We got tons of emails from customers asking us: “What is a good sous vide cooking starter kit for ______ level of chef?” This article is meant to address those questions.
The core essentials to any sous vide kit are 1) a sous vide immersion circulator; 2) a vacuum sealer and; 3) a basin for holding water. Below we go through the best kits given your interests, cooking skills, and estimated budget. We cover the cheapest kit to the most expensive enthusiast setup.
Sous Vide Kit 1: The Penny Pincher
This first sous vide kit is all about sparing dollars. You love cooking, but you also love money. You aren’t someone who is obsessed with having the best or most powerful machine with the top specs. Also, you don’t mind improvising and using a setup that isn’t cutting edge. You’re the home hacker chef and this is your sous vide kit. You take the competent but low priced Anova machine (under $200) and pair it with a large pot you already own to avoid paying for an expensive Polycarbonate basin. Finally, instead of using a fancy vacuum sealer with its own custom bags, you use the water-displacement technique to get an air out of a cheaper plastic ziplock bags (make sure they are rated for high temperature cooking) or use resealable bags like the Lekue.
Immersion Circulator: Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
Vacuum Sealer: None Instead, you use chemical free reusable bags like the Leukue bag.
Water Basin: A large pot you already own.
You’re cheap. Who doesn’t already own a big pot? This works. Do it.
Sous Vide Kit 2: The Enthusiast
You need the best. You always have the best. You regularly do research to make sure you own the best of the best. If you don’t own the best, you go out and buy it. Money is no object. The items below will not be bettered any time soon. Also, these tools allow you to cook your ass off. Seriously. Want to cook 5 prime rib roasts at one time? No problem. Half a pig? No problem. Really though, these are some amazing tools that border on commercial quality but still won’t look out of place in your home kitchen.
Immersion Circulator: Fusionchef 9FT1000
I hooked one of these up in my bathtub so I could keep the tub at a nice 100 degrees in perpetuity–just kidding, ok maybe I tried it one time….Don’t judge me. (Costs ~$900). Tons of power, can move a lot of water, clean simple design, see it compared to other machines here.
Vacuum Sealer: VacMaster VP210
I love science. This thing makes me feel like a physicist when I am cooking. I’m not just vacuum sealing when I use this: I’m sciencing™. This thing is awesome. I think it doesn’t have an actual motor, invisible gnomes just suck all the air out of your food. Awesome. (Costs ~$900).
Water Basin: Cambro 12189CW135, Polycarbonate Camwear Box + Lid
(Around $50 for the pair)
Boring but necessary. This bin is great for big projects and the lid helps keep some of the heat in.
Sous Vide Kit 3: The Penny-saving Gourmand
You research everything before you buy, you’re smart with your money but want high end. This is your kit. You get great equipment at a lower cost and this setup can eat through just about any project.
Immersion Circulator: VacMaster SV1 Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
One of the highest wattage and lowest priced models, this immersion circulator gives you room to grow. It isn’t as sexy as some of the other machines but it does what it needs to do and has power to spare.
Vacuum Sealer: FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System
Even though it is the entry level FoodSaver machine, it does everything you need. It creates a great seal on food and doesn’t have any of the nasties that a ziplock bag has.
Sous Vide Kit 4: The apple lover’s sous vide kit
The focus here is on clean, simple, classically designed, equipment that is easy to use–the apple of sous vide cooking.
Immersion Circulator: Nomiku
If apple was going to design a sous vide machine, this would be it. The click wheel head, which is like the classic ipod, is what you use to set the temperature. This thing does its job, its simple and easy to use. Very few frills or customization options–it doesn’t even have a timer. But it heats water to the temperature you want. *Update, Nomiku is coming out with an updated version of their circulator so the Nomiku 1 can be had for cheaper now. Once we get our hands on the v2 we’ll update the review.
Vacuum Sealer: VacMaster VP112 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
Powerful and effective. This thing is awesome, it works perfectly every single time. It is big, but it is also very very robust. You’re getting much more than a cheap Foodsaver here. Also, this thing looks like a hungry robot ready to eat something–great conversation starter.
Water Basin: Granite Ware 6415-4 15-Quart Dish Pan with Handles
Let’s be honest, you’re a hipster. You love the speckled classic look of this dish. It makes you feel rustic and it contrasts well with your mustache. Good on you. Drink a PBR and comb your mustache while you cook your sustainability-raised-free-range chicken breasts in this baby.
Hopefully you found these kit setups helpful. Ultimately, choosing the right sous vide kit is a difficult choice. If you want more information check out our reviews of the best vacuum sealing machines and top sous vide machines.