This article, The Best Sous Vide Immersion Circulators and Water Baths, was last updated: January 2018.
Talk about a multi-tasker! Sous vide technology can make eggs to any doneness, incubate yogurt, pasteurize yolks (as for mayonnaise), poach fruit, cook vegetables, thaw frozen food quickly and without any of the issues of a microwave, and, let’s not forget, create the most perfectly done proteins on the planet (steak, fish, pork butt, ribs, even hamburgers). All you need is a pot of water, a bag of food, and a creative imagination.
I love sous vide cooking, and I'm really excited about the “new generation” of sous vide appliances. The costs have come down, the designs have gotten more streamlined, and the add-ons, like WiFi and Bluetooth, have brought sous vide cooking to a whole new level of fun (if you go for that sort of thing).
But more than that, all these new products on the market mean that sous vide is ketchin’ on--and that makes me so happy! Because sous vide is such a truly excellent way to cook, and such an easy-to-use, no-muss-no-fuss kitchen tool, my hope is for all home chefs to discover the magic of it like I have.
Here, we review the best sous vide products on the market: the most popular immersion circulators, the techno-geek high-end circulators (their design has come a long way since my first PolyScience circulator circa 2012!), and the water ovens (all-in-one units).
Our recommendations are based on a background in engineering and chemistry, many, many hours of hands-on research, and years of experience cooking with sous vide.
If you’ve researched sous vide, are excited about the possibilities, and have decided to take the plunge (yes, that is meant to be a bad sous vide pun), then you’re ready to look at the available products.
Use the table of contents to skip to the product reviews, or read on to learn more about sous vide cooking and how to choose the product that's right for you:
See also these related articles:
The Winners At a Glance
Here are our favorites (scroll down for detailed reviews).
Best Immersion Circulators
30 p. cookbook included
Best Water Ovens
Commercial grade (60,000 cycles)
What Factors Are Important In Choosing a Sous Vide Circulator or Water Oven?
As with any product, it’s important to get past all the marketing jargon and know what to look for. If you are new to sous vide, it’s even more important. These are the important factors to think about.
Immersion Circulator Vs Water Bath: What’s the Difference?
An immersion circulator is a pump you can attach to any vessel. It has a computer-controlled temperature sensor that measures and heats/cools the water while circulating it to keep it at a constant temperature.
A water oven is a self-contained heater-and-vessel unit. They have a computer-controlled temperature sensor and an insulated cooking area. Most water ovens rely on convection currents to equilibrate temperature (no pump). Because they don’t circulate the water, they are more prone to hot and cold spots, but are still considered to be very accurate.
Ability to Hold Temperature
Above all, the best sous vide products need to hold a constant temperature because this is the whole point: the constant temp is what makes it impossible to overcook a steak and cook eggs to the exact degree of doneness you desire.
Most sous vide products do this very well. Some, like the PolyScience, are as precise as laboratory equipment, but that's not really necessary. There are a few on the market that have not done well on independent testing. We don't review any of them here.
Power, measured in wattage, is also an important consideration. First of all, all of these units are standard 120VAC units, which mean they plug into a standard wall outlet and have a maximum power of 1800 watts. None of the circulators or water ovens we review here actually go that high; the average is around 1000 watts.
Higher power doesn’t necessarily make one sous vide unit better than another one. What more power does do is increase the rate at which the circulator comes up to temperature. Does this matter? It might in certain situations. But because sous vide is more of a slow, set-it-and-forget-it cooking method, a few minutes’ difference in reaching temp probably isn’t that important to most people. Having used circulators with 1800 watts of power and circulators with half that amount, I can attest to this.
But here’s the power factor that might be important to you: the higher the wattage, the greater the possibility that you might blow a fuse in your kitchen. This would happen to me routinely with my PolyScience circulator until I remembered to never use the microwave while the sous vide was running.
Of course, this is true for all appliances. But if blowing fuses is a problem in your kitchen, you may want to go with a lower wattage sous vide machine (circulator OR water oven).
All the best sous vide options are pretty easy to use, but there are differences. Some displays are larger than others; some show both the setpoint and the current temp and some don’t; some are read from the top, some are read from an angle; and some are easier to set than others, although I suppose this is subjective. We describe all controls and give pros and cons so you can choose the one that best fits your style and preferences.
The best sous vide circulators overall are pretty quiet. Most of them make a quiet hum slightly louder than a computer fan (unless there’s something wrong, like a low water level). So unless you are very sensitive, regular operating noise shouldn’t be an issue. Water baths are even quieter because they don’t have a pump.
More important might be the beeps and alerts the unit makes to let you know what it’s doing. Some beep when they reach temp, some don’t. Most will beep before shutting off if there’s a problem (such as a low water level), but not all of them. My old PolyScience (the standard by which I judge all other immersion circulators) didn’t make any noises at all, so I was taken aback the first time the Anova beeped at me. I thought something was wrong, but it was just telling me it had reached temperature. You get to know the beeps and what they mean. They are generally quick and helpful, and not too annoying.
Aesthetics (How does it feel? Do I like its looks? Is it easy to store?)
“Aesthetics” refers to the design of the circulator: heft, solidity, and overall look and feel. The best sous vide circulator or water oven for you should appeal not only to your practical side, but should also be a joy to use.
Am I seriously recommending this? Yes! Many people tend to underestimate the aesthetics of things, but aesthetics are important. This article on wooden spoons is an interesting summary of the importance of aesthetics in everyday life.
You may think that aesthetics in everyday objects is unimportant, but I would argue that aesthetics are the most important in everyday objects. Because you use them every day! Cheap, crappy objects add to life’s drudgery. But everyday objects that have a nice heft and pleasurable feel can make daily chores feel almost luxurious. If you cook every day, you should try to surround yourself with kitchen tools that add pleasure to your life, not detract from it.
The good news with immersion circulators is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a product with really nice aesthetics. (Water ovens, however, can cost a bit more.)
Ease of Cleaning and Storage
Overall, both circulators and water ovens are low maintenance appliances. Some circulators have a removable housing for easy cleaning and some don't, so be sure to get one that comes apart if this is important to you. It's rare to get food particles inside a circulator, though.
Water ovens are even easier to maintain: they're just big tubs, so very easy to clean.
Storage space might well dictate which sous vide technology you decide to go with. If you want something small and compact that you can put in a drawer when you're not using it, then your best sous vide choice is a circulator. If you have a lot of counter space and/or storage space, a water oven might be the ticket. As with any appliance purchase, remember to take these factors into consideration.
How much do you want to spend? The “new generation” circulators run from about $100 to about $200, so price may not be a huge issue in this category. But if it’s important to you, know that you can get a very nice unit at the low end of this range.
Water ovens can be more expensive, although our best bargain choice, the Gourmia, starts at around $100.
Capacity refers to the amount of water a sous vide immersion circulator can efficiently heat. For most, this is around 5 gallons, which should be more than enough for most home cooks (even if doing a pork butt or turkey in a cooler).
The capacity rating of a circulator isn’t all that important because it doesn’t really tell you very much. First of all, because you’re rarely going to need to use more than 5 gallons of water. But also because many factors affect a unit’s “capacity” such as the ambient air temp, how much food is being put in the water, whether the container is covered, and things like that. So don’t worry too much about it (frankly, I’m not even sure why it’s listed in product specs).
And of course, this is a non-issue with the water ovens, which have a set capacity, usually between 2 and 3 gallons, which is enough to do several steaks, a roast, or a chicken.
Some models have a timer and some don’t, and some of the timers just let you know when a cooking time has elapsed and keep running, while some timers turn the unit off.
My preference is to not have a timer. Why? Because the whole point of sous vide, as Nathan Myhrvold so eloquently put it, is to "free cooks from the tyranny of the clock." If you forget about a steak, it’s not going to get overdone; the water bath will simply hold it at 135F until you’re ready to take it out. You don’t want to test this by leaving it in there overnight, but an hour or two (or three) is just fine. I have done this many, many times and never had a bad result. (And even if you left one overnight, it would still be good, it would just have a different, more pot-roasty texture.)
Of course, there are some sous vide applications that require precise cooking times. Fruit and vegetables, for example--if you let them go too long, they’ll turn to mush. I have other means of timing, though, so I don’t care if my sous vide has a timer. (In fact, my kitchen is full of appliances that have timers on them.) But if it’s important to you, make sure the model you buy has a timer.
A few models--most notably, the Anova--now offer Internet connectivity, including both WiFi and Bluetooth. You have to download a free app to use it, but once you have it, you can control your device remotely.
This could mean being in another part of the house or another part of the city. It’s cool, and some people really like being able to operate their circulator from their smart phone. I don’t see tremendous functionality in it, though, because of the pathogen issue: you can’t really leave food sitting in room temperature water all day--risky even if you start with frozen food--then turn on the sous vide 2 hours before you get home from work. Some people find it useful, though, and I can’t deny that connectivity really ups the cool factor (and the fun factor).
Attachment Design (Immersion Circulators Only)
“Attachment design” refers to how you secure the circulator to a vessel, and as of now, this will be either a clamp (the Anova) or a clip (the Sansaire). This is more important than you might think. Sure, you want one with a durable design, but it goes further than that. What type of vessels will you be using? What if you want to do a pork butt or turkey, and you want to use a large vessel such as a cooler--is the clamp or clip wide enough to fit over walls that thick? And how high does the water level need to be in order for the circulator to work? Because if you want to sous vide something in small jars (such as creme brulee or yogurt), you may want a model that will allow the unit to submerge in fairly low levels of water (although you can also solve this problem with a rack, but that requires more infrastructure).
Best Sous Vide Immersion Circulators
Immersion circulators are the best-known of all sous vide options. You attach them to a vessel filled with water, turn them on, drop in the bag of food and let ‘er rip. (Bag of food--that sounds funny, doesn’t it?) The old school circulators, like my beloved PolyScience model, were big and bulky. And they were made for laboratories, not kitchens, so every once in awhile, the sharp corners would puncture a bag. The new ones are smaller, lighter weight, easier to store, and have soft edges designed for use with plastic bags--all reasons contributing to the rapidly growing popularity of the sous vide machine phenomenon. They are also much less expensive, at price points ranging from about $100 to about $200.
Anova Precision Cooker
Anova is one of the oldest sous vide manufacturers, and the Anova Precision Cooker is probably the most recognized brand of sous vide circulator out there. The Anova Precision Cooker circulator is economical, has a nice design, and does its job really well. It also has Internet connectivity, which no doubt will be available on all sous vide machines in years to come. The Anova has more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5 star rating. According to Fakespot.com, these are trustworthy reviews.
Usability and Design
First off, the Anova has a nice heft and a solid, expensive feel. Its stainless steel shaft and black case look really nice and have a minimalist vibe that makes you think it’s going to be delightfully easy to use.
Which it is. The Anova comes on when you plug it in, so all you have to do is set your desired temp with the scroll wheel and press the Arrow key. The display is bright, big, and easy to read. It shows both the water temp and the set temp, which is nice (not all circulators do).
It beeps to let you know when it reaches the setpoint, and it beeps if something’s wrong. For example, if the water level is too low, it will beep and shut itself off. The beeps are different and loud enough to let you know even if you’re in another room whether it’s running smoothly or needs attention.
You can use almost any pot size with the Anova. Its low water threshold is 2.5 inches, and it has an adjustable clamp so you can move the circulator vertically to adjust height for different pot depths. This is a great feature that isn’t possible with most clip-on circulators.
The adjustable height feature also makes it possible to change the circulation direction. With the height screw loosened for adjust, simply rotate the shaft to the position you want. I’m not sure this is all that useful, but some people love this “directional pump” feature.
Speed and Reliability
At 900W (WiFi model)/800W (Bluetooth model), the Anova is not the most powerful circulator out there. It takes about half an hour to reach 135F from room temperature water. Using hot tap water will speed up this process considerably, so I don’t find it to be a deal breaker.
The reliability, however, is stellar. The Anova guarantees that the circulator will keep a constant water temp within a hundredth of a degree (0.01F/C).
Independent tests have proven this to be true, even after several hours of operation.
Cleaning and Storage
The stainless steel housing is removable and dishwasher safe, so cleaning is easy. This is important because sometimes, bags break, and food gunk can get sucked inside the circulator. Of course, running a circulator in clean water for an extended period would most likely clean it pretty thoroughly, but the removable option is nice.
Because the Anova is small and lightweight (see specs below), it’s easy to store. It’s small enough to fit in a drawer. This is a great feature of most of the “new generation” circulators.
You can get the Anova with WiFi, or with just Bluetooth for about $50 less. These options allow you to set and control the unit remotely. Here are things you can do with an Internet connection to your circulator:
- Set/change temp and timer
- Delay start time
- Monitor temperature
- Get notifications if there are problems.
As the connectivity is frequently updated, these options will change--but this is the gist of what you’ll get.
Will you use the WiFi and/or Bluetooth? If you can solve the Danger Zone issue (i.e., that you can’t leave food out for more than 4 hours between 40F - 130F without spoilage), then you may love having the ability to start dinner cooking from work so it’s ready when you get home. Or you may want to be able to monitor a long cook while you’re out and about. And it would certainly be nice to know if there are any power outages that affect food safety. I have Bluetooth capability on my Anova. I haven’t used it, and I haven’t missed it. But people believed that about cell phones twenty years ago, and look where we are now. Furthermore, connectivity is not only cool; it is probably the future. So if it’s important to you, that should make the Anova with WiFi that much more appealing.
Temp Range: 77F - 210F (25C - 99C)
Temp Variance: 0.01 degree
Circulation: 2.1 - 2.4 gal/min (8 liters/minute)
360 degree directional pump
Power and Safety Specs:
Power: 900W (Wifi), 800W (bluetooth)
Standard 120VAC Power input
Display and Control Specs:
Timer: Up to 99 hours
Backlit scroll wheel (for setting temp)
Weight and Dimension Specs:
Size: 2.75 in x 2.75 x 14.75 (6.98cm x 6.98 x 36.8)
Weight: 2.5lb (1.1kg)
Maximum Immersion Depth: 7.25in (18.415cm)
Minimum Immersion Depth: 2.5in (6.35cm)
Max Clamp Opening: 1.25in (3.175cm)
Bluetooth: BLE 4.0
Wi-Fi: BLE 4.0 and 802.11 Wi-Fi
Free IOS app
Free Android app
Quick start guide
Pros and Cons
Pros: The Anova Precision Cooker has great reliability, functional design, and is one of the first to offer Internet connectivity. With a similar price to other circulators in this class, it is our far-and-away favorite.
Cons: At only 800W (Bluetooth)/900W (Wifi), it’s a bit slower than other circulators.
We highly recommend both versions of the Anova Precision Cooker immersion circulator.
Click now for Amazon's best price on the Anova w/WiFi and Bluetooth:
Click now for Amazon's best price on the Bluetooth-only Anova:
Sansaire Immersion Circulator
The Sansaire immersion circulator has an interesting story. It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign which set a record for the most-funded food project, raising more than $800,000 in just 30 days. The product now has more than 200 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4 stars. Fakespot assures us that these are trustworthy reviews.
Like the Anova, the Sansaire is accurate, reliable, and powerful. We like it a lot. But it's a little bigger than the Anova, and even though it's well made, its plastic housing isn't our first design choice.
Usability and Design
The Sansaire has a sort of hourglass design that makes it look like a big peppermill--wider at both ends than in the middle. This makes it easy to grasp. It’s also flat on the bottom, which is a nice feature because you it means you have the option of storing it upright--not something that most circulators offer. It’s black color and symmetrical shape make it sleek-looking, but its all-plastic housing gives it a bit of a delicate feel.
The Sansaire is about half an inch bigger in diameter than the Anova, it’s a little bit taller, and at 4 pounds, it weighs almost twice as much. If storage is an issue for you, these are important considerations.
The interface is simple, with just a power button, a Fahrenheit/Celsius selection, and a temp button that will display the current setpoint when pressed. The entire top of the unit is a rotating dial that sets the unit. It’s easy to use and has increments of 0.1 degrees, which makes it very sensitive. It scrolls very quickly, so you really have to get a feel for it.
The actual display is on the side of the unit. This felt a little weird to me--you have to kind of be watching two spots at once to set the unit--but it was nice to be able to see the readout from across the room, which the side display makes possible.
The Sansaire attaches to a cooking vessel with a large, metal clip. This clip has an adjustable width and is large enough to work on almost any sized pot.
Water level is where the Sansaire really shines. It can run with a water level between 2.75 inches and 6.5 inches, which gives it a total depth of 3.75 inches, more than most other circulators on the market. This may not sound important, but if you’re doing a cook of more than 12 hours, evaporation DOES become a concern. Although there are other ways to deal with this (covering the pot, for example), so it’s not a huge plus.
The Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator does not have a timer.
Here's an excellent, detailed analysis of how the Sansaire works:
Speed and Reliability
At 1100W, the Sansaire has a lot of power. It will go to 140F from room temperature in less than 20 minutes.
The Sansaire has been tested by many independent reviewers, and it has consistently proven to be an accurate sous vide machine, even with cooks of 72 hours.
Cleaning and Storage
The housing is removable for easy cleaning.
The Sansaire is a little bulky and heavy, but it will still fit inside most drawers. And as mentioned earlier, its flat bottom makes it possible to store it upright, which is a nice feature. (Take it from someone who's owned several different circulators!)
The Sansaire currently has no Internet capabilities.
Weight: 4 lbs / 1.8 kg
Dimensions: 3.3in x 3.33.3in x 15 in / 10 x 10 x 38 cm
Voltage: 110V 60Hz US – 220/240V Euro – Aus/NZ
Power 1100 Watts
Temp. Range: 32°F – 212°F / 0°C – 100°C
Temp. Stability: ± 0.1 degree at 140°F / 60°C
Circulation: 3 gal / 11 L per minute
Bath Size: 22 gal / 83 L @ 67°C || 6 gal / 23 L @ 90°C
Low water level protection (auto shutoff).
Pros and Cons
Pros: The Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator has a minimalist design and a powerful motor, is accurate, reliable, and has an excellent water level range.
Cons: Plastic housing, no timer, no Internet connectivity.
If you want something more powerful (i.e., faster) than the Anova and you don't care about Internet connectivity, the Sansaire is a good choice.
Click now for Amazon's best price on the Sansaire immersion circulator:
Best Bargain: Gourmia GSV-140 Circulator
We like Gourmia, a company known for producing reliable kitchen products at an economy price. (See our review of the Gourmia induction burner in this article.) If you want to spend under $100, the Gourmia GSV-140 is a great choice. It has a few dozen reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 stars. Fakespot.com says the reviews are trustworthy and gives this product an "A" rating.
The Gourmia is roughly the same size and shape of the Anova. However, it has 1200W of power--higher than both the Anova (at 900W) and the Sansaire (at 1100W). It comes in several colors, too.
CLICK NOW FOR AMAZON'S BEST PRICE ON THE GOURMIA GSV-140 IMMERSION CIRCULATOR:
Another 1200W product, the NutriChef, rings in at around $100. However, the product gets an "F" rating on Fakespot, which suspects many of the reviews are untrustworthy. We wish we could recommend a circulator at this fantastic price, but we haven't found one we like yet.
High End: Polyscience CHEF Immersion Circulator
Why would you buy a high-end circulator for hundreds more than you’d pay for an Anova or Sansaire, which do their jobs quite well? Here are a few reasons:
- Heavy duty use
- It has more power (faster temp control)
- Laboratory-level temperature precision
- Aesthetics you can love
- Made in USA instead of China
- You're a kitchen geek
- You can afford the best of the best.
We’re not going to tell you that you need a commercial grade circulator. The only practical reason to buy one is because you’ll be giving it heavy-duty use and you need something that will stand up under these conditions. But if you can afford it, you may want to at least consider this route, because, well, because you can. And because it’s fun to have the best sous vide products on the market.
We only review one model: the PolyScience Chef Series. There are others in the same class and price range, but this one checks all the boxes and rings all the bells. If you're going to spend the money, this is the one to get.
Polyscience makes two kitchen model circulators: the Creative and the Chef. The Creative is a few hundred dollars less expensive (though still more than an Anova), but if your interest is a high-end circulator, the Chef is worth the extra money. According to their website, it is the immersion circulator that “sets the standard for sous vide cooking.” We have no doubt this is true. It is the choice of professional chefs the world over.
Usability and Design
The PolyScience Chef circulator isn’t as pretty as some other units because it has a very boxy, industrial design. Its interface is even a little clunky, with Up/Down Arrows that change the temp. It offers no extras like Internet connectivity or a timer, and its minimum immersion depth is almost 3.4 inches, so it requires more water to run than all of the cheaper models we reviewed.
But it’s a great, great kitchen tool nevertheless. And who cares about minimum depth? If you can afford this sweetheart, you can also afford a sous vide rack, which easily takes care of any water depth issues.
This unit is a tank. It is designed for commercial use and you can tell the instant you pick it up. It weighs almost 10 pounds--more than twice as much as the Sansaire and four times as much as the Anova. Yet it’s also fairly compact--roughly the same size as the Anova, but with a different shape--which makes it easy to use and store. It has a sturdy polycarbonate and steel housing that encases the entire unit and protects its inner workings from all types of damage. There’s even a cover over the intake that discourages food particles from getting inside. Both the pump and the heating core are made of high grade stainless steel (probably why it weighs so much).
The display is huge and backlit, which makes for easy reading. It is settable in tenths of degrees and accurate to +/-0.1F (+/-0.07C). It has a powerful pump with a flow adjustment switch--this means you can have the power when you need it, and also turn it down for small containers.
The PolyScience Chef Series attaches to a cooking vessel with a screw clamp that looks like it came off an engine. This thing will never break or fail to hold the circulator exactly where you put it. It’s big enough to clamp to just about any container. However, it is not height adjustable.
Speed and Reliability
At 1100W, the PolyScience has a lot of power. While this is equivalent to the Sansaire, its stronger pump increases the rate at which it will bring water up to temperature. It has the fastest up-to-temp time on the market. Interestingly, this spec was hard to find, but I think that’s because PolyScience takes into consideration many factors, including the water level, the ambient air temp, and how much food you’re trying to heat. In other words, it’s not as simple as “0-60 in 3.2 seconds.” But whatever you’re trying to do with it, you won’t find an immersion circulator that’s faster.
Its accuracy is also undisputed, and within 0.1F as stated above. One really neat feature is that this model can be calibrated like a piece of lab equipment. You never have to worry about inaccurate temperatures again.
Cleaning and Storage
The housing is not removable. However, it encases the unit so thoroughly that cleaning shouldn’t be necessary. While you may be in an unfortunate situation where small particles of gunk get inside the unit, a good flushing in a clean water bath will probably take care of it.
Storage is easy with this compact unit. You can store it on its side, in a drawer or cupboard, or upright on a pantry shelf.
Power and Temp:
Maximum Bath Volume: 8 gal (30L)
Maximum Pump Output: 3.2 gal/12L per minute
Maximum temperature: 200F (95C)
Temperature stability: +/-0.1F (0.07C)
Heater wattage: 1100W
Power: 120/240V; standard electrical outlet.
High/Low Flow Adjustment.
Menu Language: English
Minimum Immersion Depth: 3.375 in. (8.57cm)
Low Liquid Level Safety
Alarm and Fault Indicators
Weight and Dimensions:
Unit Dimensions: 14.125 x 3.875 x 7.375 in / 35.88 x 9.84 x 18.73 cm
Unit Weight: 9.1 lbs / 4.1 kg
Shipping Dimensions: 18 x 11.5 x 9 in / 45.72 x 29.21 x 22.86
Shipping Weight: 12.75 lbs / 5.78 kg.
Pros and Cons
Pros: The PolyScience Chef Series immersion circulator is a rugged workhorse with precise accuracy and a powerful heater and pump. We believe it is the best sous vide immersion circulator on the market.
Cons: No timer, no Internet connectivity, and it is VERY expensive. (But worth every penny if you can afford it.)
You can get a sous vide circulator for far less money that will work satisfactorily. However, If you need a model for heavy duty use, or if you enjoy working with top-of-the-line equipment and can afford it, the PolyScience Chef Series is the circulator for you.
Click for Amazon's best price on the PolyScience Chef immersion circulator:
Best Sous Vide Water Ovens
Unlike the immersion circulators, most sous vide water baths don’t have a pump. Rather, they have an insulated bath with a sensitive temperature controller that keeps the water at a constant temperature. They run in capacity between about 2 and about 3 gallons. This is quite a bit smaller than the 5-8 gallon capacities of the immersion circulators. However, you can still fit several bags of food in this amount of water (from 12-20 four ounce portions of food), so the size limitation is unlikely to be a problem for a home cook unless you’re doing a lot of entertaining.
One drawback of not having a circulator is that it will always take longer for the temperature in the bath to equilibrate. This means you’ll have more hot and cold spots for longer times than you would with a circulator. For that reason, we at Rational Kitchen prefer the immersion circulators. But there are certainly good reasons why people would go with a water oven.
Why would anyone prefer a water bath to a free-agent immersion circulator? Here are a few thoughts:
- It's more energy efficient (no pump, insulated, cover)
- Very quiet
- Can run one for days without having to add water, so great if you do a lot of long cooks (and I assure you, you will be doing long cooks!)
- Like the looks of it
- Less steam in the kitchen
- Easy to use
- Have room for it on your counter, as well as storage space
- Prefer the ease of not having to set up the immersion blender every time you want to sous vide.
These ovens are actually kind of attractive, or at least impressive looking. So if you have the counter space and want to commit wholly to the sous vide revolution, then a water bath might be the best choice for you.
SousVide Supreme Water Ovens
Sous Vide Supreme has been around for awhile and makes one of the best sous vide water ovens currently on the market. They have three options: the Professional, the Supreme, and the Demi. The three together have a few hundred reviews with an average rating of about 4.5 stars. Fakespot says these reviews are trustworthy and gives all three products an A rating. Check them out on Amazon here:
The Professional and the Supreme are the same size--3 gallon capacity, or 20-24 6 oz. portions of food--and similar in appearance, but the Professional is certified for commercial use (30,000 cycles), and you can find it in restaurant kitchens the world over. The Supreme is certified for home use (6,000 cycles). The Supreme comes with recipes and an instructional DVD, while the Professional does not. These models are “about the size of a bread maker” and weigh about 13 lbs.
The Demi is a smaller version of the Supreme. At 2.3 gallons, it can still hold “up to 12 4 oz. portions of food.” It is also certified for home use up to 6,000 cycles. It is “about the size of a crock pot” and weighs a shade over 9 lbs.
Design and Usability
The design is simple: it’s basically a stainless or black box with an LED control panel. It’s actually quite attractive, so if you have the space, you might enjoy having one sitting on your counter. All the units have handles on the sides that make it easy to fill, carry, and empty.
The usability couldn’t be simpler. You turn it on, set temp, and pop the food in there (filled with water, of course). The unit also has a timer option, which beeps when the time has elapsed but does not turn the unit off.
Cleaning: Cleaning isn’t really necessary unless you have a spill. Wipe it out with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly with water.
The control panel looks a little complicated, but it’s really pretty simple to use. Here are the basic steps:
- Fill bath with water.
- Press the Power button.
- Press the Start button.
- Set the temp with the Left-Right arrow keys and press the Set Temp button to start.
- If desired, you can also set the timer: Press the Set Timer button to switch to timer mode and use the arrow keys to select desired time. (NOTE: The timer does not turn the unit off, it just alerts you that the cooking time has finished.)
SousVide Supreme Specifications
|Color||Black or Red||Stainless||Stainless|
|Total Volume (gal)||2.3||3.0||3.0|
|Max Capacity||12 4-oz portions||20 4-oz portions||20 4-oz portions|
|Timer||Up to 99 hrs||Up to 99 hrs||Up to 99 hrs|
|Power||525W, 110V||800W, 110V||800W, 110V|
|Display||Digital LED||Digital LED||Digital LED|
|Temp Range||86 - 210F (30 - 99C)||86 - 210F (30 - 99C)||86 - 210F (30 - 99C)|
|Temp Precision||+/- 1F (0.5C)||+/- 1F (0.5C)||+/- 1F (0.5C)|
|Total Size (in.)||11.3 x 11 x 13||11.4 x 11.5 x 14.2||11.8 x 13.5 x 13.9|
|Certifications||UL certified for up to 6000 cycles||UL certified for up to 6000 cycles||UL certified for commercial use up to 30000 cycles|
The SousVide Supreme, Chef, and Demi ship with:
- Detachable power cord (Chef power cord is industrial grade)
- Perforated bottom grill
- Wire handle for easy removal
- Insulating lid blanket
- User manual
- Cooking time/temp chart
- Warranty card
- Stainless steel pouch rack
- Instructional DVD.
NOTE: The Chef/Professional does not include the instructional DVD. The Demi does not include the lid blanket.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Quiet, energy efficient, high quality
Cons: Big (even the Demi), limited cooking space.
If you like the looks of the SousVide Surpreme water oven, have the space for it, and will get regular use out of it, it's the best sous vide water oven on the market right now. Either the Supreme or the Demi is good choice for a home cook. If you need one for extremely heavy usage, go with the Professional.
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Best Bargain: The Gourmia GSV-550 Sous Vide Water Oven
Best Price: Around $80
If you want to go uber economical, you could do worse than the Gourmia water oven. This model has, as of this writing, 80 customer reviews with an average rating of 4 stars on Amazon. Fakespot.com says the reviews are trustworthy and gives the product a “B” rating.
For the price, a B rating is pretty good. Gourmia is well known as a producer of economical kitchen products with a reputation for good quality and good customer service. For these reasons, we recommend this water bath as a "best sous vide" buy if you want to dip your toe in the sous vide pool. It’s an excellent entry level choice!
Design and Usability
The Gourmia water bath looks like an oversized crockpot. It’s stainless and black with a nice symmetrical shape. Small handles on both sides and on the lid make it easy to fill, move, and empty. One kind of neat feature is that you can use the lid as a drip tray--so when you remove food pouches from the bath, you have somewhere to set them down--no scrambling around because you forgot to grab a plate. The lid is also clear, so you can see what’s going on in the water bath.
It has a nonstick bath that holds 9 quarts of water. With only 520 watts of power, it has the same amount of power as the SousVide Demi--a surprising plus at this price point.
Cleaning is as simple as pouring out the water and wiping the nonstick surface with a soft cloth. If descaling is required, use a vinegar solution at 100F for an hour.
The Gourmia is one of the best sous vide machines as far as ease of use. In fact, it is nearly self-explanatory, with these buttons: On/Off, Temp/Timer, Plus/Minus, F/C, and Start/Stop. Do you even need a manual with controls this straightforward?
When you turn the unit on, the default temp is 140F and the default time is 4 hours (shown in the pic here). Since these are both commonly used sous vide settings, this is a clever shortcut.
The oven beeps when it reaches temperature and again when the time has elapsed. When the time is elapsed, the unit turns itself off. (Note: This may not be an appealing feature. Food, meat in particular, can sit at temperature in a sous vide bath for hours without ill effect, which is part of the magic of sous vide cooking. If the unit turns itself off while you're not around, you'll come home to room temperature dinner.)
The panel displays the temperature of the bath in real time, changing as the temp changes.
Gourmia GSV-550 Specifications
Color: Stainless and Black
Total Volume: 9 quarts
Max Cooking Capacity: About 12 four ounce portions of food
Timer: Up to 72 hrs, settable in 15 minute increments, minimum setting 30 minutes
NOTE: The timer DOES turn the unit off.
Power: 520W, 110V, Standard electrical plug-in.
Display: Digital backlit LED
Temperature Range: 100-200F (45-90C)
Adjustable in 1F/0.5C increments
Water Bath: Max fill of 6 quarts, 9 quarts max with food added
NOTE: This is enough for a roast, chicken, or several steaks
Weight: 9.4 lb (4.2 kg)
- Stainless steel rack for holding multiple pouches
Pros and Cons
Pros: Inexpensive, great control panel.
Cons: Less accurate than more expensive water baths.
If you prefer the water bath to the immersion circulator and are looking for a great value, the Gourmia GSV-550 water bath is a good entry level choice.
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