The next machine that is used for the sous vide method is the water bath sous vide machine. Although the water bath machine is the type of device that is most commonly used in restaurants and high volume kitchens, there are some people that prefer to use them right at home.
Water bath sous vide machines are much larger in size compared to immersion circulators and can be a lot more costly as well. With water bath sous vide machines, there is no need to supply a separate container or pot for your cooking because the machine is equipped with its own. Water bath sous vides may often resemble rice cookers in both appearance and size. Water bath machines produce their own heat source from and are also equipped with airtight lids.
Water baths are also very easy to use. Plug the device in, set the time and temperature that you wish to cook at, add the vacuum packs of food, seal the lid closed, and press start! Just like the immersion circulation method, it is best to sear meats or vegetables that are being cooked beforehand or afterwards so that it has a nice crisp finish.
The top contenders on the market for water bath sous vide machines range in both size and price. Some are ideal for home chefs, while others are ideal for professional industry settings due to their size and cost. Sous Vide Supreme is a brand that has been producing some of the best sous vide water baths in the industry.
Water Oven Cooker
- 9 Quart (8.5L)
- Professional grade
Temperature held for days
- Holds 11.8 Quarts (11.2L)
- Silent Operation
Digital Control Panel
- Lid and Insulation
- Reduces Evaporation
Sous Vide Oven
More Than Just A Sous Vide
- Commercial Standard
- 11 Quart (10.4L)
Low Cost Compact Pod
- Can Hold 6 Vacuum Bags
- 8.4 Quarts (8L)
The sous vide water bath machine is the type of device most commonly used in restaurants and high volume kitchens, but these days a lot of people prefer to use them at home. The units are equipped with their own heat source and water reservoir and, like immersion circulators, are very easy to use – plug it in, set the time and temperature, add the food, close the lid, and press start! To make sure vegetables and/or meats have a nice crisp finish, searing before or after cooking is still recommended.
The Benefits of Sous Vide Water Baths
Water bath sous vide machines are much larger in size compared to immersion circulators and resemble rice cookers in appearance. These appliances produce their own heat source and are equipped with airtight lids. The top contenders on the market for water bath sous vide machines range in size and price, making some practical for home chefs, while others are ideal for cooking larger quantities. The benefits of these water bath units over the more portable circulators include energy efficiency, an attractive and user-friendly design, and others outlined below.
1. All-in-One Unit
The biggest difference between water baths and immersion circulators is that everything you need to get started is in one compact machine. Designers have approached these units as actual appliances – creating displays that are easy to see, making controls for temperature and time that are easy to use, and incorporating modern finishes like stainless steel. A stand alone appliance eliminates the need to search for food package clips, or a particular container, or even risk damaging a container that might not be appropriate. Consumers tend to prefer the overall appearance of water baths because they keep the less-than-attractive cooking method of a bag floating in water away from hidden from guests’ eyes.
Pros: Easier to use, practical design, more aesthetically pleasing than open-container cooking
Cons: More expensive, consume more storage/counter space, less accurate temperature control
2. More Efficient Energy Use
Water bath units include several features that make the units more energy-efficient. Tight-fitting lids keep steam trapped inside the machine and help prevent evaporation problems when dealing with longer cooking times. The water reservoirs are carefully insulated to retain heat, and many units cycle on and off as needed to control temperatures rather than staying on for the entire cooking time. The lack of water circulating pump also means these units tend to be quieter.
Pros: Eliminates steam and condensation, uses less electricity, no food safety concerns from evaporation
Cons: Water heats more slowly, non-circulating water can lead to uneven cooking for some delicate items (i.e., eggs and fish), limited ability to visually monitor cooking
3. Size Matters
Admittedly water bath units are on the large end of sous vide cooking equipment, but the weight of those appliances means cooking is taking place in a stable container specially designed for that purpose. Most units also come with a detachable power source for added safety. Water level and container size are all pre-determined, eliminating the guesswork of finding the perfect container – one that holds an accurate volume and height of liquid – to accommodate an immersion circulator. The reservoirs are designed with a home cook in mind, providing just the right amount of space for cooking a complete meal, no more, no less.
Pros: Convenient, includes important safety features, dedicated container
Cons: Cooking volume limited by size of appliance, less portable, more difficult to clean
As sous vide equipment gains popularity with home cooks, consumers are getting more options, new products, and improved features. In order to make the best choice for your kitchen, take some time to think about the type of cooking you do. Do you love to entertain large crowds or are you looking for time-saving options to put a meal on the table after a long day at work? Do you frequently enjoy large cuts of meat like brisket or do you want to ensure your carefully selected farmer’s market finds are cooked to perfection?
Set It and Forget It
The sous vide cooking technique itself eliminates time typically spent tending a meal and makes multitasking simpler. Water bath units take this one step further, affording even more time for additional meal preparation or household tasks. There’s no need to locate the perfect container, or assess the volume of that container, or mitigate evaporation in a steamy kitchen. The machine takes care of all this with the touch of a button using easy-to-navigate controls, all in a sleek and attractive unit. Water baths are ideal for those wanting to serve a perfectly cooked, nutritious meal to their family while still having time to help with homework, manage a load of laundry, or enjoy their favorite television show together.
Limitations and Expectations
While ideally a home cook could invest in every kitchen tool needed to accommodate every cooking scenario, most are limited by money, space, or time. If you have a small kitchen space, immersion circulators are likely the best option for storage purposes. Circulators also tend to be less expensive than water baths which is an added benefit, but they tend to require a little more attention and can have limitations on the volume of water they can keep heated accurately. If space is less of an issue, though, water baths may be preferred and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate most cooking needs. They can be more expensive and are slightly less precise temperature controllers than the immersion units. On the positive side, they require little to no intervention, are more energy-efficient, and still ensure gourmet results even on a busy weeknight.
My Top 5 Sous Vide Water Bath Recommendations
1. SousVide Supreme Water Oven
- Temperature can be held for up to 99 hours
- Keeps your kitchen steam-free with a tight-fitting lid
- Perforated bottom grill designed to simulate heat circulation
The SousVide Supreme is the original water bath system designed for the home chef, offering a sous vide cooking option at a more reasonable size and price point than commercial kitchen models. With a patented design that includes double wall insulation, the system retains heat while keeping the exterior safe to touch. Foolproof controls put gourmet meals at your fingertips with temperature regulation steady within one degree – from 30 to 99 degrees Celsius. The system is also quiet and includes a perforated bottom grill that helps circulate the heat to ensure consistent temperature throughout the bath. The lid also doubles as a tray for transporting your food.
2. Gourmia GSV550 Sous Vide Water Oven Cooker
- Audio alerts for times and temperatures
- Multi-use lid can be used as a drip tray
- Exclusive ACT System Precision Temperature Control Technology
With its large back-lit digital display screen, the Gourmia GSV550 offers home chefs a light weight and compact sous vide cooking option. This system includes a non-stick reservoir, making clean-up a breeze, and is the only unit to use ACT System Precision Temperature Control technology to provide extremely tight temperature control. Food can be regulated at temperatures between 45 and 90 degrees Celsius for up to 72 hours, and the rack is specially designed to hold multiple packets of food. The water reservoir is nine quarts, and the model has a minimal exterior footprint making it ideal for smaller spaces.
3. Oliso SmartHub + Top
- SmartHub can be used with any other cookware containing magnetic material
- Additional applications for slow cooking, fermenting, sprouting
- Top and induction unit can be separated for efficient use of storage
I have ranked this one number 3 because it isn’t just a Sous Vide Machine. It is for those interested in multi-purpose kitchen tools, the Oliso SmartHub + Top offers precise temperature control for sous vide cooking, but can also be used as a slow cooker, bain marie, or oven. The SmartHub is an induction cooktop that heats quickly and, when paired with the SmartTop, becomes a water bath that measures temperatures within 0.1 degree. The unit also has a space plate on the bottom to ensure food is cooked evenly on all sides. Unlike the other units, the top can be removed and the induction unit can be used for cooking other parts of the meal (searing that perfectly cooked steak, for example). Oliso also sells a vacuum sealer companion with BPA-free bags that can be used and reused.
4. Grant Sous Vide Water Bath (SVE26)
- Temperature pre-sets as well as a countdown buzzer
- Drain tap to allow for easy draining
- Control panel on short end of the unit for better use of space
The Grant Sous Vide Water Bath (SVE26) is the closest of the top five choices to a commercial kitchen system. Consumers will pay for the professional model (it has the highest price tag of the top five), but it boasts the largest reservoir at 26 liters. The large size allows more variety and quantity, providing ample space for cooking an entire meal at once. Precision control keeps your food within 0.2 degrees of your desired temperature, which can be up to 95 degrees Celsius, for up to 999 minutes. The unit heats up quickly and can be programmed with three commonly used temperatures.
5. VonShef Premium Sous Vide Water Oven
- See-through lid to monitor cooking process
- Inexpensive option that still produces gourmet results
- Efficient use of counter and storage space
The last of the top five recommended water bath units is the VonShef Premium Sous Vide Water Oven. It is the smallest and most cost-effective appliance in the water bath category. At a capacity of eight liters, and weighing less than 12 pounds, the VonShef can still hold up to six food packets while claiming only a small amount of counter space. Temperature options are from 0 to 99 degrees Celsius, and the timer can be set to hold the temperature up to 24 hours.