Want to cook like a foodie or professional chef? You should buy yourself one of this year's must-have kitchen gadgets. And no, we're not talking Instant Pot, though those are great, too.
To really impress the guests, a serious home cook needs a sous vide cooker (AKA immersion circulator). Our favorite is the Anova Bluetooth Precision Cooker (800 Watts)(available at Amazon), and we think you'll love it as much as we do.
We’ve put nine top-selling immersion circulators through a series of rigorous tests in order to find the best of the best. The Anova Bluetooth Cooker came out on top, but whether you value preheat speed, temperature accuracy, design, innovation, or price, we have a pick for any would-be sous vide enthusiast.
Here are the best immersion circulators we tested ranked, in order:
Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth (800 watts)
PolyScience Creative Series Immersion Circulator
Anova Precision Cooker WiFi (2nd Gen, 900 watts)
Anova Precision Cooker Nano with Bluetooth
Kitchen Gizmo Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
Gourmia GSV130 Immersion Circulator
PolyScience Chef Series Immersion Circulator
VacMaster SV1 Immersion Circulator
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Our favorite immersion circulator is the 800 Watt Anova Precision Cooker WiFi, a product that is no longer available for purchase. Luckily, the 800 Watt Bluetooth Anova Precision Cooker has the same specs and hardware—with the only difference being its inability to connect to your phone over WiFi. This isn’t a significant loss, as the Bluetooth app is slick, easy to use, and helpful. If you really want WiFi connectivity, we wouldn’t recommend purchasing the 900 Watt 2nd Gen Anova WiFi, which lacks precision—get the excellent ChefSteps Joule instead.
Connectivity aside, we’re big fans of the Bluetooth Anova’s design, which is polished but not overly hefty. The black plastic and contrasting stainless steel of the Anova should match most kitchens, and the digital display is both easy-to-read and intuitive.
Where the Bluetooth Anova really shines, however, is its ability to accurately stick to your desired temperature, which is what sous vide cooking is all about. It might take a little longer to get up to temp than some of the other machines we looked at, but let us be clear—it’s worth the wait.
The Joule is a standout product at first glance. The elegant device has the sleek, minimalist style of an Apple product, but it’s actually a first foray into hardware for ChefSteps, a company known for providing instructional cooking content.
ChefSteps’ expertise is apparent in the Joule, which is operated exclusively via Android or iPhone app. That's right: There's no control on the unit itself. We loved the simple, attractive design of the app, which was nearly flawless in use, but had some concerns about the practicality of a cooking device that requires contact between our grubby, food-covered fingers and our precious smartphones. Still, there’s no denying the tradeoff may be worth it—the lack of a display on the Joule itself means the device is the only one we’ve tested that should fit comfortably in any kitchen drawer.
Design, of course, is where the Joule impresses the most, but it’s no slouch in the cooking department either. It heats the water quickly enough, and doesn’t stray too far from the selected temperature.
If you don’t mind cooking with an app, then it’s a great way to learn about a cooking method that's growing in popularity.
This article is a joint effort by Kori Perten, former Reviewed editor and sous vide expert, and Cassidy Olsen, current kitchen editor and sous vide skeptic.
Kori has been cooking since childhood, and has written and edited countless articles about food. She first tried cooking with an immersion circulator in 2015, and since then has tried out most of the mainstream immersion circulators on the market to really get a handle on what makes a device like this great. Cassidy was new to the world of sous vide before starting at Reviewed in 2018, but has since gotten deep into the data to find the most precise devices available.
We tested the top sous vide immersion circulators on the market, rating each device for how quickly it reached the set temperature, how accurately it matched and maintained that temperature, and how its design affected ease and pleasantness of use.
Our technique? Well, we cooked a lot vacuum-sealed ribeye steaks at 132°F. And I do mean a lot of vacuum-sealed ribeye steaks. A total of 11, to be exact—and of course, we monitored temperatures the entire time.
What You Should Know About Sous Vide Cooking
You've likely heard the term 'Sous Vide', but what does it actually mean? In simple terms, sous vide is a method of cooking that involves vacuum sealing doof in a plastic bag or a jar and then submerging it in water in a sink or stock pot. Once in the drink, your food will need to stay submerged for a long period of time in water of a consistent temperature to slowly cook. The best way to keep the temperature of the water your food is cooking in at a stable temperature for hours on end is to use an immersion circulator.
Immersion circulators heat a water bath and keep it flowing, which allows food to cook at a precise temperature over a long period of time. This keeps food tender and juicy, and all but eliminates the possibility of accidental overcooking or undercooking. It’s this lure of repeatable perfection—along with the convenience of slow-cooking—that’s led a massive growth in demand for immersion circulators.
Other Products We Tested
PolyScience Creative Series Immersion Circulator
Cooking is a science—a fact you’d be hard-pressed to forget when looking at the PolyScience Professional Creative Series. The chunky, clunky immersion circulator looks like lab equipment, but it performs like it too. It’s not a tool that will win any prizes for beauty, but it will heat your water bath quickly and hold it to your desired temp with above-average accuracy.
PolyScience Culinary is a longtime provider of innovative culinary tech for both home and commercial kitchens, so we can almost overlook its steep price tag. While it lacks some of the conveniences of the newer Joule and Anova, it offers the credibility of a more established brand with a focus on food science.
We loved the 800 Watt 1st Gen Anova WiFi, and the 800 Watt Bluetooth Anova is our current winner. Unfortunately, the 900 Watt 2nd Gen Precision Cooker WiFi isn’t nearly as impressive.
Where the 800 Watt Anova was slow to heat, the 900 Watt version has an impressively quick ramp-up speed that leaves the other devices in the dust. But what it gains in speed, it sacrifices precise temperature control, often fluctuating slightly from the desired temperature, when compared with the near-perfect accuracy of its predecessor.
If you want a great immersion circulator with WiFi connectivity, skip the Anova WiFi—get the ChefSteps Joule or settle for the Bluetooth Anova’s excellent Bluetooth app.
After three separate rounds of testing two different units of the Nano, the latest immersion circulator from Anova, we're sad to say it's an unpredictable machine. While its compact design and all-plastic exterior make it less expensive and more accessible than other Anova models, it’s also much less precise.
The times to temperature were fast, but varied wildly between tests—the first took 42 minutes, the second took 46, and the last took 38, all with comparable starting temperatures. While the temperature of the meat actually exceeded the desired 132 degrees in the second test, it never reached the 132 mark in the third round.
In the end, this variability didn’t seem to have a negative effect on the meat—each steak came out medium to medium-well and perfectly edible, with the typical tenderness you’d expect from sous vide. The Anova app also continued to work well, and the Bluetooth connectivity was convenient (although it didn’t extend all the way from the testing area to my desk on the other side of the building).
The Anova Nano will get the job done, but because precision and consistency are key to cooking sous vide, we just can’t give it higher marks.
We had high hopes for the WiFi Nomiku, which comes as a follow-up to an earlier model that we tried and liked in 2015. Unlike the previous version, the new model can connect to a smartphone app via WiFi, but that’s not the only change Nomiku has made to its immersion circulator.
The weighty Nomiku isn't as bulky as PolyScience’s offerings, though it felt somewhat cheap overall. It comes in either black or white with a green control ring , and sells for $199.
Impatient cooks will appreciate the Nomiku’s quick climb to the desired temperature but should take note that the device didn’t do a great job consistently holding the water to that temperature.
Use of the companion Tender (yes, that's an intentional joke) app ultimately falls short. Multiple users found connecting Nomiku to a phone to be complex and confusing. In fact, we found it impossible to accomplish without combing Nomiku’s support website for explainers—and still remained unable to connect an Android phone.
This was no big loss, as the app was clunky, unintuitive, and frankly not worth using. Grab the Nomiku if you’re a fan, but don’t expect the app to add to your experience.
With almost 100 positive reviews on Amazon, it seemed worth giving the Kitchen Gizmo sous vide immersion circulator a try. But while it’s downright affordable, the device is the epitome of “nothing special.” Slow to heat and not particularly accurate or stable in temperature, the Kitchen Gizmo really has nothing going for it. Even its appearance is boring.
It’s not the worst immersion circulator on the market, sure—but we think you can do better.
Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than much of the competition, we really wanted to like the Gourmia Digital Sous Vide Pod. But low cost alone does not make something a good deal. We ran into trouble right away, with a power button that at least 8 of our 10 testers were unable to operate without consulting the manual.
Once you jump the hurdle of actually turning the thing on, it gives a rough performance: During cooking, the water stayed about 2°F above the temperature we set it at. When you're dealing with such precise temperatures, that kind of fluctuation is not ideal.
You could do worse for $129.99. But if you ask us, a $100+ piece of kitchen equipment should do what it’s supposed to, and the Gourmia simply doesn’t.
If you thought the PolyScience Pro Creative Series was hefty, try the PolyScience Sous Vide Professional Immersion Circulator Chef on for size. It’s large, boxy, and loud—all qualities we’d sooner seek in a 90’s-style boombox than a cooking device. And at $799.95, it’s one of the priciest models on the market.In fact, the only thing we liked about the Chef was the masterful control it offers over water bath temperature, which fell second only to the Anova during testing.
An ability to precisely control water bath temperature is what matters most when it comes to sous vide, but only if you can keep the food you’re cooking submerged. The Chef allows you to adjust flow pressure for larger baths—but when we used the recommended highest pressure setting in our home-size water bath, the force of the water circulation constantly pushed our food to the surface or propelled it into somersaults. Entertaining, yes, but not exactly what we had in mind. As an extra bonus, the overzealous flow means you’re likely to end up with hot water splashing out of the container.
For these reasons, we’d recommend giving the Chef a hard pass unless you've got a commercial kitchen. It does a great job with temperature, but the Anova does better. And if you want the PolyScience branding or enjoy that bulkier design, the PolyScience Pro Creative Series has both for half the price.
Like PolyScience’s immersion circulators, the VacMaster SV1 has a boxy, almost industrial style. But looks can be deceiving. The device is easy enough to use, but never managed to meet the set temperature during testing. In fact, it was pretty significantly off base, failing to reach even 129°F when the set temperature was 132°F. That becomes an issue of food safety at worst or too-rare steak at best.
For this reason, we recommend avoiding the SV1. At this price point, you’d be better off with pretty much any other immersion circulator.
Kori began her journalism career as a teenage fashion blogger and has enjoyed covering a wide variety of topics ever since. In her spare time, she’s an amateur poet, avid reader, and gluten-free cake baker extraordinaire.
Cassidy covers all things cooking as the kitchen editor or Reviewed. An experimental home chef with a healthy distrust of recipes, Cassidy lives by the "Ratatouille" philosophy that, with a few techniques and key tools, anyone can cook. Since joining Reviewed in mid-2018, she's produced in-depth reviews and guides on everything from meal kits to stand mixers and the right way to cook an egg.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.