're looking for instructions manuals for any of your small appliances we may be able to help.