Temperature is accurate
No remote control
Beeps are quiet
No recipes included
We purchased the Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
We know our way around sous vide cooking, so we were interested to see what the Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator had to offer. We got our bags and jars ready, readied our Instant Pot and our favorite stockpot, and put the Accu Slim to the test. Read on for all the details.
Setup Process: A few button presses
Getting the device ready to cook is simple. It needs to be attached to the side of an appropriate vessel, whether it’s the inner cooking pot from an Instant Pot pressure cooker or it’s another container. Then, water is added to above the Min (minimum) line, but below the Max (maximum) line, so there’s enough room to add the food without going over the Max.
When the device is turned on, it is set for the default of 133 degrees and 4 hours. We used the + and – buttons to change the time and temperature. The new setting doesn’t get saved when the device is turned off, so it always returns to the default. The downside to this is that if it turns off for any reason, it returns to the default. When evaporation below the minimum caused the sous vide to turn itself off, we were nearby and able to reset it. While it’s easy enough to add water, turn it back on, and reset the temperature, it could be a problem if the heat was off for too long, cooling the food to below a safe temperature. It also loses the timer information, which could also mess up a recipe.
Once the time and temperature are set and the button is pressed to start it, the display shows “on” until the cooking temperature is reached. Then, it shows the current temperature (which might go down when the food is added) and the time starts to count down. In use, it makes a whining sound. It’s not loud, but it is present.
When cooking time is done, the sous vide beeps, turns off, and the display says “end.” There are pros and cons to the fact that it turns off. While it could keep delicate foods from overcooking, most foods can handle extra cooking time with no problem. If the cook doesn’t realize it is finished, the temperature could drop enough to put it in the unsafe temperature zone.
The manual gives instructions for using zip-top bags for sous vide cooking, which is great for new users who don’t have a vacuum sealer, and it mentions vacuum sealers as well. We prefer vacuum-sealed bags so that’s what we used for testing, since there’s less chance of leakage, and the vacuum does a great job of removing all of the air in the bags.
When using this, it’s a good idea to consider how hot the container will get during the cooking time. When we made crème fraiche at under 100 degrees, we didn’t worry about having the pot on our counter, and even the steak cooked at 133 degrees wasn’t an issue. But when we cooked chicken stock at 185 degrees for six hours, we opted to place our cooking pot on the stove to avoid any damage to our counters. Of course, if it’s used in an Instant Pot, it will be insulated enough that it would be safe on the counter.
Of course we cooked a steak, as well as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and both were cooked perfectly.
This is a skinny sous vide circulator, which we appreciated. Since it has to stay in the water with the food being cooked, it’s nice that it doesn’t take up a lot of space, leaving more room for the food.
The touchscreen interface on the top of the device is easy to see and intuitive to use, although we weren’t sure what the M meant until we read the manual. We guessed it was for adjusting time and temperature, but the word “mode” didn’t come to mind immediately.
This device can be attached to a wide variety of containers. While an Instant Pot pressure cooker isn’t required, using the inner pot is a fine option for small quantities, and using it while it’s inserted in the Instant Pot provides insulation. When we used canning jars, we were only able to fit three half-pint jars in the Instant Pot, so a larger container would make more sense when more jars are needed. Large stock pots work well for roasts and other bulky foods. Large rectangular plastic containers are great for multiple packets of food, particularly when used with a rack. Many come with lids that minimize evaporation.
While the instructions say that a lid isn’t required when cooking sous vide, we found that when cooking foods at a higher temperature, there was quite a bit of water evaporation. Our favorite way to thwart evaporation in a stockpot was using sous vide balls (sold separately) that float on top of the water.
The sous vide device beeps when the set temperature is achieved, and it beeps when cooking is done, but the beep is fairly quiet and easy to ignore. While we wouldn’t want it shrieking at us, it would be nice to have volume control.
A clamp holds the sous vide firmly to the pot it is used in. A plastic piece at the end of the clamp’s screw protects the pot from scratches, but we noticed that it’s easy for that plastic piece to come off, so we’d expect that eventually it will get lost as the device is moved from storage to pot and back again.
While an Instant Pot pressure cooker isn’t required, using the inner pot is a fine option, and using it while it’s inserted in the Instant Pot provides insulation.
Performance: Precise temp
Sous vide is a unique way of cooking food, and it requires precise temperature control. Food is placed in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible. The bag is immersed in water with the sous vide device controlling the temperature, which is set to the desired finish temperature of the food. The food cooks low and slow, and when it emerges from the sous vide it’s cooked to the same temperature throughout, and never overcooked.
Since precise temperature is important, we checked the water temperature several times during different cooking sessions, at both lower and higher temperatures and in small and large pots. Each time, the temperature was exactly what the sous vide showed.
While steak is one of our favorite things to cook using sous vide, we also went off the beaten path with recipes that weren’t quite so common. We made our own crème fraiche, cooking it for 24 hours at 96 degrees. We also cooked tart apples that made a great side dish with a pork roast—a sweeter version could work well as dessert.
Of course we cooked a steak, as well as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and both were cooked perfectly. The steak needed a quick sear before serving to give it the appropriately appetizing color, but since we planned on using the chicken for chicken salad, we simply cooled it after cooking.
While much of sous vide cooking is done in plastic bags, we’ve come to appreciate sous vide cooking in jars as well. Canning jars with standard lids and rings are perfect for many recipes, like the crème fraiche we made.
Crème Brulee cooked sous vide has become a favorite. We used 4-ounce canning jars for our petite desserts, although 8-ounce jars can work for more robust appetites. Since there’s no risk of overcooking and curdling, the rich custard came out silky smooth, and all we had to do was torch the top.
Pickles were also quite fun. Halfway between refrigerator pickles and water-bath canned, they remain crisp and they’re fully pickled, so they just need to be cooled before serving.
Since precise temperature is important, we checked the water temperature several times and it was always exactly what the sous vide showed.
One of our most interesting finds was a recipe for chicken stock cooked sous vide. At first, it seemed rather silly since we could easily have cooked it in the Instant Pot, either under pressure or using the slow cook mode. Still, cooking at a precise 185 degrees allowed us to extract maximum flavor without risking a cloudy stock that can happen if it’s boiled. But the real benefit came after cooking was done. We snipped a small corner off the bag and let the liquid drain out while the bones and large pieces were left in the bag for neat disposal. As an added bonus, there’s no evaporation, so when we added a quart of water to our bag, we ended up with a quart of usable stock. With a large enough cooking container, we could have several bags of stock cooking at once, with chicken, beef, and vegetable stocks in the same pot of water.
Polenta was a great success, and completely hands-off until we were ready to serve. All we needed to do was whisk in some cheese to finish it.
Features: Simplicity and beeps
This is a very simple device, with no programs and just a few buttons, but what we missed most was a recipe booklet. While there are plenty of sous vide recipes available elsewhere, it would have been nice to have a few starter recipes, especially for new users. The instruction booklet does include a cooking chart with the time and temperature for a variety of foods, but the type is inexplicably fine and light-colored, making it difficult to read.
Since the sous vide device and the pot are never in contact with food and just in contact with water, cleaning is minimal. Of course, if a bag leaks, more thorough cleaning would be required.
Since sous vide has become more popular, the number of brands making them has exploded. There are inexpensive models, mostly from unknown brands. There are uber-expensive models with extra features. And there’s a large group of mid-priced models. This sous vide is firmly in the midst of the middle group.
Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator vs. Anova Culinary Nano
At a similar price and wattage (800 watts for the Accu Slim, and 750 for the Anova), and with a similar slim design, these should perform similarly. While the Anova Culinary Nano (view on Amazon) has slightly less wattage, it does have Bluetooth connectivity and an app with recipes. While we love using apps, users who prefer simplicity would love the Accu Slim.
- Product Name Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
- Product Brand Instant Pot
- MPN SSV800
- Price $99.99
- Weight 1.7 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 2.6 x 12.9 in.
- Watts 800
- Voltage 120V – 60Hz
- Warranty 1 year