Once a secret cooking method you could only find in top restaurants, sous vide has been expanding out of commercial kitchens, with lots of machines made for home sous vide on the market. The trendy technique (it means "under vacuum" in French) seals food in an airtight bag and immerses it in a bath of warm water in which the temperature can be controlled precisely. Sous vide cooks food slowly and incredibly evenly, eliminating nearly any possibility of overcooking.
With sous vide, you can get tender beef, chicken, seafood, or any other meat without having to worry about monitoring and controlling temperature manually. Proteins retain their internal juiciness and won't shrink or dry out. This tool isn't only for meat, though. It can also create delicious vegetables, excellent eggs, and more. You can add herbs, spices or butter to the bag to infuse their flavors into anything you like.
There are several different types of sous vide machine on the market today, including self-contained water baths and immersion cookers that can clip on to any container. We researched all the sous-vide options out there to help find one that fits your personal needs—see the best of the best below.
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Precise temperature control
Manual, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi controls
Can attach to any vessel
Bulky for its power
Anova is probably the most famous name in home sous-vide cooking, and its durable immersion cooker has amazingly precise temperature control in a stick-style machine that can fit into a cabinet or drawer. It has a clamp that can screw onto the side of a stock pot, large bowl, plastic tub, or any other container, creating a full sous-vide setup whenever and wherever you need one. Just fill with water, drop in a sealed bag of food, and go.
You can control the device using the onboard controls or via phone with the Anova app (which also has thousands of recipes for every skill level). We had a little trouble getting it connected at first, but once that was done, everything worked extremely simply. The machine does all the work automatically, circulating water and keeping it at the precise temperature and amount of time required to produce the exact results you need. You can even toss food, water, and ice into the container before work in the morning and let the Anova start the cooking process at the perfect time for dinner to be ready when you get home.
In testing, we got great results with this unit. Though it took longer than other models—even smaller and sleeker ones—to reach the set temperature, it was able to maintain it very accurately and offers lots of useful features. Cleaning is also very easy: The stainless-steel skirt and pump cover can go in the dishwasher, and the heating element and sensors need just a quick brush with soapy water.
Price at time of publish: $219
Dimensions: 3.1 x 5.3 x 12.8 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Power: 1,000 watts | Maximum Temperature: 197 degrees
"There are so many foods that taste great sous vide. Some may not think to sous-vide veggies, but it makes a huge difference. Corn on the cob, for example, is incredible. When you vacuum seal the cobs with knobs of butter, the corn gets basted with butter throughout. Every bite has perfectly cooked corn and butter. You can also cook in jars to make delicious desserts, or even make cold brew coffee or infused cocktails, too." — Stephen Svajian, CEO of Anova
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Hamilton Beach Professional Sous Vide Water Oven & Slow Cooker
Simple digital controls
No water circulation
"Water oven" is a great description of this 6-quart cooker, which can hold liquid at a set temperature of anywhere from 104 to 210 degrees for up to 72 hours. Using plain water and vacuum-sealed food, it can sous-vide everything from perfectly juicy medium-rare steak to breakfast egg bites. But you can also put ingredients directly into the cooking pot and use the machine for soups, stews, and other slow-cooker recipes.
The pot itself is nonstick-coated and lifts out for easy cleaning, and the whole machine has sturdy handles on the side for easy transport. The push-button temperature and timer controls couldn't be easier, and it also switches to keep-warm mode automatically when the timer runs out. The main downside is that it doesn't have a built-in pump, which makes it a bit less precise than cookers that constantly circulate the water while heating it.
Price at time of publish: $130
Dimensions: 12.9 x 11.8 x 18.5 inches | Weight: 10.3 pounds | Capacity: 6 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 210 degrees
Inkbird Sous Vide Precision Cooker ISV-100W
Even to try it just once, sous vide requires specialized equipment. If you want to dip your toe into the cooking method without a huge investment, this Inkbird is a great choice. The immersion circulator-style machine can clip to any container, with the capacity to heat up to 4 gallons of water and food to boiling. It has 1,000 watts of power packed into a small device, and its accuracy and ability to maintain temperature are right up there with much more expensive models.
It does, however, take a long time to reach temperature, so you'll want to plan ahead when you use it. The smart machine connects to Wi-Fi and includes an app full of recipes, though it's complicated to get through the connection and registration process to get phone controls working. (But the onboard control panel is simple and self-explanatory.)
Price at time of publish: $88
Dimensions: 2.4 x 2.4 x 16.1 inches | Weight: 3.9 pounds | Capacity: 15.9 quarts | Power: 1,000 watts | Maximum Temperature: 212 degrees
SousVide Supreme Touch Plus with Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi- and Alexa-enabled
You're well on your way to succulent steak with this machine by SousVide Supreme. It's huge, with a nearly 3-gallon basin that can hold 20 separate quarter-pound servings (or one really large piece of meat) and heat them accurately to anywhere from 86 to 210 degrees. Heat comes from the entire bottom, which, combined with the insulated walls and tight-fitting lid, heat the whole basin water accurately without requiring a motor. The see-through lid also lets you monitor the food, and it prevents evaporation, something that can be a problem when sous-viding food in an open container for 48 or 72 hours.
Operation is simple: Just drop in your sealed bags, push a button or two, and walk away. The touch controls work even when your fingers are wet, and the digital LED display features an extra-large readout. As a bonus, this high-tech machine includes integrated Wi-Fi functionality so you can control the thing from your phone or even tell it to turn on and of via Alexa voice control. The SousVide Supreme app also includes lots of recipes and advice.
Editor's Note: This is the update to an earlier SousVide Supreme model tested by The Spruce Eats.
Price at time of publish: $600
Dimensions: 11.4 x 11.4 x 14.2 inches | Weight: 17 pounds | Capacity: 11.6 quarts | Power: 900 watts | Maximum Temperature: 210 degrees
Oliso SmartTop and SmartHub Induction Cooktop Sous Vide Cooking System
Heats quickly and efficiently
No water circulation
This unconventional but innovative design combines a tempered-glass induction cooktop (the SmartHub) with an 11-quart water bath (the SmartTop) that sync together to heat water and control temperatures accurately down to the half-degree. The LCD screen and pushbutton controls are clear and simple to use, and the huge capacity is big enough to sous-vide a whole fish, chicken, or roast. There's no pump to circulate water, but the container includes a spacer rack that sits the food in the middle of the container for more even heating.
The same SmartTop can also serve as a slow cooker for making infusions or broths, culturing homemade yogurt, sprouting grains, and lots of other uses. Oliso also makes vacuum sealers and bags to create an entire sous-vide ecosystem. But on top of that, you can just take the SmartTop off and have a powerful induction burner in the SmartHub—the 1,500 watts of power can heat up to 550 degrees for searing and sautéing. It'll work with any pots and pans that are induction-friendly.
This set offers lots of different cooking options, but it's also quite expensive. It could be a great choice if you're a sous-vide nerd without a ton of counter space, or it could even be an all-in-one cooking device for a rustic cabin, lake house, vacation home, or even a boat.
Price at time of publish: $500
Dimensions: 18 x 14 x 17 inches | Weight: 25 pounds | Capacity: 11 quarts | Power: 1,500 watts | Maximum Temperature: 194 degrees (sous vide), 550 degrees (induction cooktop)
Best Instant Pot
Instant Pot Duo Plus 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V4
Less accurate for sous vide
There are very few things the amazing Instant Pot can't do. The trendy appliance can sauté, pressure-cook, slow-cook, make rice, and even bake cakes. Most (but not all) models also include a sous-vide setting. The Duo Plus came out on top overall in our extensive testing of Instant Pots, and it's the one we recommend for sous vide, too. On sous vide mode, the pot simply heats the water and food inside to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time. The lid seals, but only to help insulate the contents—it doesn't actually pressurize.
The digital controls couldn't be simpler, despite the fact that there are 25 different customizable programs for everything from beans to ribs. The incredible range of functions makes an Instant Pot a great investment, though it doesn't directly sense the temperature of the water and can be a bit inaccurate in sous-vide mode. We'd recommend using a separate thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjusting the machine accordingly if you need pinpoint control. Oh, and the stainless-steel inner pot and lid are dishwasher-safe, a nice time-saving advantage when it's time to clean up.
Price at time of publish: $170
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 14 inches | Weight: 20.4 pounds | Capacity: 8 quarts | Power: 1,200 watts
"Though this is a bit on the expensive side, I feel like it warrants the price tag. Performance, functionality, and ease of use are all at a superior level so I feel like this is an investment well worth making. An Instant Pot should be a 'one-stop shop' kitchen tool in my view, and this fits the bill nicely."
Our top pick is the compact immersion-style Anova Precision Cooker, which attaches directly to any pot or container via the adjustable clamp—and won't take up much precious storage space. If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, we recommend the Inkbird Sous Vide Precision Cooker.
What to Look for in a Sous Vide Machine
There are two main types of sous vide machine: those that include their own water vessel and those that attach to any vessel you like. Self-contained machines (you might see them labeled as a "water oven") generally heat the water from below and do not have a pump for circulation, which makes them completely silent. They take up a lot of counter space but generally have a larger capacity and heat faster. Immersion circulators are stick-shaped machines that can clamp to any container, using a single heating element and a pump that keeps the water moving constantly for even heating. Immersion circulators tend to be a bit cheaper, but the pump can be noisy, and the devices are only good for sous vide and nothing else.
In order to maintain a consistent temperature, sous vide needs a large volume of water in comparison to the amount of food. Standalone machines range for a compact 6 quarts, enough for just a couple of steaks, to 4 gallons or more, which can accommodate whole birds, fish, or roasts. With a stick-style immersion cooker, you can attach the machine to any size vessel, but it's important to note the maximum capacity of your unit: If you use too much water, it won't be able to maintain the temperature.
Sous-vide recipes can demand cooking for multiple days straight, and you don't want to have to monitor things closely over a full 72 hours. The most basic controls allow you to set a temperature and timer and not much else, while other devices are Wi-Fi enabled and have lots of smart functions. These machines come with apps that allow you to adjust things from anywhere via your phone or even using Alexa or other voice control methods. If you frequently cook sous vide for long periods, or use the machine while away from home, this is an indispensable option.
Sous-vide machines—especially the self-contained ones—can do a lot more than just sous-vide cooking. You can add ingredients directly to the cooking pot and use them like a slow-cooker for soup, beans, stews, and similar dishes. Most Instant Pot models also include a sous-vide mode in addition to their many other cooking functions. Other special features for sous vide that some machines off include adjustments for cooking above sea level and a safety indicator to alert you that the power went off during cooking, making food potentially unsafe to eat. Additional abilities like these might make a larger or more expensive machine more worthwhile than a uni-tasker.
What is the point of sous vide?
Sous-vide cooking is all about temperature control. A steak is perfectly medium-rare at between 130 and 140 degrees, which can be tough to reach exactly if you're grilling the meat on a surface that's at 500 degrees or more. With sous vide, you can set the water temperature to exactly 135 degrees and get a steak that's at the exact right doneness throughout. (The same applies to other foods at other temperatures.)
The vacuum-sealing process also has advantages: Food loses less moisture, weight, and nutrients than in conventional cooking. Sous vide requires little fat or salt, yet the flavors and aromas are intensified, and the food retains its original colors better. The process takes longer than most other methods, but you don’t have to stand by the stove to monitor cooking.
What are the disadvantages of sous-vide cooking?
The main downside of sous vide is that it takes a long time. A 1-pound steak needs an hour or more to cook fully with a sous-vide setup, when the same steak can be done in just a few minutes on the grill or in a pan. Sous vide also requires sealable plastic bags—you can use standard zip-top bags but a dedicated vacuum sealer does a better job.
In addition, the low temperatures used can't create any browning or charring. Once items are fully cooked, many sous vide enthusiasts do what's called a "reverse sear," tossing the meat into a hot pan for a minute or two on each side to add color and caramelized flavor.
What can I cook using sous vide?
Virtually anything! Steaks are a favorite, but the method works wonderfully with all sorts of meats, from large tough roasts to whole poultry and fish to individually portioned proteins. The method also works on fruits and vegetables, grains, and even desserts. It's virtually impossible to overcook food using sous vide, but it's important to always follow a recipe specifically written and tested for sous-vide cooking to get the temperature and cooking time right.
Is sous vide safe?
Because of the low temperatures involved, sous vide cooking can put food in the "danger zone" of temperature: Under about 140 degrees, E. coli and other microbes that can make you sick grow quickly. When cooking anything (but especially meat) raw, it's important to set the temp to at least 135 and to make sure all the items have come all the way up to the that temperature to make sure any nasty bugs are killed.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Taylor Rock is an associate commerce editor for The Spruce Eats. She constantly has her eye on the market for new launches and updates content accordingly. As a years-long vegetarian, she hasn't dabbled in sous vide-style meat, but she does have an admiration for sous vide-style egg bites.
The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn updated this roundup. Salmon is his favorite fish, and some of the best salmon he's ever had was cooked sous vide.
Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture. "Danger Zone" (40 °F - 140 °F).