Nov 18, 2017

The best sous vide cookers for hurried home chefs

By Kirk Klocke

Before sous vide got popular among home chefs over the last couple years, I always assumed it was something exotic, expensive, and magical—a technique reserved for the world’s top Michelin-star chefs.

I was wrong. For the price of dinner for two at a good steakhouse, you can buy your own sous vide kit and easily make meals that will impress even the snootiest of dinner guests. And there are plenty of amazing sous vide cookers that can do all the heavy lifting for you. Here's a quick look at some of the best:

Mellow: Keeping your food warm and... cold?

The Mellow not only has a great name for a sous vide cooker, but it has a single, unique advantage over other devices: It can keep prepped food cool until you're ready to cook it. In other words, you can work on prepping other dinner items without worrying about timing your sous vide cooking.  This also helps reduce the risk of foodborne issue, as it's better to keep your meat nicely chilled than to leave it sitting on the counter while you work.

Mellow's app is intuitive and easy to use. The device's downside, according to CNET, is that you have to use its water container. Large or awkwardly shaped cuts of meat (or huge helpings of vegetables) may not give you optimal liquid circulation. There’s the price, too—$399, around double the cost of some of the most popular immersion-style sous vide cookers.

Anova Precision Cooker: Slow-cooked food for less than $200

This sleek, brushed-stainless-steel immersion cooker is consistently ranked as the best sous vide cooker by tech experts at Wirecutter and top YouTube cooking content creators. The Bluetooth-only version, which is plenty for most people, typically costs around $100, but you can also purchase a fancier Wi-Fi-enabled version for around $160. 

The hard-to-beat features of Anova's Precision Cooker include temperature controls you can adjust with a smartphone app—the range limited by whichever version of the cooker you purchased—precise temperatures, and the flexibility to function in a variety of water containers. Drop it in a pot, set a temperature, and forget about it until your kitchen reeks of deliciousness.

ChefSteps' Joule: A sous vide cooker on a diet

The ChefSteps Joule sous vide cooker is every bit as good at making delicious, liquid-immersed food as Anova's Precision Cooker. Its magnetic base makes it easy to stashing the cooker in a pot, and its skinnier and contains a more powerful heating element than Anova's device.  

Fans of the Joule call it the "Apple” of sous vide cookers—a nod to its minimalist white design, smooth matte white power cable, and price. The Joule costs a lot more than Anova's Precision Cookers, which also come with displays that show your water's temperature. The Joule doesn't have a display on the device; you operate it using an app for iOS and Android (or by connecting it a smart-home hub like Amazon's Alexa and yelling out commands as if you were in the kitchen of a real restaurant).

Serious Eats: "At this stage of the game, I'm going to come out and recommend both the Anova and the Joule as equally attractive tools designed for slightly different audiences. Choose whichever one suits your needs best—you can't really go wrong."