Sous vide (pronounced like “sue veed”) is a French term that translates to “under vacuum” and refers to a cooking technique in which food is cooked slowly in a vacuum-sealed bag that is submerged completely in heated water.
This style of cooking allows you to have more control over the temperature of the food you’re preparing and works best with foods like steak, fish, vegetables, pork and lamb. Sous vide even makes tougher cuts of meat more desirable by breaking down the proteins, leaving a tender result. Breakfast is made easy, too; the process is ideal for eggs, as it gives you more control over the texture and consistency — and you don’t have to vacuum-seal them since the yolk is already in a shell. (Read more about sous vide here.)
What kitchen tools do you need for sous vide?
For even the simplest sous vide experience, you’ll want some special tools, including the most important: a sous vide cooker or immersion circulator. This cylinder-shaped gadget is inserted into a container or pot of water, from which it draws water — and then heats it to whatever temperature you set. Then, it pushes the water back out while heating and circulating it around the container, gently (and evenly) cooking the food (which is usually in the vacuum-sealed bags). However, if you’re not quite ready to invest in an immersion circulator, you can use a waterproof thermometer to monitor the water’s temperature.
Next you’ll need a vacuum sealer to seal your food in the bags. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, Ziploc bags are also safe to use when cooking below temperatures that will cause them to soften or burst.
You’ll also want to get your hands on a container or pot large enough to hold the water, as well as weights (or a rack) to keep the food from floating to the top. Some sous vide-specific containers come with a removable rack, and most have a specific slot to insert the circulator.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best sous vide equipment and other accessories you’ll find useful as you start your submerged cooking journey.
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An immersion circulator for beginners
The 12.8-inch Anova Precision Cooker Nano is beginner-friendly and super easy to use. It circulates water around the container or pot you’re cooking in at the exact desired temperature without needing an external heat source. It locks in flavor and provides tender results without over- or undercooking your favorite foods. You can even set up the cook time and temperature through the Anova app or the cooker’s digital controls.
Get it on Amazon for $110.99.
A big container that’ll hold your water and food
Specifically designed for sous vide cooking, this container holds 16 liters of water and comes with a removable rack and lid. The rack helps to keep the bags from floating above water. Its curved shape helps with circulating the water and the silicon collar has a hole that fits any wand-style sous vide circulator.
Get it on Amazon for $79.95.
A vacuum sealer to keep the air out of your food
Vacuum-sealing your food is the best way to keep air from entering your bag during a sous vide cooking session. This Anova Culinary sealer also comes with 10 precut bags.
Get it on Amazon for $79.95.
Precut vacuum sealer bags
If you already own a vacuum sealer and just need some more vacuum sealer bags, these from Anova Culinary come precut, reducing the amount of work required on your end. They come in a pack of 50, and each bag is 8.6-by-1.8 inches.
Get it on Amazon for $21.49.
A sous vide sinker weight
One pesky problem any sous vide enthusiast runs into is their food floating to the top of the pot while it’s cooking. This stainless steel sinker weight chain is designed to prevent that. It measures 13-by-13 inches, weighs 1.2 pounds and lays on top of your sous vide bag to keep it fully submerged while cooking.
Get it on Amazon for $34.99.
A bag of sous vide cooking balls, to help with preventing heat loss
These BPA-free reusable cooking balls aid in lowering energy and heat loss during cooking, and prevent evaporation so you don’t have to refill your pot. They come in a mesh storage bag of 250 20-millimeter balls.
One promising review — from someone who said they’d used the balls for a 48-hour corn beef cook — said, “I added water at first because I’m used to adding a couple of cups of water every 4 hours. Once I realized I wasn’t losing any water I just let it go. I checked the temp once in a while and the temp was exactly the same each time: 137.2 degrees.”
Get it on Amazon for $19.99.
An alternative to immersion circulators: a waterproof thermometer
A waterproof digital thermometer probe is a great choice to fall back on when you don’t have a sous vide cooker. Set your pot of boiling water on the stove and clip the thermometer to the side, then adjust the temperature of the stove to your desired heat level.
Get it on Amazon for $16.99.
A sous vide cookbook: “Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals”
If you’re in need of some inspiration, this cookbook written by Lisa Q. Fetterman, Scott Peabody and Meesha Halm deserves a spot on your shelf. It includes over 100 recipes, from halibut tostadas to duck confit to dulce de leche.
Get it on Amazon for $23.30.