So you want to try sous vide cooking? Our Ultimate Sous Vide Buying Guide is here to help. We’re going to show you what to look for, what special features are available, and make recommendations about which model will be best for you.
What is Sous Vide Cooking?
Before we start looking at different sous vide machines, we need to have a basic understanding what sous vide cooking is, and how it works? Sous vide cooking involves placing food in a heat proof bag, removing all of the air, and cooking it in a heated water bath where the water is circulating. The advantage of cooking this way is it enables you to cook your food to a very precise temperature without needing to monitor it constantly, adjust the heat, or worry about over cooking your food. You can read more about cooking sous vide in our How to Cook Sous Vide or our Beginners Guide to Sous Vide Cooking articles.
How to Choose a Sous Vide Machine
Choosing a sous vide machine isn’t that hard there are a few basic factors you need to consider:
- Power measured in wattage
- Controls and display
- Physical size and attachment clip
- Flow rate measured in GPM
- Water capacity
- Minimum and maximum water levels
- Max temperature
- Additional features like Bluetooth, WiFi, and timer
How Powerful a Sous Vide Machine do I Need
The power of a sous vide immersion cooker is measured in wattage, the more wattage a model uses the faster it will bring the water bath up to temperature. There is a downside to power though, the more power a unit has the more you have to be concerned with evaporation. If you are cooking something for more than 2-3 hours evaporation is a concern, so you’ll need to watch and keep the water between the minimum and maximum levels. The Gourmia GSV150, Gourmia GSV140, and Gourmia GSV130 all have 1200 watts of power. The Joule, Sansaire, and Nomiku also have a very high 1100 watt power rating. The Anova Bluetooth was at the bottom of the pack with only 800 watts of power.
Sous Vide Controls and Display
The controls and display on a sous vide determine how easy it is to set up and get started cooking. It will also let you know what’s going on and how close you are to your target temperature. Most of the controls are fairly minimal, with a power button, a button to let you switch from one function to the next, and a scroll wheel to set the temperature and change your selection. A large easy to read display makes it a lot easier to work with. The display on the Nomiku was by far the easiest to read. After that the Anova Bluetooth and Anova WiFi were also very easy to read and use, as was the Gourmia GSV140. The Joule was the only model that didn’t have a display, that information is only available via an app on your phone. Many of the models had built in timers, but due to the minimal control settings, the timer on the unit itself was a frustrating experience that was always harder than it should have been. We recommend using the app or a standard kitchen timer instead.
Understanding Sous Vide Features and Specifications
The different specifications on a sous vide cooker are what really sets each of these models apart from one another. We’ll explain what each feature means, why it’s important, and highlight the models that stood out.
- Water Capacity: Water capacity is the highest volume of water each model can heat, most models can heat 5 gallons which will be fine for almost everyone, but there were two with higher ratings, Joule (10 gallons) and Sansaire (6 gallons).
- Water Flow: This measures how fast the water moves around in the water bath, the faster the water moves the more quickly it will come up to temperature, and more easily it will maintain that temperature. There is a downside to flow rate, the higher the flow rate the faster the water evaporates. The Sansaire had the highest flow rate (3 GPM) followed by the Gourmia GSV140 and Sansaire (2.1 GPM). The Anova Bluetooth and Anova WiFi had the lowest flow rate (1.2 GPM) which makes your cooking time a little longer, but makes it a lot less finicky to use as you don’t have to be as concerned about evaporation.
- Minimum and Maximum Water Levels: Each of these models has a minimum water level and a maximum water level and you need to keep the water between those levels for it to work properly or it will shut down. The wider the range between the levels the better. If you have a model with a higher wattage or flow rate this becomes a more important factor. The Joule had the widest operating range followed by the Anova Bluetooth, Anova WiFi, Gourmia GSV150, Gourmia GSV140, and Gourmia GSV130.
- Maximum Temperature: This represents the maximum temperature the unit is able to achieve for the maximum amount of water it is able to heat. All of the units we looked at are able to achieve temperatures over 200°F, and since most of the cooking occurs in the 135°F to 180°F range this isn’t a concern (see our Sous Vide Time and Temperature Chart for more information about cooking times and temperatures). The Wancle, Slaiya, and Sansaire are all capable of reaching temperatures over 211°F if you think you’re going to need that feature.
- Bluetooth and Wifi Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity is one of the more interesting features available on many sous vide machines. It’s not something you absolutely need, but many times it’s easier to set the controls and timer on the app than on the physical unit. The Joule doesn’t have any physical controls on the unt itself and is only accessible via the app. Bluetooth has a much smaller range
and is available on the Anova Bluetooth, Anova WiFi, and Joule models. The sous vide models with WiFi bring your appliances into the Internet of Things era, and as long as your WiFi network is working it will allow you control your unit from anywhere, this does introduce some Sous Vide Safety Issues you should be aware of. Wifi is available on the Anova WiFi, Joule, Gourmia GSV150 and Nomiku models. We also have a list Bluetooth Kitchen Appliances and WiFi Kitchen Appliances we’ve reviewed.
- Physical Size: The physical size of a sous vide circulator usually isn’t that much of a concern for most people. Most of the units we looked at were tall slender tube designs. The Wancle, Slaiya, and Nomiku were all shorter and fatter than average. The Joule was the most compact of any of the models we looked at, so if space is tight in your kitchen it should definitely be on your short list.
- Attachment Clip or Clamp: The attachment clamp or climp is one of the features many people overlook when shopping for a sous vide machine. The Anova Bluetooth and Anova WiFi had a clamp design that was the most flexible allowing you to fully adjust the height of unit within the cooking vessel making it much easier to stay within the minimum and maximum water level markers.
How Much Should A Sous Vide Cost
When consumer level sous vide machines first came onto the market a few years ago they were in the $300 to $400 range, which meant not everyone could afford one. Today the prices have come down considerably, the models we reviewed we between $80 and $180 at the time of testing. The cheapest sous vide models were the Slaiya and Gourmia GSV130. If you are on a budget, the Gourmia GSV130 is a much better quality model to choose. That said in our opinion The Best Sous Vide was the Anova Bluetooth which was $109 at the time of testing, and is a great value.
Use the chart below to find more detailed information about each of the models we reviewed.
Sous Vide 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.