The simplest way to get into the sous vide lifestyle is to buy the best home sous vide circulator. Sous vide ovens include a reservoir that precisely heats and circulates the water bath, digital thermometers and timers to ensure perfect cooking, and sometimes even vacuum sealers to package up your food before its bath. The machines can be bulky, but you may prefer one bulky machine to three or four smaller appliances.
Many of the machines are designed with the sleek, stylish kitchen in mind, including two of my favorites, the Tribest Sousvant and the Oliso Pro. The Oliso Pro even includes an induction cooktop, so you can sear your sous vide food to a golden-brown finish without ever pulling out a pan. Some sous vide ovens at lower price points resemble office printers but still get the job done. At this price point, I suggest the Sous Vide Supreme Demi, a boxy but compact oven that’s perfect for smaller families.
Finding the best home sous vide circulator
If you’d like an equally precise sous vide method with a less expensive entry point, try looking into immersion circulators instead of all-in-one sous vide ovens. Immersion circulators are small, handheld gadgets that make any water-filled basin into a sous vide machine. They draw up water from the basin, heat it to a set temperature, and release the heated water back into the basin, maintaining a precise level of heat and speed of circulation. The circulators are similar in size and shape to an immersion blender and take up the same amount of space in your kitchen.
The immersion circulator market is exploding right now, with every company trying to outpace the next with one more bell or whistle. Most of them do the trick, but some are sleeker and more impressive than others. We suggested the Sansaire, a beautifully elegant device that heats water within a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit.
More tech-minded cooks may be interested in the Anova WiFi Precision Cooker, which sends notifications to your cell phone about how your food is doing. Once you’ve chosen a circulator, you can opt to either buy a dedicated sous vide container or use one of the large pots you already have as your water basin. You’ll also need to buy a vacuum sealer, and then you’re all set to start cooking.
DIY alternatives to the best home sous vide circulator
If you’d prefer not to invest in a brand-new kitchen appliance just to test out a method of cooking, don’t fret; there are sous vide options for you, too. We’ve figured out a DIY method that will give you all the benefits of sous vide cooking without the investment.
First, you’ll need a way to vacuum seal your food. If you already have a vacuum sealer lying around, you’re all set. If you don’t, you can MacGyver a vacuum seal using a zip-top freezer bag and a large bowl of water. Just put the food into the bag and lower it into the water, allowing the air to escape from the open top. When the bag is submerged almost to the zipper, close it up tight. This technique, which we call the “water method” seal, is useful even if you have a vacuum sealer. It’s great for recipes that involve putting liquid into the bag, which can get messy with an electric vacuum sealer.
Next, you need a pot that keeps water at a low, constant temperature. The “keep warm” button on your rice cooker or crock pot is perfect for this. Use a thermometer to measure exactly how warm your keep-warm feature gets, then use this temperature to calculate the cooking times you’ll need for the recipes below.
Once you get the hang of sous vide with this homemade setup, you may be inspired to get your own professional sous vide appliance. Whether you spring for the Oliso Pro or stick with your modified crock pot, you’re sure to impress your friends and family with your sous vide meals!