This $399 sous vide helps amateur cooks like me make restaurant-quality meals with little effort - here's why it's worth the expense
- Sous vide is a popular cooking technique because it's low maintenance, precise, and turns plain meats and vegetables into something truly special.
- Anova just released its most powerful sous vide device yet, the Anova Precision Cooker Pro ($399). It's a durable piece of machinery that rivals some of the sous vide devices you'd find in a commercial kitchen.
- I had never used a sous vide before, but I recently got to try the Anova pro. I was impressed with how easy it was to use and how delicious the chicken I made with it tasted. You can read my full review below.
- I'd quickly recommend this device to anyone because it works for small and large batches, but if you're looking for more affordable option, check out our guide to the best sous vides.
Cooking dinner is always a lot more glamorous in my head than it is in reality. I sear a steak and the inside is still exceptionally juicy. I roast vegetables until they're crisp, but never mushy. I set my timers, turn on some music, and not once do I forget about what's cooking in the oven, the pot, or what have you.
My dreamy vision of dinnertime couldn't be further from what really happens. I often forget that I put vegetables in the oven, or I pull them out before they're ready. I would never even attempt to cook a steak on my stovetop. My bare-bones kitchen equipment plus a small space keeps me from trying anything too creative or labor intensive. While I've always loved to cook and eat, I've pretty much limited myself to one-pan dinners, salads, and simple Instant Pot creations. That is, until now.Enter: The Anova Precision Cooker Pro - my new favorite gadget, kitchen or otherwise.
The Anova Pro is the latest and greatest sous vide machine from Anova. If you're not familiar, sous vide is a cooking method that involves placing food in a sealed container, then dropping said container into a hot water bath for a long time. The sous vide device heats the water and circulates it around your food so you get evenly cooked results every time.
This low-and-slow method yields deliciously juicy, tender results. While the name (which means "under vacuum") may sound fancy, sous vide is probably one of the easiest cooking techniques to master at home, if you have the right tools. A sous vide machine does almost all of the work for you, which makes it really, really hard to mess up the recipes.
Precision Cooker Pro details and specs
The Precision Cooker Pro is designed to be the most powerful, durable, and precise sous vide in the Anova lineup. It's also the most expensive, priced at $399 - significantly more than the $99 Nano and the $129 Precision Cooker.
So, why is it this expensive? With 1,200 watts and a flow rate of 12 liters per minutes - for reference, the Nano (Anova's cheapest model) only has 750 watts and the Precision Cooker (the mid-level option) can only circulate eight liters of water per minute - the Pro rivals sous vides that you'd find in a commercial kitchen in terms of power. It can heat up to 100 liters of water and run for 10,000 hours straight without shutting down.And, the Pro is extremely precise. Let's face it, when it comes to getting the perfect cook on a steak or piece of fish, the difference between overcooked and just-right is defined by mere seconds. The Pro has a temperature probe that's accurate to 0.05°C (or 32.09 °F), so you'll get perfect results every time.
While all of this technical talk may seem intimidating, especially for sous vide beginners, the device is extremely user friendly. An adjustable and detachable clamp make it easy to set up, and keep the Pro stable. A removable skirt covers the heater, making it particularly easy to clean. The sensitive touch-screen allows you to manually set time and temperature controls in seconds, and the high-quality sound will denote that you've done everything right. Eventually, you'll be able to control the device through the Anova app, but as of now you can only control the machine manually.
The best part is that the device couldn't be easier to use. Plug it in, prep your food, quickly click your settings into place, and cook away - the only thing you really need is a good chunk of time.
I have heard the praises of sous vide sung by my colleagues who say that the device helps them make restaurant-quality meals at home, and with little effort. The idea that I could make juicy meat and tender veggies every time without having to check on them even once was exciting.
To see just how good this device was, I chose to use one of the easiest foods to mess up: plain chicken breast. I happened to have a few frozen chicken breasts, which I hadn't cooked in fear they'd become overly dry, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
After defrosting, I scanned the Anova app for a simple chicken breast recipe. I filled the inner pot from my Instant Pot (any large pot will work) with water and clamped the Anova Pro to the side, a simple and effective setup. I plugged in the Anova Pro and the touch screen immediately turned on. The interface on the Pro uses very distinct icons, making the process almost intuitive. I tapped the "temperature" icon and then tapped the "plus" icon a few times to get the temperature up to 150°F. I set the temperature by tapping the "start" icon.
Then, I followed what the recipe said and seasoned my chicken breast with salt and pepper. I placed the seasoned chicken in a large Ziploc bag and drizzled a little olive in as well - this wasn't in the recipe, but I saw it on a YouTube video and it seemed like a good move. I popped the Ziploc bag into the water bath. Once half-submerged in the water, almost all of the air was gone and the Ziploc created a vacuum-sealed effect over the chicken. I zipped up the top, then, I clicked the "clock" icon and used the adjustment toggle to set the time to 1.5 hours.I stood around for a bit, thinking there had to be something else I had to do, but I realized I was done. So, I went on to do some work on my computer. I checked on it a few times out of pure curiosity, not necessity, but I didn't even touch anything - I just peered over the pot to see if anything had changed.
Soon enough, time was up. I pulled the bag out of the water bath and poured my creation onto a plate. To be honest it wasn't the prettiest sight (poached chicken looks pretty bland), but eager to try, I sliced right in and took a bite. I actually couldn't believe that I had made this chicken - it was juicy, tender, and so flavorful, even though all I had put on was salt, pepper, and a touch of olive oil.
I ate some plain, seared some in a pan, and shredded some to turn into a chicken salad. All iterations were equally delicious. I used this device twice within the first week of having it, which I think speaks to how much I love it. Next on my list is experimenting with steak - because if I can ace that, I'll know I've made it.
The Anova Pro will make delicious food with ease and efficiency - something novices and experts alike can appreciate. If you've never tried using a sous vide before, or just find $399 to be too steep, there are plenty more affordable options that will still give you the same high-quality home-cooked meals. If you're a professional chef, a kitchen gadget aficionado, or want to cook large quantities of food at one time, the price is worth it.
Shop all Anova sous vide devices at Amazon or learn more about the best sous vide machines you can buy
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