UPDATE: See our battle between the Anova and Nomiku brands and the Anova and PolyScience Brands.
Sous vide cooking is changing the way that professional and home chefs cook. The precise temperature control gives you perfect results each and every time. No, it’s not just a one-off chance of perfection. You can be at the top of your cooking game every single time. Foods are cooked evenly, all through, from edge to edge, just the way you want them to be. The doneness is to your desire–perfectly red steaks, white juicy chicken, and pork with just the right touch of pink. Sous vide technique is no longer only available to the world best chefs. It’s made its way to home kitchens. Over the past couple of years, the popularity of sous vide has skyrocketed. As such, it didn’t take long before numerous types of sous vide machines flooded the market. Below, we review some of newest sous vide machines, compare their features, and provide you information to make the best buying choice.
Click below to see our full comparison chart for all the Sous Vide Machines we reviewed below
When you go shopping for sous vide machines, you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle. First, there are many choices to pick from. Secondly, they all come with their different specs. You may be at a loss as to what exactly you should look for. Since most purchases are first-timers, the information may be overwhelming. Here are the most popular choices in the market, to help you make your choice.
Our Top Sous Vide Machine Choices
At only $149 this machine is versatile, reliable, and will handle just about any job you can throw at it. A great entry level machine that can take you to near professional results.
A really competent all-in-one unit that is well loved by its owners. If you want a stand-alone appliance at a fair price, this is your pick.
This is a near professional-grade machine. It can handle a 15 gallons of water! By comparison the Anova can only handle about 6 and the Sous Vide Supreme holds 2.2 gallons. You could run this thing in your bathtub if you wanted (please don’t).
How Sous Vide Machines Work
But before we get to the specific products, there’s some background knowledge you should have. After all, sous vide machines do not ‘magically’ heat your food to perfect conditions. The designs may be complex, but the science involved is pretty simple. How does a water oven’s water temperature remain constant without a circulator? Because heat travels quickly through water. Natural circulation created by the basic properties of water and heat is all that is needed to heat the food and water to the same temperature. Any additional circulation by the machines only enhances the process.
Types of Sous Vide Machines, Standalone vs. Attached Immersion Circulators
Generally speaking, there are two types of sous vide machines: immersion circulators and sous vide water bath stand-alone machines. If you’re interested you can read more about DIY and other exotic machine types. The immersion circulators are clamped onto a large basin or pot containing water. These machines operate by heating and circulating the water simultaneously. On the other hand, the sous vide water baths are self-contained units. So the unit includes both the heater and water basin . Their heating elements are located under the basin, at the bottom. The water is heated via convection, and is not typically not circulated but some stand-alone machines also have a circulator.
Criteria to consider
Given all the different sous vide machines available it is important to have some criteria you can use to narrow down your choices. If you are looking for a powerful machine that heats water quickly and can handle larger projects you will want a higher wattage machine with high water flow (gallons per minute). If you’re a techie you may want a machine like the anova that has bluetooth capabilities and that you can control with an app on your phone. Also, given that these are appliances you will use regularly, you need to pick a machine that is aesthetically appealing to you. For some this may mean avoiding the bright yellow PolyScience machine. For others, depending on your kitchen decor, you may want a stainless professional looking machine like the FusionChef or the VacMaster SV1. Below we cover the best machines available and provide you our thoughts about each one.
Sous Vide Machines Reviews
- All in one, no extra tools needed
- Clean look
Cons of the Sous Vide Supreme
- Takes a lot of counterspace
- Limited water tank size
One of the more popular sous vide machines, thanks to its brand credibility, this stand alone-machine is unique in that it is an all-in-one unit. Unlike the circulators below this machine contains the water tank, which is a gift and a curse. Being a water bath, the Sous Vide Supreme is quite large and takes up counter space. But its stainless steel exterior and aesthetics make it look sharp on any counter-top. You can keep and move it easily, as it doesn’t come with moving parts. And unlike the immersion circulators, it does not need a clamp. The downside is that your cooking projects are limited by the water tank size of this machine. So you won’t be able to tackle large projects like whole rib roasts or turkeys.
Nonetheless, the machine is competent and well designed. Its two handles on the side of the water bath make it real easy to pout and remove the water. In addition, its lid prevents water from being evaporated. The evaporation issue is one that immersion circulators struggle with, especially during long cooking cycles.
First thing that pops into your mind when you check out the Sous Vide control panel and display is “This is old school!” True, and they function just as they are supposed to. The digital display shows you the set and actual temperatures, and the timer. In addition, there are indicator lights on the side of the display. The control panel is both easy to understand and simple to use.
The water capacity of a sous vide machine dictates the amount of food that can be cooked. The Sous Vide Supreme has a capacity of close to 3 gallons (12 litres). This is nearly half of what can be achieved by immersion circulators, so obviously, you need to recognize that there is a limiting factor with a standalone machine such as the Sous Vide Supreme.
- Relatively high wattage
- Clean design
- Simple to use
Cons of the Nomiku
- Hard to clean
- No Timer
We think the nomiku is the apple of sous vide machines–its simple sleek and somewhat limited. In comparison, the Anova is like android, open, versatile, but with less design, frill and flair. The Nomiku may be small and sleek, but it packs quite the punch. It’s well built and very durable. Its build makes for quick and easy temperature adjustments. Its LCD screen shows both the set and actual temperatures. The touch screen is only for turning the machine on or off. It comes with a dial that you use to increase or decrease the temperate by turning. The Nomiku does not come with a timer setting-it just continues to heat and circulate until it’s turned off. The Nomiku has embraced simplicity. It is sort of like the ipod click wheel of the past–simple and easy to use. However, cleaning the Nomiku can be an issue, as it doesn’t open up for cleaning. So be careful about food getting lodged in it. *Note that they made the bottom removable for easier cleaning in their updated version that includes wifi capabilities. But this model will not be released until Q3/Q4 2015. Make sure that if you choose a Nomiku you settle on the wifi model.
One final note, unlike the other immersion circulators, the Nomiku’s power block is attached to the unit by a cord. This makes the unit itself lighter, but presents an issue in where, and how, to exactly place the block in the kitchen. The Nomiku uses a clip to attach itself to the basin/pot. A clip is fast-you can remove and attach it in the blink of an eye. The clip sticks to the pot nice, but not as strong as the screw clamp systems.
The Nomiku has a capacity of 5 gallons (19-20 litres)
- Trusted brand
- Solid build
Cons of the PolyScience Professional Creative
- Expensive, despite cost lacks extra features like wifi, etc.
- Basically just a higher wattage version of the discovery
From a durability standpoint, the PolyScience Professional Creative has a great deal of clout. Their well built tank frame appears thicker and stronger than the other machines. Consequently, it’s heavier. It’s an immersion circulator, and has a hole near the bottom for water circulation. Should the liquid temperature exceed the factory set temperature, the PolyScience Professional Creative machine has an over-temperature safety, like many of the other machines, which removes power from the heater. It comes with a reset button behind the cover plate, which allows you to reset the machine. This particular product is a clean black color.
This machine has a screw clamp system that enables it to be firmly attached to the pot/basin. It does not budge at all. It has plenty of space to allow you to clamp a pot with a fairly large lip with ease.
Controls on the Professional Creative are made through the 5 buttons on the panel below the display. The digital display reads both set and actual temperatures. It has a timer setting too.
The PolyScience Professional Creative has a capacity of 5.3 gallons (20 litres).
Polyscience is a trusted sous vide brand, and if you choose them you will know exactly what you are getting. A trusted machine at a premium price that will grind through most jobs you will throw at it.
- Trusted brand
- Solid build
Cons of the PolyScience Discovery
- Yellow color may look strange in your kitchen
- Low wattage (750W)
- At this price point you can get more feature rich and powerful machines
On the outside, the PolyScience Discovery and the PolyScience Professional Creative are essentially the same. Their features are similar, from the control panel, all the way down to the over-temperature safety, screw-clamp system and reset buttons. However, most Discovery products in the market are bright yellow, unlike the Professional Creative’s black. Personally, I do not care for the color of the PolyScience discovery and I find the buttons less intuitive than that Anova or Nomiku offerings.
The PolyScience Discovery has a capacity of 5.3 gallons (20 litres) and you can set cooking temperature to a 1/10th of a degree. In many key aspects, this is just a yellow version of the professional creative. Also, this machine is one of the lowest Wattage machines in our lineup, accordingly you can expect longer heat times and it may have trouble initially sustaining temperatures for large projects.
- Low price, great value
- Bluetooth Capability
Cons of the Anova
- Low wattage compared to other models
- Screw clamp takes longer to attach/detach than clip models
The Anova is an immersion circulator. One thing that will strike you about it is its display. It has a pretty sharp and impressive display. A mini LCD with touch screen (and superb color too!) that makes controlling it easy, suave and intuitive. You can control the temperature (C or F) and set the timer. Also, as mentioned above the Anova is bluetooth capable and can be controlled via your phone with an application.
Like the PolyScience machines, it also uses a screw-clamp system to attach to the pot/basin. Its design may be an issue for some people. The bottom half of the unit is a removable steel sleeve. This sleeve has been a source of complaint. Sure, it’s awesome for cleaning purposes, but when it comes to running the machine, it’s a whole different scenario. If you do not attach the sleeve firmly, its looseness will impact the motion of the internal impeller. The impeller will brush against the internal parts, causing some noise and reducing circulation. However, this can only be an issue if you don’t fit the sleeve as required. I’ve personally experienced this clicking with my Anova. The key is making sure you handle the machine lightly to avoid tweaking the internal metal parts. If the Anova starts to make that dreaded clicking sound you can easily remedy the problem by adjusting the internal impeller and moving it so that it doesn’t make contact with any other internal parts.
The Anova has a capacity of 6 gallons (22 litres). Its pump moves 12 Liters of water per minute. Temperature range 25°C to 99°C controls in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
- Great price and solid feature set
- Clean modern design
Cons of the Sansaire
- No timer
- Tricky to clean
- Made of plastic not stainless steel
This offering has a clean and modern design. The high wattage of this model should lead to faster heat times. It attaches with a large clip similar to the Nomiku. However, I have to say the Nomiku’s clip looks a little more rugged trustworthy than the Sansaire’s. Also, the back cover is a little tricky to remove and replace for cleaning.
The Sansaire is visually appealing, has a great price point, and has above-average power for its class. It is hard to say no to this model. The only real knocks are the difficulty in cleaning it presents and the fact that it is constructed from plastic rather than stainless steel like some of its counterparts.
Its maximum water capacity is 6 gallons and it circulates 3 gallons per minute. Its temperature range is 32°F – 212°F / 0°C – 100°C.
- Can handle large cooking projects
- Near commercial grade
Cons of the Fusionchef 9FT1000
- Heavier and larger than other models
If you want the best sous vide immersion circulator in a small package, this beauty your choice. This sexy piece of machinery can maintain the temperature of 15 gallons of water. As you can see above, most the other machines are limited to 5-6 gallons. To give some context a standard bathtub holds 35-60 gallons of water. In short, this little machine packs a punch. If you ever anticipate big cooking jobs, this machine will rise to the task while the other machines simply won’t.
The Fusionchef 9FT1000 does weigh about twice what most of the other models we reviewed, but it also is completely stainless steel and has near commercial-grade power. The fact that it costs nearly $1,000 may be a deterrent to most casual home cooks, but if you are a gadget freak or are an enthusiast that is inclined to tackle larger projects this is the kind of machine you can grow with as you perfect your sous vide techniques.
- Very high wattage (1500W)
- Attractive design
- Good price for performance
Cons of the VacMaster SV1
- Menus can be tricky to navigate
- Annoying beeps need to be turned off
You already know the VacMaster brand, they make some of the best vacuum sealing machines for sous vide cooking. So, from the start, the VacMaster SV1 has some credibility. With a clean professional design and 1500 watts of power it is a competent offering at a reasonable price. One consistent gripe from owners is that it beeps any time it reaches target tempurature. Unfortunately, according to some people this means the unit emits annoying beeps on a regular basis. Absent the beeping issue this is a great machine.
So which is the best machine? As you have seen, they all have their pros and cons. It all depends on you-what you want from the machine, from its efficiency to its aesthetic value. In time, sous vide will be the standard in most kitchens, pretty much like microwaves have become. Ultimately, it is a method of cooking that deserves more attention because it can be a huge time saver, and produce delicious and very healthy food because you do not need to add oil or butter to enhance what you are cooking.