Sous vide cooking has grown by leaps and bounds the past few years. It’s no longer only a professional chef tool but home cooks like you and me are able to use and enjoy all the benefits of sous vide cooking!
Sous Vide is a low-temperature cooking process in a water bath. The water gets to a set temperature, place your vacuum sealed food (everything from steak to chicken breasts to carrots to eggs) in the water and let it cook!
Sous Vide translates to “under vacuum” from French and this is the other aspect that defines Sous Vide as a method.
That’s why I’m here and that’s why you’re here. I’m going to cut to the chase and get down to business telling you what the Best Sous Vide Starter Kit is for you.
One of the biggest things I had trouble with when I started with the sous vide cooking technique was the difficulty of finding enough relevant information about getting started with sous vide.
I just couldn’t find what I needed to know as a sous vide beginner and that was a list of everything sous vide that I needed to get started sous vide cooking.
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Did I need a sous vide machine, sous vide device, sous vide pressure cooker, sous vide immersion circulator, or sous vide immersion cooker? I know they all mean the same thing now, but back then just starting out, there wasn’t much information out there on terminology like sous vide machines.
So I created my own lists to share with friends who have asked me and now I’m sharing here. I’ll be sharing three sous vide start kits based on budget and value levels.
For those in a hurry, here’s the Best Overall Value Starter Kit.
Read on to get all the details!
Table of Contents
Sous Vide Basics and Essential Tools
In order to know what the best sous vide start kit is for you, we need to discuss what the basic and essential equipment you need are to sous vide meat, fish, and more.
I won’t get into additional tools like blow torches, food smokers and searing kits though. Those are nice to have, but not needed for the basics.
You can sous vide most of what you need with traditional cooking methods and cookware like searing on a cast iron skillet or pan.
- Read More: How to Sous Vide Sear Complete Guide
There are different versions of these at different price points, as well as DIY solutions. I don’t want to get into too many DIY options here because it’s not really helpful for beginners and their cooking needs.
DIY is helpful for tinkerers and people who want to hack the system to save a few bucks, but not really for getting started with sous vide cooking.
It’s best to get good equipment, start cooking and learning the sous vide technique, eat good sous vide steaks, and when you’re ready to step to the next level of sous vide cooking, then start tinkering with equipment.
Sous Vide Cooker
There are two main types of sous vide cookers: immersion circulators and water ovens.
Immersion circulators are the sous vide sticks that you see the majority of the time clipped onto a water container or pot. Immersion circulators include the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker series and the Breville Joule Sous Vide Cooker.
Water ovens (also called a water bath) combine the functions of an immersion cooker and a water container into an all-in-one system. I’m not going to make any water oven suggestions as part of any kits here.
Water ovens are rather expensive and not something that the majority of would start out with. You’ll also need plenty of countertop space when you’re actually cooking because the ovens aren’t exactly tiny.
- Related: Anova Precision Cooker Review
Immersion circulators are what the majority of people should start with. They’re cheaper, more accessible, portable, and convenient. Separating the circulator and container gives you flexibility in cooking more or less food depending on how many people you’re feeding.
If you’re going to a friend’s house, you can bring your sous vide circulator with you to cook as well. Water ovens are stationary and you’ll need counter space in your kitchen because you’ll need a place to fit the box.
Water Container and Lid
Water containers, aka water baths, are containers made of polycarbonate plastic that you fill up with water and cook your food in.
You don’t technically need a separate container and can use any metal pot at home, but I prefer the container. They’re made to withstand the sous vide cooking water temperatures and also have specialized lids to keep water from leaving the container through evaporation.
Polycarbonate containers are also rectangular shaped, while pots are circulator. The vacuum bags holding the food are rectangular shaped too, so a rectangular container will be able to hold more bags and food.
(My top pick for the best sous vide container is the LIPAVI Sous Vide Container show above.)
Sous vide containers are also lightweight and transparent. Metal pots can get heavy sometimes depending on the size and thickness of the pots.
I like to see how the food is cooking and making sure the water is circulating. I also like to check in on the vacuum bags and make sure water is freely flowing in between the bags, so all sides of the food are being cooked. You can’t see through pots.
There are accessories that you can get such as a sous vide rack and sous vide magnet that’ll help separation and floating of bags.
A container lid is also needed because with heated water comes evaporation, especially on longer cooks. If water leaves the container, you won’t have enough water to cook your food.
You need enough water to submerge the food bags and for the cooker to heat the water.
Vacuum Sealer and Sous Vide Bags
Vacuum sealers are a great thing to have to ensure a proper sealed bag of food items for sous vide cooks. Vacuum sealing takes the air out of the sous vide bag, so that your food is in constant contact with the heated water to ensure your food is being cooked evenly. Food safety first.
When you have pockets of air in the plastic bag, that means there are parts of your food not in direct contact with the water (through the bag). You’ll end up with unevenly cooked food.
There’s also less risk of water getting into the food because you used a vacuum sealer rather than a manual method.
With that said, when you’re just starting out, you can use a Ziploc bag with the water displacement method, aka Archimedes Principle. That’ll get the air out of the bag and allow you to get comfortable with sous vide initially.
I don’t like water displacement for long term because it’s manual and there’s more risk of air and even water getting into the bagged food if not properly sealed.
When you look for ziplock bags, be sure to get the thicker bags that are food-grade. Also look for the words BPA Free so the plastic bags don’t have the harmful BPA chemicals.
You’re going to be cooking with them, so these bags will better withstand the heat and provide better protection as it’s touching food while cooking. You’ll also want to get some medium and large-sized bags for different types of food.
For sous vide cooking, you shouldn’t need to worry about Ziploc branded bags as they’re rated to withstand up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit before they start to soften. They’ll start melting at 212 degrees F / 100 degrees Celsius.
Here’s the water displacement method in action:
Now with all that out of the way, let’s get into the actual starter kits for different budget levels.
Best Budget Friendly Sous Vide Starter Kit
The goal here with the budget-friendly starter kit wasn’t to go with the cheapest of everything. We know how things can break when you go with the least expensive items sometimes.
You also want to ensure that the sous vide immersion circulator is precise with its temperature due for food safety. Sous vide cooking is about precise temperatures and cooking times. You don’t want to under or overcook.
I chose the Anova Precision Cooker Nano and container that was high-quality, but presented great value. Because these products are known to have less quality issues, they’d last you for an extended period of time and in the end, prove to be the most budget-friendly sous vide kit for a beginner.
This is a great way to dip your toes into the sous vide world if you’re unsure if you’ll use it as much as other cooking methods.
Make note of the 2 different containers depending on the size of your family and how many people you need to cook for.
- Sous Vide Cooker: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano & Anova App
- Water Container and Lid:
- Vacuum Sealer and Bag: Ziploc Freezer Bags and Water displacement method
Best Value Sous Vide Starter Kit
The next step up provides you the best overall value for the products. These products are meant to fulfill your sous vide needs for a long time.
Unless your family grows or you want to go high-end, this starter kit can become your everyday sous vide kit for years. We personally started with the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker 5+ years ago and haven’t even thought about getting a new one!
Make note of the 2 different container and lid sets depending on the size of your family and how many people you need to cook for.
- Sous Vide Cooker: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker & Anova App
- Water Container and Lid (Family of 3-4):
- Family of 3-4: Everie Sous Vide Container 12 Quart with Collapsible Hinge Lid for Anova Precision Cooker
- Family of 4-6:
- Container: Lipavi C15 Sous Vide Container 18 quarts
- Precision Cut-Out Lid: Lipavi C15 Sous Vide Lid for the Anova Precision Cooker
- Vacuum Sealer and Sous Vide Bag:
Best High-End Sous Vide Starter Kit
This is the high-end starter kit that’ll last you for a long time and look sleek while sous vide cooking. Honestly, the main difference from the Best Value Start Kit is the great Breville Joule.
The Joule is one of the top sous vide cookers out there. It’s not much more than the Anova Precision Cooker either, so it might actually be worth the upgrade.
The space-saving Joule is smaller and you’ll be able to store it in a drawer if you want. The Joule has 1100 watts of power too, so it offers faster heating of water.
The FoodSaver vacuum sealer has an automatic bag detector, so it makes vacuum sealing even easier. It’ll provide consistent vacuum seals, as well as automatically detect moisture. Once it detects moisture, it’ll switch modes to ensure an airtight seal.
- Sous Vide Cooker: Breville ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide Cooker, Stainless Steel
- Water Container and Lid:
- Vacuum Sealer and Rolls:
Final Thoughts on Best Sous Vide Starter Kit
There you have it. There are many more accessories and kits that can be put together, but these three sous vide kits will get you going on the right foot to cooking full racks of ribs in no time (and healthy food too).
As you learn more on your sous vide journey, you’ll start to adjust food settings and develop your own sous vide method to use in your home kitchen. You can even take a look at giving your food a good smoke. Take a look at this Breville Smoking Gun review.
This is by no means a complete guide to sous vide cooking either. Head back to the front page and see all the other sous vide posts. This is just the start to this wonderful world of sous vide!
If you want a starter pack of some great recipes for a sous vide dish, be sure to check Anova’s site for step-by-step sous vide recipes by both chefs and users. They have various sous vide meals with cooking techniques, cook times with certain temperatures, and more.