What equipment do I need to cook sous vide?
It’s actually very affordable and easy to get started with sous vide cooking thanks to the recent availability of sous vide devices built for the home cook. You’ll need a few things:
- A sous vide precision cooking device
- Packaging for your food, like resealable bags or canning jars
- A container to hold the water
Types of Sous Vide Machines
Sous vide equipment has existed for decades in professional kitchens around the world, but it has always been bulky, expensive, and overloaded with complex features. This type of equipment eventually made its way into high-end specialty retail shops, but remained limited to chefs and consumers with extensive culinary experience.
Cooking shows, social media, and online communities have furthered consumers’ knowledge of sous vide cooking, but it wasn’t until Anova released the first affordable and easy-to-use consumer device that sous vide became accessible to home cooks. There are now many sous vide options available to the home cook.
Below are a few types of equipment for you to consider when you’re ready to build your ultimate sous vide setup:
Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
The Vacuum packaging machines is a standalone immersion circulator that heats water and circulates it around the pot to maintain precise temperatures evenly. Immersion circulators are an affordable and easy-to-use sous vide machine option. They do not come with a built-in water bath, so they take up very little space in your kitchen. Standalone sous vide devices don’t require additional equipment to get started because they clamp on and adjust to any pot you already own. The Vacuum packaging machines is a sous vide immersion circulator. Other examples include ChefSteps Joule, Nomiku, and Sansaire.
Sous Vide Packaging
Sealing foods prevents evaporation and allows for the most efficient transfer energy from the water to the food. To do so, simply place your seasoned food in a plastic bag and remove the air using the water immersion technique, a straw, or a vacuum sealer.
You don’t need a vacuum sealer to cook sous vide. There are lots of options, here are a few of the best types of sous vide packaging:
Resealable Bags or Jars
Resealable bags are very versatile, and can be used with the water immersion method to remove air from the bag. We recommend heavy-duty, BPA-free bags, like Ziplock’s freezer bags.
Reusable Silicone Bags
Reusable sous vide bags made from silicone, like these Stasher Reusable Silicone Sous Vide Bag bags, make it easy to enjoy they same quality results night after night.
Vacuum Sealing Bags
You don’t need to purchase a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags, but they work well for batch cooking. Foodsaver and Oliso are great options, and both are pretty affordable.
Several different types of foods can also be cooked in glass canning jars. Beans and grains both work well in jars, as do desserts such as cakes and custards. Get tips on cooking sous vide with jars in our Guide to Sous Vide Cooking with Canning Jars.
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method.
Sous vide cooking is much easier than you might think, and usually involved three simple steps:
1. Attach your precision cooker to a pot of water and set the time and temperature according to your desired level of doneness.
2. Put your food in a sealable bag and clip it to the side of the pot.
3. Finish by searing, grilling, or broiling the food to add a crispy, golden exterior layer.
Why should I cook sous vide?
Sous vide cooking utilizes precise temperature control with circulation to produce results that you can’t achieve through any other cooking technique. The reason–when using traditional methods of cooking, you don’t have control over heat and temperature. Consequently, it’s very difficult and time consuming to consistently cook great food. Food ends up overcooked on the outside, with only a small portion in the center that is cooked to the temperature you want. Food loses flavor, overcooks easily, and ends up with a dry, chewy texture.
With precise temperature control in the kitchen, sous vide provides the following benefits:
Consistency. Because you cook your food to a precise temperature for a precise amount of time, you can expect very consistent results.
Taste. Food cooks in its juices. This ensures that the food is moist, juicy and tender.
Waste reduction. Traditionally prepared food dries out and results in waste. For example, on average, traditionally cooked steak loses up to 40% of its volume due to drying out. Steak cooked via precision cooking, loses none of its volume.
Flexibility. Traditional cooking can require your constant attention. Precision cooking brings food to an exact temperature and holds it. There is no worry about overcooking.
How are sous vide results better?
Sous vide provides down-to-the-degree control in the kitchen to deliver the most tender, flavorful food you’ve ever had. With Anova, it’s super simple to get restaurant-quality results from edge to edge.
Sous Vide Steak vs. Traditionally Cooked Steak
The steak on the left was cooked sous vide at 129ºF, while the steak on the right was pan-cooked. As illustrated in the comparison above between cooking sous vide steak and pan-cooking steak, there are important advantages to cooking sous vide over traditional methods.
Sous Vide Salmon vs. Traditionally Cooked Salmon
The salmon cooked with Anova (left) remains a translucent pink, with a delicate, flaky texture. The pan-cooked salmon (right) has overcooked edges because the surface temperature of the pan is higher than the target cooking temperature. As it dries out, it begins to expel the white albumin.
Sous Vide Eggs vs. Traditionally Cooked Eggs
Whether you’re a poached egg perfectionist or a fan of soft-boiled, sous vide makes your ideal egg achievable every time. The egg on the leftcooked consistently to the desired texture. On the right, a guessing game resulted in raw and runny yolks with over-thickened whites.