Sous vide cooking, at least on the consumer side of things, is quite a new trend that is proving to be quite a popular and effective cooking method. However, the pros have been using it for years, in one form or another.
With sous vide, you can improve your cooking immensely while taking a lot of the stress and hard work out of the process. It’s primarily used to cook meat to perfection without a lot of hassle, but there are a lot of other applications for it that will transform your cooking process.
Here we will discuss how sous vide cooking is beneficial to you and present you with the best sous vide machines on the market right now.
Why Buying a Sous Vide Machine?
Sous vide machines are taking the cooking world by storm as a far more stress-free and less messy way to cook meat, as well as many other dishes.
But what exactly is sous vide cooking, and how does it work? Well, in essence, it’s a form of steam cooking. The food is placed in a sealed container filled with water that is then heated to a precise temperature and left like that for an extended period. The temperatures used are lower than for regular cooking, around 150 degrees at most, and the cooking time can range from a few hours to an entire day or more.
This method ensures that the food is cooked evenly both on the inside and the outside while staying juicy and moist. With it, you no longer need to worry about getting the doneness of your food just right – it will always be perfectly made and retain most of what makes it tasty.
Sous vide machines are made to be used for this purpose, and they function by heating the water to the correct temperature and keeping it there for a certain time. They can be pre-programmed or even controlled by smart phones through WiFi or Bluetooth. They look like thick sticks that you place in the water, upright. Various, more rudimentary versions have been used by professionals since the 70’s, but current consumer models are much better and cheaper.
The benefits of sous vide cooking are numerous, but the most obvious one is that you won’t have to worry too much when cooking, since it is slow and steady but produces consistent results each time.
Another is that you can cook even while not at home, controlling and checking the machine with your phone. Or you can cook while preparing the seasoning, the sauce, the desert or whatever else you have planned for the meal, without needing to check on the sous vide machine. The food also retains most of its nutrients and taste that it loses during the traditional cooking process, making it more delicious and healthy at the same time.
The only real downside is that it takes a longer time to cook, but the results speak for themselves and the extra time is worth it, especially considering that you don’t have to be there for the entire process. We believe it’s just a downright better way to cook.
While we espouse the benefits of these machines, it’s a hard fact that not all of the work as well as they should. Plenty of different companies are trying to cash in on the sous vide fad right now, and they’re churning out low-quality products left and right, relying on the lack of consumer knowledge to cash in.
Well, we decided to help anyone looking to start in sous vide cooking by imparting our knowledge on the best products out there – we tested plenty of them, and now we know which ones stand above the rest. We will also talk about what we think are the most important aspects to consider when buying a sous vide machine. So, let’s start by showing you the top three products and what we think about them.
Meet the Best Sous Vide Machines
The Good: It’s a strong, durable and compact sous vide machine, more reliable than any other.
The Bad: Due to the low-quality app that is the only way to control it, it is difficult to use.
The Bottom Line: There are many upsides to this sous vide machine, and the only major downside is the convoluted app used to control it. Overall, it is still worth buying, if you can deal with the hassle.
The Good: Great temperature range, decent price, and nice manual controls.
The Bad: Lacks Wi-Fi, is a bit oversized and has trouble keeping the water properly heated.
The Bottom Line: It’s a mixed bag overall, with some great features like the wide temperature range, but large downsides like the fact that it’s underpowered. In the end, it is difficult to recommend.
The Good: It has more than enough power, runs quietly and can be used with most containers.
The Bad: It’s incredibly bulky, can’t reach higher temperatures and doesn’t have any possibility of remote use.
The Bottom Line: Even though it does have plenty of power, the various flaws this machine has are quite limiting, making it a tough proposition. You should think twice before buying it.
This is just the short version of our opinions – we go into more detail below.
All of the Factors Considered
Sous vide cookers are quite a new thing on the market and not even experienced cooks are good at using them or know a lot about them. Almost everyone is a newbie when it comes to these products so picking out the right one is difficult. They use an unconventional method to cook, so all conventional knowledge goes out the window. Luckily, our experts have come up with the most important aspects to look for in these products with the knowledge they acquired by testing a ton of different sous vide cookers. So, here’s the list.
The power of a unit like this is usually expressed through wattage. Why is it important? Well, the more power it has, the faster it will heat up the water to the requested temperature and struggle less with keeping it there. If you get a sous vide machine that is not strong enough it might have troubles keeping the water at the precise temperature meaning that it won’t cook the food the way it’s supposed to.
Of course, each sous vide machine can only heat up a certain volume of water, and the stronger it is, the higher the amount of water it can heat up and thus the larger the amount of food you can cook with it. It is quite simple, and getting a stronger machine is better in almost all situations.
The size of a sous vide machine is important because you should compare it to the size of the containers you have and figure out if it will fit into them. If you buy a sous vide machine that is too big for any pot you may have, you will also need to buy a larger pot to use it with. If it is too small, however, it might just not be strong enough to heat-up the large volume of water in huge containers. Consider what you have and what you need carefully before deciding on the machine you want.
The minimum and maximum temperatures the sous vide machines can reach and maintain are important because different foods require different heat levels. The wider the temperature range that your sous vide machine encompasses, the more versatile it is. You want to be able to cook as many different foods with it as possible and being able to achieve a lower, or a higher temperature helps you do that.
In the end, there are no downsides to having a wider temperature range – it’s just more functionality for your money, in the end.
Sous vide machines are not exactly inexpensive, and because of that, you might want to check how durable it is before buying. Getting an expensive piece of kit that will break in just a few months is not exactly what you want.
One of the most important things to look for is that most parts should be made out of metal and that the metal parts are resistant to rust, due to how long the machine will be spending submerged in water. Another thing to consider is the sturdiness of the construction since you don’t want the water to leak into the interior mechanism and mess it up. If there are any loose parts, you might want to reconsider buying it.
Ease of Use
In this day and age, most sous vide machines can be operated remotely by using an app on your smart phone. It is a convenient way to keep track of its progress and direct it as necessary. Some of them will also have useful digital dials on them, showing the current temperature of the water they are submerged in and have manual settings in case that you’re not able to use your phone to set it up. Some of them might also have different attachments, allowing you to keep them nicely fixated on the side of the container you’re using them with, and so on.
Since sous vide machines are made to make cooking easier, ease of use is an important feature to consider.
Now that you’re aware of what you should look for, check out how our top picks fared.
In-Depth Reviews of 3 Sous Vide Machines
With 1100 watts of power, this is one of the strongest sous vide machines on the market. It can easily heat up large volumes of water, and it will do it in almost no time at all.
Small and Easy to Store
This sous vide machine is only 11 inches tall and doesn’t take up a lot of space, allowing you to use it with most container and store it safely without a problem.
Decent Temperature Range
The minimum temperature this machine can reach is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and the maximum is 192 degrees. This allows you to cook a wide range of different meals. It has precise settings as well, able to be adjusted down to 0.2 degrees.
Made to be Durable
The top, as well as the base of this unit, are made from durable, stainless steel. It is well put together too, and won’t fall apart quickly. Overall, it’s a durable piece of kit.
A Bit Difficult to Use
The app is the most common source of complaints about this machine. There is no other way to control it, the app lacks a lot of features and bugs you with constant notifications. Overall, it’s not a good experience. It is easy to set up once you get to the important part of the app, but good luck getting there through all the annoyances. It can work with voice commands, though, which might make it easier to use for some.
Who Should Buy This Product
This sous vide machine is made for people who want some power out of their cooking device. It can heat up the water quickly and easily maintains it at the correct temperature meaning that you will get perfect results almost every time, more than with other, similar products.
What to Watch Out For
The worst part about this machine is the app that you have to use to control it. Unlike some others, there are no manual controls here, and everything is done exclusively through your phone, or by voice command. That wouldn’t be a large problem if the app weren’t fiddly, lacking in options and full of unnecessary notifications. It’s a hassle to use.
Overall, this is quite a strong and reliable sous vide machine that can work well and will produce consistent results. It’s also quite small for the power it provides and can fit almost anywhere. The main problem is that it is difficult to use due to being controllable only through a bad app. It’s still worth buying and using though, but that is a thing to consider.
Not Quite Enough Power
This is an 800-watt sous vide machine, meaning that it is a bit underpowered in practice and takes almost an hour to heat the water up to the correct temperature, sometimes having trouble keeping it there.
It’s quite a large machine and it might difficult to fit in some places. It’s not incredibly large, but consider how little power it has, the size is just unacceptable.
Great Temperature Range
The maximum temperature is 210 Fahrenheit, while the minimum is 77 degrees. While the minimum could be a bit lower, it’s still an admirable range of temperatures, better than a lot of other sous vide cookers out there.
The housing of this unit is quite well-made, and the metal parts are made of stainless steel, ensuring that it will last. The only thing that seems suspect is the latch used to attach it to different containers, it’s plastic and seems rather flimsy.
Easy to Use, no Range
This is quite an easy-to-use machine, with decent controls on it an built-in However, the app is a bit fiddly, and it only has Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi. A version with Wi-Fi exists, but it cost quite a bit more. It’s easy to attach to almost any container though, which is a good upside.
Who Should Buy This Product
This is a sous vide cooker that is best suited for people who want a product that can reach some high temperatures for cooking specific meals. It has better temperature range than most other sous vide machines and comes at a decent price. It’s also easy to adjust manually.
What to Watch Out For
There are a few different problems with this machine – it’s larger than it ought to be, and it doesn’t have Wi-Fi. But the most prominent problem is the fact that it’s just underpowered compared to some similar products. It takes a long time to heat up the water and sometimes struggles with maintaining the right temperature.
This is far from a bad sous vide cooker, and it is exceptional in at least one regard, and that is the temperatures it can reach, which are outside the scope of other, similar products. However, it has trouble reaching them due to being underpowered, and that is a flaw which is hard to overlook, making this a hard sell.
More than Enough Power
This is a 1000-watt sous vide machine, and it shows in practice since it can heat up water quite quickly. It works without a hitch and works quickly.
It’s almost 18 inches long, easily making it one of the largest sous vide cookers we have used so far. It’s got decent power, but that doesn’t justify the immense size, and it can barely fit in most containers.
Poor Temperature Range
While it can go reasonably low enough, down to about 70 degrees, it doesn’t seem to be able to go higher than 140 degrees. Compared to similar products, that is just disappointing and limits you a lot.
This is quite a sturdy unit with tough plastic parts and metal parts which are resistant to rust. It seems like it’s properly put together as well, meaning that it won’t fall apart after a bit of use.
Not Easy to Adjust
The manual controls are difficult to use to set the timer and temperature, but you don’t have any other option – the unit has no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Controlling it when you’re out of the house is not an option because of that, meaning that you will have to keep an eye on it.
Who Should Buy This Product
For people who want a sous vide cooker with ample power that can heat up plenty of water at once, this is great. It is quite durable as well and runs quietly despite the power, something that most other cookers this strong can’t claim. Overall, it is more than decent.
What to Watch Out For
There are a variety of different problems with this product. The most noticeable one is how huge it is, meaning that you might have trouble fitting it into some pots properly. Then there’s the fact that it can’t reach high temperatures, limiting what you can do with it. Lastly, the fact that it can’t be used or monitored remotely is a real oversight, limiting its use further.
This is by no means a bad sous vide cooker, and it has more than enough power to cook almost anything you need. The problem is that it’s hampered by various issues, including its bulky size, the fact that it can’t reach top temperatures and the lack of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It’s difficult to recommend, even though it’s not a bad product.
The Best Pick – ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide
Considering how little experience most people have in sous vide, even picking out a good product can be difficult, let alone picking out the best. It might seem like an impossible task, but after plenty of testing, we are now certain that the best product here is most certainly the ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide. It has impressed us with its reliability and great power, ensuring that you will have a satisfactory result almost every time, something that is difficult to achieve and that most other products can’t offer. It has its downsides and is a bit difficult to use, but it is still far better than the rest, making it our best pick.
Despite what you may think, the fact that we picked the ChefSteps product as the best doesn’t mean we think the others aren’t worth buying. On the contrary, we picked them for a reason, and that’s because we believe all of them are top-of-the-line. Still, you should be able to distinguish a good sous vide machine from a bad one after reading this article, or at least we hope so, as teaching you that was our intention. If we managed to do that, help us by sharing this article with others interested in sous vide cooking. Until next time, have a good day and happy cooking.