Sous vide is a cooking method in which food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag, immersed in water, and cooked using circulating heated water.
The popularity of this technique has increased in part because of restaurant chefs. It cooks foods to the perfect temperature with predictable results.
However, you don’t have to be a professional chef to take advantage of sous vide cooking. There are several immersion circulators on the market that allow you to easily use the sous vide method at home.
To find an immersion circulator that fits your specific needs, it’s important to do your research before buying.
Keep reading for our picks of the 4 best sous vide immersion circulators.
The French term “sous vide” translates to “under vacuum.” In culinary terms, the phrase refers to a method in which food is placed in a vacuum-sealed (or similar) bag and cooked evenly in water that is heated and circulated.
Home cooks can simulate sous vide cooking in their kitchens by using an immersion circulator. Immersion circulators are stick-shaped units that look similar to stick blenders. They typically clip onto the side of a pot.
The cook adds water to the pot, and with the push of a few buttons, the circulator begins to heat and move the water, creating a whirlpool-like effect. The movement of heated water around the food cooks it evenly and precisely.
One benefit of sous vide is that it cooks food more evenly and precisely than other methods, such as baking and grilling.
It helps prevent lean proteins, such as chicken breast and fish, from overcooking and becoming dry. It also works well for tough cuts of beef and other proteins that require long cooking times and low temperatures to tenderize.
Additionally, an immersion circulator makes it easy to cook eggs. It takes the guesswork out of knowing when soft-boiled and poached eggs are done. It can also be used to make light and airy sous vide egg bites.
Because the food is tightly sealed in a plastic bag, sous vide can be helpful for meal prep and for reducing food waste. You can cook batches and scraps of vegetables until crisp or tender, shock them inside the bag in an ice bath, and then move them to the freezer for later use.
We selected the best immersion circulators using the following criteria:
- Ease of use. Is the immersion circulator intuitive?
- Power. How big is the motor? How quickly does it heat the water?
- Customer reviews. What do actual users think of the immersion circulator?
- Vetting. The products on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.
- Price: $$$
- Weight: 1.28 pounds (lbs.) (0.6 kg)
- Size: 1.85 × 1.85 × 11 inches (in.) (4.7 × 4.7 × 28 cm)
- Max water temperature: 208°F (98°C)
- Power: 1,100 watts
The Breville Joule is the most expensive of our choices, but it also has the most in terms of functionality, power, and size.
The machine has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and is operated using the Joule app.
Available on both Apple and Android devices, the Joule app allows you to turn the machine on and off, set cooking times and temperatures, and receive alerts when your food is done cooking.
What’s more, the app’s Visual Doneness feature makes sous vide cooking easier than ever.
Using the app, you first select your protein and then swipe to see what it looks like at varying degrees of doneness. Once you select how you’d like your food to be cooked, the Joule will automatically set the time and temperature of the sous vide machine accordingly.
This model heats up quickly, thanks to its 1,100 watts of power. Reviewers also like its small size, which makes it easy to store, and its magnetic base, which increases the device’s versatility since you don’t have to fasten it to the side of the pot.
- Price: $
- Weight: 1.65 lbs. (0.75 kg)
- Size: 2.55 × 4.6 × 12.9 in. (6.5 × 11.7 × 32.8 cm)
- Max water temperature: 203°F (95°C)
- Power: 800 watts
Instant Pot is known for its multicookers, but it also makes a highly rated immersion circulator that’s easy on the bank account.
The Accu Slim has easy-to-use touch-screen digital controls. Reviewers also appreciate that the machine is reliable and doesn’t have trouble maintaining the target temperature.
This device doesn’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, so it may be less appealing to some buyers. But it might be a good option for those who want a more tactile experience.
Best for the avid home cook
- Price: $$$
- Weight: 2.81 lbs. (1.3 kg)
- Size: 3.1 × 5.3 × 12.8 in. (7.9 × 13.5 × 32.5 cm)
- Max water temperature: 197°F (92°C)
- Power: 1,000 watts
While it isn’t cheap, the Anova Precision Cooker is a favorite of many because it reaches the desired temperature quickly and maintains it throughout cooking.
Thanks to the device’s Wi-Fi connectivity, you can use Anova’s app to set the time and temperature from your phone. You can also adjust these settings using controls on the device itself.
Registered dietitian and Healthline Nutrition and Fitness Editor Kelli McGrane, MS, highly recommends the Anova, saying that it’s easy to use, reliable, and consistent. While she notes that the app is convenient, she also appreciates being able to adjust the temperature manually.
Best for beginners
- Price: $$
- Weight: 3.4 lbs. (1.5 kg)
- Size: 2.5 × 2.5 × 15.5 in. (6.4 × 6.4 × 39.4 cm)
- Max water temperature: 203°F (95°C)
- Power: 1,100 watts
If you’re new to cooking sous vide, then you need a device that’s simple and easy to use. According to user reviews, this model is basic — but in a good way.
The Greater Goods Sous Vide Machine is a bit bigger and heavier than the others on this list, and it isn’t loaded with multiple modes or wireless connectivity. Instead, it offers basic manual time and temperature controls.
As a bonus, the device features a brushless motor that helps keep noise in check.
Here’s a quick look at how our top picks compare:
If you’re considering purchasing an immersion circulator for sous vide cooking, there are several factors to consider, including size, power, ease of use, and cost.
Size and weight
As with most other kitchen appliances, weight and size matter. The device shouldn’t be too challenging to handle or to maneuver into and out of a drawer.
When shopping for an immersion circulator, look for a machine that isn’t too heavy or bulky but still packs enough power to be effective.
If you want a machine that can heat the water quickly, look for a motor with at least 1,000 watts of power.
However, keep in mind that a stronger motor typically means a more expensive machine. If price is your main factor, a lower wattage model should be sufficient.
Ease of use
Our best advice is to know yourself. If you prefer a manual control option, there are several models that allow you to adjust settings from the device itself.
However, if you’re a home cook who appreciates using your phone to control devices, then you might prefer a device with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Additionally, some models, such as the Breville Joule, make it even easier to cook foods to your desired doneness using presets on the company’s app.
When shopping for any kitchen appliance, it’s important to consider how often you plan on using it. For example, if you plan on using your sous vide machine regularly, it may be worth paying more for a model that has a stronger motor and more features.
However, a less expensive circulator may be perfectly adequate if you’re just dipping your toes into sous vide cooking or aren’t interested in a machine with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity.
What can you cook using a sous vide machine?
Sous vide cooking is commonly used for proteins such as steak, chicken, and fish, but you can also use it to cook eggs, vegetables, fruits, and even desserts.
Some foods do require a bit of finishing in a hot pan after their time with the immersion circulator. While a final sear isn’t exactly necessary, it helps caramelize the outside of the food to provide a restaurant-quality appearance and taste.
Is sous vide cooking safe?
From a food safety standpoint, cooking sous vide can be very safe because you can accurately cook to the desired internal temperature.
However, since many plastics release harmful compounds when exposed to high temperatures, it’s recommended to use bags that are specifically designed for sous vide cooking (1).
If you have difficulty cooking poultry, fish, pork, beef, or seafood to perfection, then an immersion circulator might be a good investment.
Many of the available models are easy to use, are small enough for simple storage, and produce restaurant-quality results. They also eliminate some of the guesswork of cooking by precisely and evenly controlling the temperature.
While not a necessity for every home cook, an immersion circulator can be a fun tool for experimental cooking.