Sous video cooking sounds complex, but it’s actually a simple process that makes it easy for anyone to prepare meals perfectly. You seal food in plastic and immerse it in a water bath heated to a precise temperature, made possible by immersion circulators like the $199.99 Anova Precision Cooker. Thanks to both onboard controls and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can control the cooking process using the Anova itself, or from anywhere using your phone. It couldn’t be easier to use, and all but guarantees perfect results, making it an Editors’ Choice for smart cooking appliances.
The Anova Precision Cooker is a smaller, sleeker version of Anova’s previous immersion circulators, trimming inches and ounces off of the original design. It’s still a half-metal, half-plastic cylinder with a clamp on the side, but at 12.8 inches in length and 1.6 pounds, it’s markedly shorter and lighter than its predecessors.
The plastic top half and metal bottom half are joined by a clamp with which the device attaches to any stock pot or other container large enough to hold a water bath (between 2.5 and 6 inches of water). The Precision Cooker can be dismantled and most of its metal components can be separated from the electronics for cleaning.
The top features a glossy black panel bearing the Anova logo, angled upward. When you plug it in, the panel lights up with a four-digit LED display and a series of backlit, touch-sensitive buttons. Buttons for the current temperature, set temperature, and timer sit above the display, while plus, minus, and start buttons sit below. The display shows the current temperature in the water bath by default unless a timer is set.
The plus and minus buttons on the top panel replace the physical dial that was on the front of the original Precision Cooker. It’s slightly less speedy to tap and hold to set the temperature than it is to spin a dial, but it’s hardly an inconvenience. The front of the device now holds only an indicator light.
The Precision Cooker features Wi-Fi connectivity, letting you control it with the Anova app for Android or iOS. I had some difficulty connecting it to my home network through the app on my Google Pixel 3a XL, but after a few tries I got it set up with my iPad Mini. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity for simpler, direct pairing like the less powerful Anova Precision Cooker Nano ($99.99).
Once it’s connected to your home network, the Precision Cooker can work with the app to both automate cooking and show the current status of the device. You can use the app to manually set a target temperature, set a timer, and monitor the current temperature of the water bath. You can also look through a variety of cooking guides for different cuts of meat and varieties of seafood and vegetables.
The app is filled with directions and basic recipes for preparing, cooking, and finishing dishes like steak, lobster, and lamb. Tapping Cook This Guide in any recipe will automatically enter the temperature and time requirements for the sous video process, letting you start heating the water bath with a tap.
The network connectivity and app support make cooking easier and provide handy references for the right temperatures and cooking times for your food, but they aren’t necessary for less novice chefs. You can get just as good results by manually entering the temperature and time yourself, which takes seconds using the touch controls.
While the recipes provide multiple settings to cook meats to different levels of doneness (124 degrees Fahrenheit for a rare steak, or 150 degrees for a medium-well steak, for instance), you can’t further tweak the presets to suit your personal preferences. They’re useful in getting started, but if you want to experiment with sous vide cooking or follow recipes online rather than the ones in the app, you’ll be using the manual controls. Fortunately, you can still check the cooking process remotely by tapping the Cook button in the app.
Before you start cooking, you need to heat the water to the desired temperature. This can take varying amounts of time depending on the power of the immersion circulator, the volume of water in the bath, and the starting temperature of the water. In testing, the 1,200-watt Precision Cooker took between half an hour to 45 minutes to heat a water bath in my 12-quart plastic container from 75 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A smaller container like a stock pot will obviously heat up more quickly.
I started by using the Anova to make a leg of lamb, approximately a three-pound bone-in roast. I prefer my meat on the more well side of medium, so I set the temperature for 140 degrees for nine hours. After that, I finished the roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes to give it a bit of color and texture on the outside. It came out fantastic, with moist, juicy meat that was perfectly cooked.
I also cooked some hard-boiled eggs with the Precision Cooker. I set the temperature to 165 degrees and left the eggs in the water bath for an hour, then transferred them to an ice bath. The whites were slightly softer than my usual hard-boiled eggs, and the yolks were firm and creamy, not opaque and mealy like they tend to be when I simply boil them. The whites stuck to the shell a bit, but I have no complaints about the texture or flavor of the egg itself, which was perfect. The precise temperature control also makes the Precision Cooker ideal for poaching eggs, outside of the shell.
Finally, I used the Anova to cook a tough London broil steak to medium at 135 degrees for an hour. I then finished it for a few minutes in a hot oven. I didn’t manage to give the steak a proper sear, but it was cooked to a perfect medium, pink on the inside without being bloody.
A Sous Vide Staple
The Anova Precision Cooker is an excellent immersion circulator for anyone looking to cook sous vide, either through a mobile device or not. The onboard controls let you cook manually, and the app lets you automate and remotely monitor the cooking process. And at $200, it essentially provides the same functionality as the Joule for $50 less. If you want to save more and don’t mind waiting longer for your water bath to heat up, the Anova Precision Cooker Nano is available for half the price, but its 750-watt power is just over half that of the Precision Cooker. The Nano also uses Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi, and despite its name isn’t smaller than the Precision Cooker. That makes the Precision Cooker a bit more versatile, and our Editors’ Choice.