After looking at dozens of products, we bought the 9 best sous vide machines of 2020 and tested them head-to-head to find out which sous vide reigns supreme. We measured their temperature accuracy using lab-grade equipment and compared the circulation and cooking performance of each of these products head-to-head. We also looked at how intuitive and easy they are to use, as well as any smart features or functions that they might have. Check out our complete review to see which product came out on top, which is the most user-friendly, and which is your best bet when shopping on a budget.
Best Sous Vide Machines of 2020
Best Overall Sous Vide
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00
If you are ready to start cooking sous vide and want the very best, it's hard to go wrong with the Anova AN500. This machine is one of our all-time favorites, offering an impressive level of circulation and performing exceptionally well in our temperature accuracy tests. It has an intuitive interface right on the machine and a companion smartphone app to set the temperature and time. It's very easy to use and delivered excellent results in our temperature accuracy test.
Unfortunately, the AN500 isn't the quickest to heat water, taking close to an hour in our test to get cold tap water up to cooking temperature. It also had a little bit more of a fluctuating temperature than we would have liked. Despite that, the Anova AN500 is by far our favorite sous vide machine and our top recommendation for anyone who wants a superior sous vide machine.
Read review: Anova AN500-US00
Best Bang for the Buck
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano
If you want a great sous vide machine but aren't willing to stomach the price of the Anova AN500-US00, then the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano is a fantastic option. This machine costs significantly less, has excellent temperature control, and is just as convenient and easy to use as its sibling. It circulates quite well — though it is a noticeable amount slower in our tests than the top-tier models — and has the same smart features as the AN500. A companion app allows you to choose from a plethora of different recipes or create your own to save for future use.
The Nano does have a smaller and less powerful heating element than the AN500 so it takes a little longer to initially heat up and it isn't the quickest to recover after food is added. Overall, the Anova Nano is a great option if you want a top-tier sous vide while shopping on a budget. You just need to be a little patient and willing to preheat your water beforehand.
Read review: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano
Best SV Machine on a Tight Budget
PARTU Sous Vide 850W
If you are searching for a low-cost sous vide option and are willing to make some sacrifices in terms of performance, then the PARTU is a good choice. This is far from our favorite sous vide, but it will get the job done at a fraction of the cost of the top-tier models. This machine does have some solid circulation but its performance in most of our other tests was fairly lackluster at best.
The PARTU was one of the least accurate machines in our tests, consistently measuring just over a degree under the desired setpoint and we noticed a not-insignificant amount of temperature oscillation over the course of an hour. It isn't amazingly fast to heat up and doesn't have the most user-friendly interface but you can cook delicious food in it at a much more budget-friendly price than our other top choices if you take the proper precautions.
Read review: PARTU Sous Vide 850W
Best for Appearance
Breville Joule 1100W
While the Breville Joule isn't the best sous vide we have seen to date, we still feel that it deserves some recognition. It's a sleek-looking machine that offers more versatility than almost any other product we have seen with its magnetic base and clamp bracket. The Joule is one of the fastest at heating up water and is quite accurate and stable when it comes to temperature control. The interface in the mobile app is user-friendly and intuitive as well.
Unfortunately, we found the app-only controls to be a source for frustration when multiple people were using it, or if we didn't feel like pulling out our phone. The temperature accuracy and stability are also just a bit worse than the top-tier models. All things considered, however, it's definitely worth considering the Joule if you place a premium on style and aren't scared away by the smartphone-only controls.
Read review: Breville Joule 1100W
Why You Should Trust Us?
Our sous vide testing team is led by Michelle Powell and David Wise. Michelle has over 10 years of professional culinary experience, ranging from managing an artisanal bakery to competing in latte art competitions. Most importantly, she brings a no-nonsense attitude towards kitchen appliances that don't work as they should. David has formal training as a mechanical engineer and has been an avid home cook and baker for the past 5 years or so. He is particularly passionate about mixing science and cooking, the foundation of cooking sous vide. On top of that, he also used his education in thermal fluids and heat transfer to design some of our temperature accuracy and circulation tests.
We bought all the top sous vide machines currently available at regular retail prices — no free or extremely discounted evaluation units here! — so you can be sure we don't have any financial stake in favoring one product over another. We spent dozens and dozens of hours making all sorts of things under vacuum, pushing the limits of what you can cook in a hot water bath. In addition to our side-by-side cooking tests, we also used lab-grade equipment to measure and compare the temperature accuracy of each product and dye to visually assess how well each immersion circulator circulates. Finally, we examined the convenience and ease of use for each appliance, looking for the one that provided the most user-friendly and intuitive experience while trying out any of the connected smart features that a few of these machines have.
Related: How We Tested Sous Vide Machines
Analysis and Test Results
We split our testing process into three weighted metrics — Temperature, Circulation, and Ease of Use — with each composed of different side-by-side tests. We used calibrated lab-grade thermometers and temperature loggers for our thermal accuracy tests. To rank and compare the circulation capabilities of each product, we designed a custom dye injecting apparatus so we could actually watch the fluid move. We also convened a panel of judges to try out each machine to decide which ones are the easiest and most intuitive to use.
Related: Buying Advice for Sous Vide Machines
Fortunately, you can get into sous vide cooking without spending a fortune. The PARTU does a solid job at a fairly low price, though it lacks extra features like smart connectivity that the top-tier models have. If you do like the idea of having features like this, but are still shopping on a budget, then the Anova Nano is a good option. It usually costs about twice as much as the PARTU but has significantly more features. The Joule and the Anova AN500 both have even more features and functions but also come with premium price tags, making them good options if you're willing to spend some money to get the absolute best.
Heating water is easily the most important function of a sous vide machine, so our temperature metric accounts for 40% of the final score for each product. In this metric, we not only looked at the temperature accuracy of each product but also the time they take to heat up, the time to recover after adding cold food items, and their ability to hold a constant temperature over longer periods of time.
Tying for the top spot overall in this metric, both the Anova Nano and the Instant Pot SSV800 Accu Slim earned an 8 out of 10. This pair both did exceptionally well in our stability test, where we vacuum-sealed iButton temperature loggers inside sous vide bags to assess performance. Both machines held a stable temperature within 0.1°F for 60 minutes, with the loggers failing to detect any temperature variation whatsoever. However, we did observe some slight temperature inaccuracies with both products. The Nano averaged about 0.29°F above the set temperature while the Instant Pot was an average of 0.50°F under the target.
Unfortunately, neither of these sous vides were particularly quick to heat up, taking almost an hour to raise cold tap water (48°F) to 147°F. The Instant Pot and the Anova Nano did alright in the thermal rebound test, only taking one and three minutes, respectively, to get the temperature back up to 135°F after we dropped in three frozen, vacuum-sealed, hamburger patties.
Next, the Anova AN500, the Breville Joule, and the Sousvide Art Immersion Circulator earned a 7 out of 10. The Anova Culinary AN500 was the most accurate in our temperature tests, displaying an average discrepancy of 0.09°F from our measurements with a control thermometer at various temperature set points. The AN500 also recovered after only three minutes when we dropped the frozen burgers in, but it wasn't the fastest at initially heating. It took 55 minutes to reach the target temperature when filled with cold water. It also showed a little bit of temperature oscillation in our stability test, spending 11 minutes of the hour-long test a little off from its steady-state temperature, though it was only off by an average of 0.16°F.
The Joule tended to be a little further off than the Anova, having an average error of 0.39°F above its set temperatures. However, it is quite a bit faster at heating water, needing only 36 minutes to heat the water to 147°F compared to the 55 minutes it took the Anova. The Joule also recovered a bit faster, taking two minutes to regain the set temperature after the frozen food was dropped in. It was also a bit better at holding a steady-state temperature. In our hour-long test, it spent 10% of the time off of its baseline temperature by an average of 0.09°F.
The Sousvide Art was a little more accurate than the Joule but showed more error than the Anova AN500. The Sousvide Art averaged about 0.14°F under the set temperatures in our test. It did exceptionally well when it came to maintaining a temperature, with our loggers picking up no fluctuations whatsoever. However, it is a little slow at heating, taking about as long as the Anova AN500.
Next, the Gourmia GSV115 and the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator both received a 6 out of 10 for their performances. Neither of these machines impressed in our accuracy assessments, with the Wancle and the Gourmia both being over a degree under the set temperature on average.
They both did alright in the heating test, taking 50-55 minutes to heat the water up, and did quite well in our stability test. In particular, the Gourmia exhibited almost no temperature oscillation and the Wancle's were minimal at most.
The PARTU and the Aobosi brought up the rear in this metric, earning a 5 out of 10 for their results. The PARTU fared poorly in our temperature accuracy test, averaging 1.08°F below the desired temperatures in our test. It also showed a decent amount of fluctuations in our hour-long stability test, spending almost 30% off the time off of the steady-state temperature. It did recover fairly quickly when cold food was added and took the typical amount of time to heat cold tap water to 147°F.
The Aobosi was a little more accurate in our tests than the PARTU, averaging a mere 0.15°F under the set temperature and only differed from the stable temperature for 8.3% of the hour test. However, it took much longer to recover after cold food was added to the bath and a bit longer than average to initially warm up the water.
Next, we compared and scored how well each machine circulates water, which is responsible for 30% of the total score for each product. The more circulation there is in the water bath, the more homogeneous the temperature will be and the less likely it is for there to be any cold or hot spots. To measure this, we injected 15 mL of diluted food dye into the same spot in the bath for each machine, then timed how long it took for the color to become uniform. We used the same container and water amounts for each product and made sure the water was the same temperature as well, to ensure the dispersion rate was the same.
The Anova AN500, the PARTU, and the Wancle all delivered top results in this metric, each earning a 9 out of 10 for their performance. The Wancle achieved the fastest time of the group with a change to constant color in a mere 14 seconds. The Anova AN500 and PARTU were just behind, taking only one and seconds longer than the Wancle, respectively.
The Aobosi and the Joule were the next fastest, earning them both an 8 out of 10. The Joule needed 21 seconds and the Aobosi required 26 seconds to achieve a complete mix. There was a bit of a jump in time for the next product, with the Nano taking 48 seconds to completely disperse the dye, which we think it still merited a 7 out of 10.
There was an even larger jump in time for the Sousvide Art, which needed over two minutes to fully incorporate the dye, earning it a 4 out of 10. The Instant Pot and the Gourmia both finished at the back of the group for this metric, both earning a 2 out of 10 for taking more than three minutes to completely mix in the dye.
Ease of Use
Our last round of tests dealt with how convenient and easy to operate these products are. This also accounts for 30% of the total score. Primarily, we looked at the interface for each product, how it attaches to the sous vide bath, and how easy it is to use the smartphone companion app — if there is one.
Overall, we found the Anova AN500 and the Anova Nano to be the easiest and most intuitive to use of the entire bunch, earning both scores of 8 out of 10. Both of these machines offer a companion smartphone app and controls right on the device itself. We liked that the app is simple and easy to understand, allowing you to select a specific recipe or enter a custom time and temperature. You can also save custom recipes and mark which ones are your favorite, as well as start or stop either Anova remotely.
The controls on these machines are very similar, both having a simple display and a few touchscreen buttons to set the time and temperature manually. We found this to be quite helpful if we didn't feel like pulling out our phones or if someone else was using it who hadn't set up the app. Both of these have a screw-on clamp to attach them to the side of the sous vide vessel, with a smooth action that allows you to quickly install or remove them.
The Breville Joule came next, earning a 7 out of 10. This sous vide can only be controlled through its smartphone app, which we found to be inconvenient at times. However, the app is very easy to use, with a full history of the recipes you have made with the Joule and a large library of preconfigured options to choose from. The Joule is one of the easiest to attach to a wide variety of containers, offering both a clip for the side of a vessel or a magnetic base to stand it up in a metal pan. It also requires much less water than other models to operate, so you don't need to fill up a giant container if you are only sous vide-ing a small item.
The Wancle and the Aobosi came next in the rankings, both receiving a 6 out of 10. Controls are limited to what's on the machines themselves, though we thought the Wancle is a little more user-friendly than the Aobosi. The Aobosi is a little easier to attach with its screw clamp than the Wancle's clamp, which can be a bit more effort to wrangle into position.
The Gourmia, the Sousvide Art, and the Instant Pot all followed, each earning a 5 out of 10 for their so-so results. None of these have smartphone companion apps and their interfaces aren't the most intuitive in our opinion. You need to get them started heating, then set the time once they have heated, rather than setting everything at the beginning and having the timer automatically start once the temperature is reached. These all attach with a screw clamp but the screw doesn't spin as freely as the top models, so it can take a little more effort than other models to get them in place.
The PARTU brought up the rear in this metric, meriting a 3 out of 10. This sous vide machine is much larger than many of the other options and we found the interface to be the least intuitive. The screen isn't illuminated well and can be much more difficult to read. The dial on the side also makes it difficult to set the desired temperature or time because it goes frustratingly slow or makes large jumps. We did like that you can attach the mounting bracket without the machine in place, or remove just the machine and leave the bracket attached.
We hope that this review has helped you pick out the perfect sous vide machine for your kitchen and feel ready to try out this cooking method. All of these machines will heat up water and we were able to cook absolutely delicious meals in all of them. Some were just much more consistent and easier to use in our tests. Additionally, we always recommend that you pay close attention to food safety standards with this type of cooking and leave yourself a safety margin, since your machine might be a few degrees colder than it says.
— Michelle Powell and David Wise