Best Sous Vide Machine 2018: Top-Rated Immersion Circulator Reviews

Home / Best Sous Vide Machine 2018: Top-Rated Immersion Circulator Reviews

Sous vide machines used to be a great but niche product which only a few cooking nerds like us were using. Now that more and more people are discovering the technique, sous vide equipment is becoming affordable and accessible to practically everybody!

Sous vide machines can give you chef-quality food at home, with as little effort and skill as you could ask. If you get a bad machine, though, your gourmet dinner can quickly turn to a soggy, lackluster mess. So many machines have frustrating interfaces, or unreliable temperature control which leads to under/overcooked or unsafe food. Ugh!

To help you get off on the right foot, we’ve rounded up and reviewed the three best sous vide machines on the market! Our choices are reliable, accurate, and extremely user-friendly. There’s something for every budget and lifestyle here!

Here’s a glance at our picks!

Kitchen GizmoAnova CulinaryChefSteps
Our Rating: 4.4
Popularity: Medium

Our Rating: 4.3
Popularity: High
Our Rating: 4.4
Popularity: Medium
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Amazon

Best Sous Vide Machine Reviews

  • Kitchen Gizmo Simplified Immersion Circulator
  • Anova Precision Cooker (wifi/bluetooth)
  • Chef Steps Joule

1. Kitchen Gizmo

Kitchen Gizmo Sous Vide with steak

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“perfectly encompasses what a budget appliance should be.”

Kitchen Gizmo’s Simplified sous vide machine is by far the best affordable option on the market right now. We’re not the only ones who think so, either. It’s consistently mentioned in honor on cooking sites and forums, and it’s The Sweethome’s budget pick as well.

We like the Kitchen Gizmo because it perfectly encompasses what a budget appliance should be. It gets the job done, plain and simple, and leaves off the frills without sacrificing functionality.

So many cheap sous vide machines try and imitate premium models in features and looks, but they don’t even cook well. This is a simple, straightforward machine with few features, but the ones it does have work perfectly. We suggest it as a first sous vide machine, or to folks who are on a budget and don’t mind something simple.


While it’s only rated at 800W, it heats up nearly as quickly as our midrange pick! There’s only a couple minutes of difference between the two, despite the Kitchen Gizmo’s lower wattage. And while it doesn’t get quite as hot, it still goes as high as most sous vide recipes call for: up to 194 degrees F.

It really does get to the stated temperatures, too with less than a degree for a margin of error. A lot of inexpensive sous vide machines are dangerous to use, since they’re often underpowered and don’t actually reach the proper cooking temps. Many are also inaccurate, so you don’t actually cook at the temperature the machine’s displaying.

There’s definitely something to be said for something this simple, despite the appeal of premium systems with apps and connectivity. The Kitchen Gizmo might be simple, but that also means it’s very simple to get up and running.

“it’s very simple to get up and running.”

It clips onto any vessel easily, and the nice rubberized grip feels sure in hand. After you’ve attached it, you use the scroll wheel and touch screen display to set your cooking temp and time. Everything’s done on the unit itself, not on an app. That’s a big difference between this and our more expensive recommendations!

kitchen gizmo in potThe scrolling navigation is easy to use, if not as defined as buttons that click. You have to get used to the lack of tactile feedback, but it still works well. In any case, you don’t get tactile feedback using app controls on more expensive models either.

Depending on your own preferences, you may find that the lack of connectivity is either something easy to deal with, or something that actually makes this more appealing than our pricier choices.

Some people will really enjoy the fact that you don’t need a smartphone or a specific app, and that there’s no logging in to use the Kitchen Gizmo. It’s perfect for people who just want to plug in and get cooking without needing their phone nearby.

While we’re sure that occasionally a lemon must be produced, we know of no reliability issues with this one. Nor can we see or feel anything on the design that seems likely to act up. It’s a lot more reliable than other budget options, even if it’s not as rugged as the Anova or Chef Steps. It’s covered by a 2-year warranty, too.

“actually the quietest of the bunch!”

One surprising department where this one excels: noise level. It’s very quiet, and actually the quietest of the bunch! That’s probably at least partly because it’s not as powerful, but it’s honestly a joy to use. You don’t even notice it running unless you’re hovering right over the pot.

The pump/element components have a removable housing, which you can detach for cleaning/descaling. It’s all very straightforward, and most of the components are metal, so we can’t see it degrading like other cheap models.

Sure, this is appealing if you’re into low-tech appliances, but the biggest selling point for most people is the Kitchen Gizmo’s excellent price. It’s significantly less expensive than our other picks.

If you don’t need wifi/bluetooth capability, or other extras, this provides essentially the same cooking quality for half the price of our other recommendations.

Unlike the vast majority of cheap sous vide machines, the Kitchen Gadget is up to scratch in the safety department. It’s ETL-approved, and there’s no need to worry about it causing any electrical issues. You’d be surprised how many crappy imported models will!

There are a few other safety features as well: it automatically shuts off when it’s out of water. That saves you from both the impeller blade and heating element.


There aren’t any common issues that we’ve heard of with this, but in poking around to compare our experiences with others, we found that a couple buyers mentioned minor issues, like a loose impeller screw (easy to tighten), or a unit getting stuck on until it was unplugged. These are very isolated incidents, though, and anything like that would be covered under warranty.

The guide book and included recipes aren’t the best. They seem to be either badly-translated or not proof-read. Still, the temperature chart covers all the basics, and you can get a lot from the instructions if you ignore the awkward wording. There’s a lot of help online, too!

The only feature we really miss on this: it doesn’t tell you how long the preheating will take, and it doesn’t beep when it gets there. You have to check by yourself. That’s the one convenience that we don’t like doing without, even though it’s not the end of the world.

It’s not as rugged compared to the Anova or Chef Steps. There are a few more plastic parts, and it just doesn’t feel as hefty.

It’s not as powerful as the Chef Steps, so it can take longer to get to temperature. The Kitchen Gizmo is only a bit slower than the Anova, but there’s a massive difference between this and the Chef Steps. Both our other picks do reach slightly higher temps, too.

It’s bulkier than our other picks. That’s definitely not something you’ll mind saving so much money for, though!

The clip isn’t adjustable, so this doesn’t work with as wide a range of vessels as the Anova or Chef Steps.

2. Anova Precision Cooker

Anova Precision Cooker

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“a good choice for the average buyer”

Anova’s Precision Cooker is our midrange pick for sous vide, and it’s actually the best-selling model on the market! It’s consistently near the top of most rankings on sous vide forums and cooking periodical sites.

We think it’s a good choice for the average buyer who wants more power and convenience than the Kitchen Gizmo, without making a leap to the top-notch Chef Steps. It’s a bit faster, a bit more powerful and a lot more convenient to use!

*We’re recommending the bluetooth AND wifi model. There’s also a bluetooth-only model, but it’s no more powerful than the Kitchen Gizmo, and the range isn’t good enough for it to be controlled all through your house. We think this gives you a lot more bang for your buck!


It’s sleeker than the Kitchen Gizmo, even if it’s not quite as streamlined as the Chef Steps. The Anova is firmly in the middle of the pack when it comes to size and weight.

The biggest difference between the Anova and the Kitchen Gizmo is connectivity! The Anova is bluetooth/wifi-enabled, which means you can control it directly from a smartphone app. It works with both iOS and Android devices, so any smartphone should work just fine.

There are a number of benefits to going connected:

First off, you can control it from your phone close by, over bluetooth, or leave the house and connect over wifi. Being able to check on your cooker from anywhere is the ultimate in convenience, especially for longer cook times! You can be outside doing chores or in your office, and get a ping when dinner’s ready to be served.

The app controls are also more streamlined than choosing settings manually. Sure, you can get specific controls for temp and timing, but we really like the taste-centered controls. The app lets you can choose how you like things done, like a steak, and the app will figure out the exact time and temperature to get there.

Anova appHaving an app gives you access to lots of recipes and tips, too! Compared to a lot of other freebie apps, the Anova’s surprisingly unlimited. There are 1000 recipes available at any given time! It has tutorials, too.

Lastly, the latest version brings Alexa compatibility. So, if you have an Echo or something like that, you can control your sous vide machine with your voice. When you’re handling meats or eggs, it’s much more sanitary to speak commands than to touch your phone or physical controls!

One thing a lot of people like about this one compared to the Chef Steps is that you can also use it manually! There are enough controls on the device itself to set a time and temperature without you needing a phone. It’ll still beep when the preheating is done, and when cooking has finished.

Anova controlSo, even if you don’t want to use a smartphone, you can still get more power and convenience from this than from the Kitchen Gizmo. The unit itself has scrolling navigation like the Kitchen Gizmo, with a couple of buttons and a neat little display.

The wifi+bluetooth Anova model is 100W more powerful than the Kitchen Gizmo, coming in at 900W. It makes for faster heating without being a breaker-tripper! The Anova goes slightly higher than the Kitchen Gizmo, too–up to 210 degrees F. It’ll get there faster, too!

Unlike the Kitchen Gizmo, it’ll beep when it’s at temp (and send an alert to your phone, if you’re using the app). It has even better temperature accuracy, too, to less than a degree in variance!

“the best on the market when it comes to fitting the cooker to your vessel.”

This is probably the best on the market when it comes to fitting the cooker to your vessel. The Anova has adjustable housing on the circulator component, so it can extend or shorten as needed.

It also has a unique attachment system with two clips: one to the container, and one to the actual cooker. So you can essentially use the clip to extend the cooker as needed, with practically any vessel!

Like the Kitchen Gizmo, it has a detachable lower half for cleaning, made from stainless steel.

It’s perfectly safe and up to specs. The Anova is ETL and NSF-certified.

This is a very reliable appliance, even if it doesn’t have as good a track record as our other recommendations. Of course, having sold so many units, it’s no surprise that the occasional lemon pops up. We still think this should last you a long time!

It’s covered by a 1-year warranty, and customers generally report good interactions with Anova’s service department.


When this model was new, we read some complaints from other reviewers and buyers about having to create accounts or log in through Facebook to use the unit. That’s no longer an issue! Accounts are optional, and you can use them or not without sacrificing anything. So, don’t pay attention to some older product reviews which complain about accounts and such.

The Anova’s clamp is plastic, like the Kitchen Gizmo, and can crack over time. It still works, since the core is metal, but it’s definitely a weak point on the design.

With something as mass-produced as this, DOA units aren’t unheard of. Test your Anova when you get it! Overall, they’re more cheaply-made than the Chef Steps, and we’ve seen more reports of glitchy problems or DOA units with this one. Most buyers report that the company was good about replacing problem units, though!

The only documentation for the Anova is online, so be aware that you’ll have to find instructions and help that way, or through the app.

It’s not as quiet as the Kitchen Gizmo.

The Chef Steps is more powerful, and also more efficient with the power it uses. This isn’t much faster than the Kitchen Gizmo, so the Chef Steps really blows the Anova away in that department.

Anova’s got less of a seamless app experience, too. It’s still useful and straightforward, but it’s not as intuitive or streamlined as the Chef Steps.

Finally, speaking of streamlining, the Anova is also bulkier than the Joule. The difference is pretty drastic.

3. Chef Steps Joule

white Sous Vide

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“the gold standard for the dedicated sous vide chef”

The Chef Steps Joule is a premium product by any measure. It’s sleek, sophisticated, and extremely powerful. In fact, it’s both the smallest and most powerful sous vide machine on the market! The updated version continues to be the gold standard for the dedicated sous vide chef, as far as we’re concerned.

This is overkill for the casual user, but if you’re passionate about sous vide and use it for most of your cookery, the Chef Steps is the ultimate tool!


The most impressive aspect of the Chef Steps strikes you as soon as you get it out of the box.It’s 1/3 the size of the Anova, and even smaller compared to the Kitchen Gizmo. This thing is only 11” tall, and cuts the Anova’s weight nearly in half to less than 1.5 pounds.

Chefsteps in drawer for storageThis is the difference between this and other sous vide cookers is dramatic! It’s very easy to store, and to travel with. The Chef Steps fits in a typical silverware/utensil drawer, too. Overall, the small size simply makes it more pleasant to use: the difference between a sleek laptop today and something clunky from 5 years ago!

“the difference between this and other sous vide cookers is dramatic!”

What’s especially clever is that the Chef Steps still packs more under the hood than any other sous vide machine, despite the fact that it’s so small. At 1100W, it’s extremely powerful. This is twice as fast as the Kitchen Gizmo to get to temperature, and a lot faster than the Anova as well.

It cooks to 208 degrees F, and is precise to .2 degrees F. That’s as good as it gets in sous vide land!

It’s the most efficient of the bunch, too! That’s because it has a heating element that’s designed completely differently from standard coils. The cylinder itself is the heating surface, and it provides much greater contact in the same space.

That’s why you counterintuitively use less energy with this than our other picks. Given the length of most sous vide cooking times, the savings add up!

Swapping the coil for the cylinder design makes the business end of the Chef Steps easier to clean than other models, too!

Like the Anova, the Joule is wifi and bluetooth enabled. It comes with a similar app interface for controls, as well. There aren’t too many specific differences, but the whole app is much more intuitive and streamlined. It doesn’t do that many more things than the Anova, but the user experience is a lot more enjoyable.

The Chef Steps app prompts you through absolutely everything. Like the Anova, you can cook by criteria like visual doneness as well as manual time and temp settings. This one offers even more subjective preference settings, and having so many personalized options is an improvement over the Anova experience.

Chefsteps recipesThe Chef Steps app has plenty of recipes and tutorials as well, along with the kind of step-by-step video instructions the company made its name doing. They’re all very helpful and user-friendly.

We have no complaints about the interfacing on this one, which is a good thing since there aren’t actually any controls on the Joule itself! Using a mobile device is actually the only way to operate it. It should be a non-issue, though. This thing pairs easily, connects to both wifi and bluetooth, and is Alexa-enabled.

Alexa compatibility is really great for sanitation, since you don’t have to touch your phone after handling raw meat.

Chefsteps in pot with waterLike the Anova, the Joule alerts you when preheating is done, and when your food is cooked. A nice convenience that’s added on this one: it automatically keeps things warm until you get to them! It lowers the temperature to prevent overcooking, too.

The Chef Steps takes an innovative approach to attaching your cooker to your vessel. It’s specialized to work best with metal pots, with a magnetic foot. This sticks right to the bottom of pots, holding the cooker up straight without a clip!

The foot helps it work in some awkward containers, and vessels with curved edges. There’s a clip, too, if you want to use a plastic vessel.

You can also use it in much lower pots than other sous vide machines. The Chef Steps works in 1.5” of water, while the Anova needs 2.5”. That’s because the circulator component doesn’t have to be submerged completely.

The outlet hole can actually stay above water, and it’ll cycle water like a little fountain. The only downside to running it that way is a bit more noise, but it’s quite relaxing!

The Chef Steps comes in two models: one in all-white polycarbonate, and one with stainless components at the top and bottom. We’re recommending the white/stainless option. It looks classier and will probably be hardier over the long run. Plus, you only get negligible savings going for the all-polycarbonate model.

“feels rock-solid”

While this is expensive by any measure, we think it’s a very safe investment. This thing feels rock-solid, and it’s covered by a 90-day satisfaction guarantee. If you end up disliking the lack of physical controls, or something else on the design, you can easily get your money back. And over the long term, it has an excellent reliability record.

You’re much less likely to damage this by accident than other sous vide machines. The Joule is unique in that it’s completely waterproof! You shouldn’t leave it submerged, but you don’t have to worry about it getting splashed or falling into the bath once in awhile.

It’s covered by a 1-year warranty out of the box. We’ve also linked to an Amazon listing where inexpensive extended warranties are available (always a good idea with a big appliance purchase!).


It doesn’t have any physical controls. That’s a non-issue for smartphone users (which is probably most readers), but it’s still quite a big shift for appliances. It will definitely leave some people out in the cold.

If you don’t prefer the smart home approach, this won’t be for you! For the majority of us, the app-centered controls are seamless enough that you won’t miss physical controls at all.

We find the fountain-like noise relaxing, but the circulator is pretty loud when it’s not completely submerged. If you don’t like it, just use more water!

This is pricey, to be sure. There are actually more expensive sous vide machines out there (which haven’t impressed us), but this is near the top of the scale. We don’t recommend it to casual users. It only makes sense for someone who uses sous vide at least a few times per week.

The Chef Steps comes close to ideal, but it’s still imperfect. There are occasional connectivity issues, and pairing doesn’t always happen instantaneously. Thankfully, the company is very good about standing behind their products and most issues have been resolved in software updates.

You have to create a Chef Steps account and sign into the device to use it. Some people have found that annoying. The idea is that you can log in from multiple devices, as opposed to having just one bluetooth connection. It gives you more range and means someone else in the house can tweak or check settings. Still, we can see how it could also be a frustration.

The magnetic foot makes most metal pots easy to use, but the actual clip on the Chef Steps is fixed. So, if you’re planning to use the clip, it’s a bit less easy to affix than the Anova.


Which sous vide machine should you buy?

The obvious choice if you’re on a budget is the Kitchen Gizmo. It’s simple, straightforward, and gets the job done. If you’re the sort of person who hates having to use apps, network connections, and all that stuff to cook, this will also be very appealing. It’s precise and has a timer system, and you don’t need a smartphone to use it.

Just be aware that the Kitchen Gizmo takes a bit longer to get your water bath hot than our other picks. You’ll have to set everything manually, and you won’t get an alert when the bath is ready for your food. This is also bulky compared to more expensive models. Still, it does an excellent job for the price, and doesn’t leave out anything essential!

For those who want some extra power and convenience without going all-wireless, the Anova is a nice midrange choice. It’s a bit faster and gets a bit hotter than the Kitchen Gizmo. Plus, it has more helpful alerts and features. The fact that it has physical controls as well as connectivity will please some home chefs who aren’t quite ready to jump on the smart home train all at once.

This isn’t quite as reliable as the Chef Steps, though. The Anova also makes some practical sacrifices in power and speed. The Joule is definitely worth the extra money, if you don’t mind the lack of buttons or screen.

If you want the ultimate power, speed, and convenience, and don’t mind dropping physical controls, go for the Chef Steps Joule! It’s faster to heat than our other picks, and has by far the most efficient design. In short, we think it’s the best sous vide machine on the market. If you can afford it and get your money’s worth from it, get it!

The Chef Steps is overkill for casual sous vide users, though. Anyone who cooks this way most of the time will get their money’s worth, but don’t spend this much if you’re going to keep it in a drawer half the time.

Model NameCostWattageSize
Kitchen Gizmo$800 watts17.8 x 5 x 5 in
Anova$800 watts14.8 x 2.8 x 2.8 in
ChefSteps$$1100 watts11 x 1.9 x 1.9 in

Buying Guide

Sous vide is a new technology to a lot of buyers, and even folks who have used this method for years can get overwhelmed by the wealth of options out there today. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to help you navigate your choice:

Skip the all-in-one’s

Sous vide machines come in two formats: immersion circulators, which are used with an additional vessel of your own, or all-in-one’s, which have a heater and a vessel all in one package (like a crock pot).

In our experience immersion circulators are the way to go. Many all-in-one’s don’t actually circulate water, so the bath won’t have an even temperature throughout. That’s not safe, and it can really throw your cooking results under the bus.

Big appliances are harder to store or clean, too. Immersion circulators usually have removable housing you can wipe clean, and you can easily clean your water container.

All-in-one’s are also a waste of money, plain and simple. They’ll cost far more than the best circulators, and they don’t offer any benefits in performance or convenience.

Save yourself the money, and get a good circulator and a vessel to use it in. If you find a good metal stew pot, you can use it both for sous vide and for traditional cookery.

Decide on your budget

Sous vide machines (immersion circulators) can cost anywhere from $75-$600+. That’s a massive range, so allow us to narrow it down a bit further.

We don’t think anyone needs to spend more than $250 for an immersion circulator. There are pricier models, but we don’t think they’ll give you better results in practice or a noticeably better experience than ~$250 models.

Within the $75-$250 range, figure out how much it makes sense for you to spend. You can easily get the job done well for $100, but you’ll see faster preheating speeds and higher overall temps for more money.

The biggest difference between the cheap models and the models closer to $250 is convenience. The more you pay, the more streamlined an experience you can expect, and the less work/fiddling you’ll need to do.

So, think about how often you’ll use your sous vide machine, and whether you’ll really get your money out the model you’re considering! If you use sous vide for most of your food at home, you should spend a bit more for something that will make each meal more convenient to prepare.

Think about controls

Lastly, give some thought to the type of controls you prefer on your sous vide machine. Are manual controls important to you? How about app integration/connectivity?

There are a whole range of options out there, and even our recommendations span a big gulf in controls. You can get an immersion circulator with all-manual controls, or something with no physical controls at all–only an app on your smartphone.

Think about which approach you prefer. As long as you have a smartphone and are comfortable using it, we think it makes the most sense to get something that’s controlled that way.

Apps make it really easy to find the right settings, and many sous vide machine apps will allow you to program for things like doneness, color, or other subjective preferences, without you having to choose cook times and temps yourself.

You can control your cooker from another room, or check on progress at work! The latest models will also work with Alexa voice control devices, which is the ultimate in convenience and sanitation.

If you don’t like having to use your phone, or want to save money, a manually-controlled immersion circulator might be best for you. Some people are very opposed to having their cooker connected to wifi or bluetooth. Others simply like a straightforward, manual appliance that doesn’t need anything else to function.

That’s perfectly reasonable! Just be aware that most all-manual models won’t alert you when preheating is done, or give you much help with recipes and cooking times.

There are also some compromise options, like the popular Anova, which have both manual controls and app integration. So, if you’re not sure which extreme to go to, choose something that has both!

What’s Next

We hope you’ve enjoyed our in-depth look at the best sous vide machines on the market! If one of our machines seems like your ideal cooking tool, wonderful! The quickest, easiest way to check current prices and make a purchase is to click on the links in our reviews.

If you’re interested in seeing more of our expert reviews and recommendations, head to our homepage! That’s where you’ll find links to all our buying guides, including advice on the best water filtrations systems, induction cooktops, and more!