Sous vide, French for “under vacuum,” is basically cooking food in a hot water bath. This sounds fancier (and maybe a bit more unappetizing) than it really is, but rest assured that it’s quite easy and the results are guaranteed to be delicious.
Let’s say you just bought a beautiful brisket. It’s a tough cut of meat so you’d normally have to cook it in the oven at a low heat for hours on end. But this is a long, involved process, and one that we don’t have time for if we want to eat dinner at a normal hour. When you ditch the oven for a sous vide machine, you can cook at a lower temperature in the same time (or less), and still get delicious, juicy results without constantly checking on things. “The gentle, moist heat of sous vide is an excellent way to get tough, cartilaginous cuts of meat to break down into silky perfection,” says cookbook author Melissa Clark. It also works magic on more tender cuts of meat, seafood, chicken breast, eggs, vegetables—you name it.
For chefs like Clark, Chelsea Cole, Brad Leone, J. Kenji López-Alt, the technique has opened up a new frontier in executing dishes that taste delicious and look amazing (sous vide almost always keeps meat intact), all without much effort on your end. Here are the best sous vide machines you need to buy, according to the pro cooks who swear by the gadget.
1. Breville CS10001 Joule Sous Vide, $249.95
Sleek, small, and adored all around, everyone I spoke with raved about the Breville Joule. The sous vide stick comes ready to be connected to your phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Cole, the cook and blogger behind A Duck’s Oven, highly recommends the Joule for anyone starting out. “The Joule is gorgeous, powerful, and has one of the best apps of any of the smart [sous vide] devices,” she tells us. “The app [that provides training videos, control settings, and many step-by-step recipes] is especially helpful for beginners.” Plus, it’s so compact, you can store it in even the tightest of drawers. Chef Leone, swears by the Joule, too. “It’s super easy to use, quiet, and small. I've used mine for years!”
This machine is what chef and sous-vide aficionado López-Alt uses at home and all the time in his cooking guides. “It has a super simple interface and nice connectivity features, and it’s made by a company with a strong track record for quality devices,” he says. What also stands out are the extras such as a lidded container, vacuum sealer, and even a base to keep the sous vide stick upright; you can easily grab the package depending on your needs.
3. Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano,
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, the Anova Nano is the more affordable version of the original Precision Cooker that Clark stands by. It’s also a good option for beginner sous-viders: “[Start] with a less expensive, basic model to make sure it's something you'd want to use often, then upgrading.” But don’t let the price fool you. “I love the Anova Nano for its intuitive controls,” Clark says. “It's simple to start using without having to consult the instruction manual.”
4. Imersa Elite Sous Vide Cooker, $149
Sous vide cooking is life-changing, but given the amount of water it can use, might not be the most efficient for those looking to conserve water. The Imersa Elite “requires less water than other immersion circulators and the electrical housing hangs over the front of the unit rather than above the water bath” which, according to Cole, also extends its machine life. The adjustable clip makes the Imersa easy to fit onto any pot or vessel you use while the large display clearly shows the current temperature.
Most of the cooks we spoke to suggested looking into various kits for a cost-effective foundation. Vesta’s come armed and ready with the essentials: the sous vide stick, a vacuum sealer, and a couple of vacuum seal bags, while Anova’s lets you choose between several containers, vacuum sealers, and a no-tilt base.
- Easy Pork Tenderloin with Cider-Glazed Red Cabbage
- Sous Vide Bacon, Bell Pepper and Cheese Egg Bites
- Sous Vide Sweet & Salty Breakfast Bacon
- Lobster Sous Vide Style with Spicy Garlic Butter
- Sous Vide Mexican Corn on the Cob
- Spicy Mango Margarita From Lynnette Marrero