‘Sous vide’ may sound intimidating and foreign – but as methods of cooking go, it’s as failproof as it can get. French for ‘under vacuum’, sous vide involves cooking anything from veggies to meat in a sealed plastic pouch immersed in a water or steam bath at a steadily regulated temperature, typically lower than those of traditional cooking methods. While this takes longer, it also ensures that food is cooked thoroughly and evenly, avoiding overcooking, and that it retains its moisture – especially appealing when it comes to getting a slice of chicken breast or a shoulder of lamb just right.
While this may sound complicated and hassle-prone, there are a couple of sous vide machines to make chefs out of first-timers – let’s take a look at our picks.
Anova Culinary Bluetooth Sous Vide Precision Cooker
One of the best sous vide options out there, this immersion circulator works with any pot or tub big enough to hold the portions you’re planning to cook. The digital interface lets you set the time and temperature you wish the machine to maintain, and all you need to do is add in water and a sealed bag containing your ingredients – the cooker does the rest. As the name suggests, the plastic pouch is ‘immersed’ in the water bath, which remains at a steady temperature as the circulator maintains a continuous cycle sucking in and releasing the water to ensure it’s at the desired level of heat. The cooker has a temperature range 77°F to 210°F ± 0.01°F.
The best feature of this machine, however, is its Bluetooth connectivity. Using the Anova app, you can connect to the cooker and check up on its status without having to constantly keep an eye on the kitchen. The app also comes with over a thousand sous vide recipes and temperature recommendations to help you out if you’re a novice, with video tutorials to help you get your dishes just right.
Doing practically all the work for you, you get to enjoy the novelty of restaurant-quality edge to edge cooking with this precision cooker, without even having to be in your kitchen.
STAR BUDGET PICK
Kitchen Gizmo Simplified Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
With a clip-on grip suited to most pots and pans, this affordable immersion circulator lets you bring fine-dining home sans any of the hassle. A scrolling selection wheel lets you choose your desired cooking time and temperature, the circulator working to keep the water in your tub or pot at a steady temperature to slow-cook your zip-locked bag of food. Adjustable temperatures range up to 194°F, give or take 1°F, the circulator itself capable of pumping up to 8 liters of water per minute. The device also comes with an ergonomic, rubber grip and stainless steel sleeve that can be easily detached for cleaning.
If you’re a beginner at sous vide or simply nervous about getting the temperatures and timings right, don’t worry – this cooker comes with a handy little recipe-book packed with sous vide dishes to experiment with, as well as a chart to help you get a handle of the temperature and time requirements for different types of foods.
Forsous Sous Vide Precision Cooker
The adjustable clamp lets you fit this 800-watt powered immersion circulator to any pot or tub of water, with a large LCD display and simple to use scrolling selection wheel that lets you set the time and temperature of your dish of choice. The temperature range is adjustable between 104-194°F, the circulator capable of maintaining a steady temperature with all but perfect accuracy.
Promising to let your food retain up to 90% and over of its natural nutrients through the cooking process, the cooker comes with a rubberized ergonomic grip that will resist wear despite long hours of use, and detachable stainless steel housing that can be easily slipped off to clean.
wancle Sous Vide Digital Precision Cooker
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Built for durability and convenience, the LCD display screen of this immersion circulator has a scrolling selection wheel to set temperature and cooking time, and is anti-mist and waterproof to ensure it isn’t damaged from exposure to vapors and water over long hours of cooking. Capable of pumping about 7-8 liters of water per minute with the 850-watt powered motor, the circulator ensures accuracy of temperature give or take 1°F. The device also comes in-built with protection from overheating or overly low water levels, an ergonomic and slip-cancelling grip, and removable steel fittings simple to clean down and dry.
Choosing the Best Sous Vide Machine for Beginners
Sous vide allows for remarkable consistency and flexibility in cooking, doing away with the erratic and difficult to control temperatures associated with traditional cooking methods that often require you to act quickly. The risk of over- or undercooking is done away with using this method, letting your food cook evenly through and through while at the same time giving you plenty of time to go about your day without being saddled to the kitchen.
While there are sous vide machines in the form of fixed tubs you fill with water, immersion circulators allow for much better flexibility and space saving, as rather than needing to store and accommodate an entire tub, you can use a compact, sleek circulator with any pot or tub of your choice.
Sous vide involves slow cooking, so machines which can be set to cook for several hours on end are recommended – recipes can demand cooking times anywhere between 1 to 7 hours, some recipes even requiring 2 days of vacuum-heated cooking. The recommended temperatures for cooking are also much lower than traditional cooking methods, to ensure evenness of cooking, with an ideal device letting you accurately set and maintain the temperature at a single degree anywhere between 100 to 195°F.
Fuss-free controls, with easy to use selection wheels and simple LCD displays are recommended, especially if you’re a beginner at sous vide. Circulators with flow rates of at least 8 liters per minute – a reasonable volume that allows you to cook multiple portions for more than one person – are also handy features to look for in precision cookers.