Sous vide cooking has exploded in popularity in recent years. With this precise low and slow technique, you can achieve restaurant-quality results cooking meat, vegetables, eggs and more from the comfort of your own kitchen.
To get started with sous vide (French for “under vacuum”), you need just a few essential tools. With the right accessories, you’ll be ready to cook amazing meals with consistent and foolproof results.
Here are the key sous vide accessories required for delicious sous vide cooking at home.
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The most important piece of equipment for sous vide is an immersion circulator. This handy device circulates and heats water in your sous vide bath to a precise target temperature.
Immersion circulators clamp onto the side of any pot or container. They have an adjustable arm that extends over the rim and holds the heating/circulation element under the water.
Top sous vide circulators like the Anova Precision Cooker or Breville Joule reach temperatures from 68°F to 210°F. They have powerful circulation pumps to maintain an even water bath temperature within +/- 0.1°F.
With an immersion circulator, you can cook sous vide for hours with perfect results and no monitoring required. These devices have integrated WiFi and app control. Just set the time and temperature from your smartphone!
Key features to look for in an immersion circulator include:
- Accurate temperature control
- Circulation pump for even heating
- Sturdy adjustable clamp
- Minimum water level indicator
- WiFi/App connectivity
- Easy to clean
Investing in a high-quality sous vide circulator ensures perfectly cooked meals every time. It’s an essential tool for any home sous vide setup.
Sous Vide Container
To use your immersion circulator, you need a water bath container. This can be any large pot, Dutch oven, plastic bin, cooler or other heatproof vessel.
The best sous vide container should be:
- At least 2-3 gallons capacity
- Deep enough to fully submerge circulator
- Made of stainless steel, plastic or other non-reactive material
- Fitted with lid (or use plastic wrap)
Look for rectangular or oval shapes that maximize capacity while minimizing the water needed to cover foods. Round stock pots often waste water.
For longer cooks, insulated vessels like coolers help maintain temperature. Cambro storage containers work great too.
Make sure to only use food-grade plastic containers labeled BPA-free. Avoid containers with paint or coatings that could flake off into the bath.
With an appropriately sized water bath vessel, you can cook large batches or multiple foods at once in your sous vide setup.
To cook sous vide, food must be sealed in airtight bags. This protects the food from water and oxygen.
A vacuum sealer machine removes all the air from specially designed bags to inhibit bacteria growth. This extends shelf life and locks in flavors.
The best brands like Foodsaver, NutriChef and Gourmia have starter kits with bags and a hose for sealing mason jars.
Features to look for in a vacuum sealer include:
- Strong suction and sealing
- Adjustable seal settings
- Hands free operation
- Accessory ports and retractable hose
- Optional moist/dry food modes
High-quality sous vide bags are thicker, stronger and made of food-safe BPA-free plastic. Look for bags designed not to float during cooking.
You can also use zipper bags if you manually push out excess air before sealing. But true vacuum sealers give better results.
Sous Vide Rack
Cooking meat, fish and vegetables directly on the bottom of the sous vide bath can cause overcooking on the underside as it sits in direct contact with the plastic or metal.
A soul vide rack elevates foods off the bottom for even cooking. Racks come in round and rectangular shapes to fit different bath setups.
Racks are made of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. Look for types with adjustable height and removable cross bars.
Collapsible silicone racks are flexible to fold flat for storage when not in use. Sturdy stainless steel racks hold more weight.
For larger cooks, a rack divider allows cooking different foods in batches. Each section keeps foods separated for ideal texture.
Elevating foods with a rack prevents burning on the vessel bottom. It’s a worthwhile investment for the best results.
Maintaining steady water temperature is crucial for sous vide consistency. Evaporation and heat loss are the enemies of a stable bath.
Insulation balls float on the surface to prevent evaporation. Made of foam or silicone, they form a barrier to trap in steam.
Larger silicone sous vide lids create an even better seal. Flexible lids insulate the bath while allowing the circulator to run underneath.
Bath covers are essential for long cooks to minimize water reduction. Covering also helps heat efficiency – reducing energy usage.
For makeshift insulation, plastic wrap can work in a pinch. Cut it to fit around the circulator with no tenting or openings.
Trapping steam keeps your cook times and temps exactly as intended. Insulation accessories make that easy.
Tongs and Gloves
From start to finish, having the right utensils makes sous vide cooking safer and easier.
Long grilling tongs allow you to grab sealed bags from the hot water bath without burning your hands or arms.
Look for extra large stainless steel tongs at least 16 inches long. Silicone tipped tongs securely grip slippery bags.
Heat resistant gloves also protect hands when maneuvering hot bags or lifting lidded vessels. The longer the glove cuff, the better coverage.
Bags will be steaming hot right out of the water bath – grip and maneuver them safely. Tongs and gloves are sous vide necessities.
Even with exact time and temperature control, sous vide cooking requires checking food doneness.
An instant-read thermometer is the most reliable way to test if food is cooked properly after removing it from the bath.
Quickly insert the thermometer tip in the center of meats or thickest areas. In just 2-3 seconds you can verify the core is at safe serving temperature.
Digital thermometers are much faster than dial types. Look for a long probe to reach deep into roasts and accuracy to 0.1°F.
Double check temperatures match recipe guidelines. Don’t serve sous vide foods before sufficiently pasteurizing.
An instant thermometer takes the guesswork out of assessing doneness. It’s a quick final safety and quality check.
Cookbooks and Apps
Mastering sous vide requires perfecting cook times and temperatures. Reliable recipes set you up for success.
Specialized sous vide cookbooks like those from Anova and ChefSteps offer extensively tested methods. Follow their guidance for foolproof results.
App companions sync with immersion circulators for wireless control of recipes. Load recipes directly to your circulator from your phone or tablet.
Cookbooks and apps provide optimal settings for vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, fruit, custards and more. Take the guesswork out of sous vide cooking.
Even experienced chefs reference established recipes during the learning curve. Cookbooks and apps will be your sous vide references.
Once you get the basics down, a few optional tools can further expand your sous vide capabilities.
Lightweight foods like vegetables and fruits tend to float when sealed for sous vide. This can lead to uneven cooking.
Sous vide weights are stainless steel disks that fit inside bags to hold foods underwater. This keeps every surface submerged.
Other improvised weights can also work, like separated steel washers or glass jars/marbles sealed in a second bag.
Weighted bags cook evenly from all sides for the best texture. It’s a smart solution for notoriously buoyant produce.
Egg Bite Molds
For a fun sous vide breakfast, reusable silicone egg bite molds let you cook fluffy egg muffins like at coffee shops.
Just crack eggs into the cups along with your choice of mix-ins like cheese, meats and veggies. Seal and cook to soft set perfection.
Bite-sized egg cups are an easy protein packed breakfast or snack straight from the sous vide bath. Kids love them too.
Sous vide marinade injectors let you infuse flavor deep into the interior of meats before cooking.
Injectors have needles to penetrate deep while a plunger forces liquid in. Distribute marinades evenly through large roasts.
Pre-filled flavor syringes also exist for infusing butters, herbs and oils. Injecting marinades really boosts sous vide flavor.
Browning meats after sous vide gives a nice caramelized crust. Kitchen torches quickly char without overcooking.
Powerful sous vide torches like the Bernzomatic TS8000 have adjustable flame control to lightly blacken meats.
Waving the flame over steak, chicken or pork gives added texture and flavor contrast to your sous vide dishes.
Bags with Zipper
Though not a true replacement for vacuum sealing, resealable zipper bags provide another sous vide option.
Manual displacement methods can remove most excess air. Double seal for added insurance against leaks.
Zipper bags are easy to reuse. Just wash thoroughly between uses to avoid contamination.
Dedicated bag holders clip onto pots to keep sealed bags fully submerged. Rotate and position bags for ideal water flow.
The adjustable spring clamps secure top and bottom. Arms extend bags away from edges and circulator.
Improvised holders can also work, like binder clips attached to dowels or skewers laid across the top.
Building your sous vide toolkit allows you to cook with consistent and reliable results. But with so many accessory options, how do you decide what’s actually necessary?
Assess Your Needs
Think about what and how often you want to cook sous vide. Large family dinners, holiday feasts and party platters require larger capacity.
For occasional use or smaller households, start with more compact essentials. You can always add more accessories later.
Batch cooking requires bigger containers and more rack space. Plan equipment size accordingly.
Quality and Durability
With sous vide, equipment gets prolonged exposure to hot water. Carefully check construction and seals.
High quality models from reputable brands hold up over repeated use. Read forums and reviews about longevity.
Pay close attention to materials coming in contact with food, especially with plastic components. Medical/food-grade stainless steel is ideal.
Buying sturdy products that will last avoids wasting money replacing flimsy accessories that fail.
Reviews and Recommendations
Veteran sous vide cooks have valuable insights on the best accessories to buy. Consult experienced users.
Product reviews highlight shortcomings and defects before you purchase. They can reveal options best avoided.
Community sous vide groups like Facebook and Reddit offer advice to navigate the accessory selection process. Lean on their wisdom.
Invest in Success
Outfitting your home sous vide setup with the right gear leads to exceptional cooking experiences. The perfect steak, safe brisket and decadent crème brûlée are all possible when accessories optimize the process.
Take time to research and select equipment that fits your sous vide cooking frequency, scale and ambitions. Quality and reliability are paramount – this is an investment that can pay back for years of future cooking enjoyment.
With the essential immersion circulator, water bath, vacuum sealer, rack, tongs, insulation and thermometer, you have everything needed to unlock the full potential of sous vide. Additional accessories can expand options and capabilities even further.
The sous vide community happily shares guidance for stocking your kitchen with the smartest accessory purchases. With their wisdom, you can avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary purchases on your path to sous vide success.