A beginner’s guide to smart sous vide

Sous vide cooking, which means “under vacuum” in French, involves immersing vacuum-sealed food in a temperature-controlled water bath until it’s cooked to your liking. It may sound intimidating, and it’s true that this method of cooking was once the province of professional chefs with expensive equipment. But that’s no longer the case – not only is sous vide cooking more accessible now than ever, but there are a number of sous vide machines out there that don’t cost a fortune. Like many kitchen gadgets now, many sous vide devices even have companion apps and Wi-Fi connectivity that further automate the process. If you’re interested in giving sous vide cooking a go, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the right machine for you and share some tips and tricks we’ve learned through our own experiences.

If you choose a sous vide machine, we definitely recommend getting the smart one, meaning it has either Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities (or both). This is because it often adds more functionality than you might otherwise have. We suggest getting models with a utility that will help you set and monitor your sous vide temperature remotely. Bluetooth-only models work when you’re 30 to 40 feet away from the oven, while WiFi-equipped models let you control your food from anywhere in your home or as long as you’re on the same network. We also prefer apps that already have recipes, especially if you’re new to cooking and need help getting started.


At the very least, the other items you’ll need for sous vide cooking are a large metal pot (large enough to fill with water) and zip-top freezer bags for storing food. Alternatively, you can use reusable silicone bags Like these from Stasher. Instead of using a vacuum sealer to get rid of air, you’d use the water displacement method: Submerge the bagged food in water, partially unsealed, and the water pressure will push the air out of the opening. When everything is mostly under water, you can close the bag and it will stay under water.

If it’s still floating, you can stick a spoon or two in the bag and that will hopefully slow things down. (From J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Serious food also suggests using large fastener clip Attach to the bottom of the bag with a heavy spoon.) If you’re worried about water getting into the bag, you can attach the top of the bag to the pot with binder clips and keep the bag upright.

If you’re really serious about sous vide, you may want to invest in some special equipment. For example, instead of bowls, you can opt for large restaurant-grade plastic containers Cambro or Rubber maid. Not only is plastic a better insulator than metal, there’s generally more room for more food, which is handy when you’re cooking for a crowd.

Whether you use a pot or a plastic container, it’s best to cover the container with plastic wrap during long cooking to minimize evaporation. Some companies, such as Chefsteps, offer special silicone pot lids designed specifically to accommodate sous vide ovens. Alternatively, Lopez-Alt offers a cheaper and more ingenious solution: cover your water table tennis balls. They will slow down evaporation.

Rubber maidRubber maid

Also, while zippered bags work well for most tasks, they’re still not a bad idea. vacuum sealer along with thicker plastic bags designed specifically for sous vide. First, it allows you to sous vide vegetables or cooked meats that usually require a higher temperature. (Zipper bag seams can fail when it’s that hot.) It also allows you to freeze a batch of food, vacuum seal it, and take the packages right out of the freezer, which is handy for bulk meals.

You probably already have this, but another handy tool is a good pan for searing your meat. This sous vide appliance can cook your steak to medium, but it won’t be able to sear it. On the other hand, there will be a cast iron pan. You can also consider a torch like this Bernzomatic TS8000and we have seen others use a Searsall – but a cast iron pan is the more affordable of the two options. Of course, if you have a grill, you can use it too.

There are various other ingredients that may be helpful. Lopez-Alt likes to have a pot lid organizer dipped into the bowl to help separate multiple water-soaked bags. If you want to make custard, yogurt, or breakfast cups with your sous vide oven, you should also get yourself some mason jars.

Another essential item to consider: a trivet to keep your water bowl on so you don’t ruin your countertop.

Since affordable sous vide cookers have been on the market for several years now, there’s no shortage of recipes and guides online to help you figure out what to do with your new kitchen appliance. The links below are some of our favorites, although keep in mind that much of this is based on personal taste. Your mileage may vary.

It only makes sense that the manufacturer of one of the most popular sous vide machines would have a deep library of sous vide recipes. If you’re ever at a loss for what to do with sous vide, just check out this website, where you can search for recipes by professionals and amateurs alike.

We have already mentioned this several times in this guide, but Serious food it’s really a pretty useful resource for everything. His guide sous vide steak it’s a favorite among Engadget staff as it’s slow-cooked sous vide style eggsthis results in the best eggs I have ever eaten.

Years before Joule, Chefsteps made a name for itself as a culinary school with a strong focus on food science, technology and molecular gastronomy. That’s probably why the sous vide recipes from Chefsteps are some of the more creative ones we’ve seen. For example, a recipe teaches you how to make it perfectly chicken breast along with the perfect accompaniment to chicken breast – perhaps a crisp apple fennel salad and buttery carrot puree. Other favorite recipes include a nice tender salmon filletjuicy pork chops and Chefsteps’ own comment “sous vide egg bites“Sometimes you can find it in some Starbucks stores.

This is actually a cookbook from the people behind the Nomiku WiFi sous vide machine (since discontinued), but the recipes in it will work with any sous vide device. Not only does she have beautiful photos, she also offers fantastic recipes like chicken wings, duck confit and chocolate pots du crème.

Instant Pot Smart Wi-FiInstant Pot Smart Wi-Fi

Instant Pot / Best Buy

(Instant Pot / Best Buy)

In addition to immersion circulators like the ones mentioned here, you can also opt for multi-purpose appliances that offer functions like sous vide. Some Instant Potsfor example, suggest such a feature. Unfortunately, they don’t circulate the water like the immersion circulators mentioned above, and the temperatures aren’t as accurate (which is a definite downside if you need something cooked to a specific temperature). But if you don’t really care about it or just want to dabble in sous vide occasionally, it can be a viable option.

If you’re dead set on an all-in-one device and have the cash to spend, consider it Anova Precision Oven. Because it uses steam, you can actually use it to cook food via sous vide without the need for plastic bags. It also uses a fan to circulate moist air around the food, and a probe thermometer helps keep food at the exact temperature. And of course, the Precision Oven can also be used as a regular oven and is great for baking bread and bagels. However, at $700, it is quite expensive and takes up a lot of space.

Photos: Will Lipman for Engadget (Anova / holiday light background)

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