Sous-Vide Equipment Review: SousVide Supreme vs. Anova Precision Cooker

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I’ve been cooking sous-vide for five years now, since even before I started this blog. Back then sous-vide cooking was virtually unknown to the general public, and only restaurant chefs and cooking ‘geeks’ were aware of the cooking technique that so far was being used only at upscale restaurants and was often called “roner” instead of sous-vide. (The “Roner” was named after two chefs from Girona in Spain, Joan Roca and Narcís Caner, who developed one of the first immersion circulators to be used for cooking in restaurants.) My first piece of sous-vide equipment was a SousVide Supreme “water oven”, back then one of the first aiming at the general public. I’ve been using it on a regular basis, at least once a week but often more, during all that time. Sous-vide cooking has become an integral part of my cooking style as it works so well to support my cooking philosophy to get good produce and allow it to shine by cooking it ‘just right’.

I’ve been holding back a bit on writing too many posts about sous-vide on this blog, as I was aware that only a small part of my followers own sous-vide equipment and I noticed that sous-vide posts got less likes and comments than others. But recently I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends and followers now own sous-vide equipment. And that they have all the questions that I had when I first started cooking sous-vide five years ago. So from now on I will try to transfer my know how and experience by not only posting recipes that use sous-vide, but also posts that explain how sous-vide cooking works.

As you may be thinking of asking Santa Claus for a sous-vide, too, I thought it’d be a good idea to review the two most popular pieces of sous-vide equipment, the SousVide Supreme water oven and the Anova Precision Cooker immersion circulator. This review will hopefully help make up your mind which one to get. I own both appliances and have paid for them myself. I am not affiliated to either company. I’ve owned the SousVide Supreme (SVS) for 5 years, and the Anova Precision Cooker (Anova) for 1 year.

Before I start with a detailed review, let me start with a brief explanation of the different possibilities for sous-vide equipment that are available.

Types of sous-vide equipment

For sous-vide cooking you will need three elements:

  1. A thermostat, or even better a PID (proportional–integral–derivative) controller, to regulate the temperature (a PID will hold the temperature more accurately than a thermostat)
  2. A heating element, that is to be controlled by the thermostat
  3. A container that will hold the water and insulates it from heat loss and evaporation

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The three most common sous-vide solutions currently available are:

  • A water oven (or water bath) that combines all three elements (thermostat, heating, and container) in one appliance, such as SVS, OlisoGrantSunbeam, PolyScience, or Roner
  • An immersion circulator (thermostat + heater) that can be used in any container, such as Anova, Nomiku, SansairePolyScience, Roner, or Grant
  • A PID temperature controller to be used with a rice cooker or slow cooker for the heating and container, such as Auber or Codlo. This used to be a cheap alternative with risk of uneven heating as a drawback, but now that immersion circulators are available for the same price as these PID controllers, this no longer seems to be a good alternative for either of the first two options.

Below I will compare the SVS and Anova. The SVS is the most popular water oven for home use, and the Anova the most popular immersion circulator for home use. Many of the differences between them will also apply to other water ovens and immersion circulators. An important point to note is that an immersion circulator is a partial sous-vide solution, as it provides only two of three elements needed (thermostat and heater), and not the third element (the container). Some characteristics such as capacity, evaporation, and insulation, will depend on what container you will use together with the immersion circulator.

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Price

The SousVide Supreme (SVS) is sold in two sizes, the SVS (€474 in Europe/$376 in the US) and the SVS Demi (€375 in Europe/$329 in the US). The difference is mostly in size (11 litres versus 9 litres).

The Anova Precision Cooker is now on sale for $179 in Europe/$129 in the US (regular prices $50 more).

Although the Anova “works with any pot”, it is not completely fair to compare the prices just like that. It is true that the Anova will work with any pot that you already own, but if you want to do longer cooks (of more than a couple of hours), you will need to do something about insulation and/or evaporation and you will probably spend about $25 on either a polycarbonate container or a beer cooler. Even with that added cost, you can buy two Anovas for the price of one SVS, so in terms of price the Anova is clearly the winner.

Ease of use: evaporation

The SVS sits on my countertop and is always ready to be used right away. It is insulated and has a cover to prevent water loss through evaporation. This is very important for longer cooks, as at the temperatures used for those (between 55C and 62C/131F and 144F), water evaporates a lot quicker than at room temperature. This means that the water level will drop, your kitchen will get steamed up, and it is less efficient.

I use the Anova in a stockpot or a beer cooler and I cannot use their usual covers, because the Anova sticks out on top. And so with the Anova evaporation is an issue, because it will shut off when the water level drops too low. I solve this by covering the stock pot or beer cooler with plastic wrap, but compared to the cover of the SVS that is quite a nuisance. Not only to apply the plastic wrap, but also to open and close when needed. Because of this, I prefer the SVS for longer cooks.

If you own an Anova or decide to buy one, I would recommend that you buy a polycarbonate container with a cover or a beer cooler, and then cut a hole in the cover of the polycarbonate container or beer cooler so that you will be able to use that cover to prevent water loss through evaporation.

Ease of use: controls

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To switch the SVS on or off, you have to hold the power button for a couple of seconds. To set the temperature, you have to press “Set temp” and then press or hold the “+” and “-” buttons to set the temperature. When you hold them, the temperature first moves slowly and then more and more quickly. When changing the temperature from 60C to 84C, it happens often that it overshoots. It is not a big nuisance, but the controls of the Anova are a lot easier to use.

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The Anova is switched on and off by plugging in or unplugging the power cord. It has a dial for the temperature, and there is a simple button to start/stop its operation.

Capacity

The minimum capacity for the SVS is 6.8 litres (1.4 gallons), and the maximum capacity is 11 litres (2.3 gallons). The capacity of the Anova depends on the container that you use it with. It can be used with a smaller container than the SVS, so you will use less water and less energy to heat it and keep it warm. More important is that it can be used with a bigger container than the SVS, which means that you can cook almost twice as much food with it at the same time. The maximum capacity of the Anova is 19 litres (5 gallons).

Space and Portability

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The SVS measures 29 cm by 36 cm by 29 cm (11.4” by 14.2” by 11.4”) and weighs 13 lbs (5.9 kgs). If you have a small kitchen, that is quite large to be sitting on your countertop when it is not in use. The Anova only measures 7 cm by 7 cm by 37 cm (2.75″ by 2.75″ by 14.75″) and weighs 1.2 kgs (2.5 lbs). This means you can store it in a kitchen drawer when it’s not in use, and it is easy to carry to a friend’s kitchen (or on vacation). When in use, the Anova will in many cases require a container that is as big as the SVS (depending on the size of the food you are cooking with it), or even bigger.

Calibration and temperature stability

Sous-vide cooking is all about precision, so calibration and temperature stability are important. Especially with longer cooks, a difference of 2 degrees celsius (4 degrees fahrenheit) is clearly noticeable in the end result and can make the difference between tough and tender or between dry and juicy. However, good is good enough. It is very hard to notice a difference in cooking temperature of 1 degree celsius (2 degrees fahrenheit) or less. And so it is not very meaningful that the Anova will hold the temperature to +/- 0.1 degree celcius, compared to +/- 0.5 degrees for the SVS.

Both appliances use a different technique for heat distribution. The SVS has a PID controller and heating element all over the bottom of the water bath, and relies on natural convection for the heat to be distributed. The Anova has a single point of heating, and has a pump to distribute the heat. Although the Anova’s system is superior from a theoretical point of view, from a practical point of view I have not noticed any difference in cooking results. This is also why this post does not include a side-by-side comparison, as I expect there to be no difference in the end result. I have never had issues with ‘cold spots’ or ‘hot spots’ in the five years I’ve been using the SVS.

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To check the calibration, I mounted the Anova on the SVS so both appliances were heating the same water. I inserted the probe of a thermometer for good measure. In the photo you can see that at a set temperature of 55C/131F the SVS ‘thinks’ the water is warmer than the Anova by 1 degree celsius, which is substantial but not critical. Please note that the calibration of each individual SVS or Anova may be different, so if you do the same experiment you make get different results.

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Interestingly, at a set temperature of 84C (183F), the Anova ‘thinks’ it is warmer than the SVS. Thermometer calibration is tricky business that I won’t go into any further, but in conclusion I do not believe that calibration and temperature stability should be factors to take into account when deciding whether to buy a SVS or an Anova.

Notice the plastic wrap? I added it, because even with the combined heating power of the SVS and the Anova together, they had a hard time getting an uncovered bath to 84C/183F because of the high evaporation rate at that temperature (and evaporation requires energy and thus cools off the water).

Noise

What does noise have to do with sous-vide cooking? Well, the SVS is absolutely silent, but the pump of the Anova makes a noticeable noise. Not very loud, but certainly noticeable and it may become a nuisance to you depending on your living circumstances.

Heating time

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I always fill the sous-vide with warm water from the tap, so heating time is not an issue for me when I cook fish or meat as my tap water is about 60C/140F (for vegetables, which are cooked at 84C/183F, heating time does come into play). I measured the heat up time anyway. I filled the SVS with 6.8 litres of cold tap water (this time of the year at about 11C/52F), which is the minimum amount of water. I put 6.8 litres of the same cold water in a stockpot and mounted the Anova on that. Then I set the temperature for both to 60C/140F. The Anova got there first, and heated the water in 36 minutes. The SVS took about 4 minutes longer. This is not a difference that I deem to be significant when deciding whether to buy one or the other. (The Anova would heat up even more quickly if an insulated and covered container were to be used.)

Cleaning and maintenance

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The SVS is easy to clean and has no moving parts. The only maintenance I’ve performed in five years was to apply some silicone on the edge as the water that evaporates and then condensates on the lid, in part drips down on the edge and then should be held back by a small black edge. This edge had started to leak, and a bit of (black) silicone fixed that.

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The Anova does have a moving part (the pump), and because the heating element is directly touching the water, mineral deposits will form on the element. After only a year of light use, my Anova clearly need a cleaning job.

Conclusion

If price and counter space are important factors — and I think they are for many of you — the Anova is probably the best buy today. I own both of them, and I must say the SVS is my first choice because it is easier to use — especially for longer cooks. If you do get the Anova, make sure to procure a suitable container with a cover.

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54 thoughts on “Sous-Vide Equipment Review: SousVide Supreme vs. Anova Precision Cooker

  1. I ordered an Anova in october, but because at that moment there was no delivery to the Netherlands (that is fixed now) I had it delivered to friends of ours who live in France. Going there for the Christmas holidays, so I’m very excited to go and try it for the first time. Plat-de-cotes de boeuf will definitely be on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve used quiet a few sous vide setups over the last 8 years or so starting from eBay used lab units back in the day to the “home cook version” of PolyScience (two of these $500 units died on me after about a year and half of use!!) and now the Anova. Hands down, the Anova wins in terms of price, ease of use and technology. I have the Bluetooth equipped version but now they even have a Wifi one as well. so you can monitor and cook even from work ;). I use a simple Polycarbonate restaurant style tun with a lid that has a hole cut in the top. I can got for 48 hours without having to replenish any water.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had my Anova for about 9 months now and have not used it as much as I should have so far although the results have been excellent for beef and to a lesser extent chicken. I need to become more familiar with this type of cooking that is why I have been following your blog with interest. Thank you for your expertise and your honest review of the products.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been cooking with the SVS for over two years now and just recently bought the Anova unit to enable me to cook bigger pieces/batches. Your comparisons are spot on and very well done. I’m using a 4.7 gallon polycarbonate container with cut-out lid as you suggested to slow evaporation. I really enjoy your blog and am thrilled when you run a sous vide recipe past me. Meats are fantastic, even hamburgers, cooked sous vide. My favorite ways of finishing have changed from cast iron searing to torch and cast iron searing and now to a quick deep fry as it gets in all the nooks and crannies. In warm weather a hot grill finishes wonderfully. Poaching fruits and cooking vegetables should not be ignored by new users especially when choosing to use a different method for meat. Keep up the good work!!

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    1. Thanks for your nice message.
      Having two sous-vide units is also nice to be able to cook two things simultaneously that require different temperatures (like meat and vegetables).
      A quick deep fry is indeed great for searing — in fact I have do so tonight and will do a post about this soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What perfect timing, as Matte has been very very good this year and i was thinking of giving him a sous vide unit for Christmas, but i didn’t know which kind. Your review answered my questions. – Santa Claus

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually you can use either type – the chocolate sits in a bowl on top of the water, rather than in place of the water, and delivers precise temperature control over the chocolate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Questo post è molto interessante.
    Pensavo per Natale di comprare un SV ma ho dei problemi di spazio quindi un prodotto come Anova andrebbe meglio.
    Ho visto anche JOULE offerto da Chefsteps che ha un buon prezzo ma sono ancora indeciso. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joule da ChefSteps non è ancora disponibile in Europa (solo negli Stati Uniti, nel sito dicono “fine 2016” per disponibilità internazionale). Mi sembra un prodotto di alta qualità, però anche più caro dell’Anova (e piuttosto simile all’Anova).
      Un’Anova per Natale sarebbe un buon regalo!

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  7. Good article, thanks! I have two anovas, one like that shown (cost was $129.99 in their kickstarter), and a second older model that also lets you set the cooking time (nice feature) which was regularly priced at $199.00. I use a sears-all blow torch with it (lots of fun) and an insulated cambro bin. I haven’t made a cutout in the poly carb lid yet, so I use a piece of floating insulation that’s cut to fit. I also found a little rack to place in the water which keeps the bags in place, because with the pump, they tend to get pulled toward it during cooking and block some of the circulation. Finally, I soak the parts in plain white vinegar and then use a toothbrush to quickly and easily remove the mineral build up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use silicon balls (sort of pingpong balls that you could actually as well) from a specialist cooking shop to slow evaporation and this works very well. One could argue it is even handier than SVS as there is no need to lift the cover when checking the food. I use a beer cooler that stands on the kitchen floor in a corner with these balls in it and I use it pretty much all the time. One other advantage: one can use it outside. In spring I use it for asparagus parties to the amuse of the guests of course. Needless to say I am very very happy with the Anova.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am very pleased you are doing this – and particularly that you will go on to techniques – do’s and don’ts. There are so many sites that contradict themselves in various articles that it can be very confusing for a beginner.

    Take something like the addition of salt when cooking meat. One very prominent site has at least 3 comments in different articles on this subject – one – always add salt to meat – two – NEVER add salt – 3 – add salt to taste or leave it out if you prefer.

    What can you include in the bag? What should never be included?

    There is probably no final answer to such questions but I will be very interested in your commentary and experience.

    Reading the comments above would give one to believe that the setup for longer term cooking with an Anova is significantly more than with the SVS. As you comment the SVS wins easily in terms of ease of use.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the support and excellent suggestion — salting is a good subject for one of my posts. Besides giving my opinion, I will also do side-by-side experiments to show what difference it makes.
      You do use an immersion circulator for longer term cooking, right? What is your experience with that? Out-of-the-box the SVS certainly wins like you said, but once you have built a setup for an immersion circulator (using for example a beer cooler) I expect it to be quite similar.

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      1. Looping forward to your experiments! @Himeros: Try salting your meat anywhere from 40min up to 4 days and leave uncovered in fridge. For me this works very well. Amazingribs and Kenji from Seriouseats advocate this brining although I agree indeed how to do it exactly is confusing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thomas Keller “rains” salt inside and out on poultry then refrigerates for an hour to hours. Draws water out for crispier skin and works very well. Put fowl on a rack in fridge lined with paper towels to catch the moisture. I now do this for Buffalo chicken wings after steaming them first for thirthy minutes, salt, fridge, deep fry, incredibly crisp!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Very interesting article Stefan. Over the years I’ve used a number of different setups from a PID controller rigged to a big jam maker (fantastic for whole legs of lamb) to my current Anova in a polycarbonate container (though I still have the jam maker). One thing I have found the Anova much better at than the non-circulating baths is cooking things things like eggs, where a variation in temperature between different parts of the bath can make a difference to the end result – the circulator seems to keep the temperature more consistent throughout. I no longer have to worry about my wife glaring at me because I got the ‘better egg’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lee, for this interesting comment. I had heard about consistency problems with PID-controlled rice cookers (or in this, jam makers), but it is nice to get a first-hand report. Although the SVS uses ‘passive’ circulation, I haven’t had similar issues with the SVS either.

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  10. Very well done. I use a VACMASTER circulator, similar to Anova with a 19l (5gal) polycarbonate tub. For the cover, I simply place a poly cutting board over it (when it gets warm you can temper chocolate, etc.). I am new to sous vide (about a year) but have produced some outstanding dishes (and a few flops, too). I will likely add the SVS’s accessory: pouch rack or make one myself.

    I bought this unit to finish an experimental recipe for duck leg. The company dropped the idea because it was too complicated for them to mass produce but they were overwhelmed by the taste and texture. Only sous vide can do the task to finish the recipe and the result is outstanding. It just takes way too long for a commercial application.

    I’ve since tried quite few dishes and made a 2.5kg (5.5lb) medium-rare prime rib of beef for Thanksgiving that was the best I have ever had. My wife and our friends were in agreement that this is the ticket for high quality dishes.

    I just subscribed to follow your blog after discovering it today. Thank you for a well done blog. I have read others and I was not impressed with them. I enjoy reading your blog and can live vicariously in your kitchen. I hope to share some of my more successful dishes. I also do charcuterie and sometimes combine elements of both techniques.

    Again, thank you making this comparison of equipment. Whenever I have someone question me about sous vide, I will refer them here to your blog.

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    1. Hi Cecil,
      Thank you for your very nice message.
      I am curious about the duck leg recipe you mention.
      I can imagine how good that prime rib of beef was.
      Hope to ‘talk’ to you again soon!
      Stefan

      Like

      1. I can send it as PDF if you like. Not sure how to post it but I will share. I need to know the procedure. BTW, I have done the cold smoke salmon you have posted but using Alderwood which has a unique flavor component. Actually I prefer to use Steelhead (wild caught) in place of salmon because the color is much deeper.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. … discovered your site today while searching for sous vide recipes for lamb shoulder.

    i have a Sous Vide Supreme Demi. i love it. the results are phenomenal and the clean-up requires minimal effort – i hate doing dishes.

    looking forward to visiting your site often.

    john

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe. The SVS Demi uses anodized aluminum for its interior rather than stainless steel, as it is used by its larger counterpart. Why do you think this is so? Do you think anodized aluminum is good as stainless steel in the long run?

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        1. The demi interior can scratch then rust. If scratched it should be emptied as soon as possible after each use then thoroughly dried. However, a little rust won’t affect it’s performance.

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  12. After waiting more than a year for a Nomiku v2 I cancelled my preorder and will get my shiny Anova within a month. Can’t wait to start cooking sous vide. At this moment i’m really considering to already buy a vacuumsealer (the foodsaver type) but I guess for now I will use the water replacement method since my kitchen is not the biggest.

    Currently when I’m at a butcher I’m making mental lists of cuts that I want to try.

    Also what do you think of using a blow torch to sear, is that better than a hot pan? I currently only have non stick teflon pans which can’t be heated that much for a good sear so I will need to buy either one of the other 🙂

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    1. Hi Jeroen,

      For flat pieces of meat like steaks, a (very) hot and thick-bottomed pan is better, faster, and easier than a blow torch. With the blow torch, it is difficult to get an even sear. But for an odd shaped piece of meat, it is the best way. If you do get a blow torch, make sure you get a strong one (not one that is meant for creme brulee). It is better to buy a blow torch from a home improvement store than from a kitchen store.

      You will love cooking sous-vide. Apart from meat, you can also get very nice results for fish and vegetables (e.g. white asparagus). There are plenty of recipes on my blog.

      If you have any questions, just ask!

      Have fun with your sous-vide and enjoy!
      Stefan

      Like

    2. I normally post sear using either a very hot cast iron skillet (with duck fat) or under a broiler. The torch is ok but it sometimes adds a taste. Stefan’s comment is spot on too.
      I think you will very pleasantly surprised the character of the foods using sous vide. Hope you enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually post sear, because it is faster, the meat will be served hotter, and the crust retains more of its ‘bite’.
      For pre-searing, the meat needs to cool off (at least somewhat) before vacuum sealing, so because of that it takes longer. I should do a side-by-side experiment to see how much of a difference in flavor there is. An advantage of pre sear is that it is easier at the time of serving.

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      1. I got my anova yay! I also preheated my cast iron pan on full blast about 8 minutes and then put some butter in so there were flames yay! Anyway once the flames died down I seared the steak, it was very good but do you have some preheating tips? How long, what kind of oil, butter etc.

        Oh I had a ribeye with rosemary and some butter In the bag. I should work on water replacement technique because there was a little bit air in, but I put a spoon on it so it was fully submerged. But I was dying to try it today, and the steak made up for the smoke 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi all!

    Interesting read, thanksnfor that! I am thinking about purchasing the Anova, but I was wondering if this is a recommended sous vide cooker if you like to cook for a group of 5 to 6 people. For example normal sized steaks or chicken breasts. Is the 800 watts enough?

    Thanks in advance!

    Alfons

    Like

    1. The Anova can heat up 4-5 gallons (15-19 litres), so that is plenty to cook for 5 to 6 people. In fact, you could use it to cook for a much bigger crowd. At 800 watts it may take a while for all that water to heat up, so I would recommend to fill with hot tap water, but to keep it warm it is definitely enough. I have cooked for 16 with it, using a beer cooler as the container.

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        1. I think you will enjoy cooking sous vide. Steak, eggs, pork, even french fried potatoes and more are transformed. I made a two-rib Prime (3kg+) last November (in-bag seasoned) and post-seared it under the broiler before serving. It was outstanding! Have fun.

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi, there….. thanks, friend. I was in need of the best sous vide machine, but I’m unaware of the best one. Your difference helped me to choose better among ANOVA sous vide machine and water oven. Here on, I’m going to afford the best product and perform my cooking efficiently.

    Like

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