Move over slow cookers: Sous vide is the latest trend sweeping the food world. Using a water bath heated to a consistent, low temperature, sous vide cooking allows your food to cook slowly and reach the exact ideal doneness, which means no overcooked food — ever.
With sous vide cooking, food is placed in a resealable plastic bag
and submerged into the heated water with a cook time of 30 minutes for
every 1/2 inch of thickness, generally — that means a cook time of
anywhere from 20 minutes for fish filets to all day long for spare ribs.
The best part? You can walk away after dropping it in the water bath
and let your immersion circulator handle the rest (similar to your slow cooker or InstantPot).
With all of the models on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out which sous vide is right for you. To help you decide, the Just Cooking Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab tested 13 immersion circulators for ease of use and performance. We evaluated each on how long each takes to heat up, how easy or intuitive it is to use, and if it can be clipped easily onto any size pot. After evaluating those basics, we put all 13 sous vides to work cooking steak, chicken, and eggs to see which ones excelled for sous vide recipes and beyond.
All of our top picks are immersion circulators, which means these units clip to the side of a pot and work to keep the water a consistent temperature. They're easy to store and simple to use. Based on our testing, there are the best sous vides to buy:
The precision cooker pros at Anova made this model that heated our water bath in record time and maintained the set temperature within 0.1 degrees. Another perk of the Pro is its detachable clamp, which can secure to any depth of pot. The large touchscreen control panel is extremely intuitive, and the device is also WiFi enabled for compatibility with the Anova app. While the manual is thorough with cute little instructional photos, the app also includes presets that can act as your cooking guide and recipe inspiration. Though the timer is extremely quiet and can be hard to hear, it won’t stop circulating until you tell it to, so your food should stay safely at the appropriate temperature once the cook time is complete.
- Heated quickly and maintained temperature extremely well
- Detachable clamp fits most pots
- Timer is quiet and easy to miss
The sleek design of the Joule allows it to fit into your silverware drawer for easy storage. But don’t be fooled — it doesn’t sacrifice any power with size. The Joule heated our water bath faster than most larger models, and while it does have a small clamp, the weighted suction bottom allows it to stand sturdily in any pot. Controls are app-exclusive, but the app is straightforward with accurate time and temp presets. Since you can only control your Joule via the app, you’re relying 100% on your WiFi and phone battery to cook. If the WiFi goes out or your phone dies, you could encounter some issues.
- Sleek design
- Fast preheat time
- Wi-Fi exclusive connection, which can be risky
This Instant Pot model got solid ratings all around and can be trusted for all of your basic sous vide needs. It may not be as powerful as some others, but it is sleeker and smaller than most and the control panel was clear and easy to program. The manual has simple instructions and an extremely thorough cooking guide. The circulator maintained the set temperature well to produce perfect chicken, steak, and eggs. To sum it up, the Instant Pot Accu Slim may not be the fastest or the fanciest, but it’ll get the job done. The clamp is attached at a set height, so you may not be able to use it on every pot in your kitchen.
- Slim and compact design
- Beginner-friendly interface
- Clamp isn't adjustable, so may not fit all pots
- Lacks the power of other models
Similar to the Pro, the Anova Precision Cooker Nano is very straightforward to use. It has the same intuitive touchscreen control panel and app compatibility, but this older model is smaller and more sleek. The smaller size does take away some of the power, as it took nearly seven minutes longer to heat a water bath to the same temperature. However, it still works effectively at a much lower price point for sous vide beginners who aren’t ready to commit to the Pro. The manual was also the nicest to browse, with clear drawings and a thorough cooking guide. Unlike the Pro, the Nano has an attached clamp, which means pots must meet a minimum height for it to attach properly.
- Sleek touchscreen interface
- Clamp height may not fit in all pots
- Takes a while to preheat