Sous vides precision cooker comparison
As home chefs, we’re always on the lookout for ways to up our game — ideally without too much extra effort. That’s why we’re huge fans of sous vide cooking. For this method, you prepare food in a sealed bag and place it in water, which is heated to a precise temperature. The result is a perfectly cooked, mouth-watering dish that requires minimal effort.
We are on an ongoing quest to find the best sous vide machine. Recently, we picked up two of the most popular options: the Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide and the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker. We ran these sous vides through a series of recipes to test as many functions and features as possible. During this process, we rated each machine’s overall performance and capabilities using such criteria as product quality, ease of setup, ease of use and value. After testing, we discovered one model was clearly the better choice.
How does a sous vide work?
Unlike a multipurpose appliance, such as an Instant Pot, which can perform various cooking tasks, a sous vide only does one thing exceptionally well. And it produces results that are impossible to achieve with any other cooking method.
With sous vide, you prepare your food in a vacuum-sealed bag placed in a water bath measured to a precise temperature. A sous vide machine is meant to provide extremely consistent cooking results without requiring constant attention. As long as your water doesn’t evaporate away, you can set it and forget it.
What do you use a sous vide for?
You can use a sous vide to prepare proteins ahead of time. For instance, you can prepare steaks, wings and brisket in advance, so you can cook them to order in the moment. A sous vide holds tough meats at a consistently low temperature to tenderize them in the same manner as braising. Using a sous vide can free up stovetop space when you have a complicated meal or one that you are preparing for many people. A sous vide can also cook eggs, vegetables, biscuits, desserts and more.
Key features to consider when shopping for a sous vide
- Ease of setup and use: The best sous vide only has a few controls. Setup and operation should be intuitive. However, the manufacturer should always include easy-to-follow instructions.
- Precision heating: The purpose of a sous vide is to precisely control the cooking temperature for extended periods. While adjusting the temperature to the degree is acceptable, some models give you control down to 0.1 degrees.
- Temperature range: The wider the temperature range of a sous vide, the greater the flexibility you have for cooking different foods. Most models can heat up to at least 195 degrees, while some can reach temperatures as high as 212 degrees.
- Connectivity: If you want to operate your sous vide via a smartphone, it must have either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
- Onboard controls: If you want to control your sous vide directly from the unit, it needs to have onboard controls. Not all models have this ability.
- Display: For safety, a sous vide machine should have a display that lets you know when the machine is on and how hot it is.
The sous vide worth considering
Our experience with the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
The Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker is the redesigned version of the company’s best-selling sous vide immersion circulator. We found it easy to set up, understand and use. There are only a few buttons, so it is possible to succeed with this product without even reading the instructions, but we never recommend that. To test the versatility of this sous vide, we cooked 20-hour pulled pork, chicken breast, eggs, a tri-tip roast and asparagus. Additionally, we made chicken wings, mashed potatoes, salmon and turkey. Everything came out great. The only issue we ran into was the water level getting too low on longer cook times. Other than that, the Anova performed exceptionally well.
Sold by Amazon
Why we recommend the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
You simply need to set the time and temperature to use this model. It makes a little sound to let you know when it is on, and it also lets you know when your food is done being cooked. We like that you can operate this model using either the onboard controls or the company’s app. The app is particularly intriguing because it includes recipes from renowned chefs. This model heats up more quickly than other machines we have tested, and it is available at a price point that is accessible to most.
The sous vide that fell short
Our experience with the Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide
The Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide is a precision immersion circulator from a well-known brand. The only way to operate the machine is through an app that you must download to your smartphone. We found the Joule was able to hold a consistent temperature for an extended period of time. This let us cook a 36-hour duck confit. We also made hard-boiled eggs, Italian sausage and a ribeye steak. The app also provides recipes and gives you complete control over the sous vide. You can use a preset recipe or customize the time and temperature to your liking.
Sold by Amazon
Why the Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide fell short
Breville is a trusted name, and the company has a reputation for manufacturing quality high-end products. However, a sous vide should not be a complicated machine. The lack of onboard controls limits its flexibility — you can only operate this machine through your smartphone. We also found that the performance quality was unremarkable. It cooked as expected, but there was nothing exceptional enough to make this model stand out. In our experience, it doesn’t elevate the cooking experience enough to warrant the higher price.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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