To Sous Vide or NOT Sous Vide?



My wife asked me for my Xmas list and one thing I mentioned was a Sous Vide system. A good friend of mine runs a successful BBQ company in Austin and he says he Sous Vide's meat all the time.

So, what do you think? Is it worth the price of admission? Is it necessary to purchase an "expensive" ($199) system or can you get away with a less expensive model in the $80 range? I usually cook hot and fast on my 22.5 WSM because I don't have time to cook a brisket for 17 hours. I prefer the 7-8 hour cook. Sous Vide of a 15 lb full packer would probably take 3 hours on my WSM for smoke flavor, plus an additional 60 hours in Sous Vide immersion. Am I going to hate this?

Thanks for your comments and SMOKE ON!
Consider an Instant Pot model that allows manual temperature control. I've used mine for 4lb side ribs (sorry--not sous vide but under pressure) and finished under the oven broiler (ya, I know sacrilege but if it works......)
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Consider an Instant Pot model that allows manual temperature control. I've used mine for 4lb side ribs and finished under the oven broiler (ya, I know sacrilege but if it works......)
We have an Instant Pot and I did ribs in it...ONCE. Never again... :rolleyes:
And of course it depends on the recipe used. I didn't do them s/v (my bad re: purpose of this post) but not counting heat up/ cool down it took 15 min to cook. Some spice on the meat and liquid smoke in the water and it's done.

For this thread, I do steaks to a perfect 135o med rare sous vide and finish them on the grill (broiler if raining/snowing).
I own a sous vide, used only for steaks maybe 6 times, have the plastic tub, the heat retention balls and everything.
I always told myself I should try other foods in it but never did.
It has been packed away for at least 2 years now.
While it does cook perfectly, and I am sure it would do other foods perfectly too I find it creates a " texture " to the steak meat that isn't there when cooking it on the grill. I do not approve of this texture, therefore I stopped using it.
While it's easy for me to bash this style I am sure it works good for many things and I have heard restaurants use them a lot but have never experienced that texture while dinning out. Usually because of the food that comes to the table at home ordering a steak while dinning out has become a rarity.
I was considering posting it up for sale on KIJIJI or a similar site like that.
They do come in different brands and I know they have a power rating so some are better in that way than others.
A little research on potential models is the key to find a good powerful one.
The brand I own is

Kuraidori Sous Vide Precision Cooker​

I own an Anova unit and love it - I need to use it more. I use it primarily for steaks and think it's terrific for that. I'll buy steaks in bulk, then season, vac sea and freeze. It's rather convenient to simply pull steak out of the freezer, then be finishing it on the grill after an hour or two in the 'hot tub'. I've used it a few times to do full slabs of beef ribs on cooks that went well over 24 hours. They came out great as well. I haven't gotten around to trying brisket yet, but want to.

I don't think you need the top of the line cooker, but you can currently get the 'regular' Anova for $139 and I'd say that's a pretty good deal.
I bought an Anova wifi for $120 on sale last year. During the summer I experimented with combining smoke and Sous Vide for BBQ. I cooked Pork Butts, full packer Brisket, ribs, and Chicken. I concluded that, for me (retired) the extra work was a disadvantage but I produced BBQ that my family loved. The Kitchenboss is an excellent alternative to Anova but without WIFI. My daughter bought one on my recommendation and no problems with an 1100 watt heating element. Here's a thread from last year.
I have a Joule and we use it for butts, brisket ( corned beef) tenderloin, eye of round. tip roast, chuck roast, pork roasts.
And steaks and chops.
I have 2 (!!) sous vide units, and I use them a lot. For me, they don't necessarily replace any other cooking method, but are an additional tool to use. Something akin to a very temperature specific slow cooker, but really so much more than that.

I use them most when cooking things that need fairly specific temperatures, like prime/wagyu steaks, and I don't want to take a chance on messing it up. Much like the Instant Pot though, the sous vide method lends itself very well to all kinds of things. I think once you start using it, all kinds of things will manifest themselves (vegetables, bacon, eggs, etc).

I have 2 lesser known brand units; Vava 1000w, and Dash 800w. Of the 2, I much prefer the Dash 800w, even though it is a lower wattage. The Dash unit has been more accurate with temperature, is quieter, and only takes a few more minutes to come up to temp vs the Vava unit.

You wouldn't go wrong with one of the Anova units though. The are very well supported, and seem reasonably priced.

EDIT: Also amazing for cooking fish.
I forgot to add that I still use my Sous Vide regularly for Chicken, Pork Chops, veggies, and reheating food. For BBQ I modified my 48 quart cooler into a Frankencooler and Sous Vide machines are not limited by water capacity if using an insulated container. 20 ears of corn cooking all at the same time and better than boiled corn.
Yep, and also perfect for poached or hard boiled eggs. Potatoes come out very nice also.
And if you do bony thinks like ribs or chops, vac sealing sometimes pokes holes thru the bags.
For those I use ziploc freezer bags placed in the water in a bowl air displacement.
Lew, my concern about the Anova unit are the well-known connectivity problems with using a Droid phone. That is what made me consider getting a cheaper no-frills model....
I never had any problems with my Joule. Sometimes it says " connecting" but it still keeps working.
Lew, my concern about the Anova unit are the well-known connectivity problems with using a Droid phone. That is what made me consider getting a cheaper no-frills model....
I had problems with my Droid phone connecting but not in the last 6 months. It still drops but reconnects but I have been forced to cook manually when wifi acted up. The reason I mentioned the Kitchenboss is the stronger heater and no wifi. One less thing to go wrong. It is the same dimensions and same type clamp as my Anova so it fits containers made for the Anova. We used both at my house for a family get together. $85.
Bought 2, first was a cheap 1 that was 1200 w, it works well but compared to my inkbird its very noisy, got a coupon for 1/2 off and really like it, haven't done a lot of stuff with it but its wifi so should make it better lol
I picked up an economy sous vide heater from Woot a few years ago, for less than $70. Does everything I want, and nothing that I do not want it to (like connecting to the Internet...... I'm a bit of a Luddite in that respect.) I've cooked beef tenderloin for something like 14 people with it in a picnic cooler.
I have a cheap one I picked up on a Black Friday sale at Target. It is the Instant Pot brand. I'm not sure why you would want wifi or pay for a more expensive one. For me Sous Vide is a game changer with steaks and pork chops. Also, we have two people in the house, so I can smoke a butt or brisket, then portion out the leftovers, vacuum seal and then reheat using the Sous Vide. Sometimes, you can just throw the frozen vacuum sealed bag in the water bath and set the temp and you have a perfect reheated BBQ meal at dinner time.
Something to consider if you're contemplating a connected sous vide heater, doorbells, pretty much any Internet of Things device. These devices not only require your Internet connection to be up, but the back end servers that are completely out of your control to be available. This entire market is changing very rapidly. Companies are finding out that their fundamental business model may not be sustainable. You really cannot rely on a service always being there (see last week's AWS API issue,) or that the backend service will be available at all, either due to the company remaining solvent, or potentially deciding that a monthly fee for server is is required.

I remain awfully cynical about what can and cannot connect to the outside world, as well as what's being sent and how it's used. My refrigerator does not need an Internet connection. I have a major privacy issue with video doorbell storage outside of my control (look at Jackson, Missouri, law enforcement wants immediate access to every one of them.) Shoot, flat panel displays are now phoning home with details about what's being viewed (and that is *NONE* of the vendor's business, IMO.)

Enough of the rant.......

If you are contemplating a high end connected model, remember that it may require a lot of infrastructure to be available that's completely outside of your control.
If I had to do it all over again I would of bought the dumbed down one. My Sons bought us the Joule, and while I like it, a simple one would of worked just as well and no messing around with my smarter than me phone.