Sous Vide Perfection Guaranteed with This Gear

Try sous vide for yourself with this gear.

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ous vide cooking is a game-changing technique. It involves cooking food (tightly sealed in a plastic bag or glass jar) in a heated water bath to a precise temperature. Because there’s very little risk of overcooking, it’s ideal for delicate, temperature-sensitive, or expensive foods. This week, we’ve gathered everything you need to try sous vide for yourself. Once you check out the best equipment, take a look at our new cookbook, Sous Vide for Everybody. Start by reading up on sous vide tips and safety in our introduction and FAQ sections. Then put your new knowledge to use by making Coconut Rice Pudding, Shredded Chicken Tacos, or one of the other 75 inventive, foolproof new recipes.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This simple, small, sleek model aced every test: It was the most powerful of the lineup at 1,100 watts, making it the fastest to heat water, and it held whatever temperature we set with perfect accuracy, whether we were cooking for 12 minutes or 20 hours. Easy and quick to set and monitor via an extremely user-friendly app (that’s compatible with iOS and Android), it’s also simple to clip onto any size vessel for cooking (if desired, a strong magnet in the base lets you stand it in metal pots without clipping it). Because it has no display, it isn’t harmed when it’s dropped in the water, unlike other models. Its small, lightweight, and slim profile makes it a snap to store when you’re done cooking. (Note: The only difference between this model and the stainless-steel version—which costs about $50 more—is the trim on the outside of the device, so we recommend this less-expensive polycarbonate model.)

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The simple, intuitive control panel; stellar performance; and moderate price of this midsize model made it ideal for most home cooks. The “gentle” setting and pulse mode both worked well when vacuum-sealing fragile foods like strawberries. The handle locked the lid firmly into place with a reassuring click. A digital screen that tracked the machine’s progress and built-in storage for a plastic roll were handy bonuses. Although the seal bar and gaskets are fairly high off the counter, two little tabs help keep the plastic bag in place while sealing.

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Our longtime winner excelled, with uniform, steady heating and good visibility inside the saucepan to monitor browning. Its cup-shaped stay-cool handle was easy to grip, and a helper handle provided another grabbing point when the pan was full. Even after brutal whacking on concrete, this model emerged with only tiny dents inside and one slight dent on the bottom, and it still sat flat on the counter.

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This model costs a third of what our favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performed almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing.

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This ultraclingy wrap was the thickest in the lineup, making it strong, resilient, and nearly impossible to rip or puncture. It's perfect for covering your sous vide pot during cooking. We liked its durable dispenser, which came with both a serrated blade and a slide cutter. While the blade worked just fine, the slide cutter was a revelation: It takes just a second to attach and makes it a breeze to produce smooth, perfectly sized sheets.

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This bag protected food from freezer burn and ice crystals for more than two months, and it stayed intact when filled with tomato sauce and dropped. But the band of thicker plastic under the double zipper was on the short side, making the bag a bit difficult to prop open and fill. And the side seams on the zipper enclosure itself were less sturdy than those of the product’s older version, tearing more easily and allowing some water to leak into and out of the bag.

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This thin, lightweight plastic model was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.

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Classic shape provided "plenty of room" in steak and chicken tests, but small handle made pan feel heavy when lifted. Eggs stuck "considerably" and took "tons of scrubbing" to clean the first time around but barely stuck and cleaned up easily the second time. Corn bread was crusty, with perfect release.

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