The Best Cheap Sous Vide Cookers of 2019

Sous vide is a method of cooking that translates to "under vacuum" in French.

There are different styles of sous vide cooking, but they all have one thing in common: Food is slow-cooked underwater. If done properly, foods that are easy-to-overcook (like eggs, chicken and steak) are brought to a high-enough temperature to kill bacteria, yet remain tender and moist.

The most popular sous vide cookers are immersion circulators. These joystick-like devices control the temperature and flow of water within a pot. But, before food can be cooked in a hot water bath, it must be sealed in an airtight container.

Many people use vacuum-sealed plastic bags (or evacuated Ziploc bags) as a one-time way to cook sous vide. Reusable silicone bags are another option; they must be cleaned and sterilized after each use to prevent bacterial contamination. Using glass jars or Pyrex dishes is a way to avoid synthetics altogether.

Is sous vide safe? There isn't much research on how microbes respond to low cooking-temperatures or whether heated plastic bags release toxic chemicals into food. On the other hand, scientists have concluded that sous vide produces meat that has "increased tenderness and better appearance." Oh, well.

Here are the best-reviewed sous vide cookers that have sold for $100 or less in the last 12 months:

Good Price: $69 | Great Deal: $44

This sous vide cooker is quiet, heats quickly and holds the temperature of the water, according to several Amazon customers who were happy to have a manual cooker rather than an Internet-connected one. Some reviewers found this cooker's instructions to be confusing; others complained that their cooker made a buzzing sound.

Good Price: $73 | Great Deal: $55

Instant Pot's immersion circulator is well-packaged and has accurate temperature controls, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers wish this sous vide cooker heated water more quickly; others say the clamp is flimsy. A few customers say the light-grey text in the instruction manual is hard to read.

Good Price: $98 | Great Deal: $90

Wancle's sous vide cooker is well-built and easy to use, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers (even happy ones) say this cooker's time and temperature controls are too sensitive and that the included instructions are poor. Overall, this cooker gets praise for its simplicity and some appreciate that this cooker is not a smart/WiFi appliance.


John DeFeo