Best Sous Vide 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00. 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 Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 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
Compact with Great Temperature Stability
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano
If you are looking for a slightly smaller sous vide that is very stable at holding the set temperature for longer cook times, then we think you should check out the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano. This machine has excellent temperature control and is just as convenient and easy to use. It circulates quite well — though it is a noticeable amount slower in our tests than the top-tier models — and has top-tier smart features through the Anova Culinary app. This app allows you to choose from a plethora of different recipes or create your own to save for future use.
The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano does have a smaller and less powerful heating element than some of the premium models 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 Culinary Precision Cooker Nano is a great option if you want a top-tier sous vide that does a great job of holding temperatures and are looking to spend a little less. 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 Budget SV Machine
Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator
If you are shopping on a budget and don't mind a fairly bare-bones option, then we strongly would recommend you consider the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator. This machine usually costs quite a bit less than the top models and we found that you can make some absolutely delicious meals with it. Its circulation pump performed impressively well in our tests and it's fairly easy to use once you get used to the interface.
However, this unit doesn't have any smart features or other ways to remotely monitor it. It's also a little on the larger side, making it a little more cumbersome to store. The spring clamp works for most containers without issue but you might have some problems if the vessel has too thick of walls or a larger lip. It also wasn't the most impressive in our temperature accuracy test. Overall, we think the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator value far outweighs its flaws and think it's a great option for anyone looking to get into sous vide on a smaller budget.
Read review: Wancle Immersion Circulator
Best for Tight Budgets
VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker
If you are searching for a new sous machine and trying to spend as little as possible, then the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker can be a very attractive option. This immersion circulator usually has one of the lowest retail prices of the group and proved to be very formidable in our temperature stability assessment. It delivered one of the best performances in our circulation tests and was one of the fastest when it came to initially heating the water. The controls are also very intuitive and user-friendly.
However, we did find that this product gave us less than desirable results in our temperature accuracy test. It averaged a bit more than a degree under the set temperature in both of our tests and we feel the plastic clip can be finicky and hard to attach to containers with a lip. While these are somewhat significant flaws in our mind, they aren't insurmountable, and we think this is a great bargain option for those shopping for a new sous vide on a limited budget.
Read review: VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker
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 Breville Joule 1100W is one of the fastest at heating 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 worth considering the Breville Joule 1100W 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 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 Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator does a solid job at a fairly low price, though it lacks extra features like smart connectivity that the top-tier models have. The VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker is another good option to consider if you are shopping on a restricted budget. It usually has one of the lowest price tags of the group and we don't think it has any major flaws that aren't insurmountable.
If you do like the idea of having features like this, but are still shopping on a budget, then the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano is a good option. It costs just a bit less than the top-tier models and performs quite comparably. The Breville Joule 1100W and the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 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, the time to recover after adding cold food items, and their ability to hold a constant temperature over long periods.
The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano and the Instant Pot SSV800 Accu Slim tied for the top spot overall in this series of tests. 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 Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano averaged about 0.29°F above the set temperature while the Instant Pot SSV800 Accu Slim 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 SSV800 Accu Slim and the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker 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.
The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00, the Breville Joule 1100W, the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker, and the Sousvide Art Immersion Circulator all followed when it came to performance in our thermal tests. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 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 Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 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 Breville Joule 1100W tended to be a little further off than the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00, 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00. The Breville Joule 1100W 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 Breville Joule 1100W but showed more error than the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00. 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00.
The VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker unfortunately, did quite poorly in our accuracy test. It averaged just over a degree below when the temperature was set to 135°F and almost a degree and a half under when the temperature was set to 147°F. However, it did redeem itself by delivering essentially perfect results in the stability test, exhibiting zero variations whatsoever, and by heating the water very quickly in our initial heating test. This sous vide only took 39 minutes to get the cold water up to cooking temperature, just narrowly missing out on claiming the fastest time overall by a few minutes.
Next, the Gourmia GSV115 and the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator both delivered a slightly above-average performance in our temperature metric. Neither of these machines impressed in our accuracy assessments, with the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator and the Gourmia GSV115 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, and did quite well in our stability test. In particular, the Gourmia GSV115 exhibited almost no temperature oscillation, and the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator's were minimal at most.
The Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker brought up the rear in this metric, delivering fairly mediocre results in our mind. It averaged 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00, the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker, and the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator all delivered top results in this metric. The Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator and the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker tied for the fastest time of the group, dispersing the dye to achieve a uniform color in a mere 14 seconds. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 was just behind, taking only a second longer than the other two.
The Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker and the Breville Joule 1100W were the next fastest. The Breville Joule 1100W needed 21 seconds and the Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker required 26 seconds to achieve a complete mix. There was a bit of a jump in time for the next product, with the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano taking 48 seconds to completely disperse the dye.
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 below-average score. The Instant Pot SSV800 Accu Slim and the Gourmia GSV115 both finished at the back of the group for this metric, earning the lowest score 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 Culinary Precision Cooker AN500-US00 and the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano to be the easiest and most intuitive to use of the entire bunch, earning them top marks. 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 1100W came next, following just behind the pair of Anova products. 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 Breville Joule 1100W and a large library of preconfigured options to choose from. The Breville Joule 1100W 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 Thermal Immersion Circulator, the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker, and the Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker came next in the rankings, all delivering fairly above average results. Controls are limited to what's on the machines themselves, though we thought the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator and the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker are a little more user-friendly than the Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker. The Aobosi Sous Vide Cooker is a little easier to attach with its screw clamp than the Wancle Thermal Immersion Circulator's clamp, which can be a bit more effort to wrangle into position.
Unfortunately, we weren't enamored with the clip on the VPCOK Sous Vide Cooker. The clip is removable from the main body of the immersion circulator but the fixed plastic clip can be very difficult to attach securely to any container with a lip.
The Gourmia GSV115, the Sousvide Art, and the Instant Pot SSV800 Accu Slim all followed, each delivering lackluster results in our opinion. 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.
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 water and we were able to cook 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