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Read about the 5 best sous vide containers and some things to look for when shopping for a sous vide container. Whether you're a beginner or looking to upgrade, we've got it all!
If you're just getting started with sous vide cooking (or even if you've been doing it awhile), a sous vide container is going to be instrumental to your cooking.
If you're totally new to sous vide, definitely check out these benefits of sous vide cooking and then go on to learn how to get started sous vide cooking. And then of course, guys, you will want to start browsing all the sous vide recipes!
Scroll down to the bottom if you want to see what I use and some of my personal preferences.
Note most containers will be made of plastic as plastic heats faster and keeps heat better (more energy efficient).
What to Look For in a Sous Vide Container
First off, you'll want to know what your goals are with sous vide. Are you going to be diving in headfirst to learn all you?
Do you plan to use it for meal planning only? Is it just for occasional use when you want to really nicely done steak?
This will drive what you are looking for. If you're ready to get in and get dirty, you're going to want to make sure you have enough capacity, insulation, lids, etc.
If this is just a light hobby you may do a few times a month, you can make it work with something cheap like the Dutch oven you already own and some foil to cover for evaporation.
It can be super simple, or more in depth.
The water capacity of sous vide containers can vary depending on the specific model and size you choose. However, sous vide containers typically range in capacity from around 5 to 20 liters (1.3 to 5.3 gallons).
Smaller sous vide containers with capacities around 5 to 8 liters (1.3 to 2.1 gallons) are suitable for cooking smaller quantities of food or for personal use. These might be your smaller Dutch ovens.
Medium-sized sous vide containers generally have capacities ranging from 10 to 15 liters (2.6 to 4 gallons). These containers can accommodate larger cuts of meat or larger portions of food, making them suitable for cooking for a small family or gathering. Think stock pots or something similar here.
Larger sous vide containers, with capacities around 18 to 20 liters (4.8 to 5.3 gallons) or more, are designed for commercial or professional use. They can handle larger quantities of food and are often used in restaurants or catering settings. I use a 12 quart container
When selecting a sous vide container, consider the amount of food you typically cook and choose a size that can comfortably accommodate your needs.
Additionally, ensure that the container is made of a material that can withstand the heat and water immersion associated with sous vide cooking, such as food-grade plastic or stainless steel.
Lid or Cover
Using a lid or cover for your sous vide container is highly recommended. It helps to minimize water evaporation during the cooking process, which can lead to heat loss and affect the cooking time.
Some sous vide containers come with compatible lids, or you can use alternative options like plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover the container.
If you're going to be really serious about sous vide cooking, I do recommend buying a lid for your container as it will all but eliminate evaporation (I have never had an evaporation issue)
Insulating your sous vide container can help maintain a more stable temperature and reduce energy consumption. You can use insulating materials such as a sous vide insulation sleeve or even towels wrapped around the container to minimize heat loss.
There are companies out there that actually make sleeves for insulation. I've included a couple below, but keep in mind I have never personally tried these so cannot vouch for their effectiveness.
**check to ensure these sleeves are compatible with your sous vide container - they are not compatible with all.
There are also a few containers in my recommendations below that are pre-insulated so check those out as well.
On the subject of insulation, you will want to make sure you put something underneath your container when cooking to avoid any possible damage to your countertops. We use a cheap plastic cutting board, but anything will work that prevent heat from getting through to the counter.
Sous Vide Racks
Sous vide racks are accessories that can help keep your food organized and separated during cooking. They prevent the vacuum-sealed bags from touching each other and promote even heat circulation around the food.
Racks are particularly useful when cooking multiple items simultaneously.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Proper cleaning and maintenance of your sous vide container are essential to ensure its longevity and prevent contamination. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the container.
Generally, most sous vide containers can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a gentle scrubbing. Avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the container.
We personally use distilled vinegar to clean everything and it works great to remove build-up (we have very hard water).
Other Uses for Your Container
While sous vide containers are primarily designed for sous vide cooking, they can also be utilized for other purposes in the kitchen, which makes them very nifty to have.
You can use them as regular food storage containers, for brining meats (this is a great one, especially for those larger birds around Thanksgiving), as makeshift coolers for chilling beverages or keeping food cold, or for various other culinary applications.
Different Types of Sous Vide Containers
When choosing a sous vide container, consider factors such as capacity, material, insulation, and compatibility with accessories like lids or racks. Opt for a container that suits your cooking needs, budget, and preference.
Dedicated Sous Vide Containers
These containers are specifically designed for sous vide cooking. They are often made of food-grade plastic or stainless steel and come with features like integrated lids, water level indicators, and compatible accessories such as racks. They are available in various sizes to accommodate different cooking needs.
If you are going to be serious about sous vide, a dedicated sous vide container with a lid and some of the accessories we mentioned above are going to make your life easier.
Polycarbonate Food Storage Containers
Many people use polycarbonate food storage containers, commonly available in various sizes, as makeshift sous vide containers.
These containers are transparent, durable, and can withstand high temperatures. However, they might not have specific sous vide features like lids or water level indicators. You can buy after market lids and/or use foil or plastic wrap.
These types of containers do typically contain BPA. That said, your food is not typically cooked directly in the water (there are BPA-free bags in between) so it likely won't be a safety issue.
Stock Pots or Large Cooking Pots
If you don't have a dedicated sous vide container, you can use large stock pots or cooking pots as an alternative. These pots are typically made of stainless steel, cast iron or aluminum and come in different sizes.
They can hold a considerable amount of water for sous vide cooking. However, you may need to use a separate lid or cover to minimize water evaporation.
Pros: You likely already have these in your house so you won't need to go out and buy one.
Cons: A limited amount of food can be prepared in a smaller pot. You may not be able to get your food fully submerged.
Insulated Sous Vide Containers
Insulated sous vide containers have an extra layer of insulation, such as foam or double-walled construction. These containers help to maintain a more stable water temperature, reduce heat loss, and improve energy efficiency.
Insulated containers are especially useful for long cooking sessions or when cooking at lower temperatures for extended periods.
Some people repurpose insulated coolers, like those used for camping or picnics, as sous vide containers. These coolers are designed to retain temperature, making them suitable for maintaining water temperature during sous vide cooking.
However, they might not have specific features like water level indicators or racks.
Pros: Cost effective alternative to purchase, and you may even have one already in your home. They are typically insulated so it is easier for the circulator to keep the water at the correct temp. Lastly, they can be large which will allow you to cook larger items like a whole turkey or brisket.
Cons: They are large so your circulator may not be rated to heat the large quantity of water (check the specs on your circulator - most are around 5 gallons).
The 5 Best Sous Vide Containers
Now that you know what to look for, here are the top sous vide containers, with pros and cons for each one. Note some of these are affiliate links but all recommendations are based on my honest opinion.
Stock Pot/Large Cooking Pot
I wanted to start with the easiest one. If you're just getting started and are not ready to go out and purchase a container, you can use a large pot (we sometimes use our Dutch oven - it's 5 quarts and plenty large enough for smaller items).
A stockpot can also work and it is a bit larger (depending on the size) and you may be able to fit more in it. We use a Cuisinart 12 quart stockpot in our kitchen, but honestly rarely use it for sous vide as we have a 12 quart sous vide container that is much more convenient.
As far as lids go, I think it is totally worth it to purchase a lid for the container. I have a lid and have never had an evaporation problem, even with cooks that last days.
You can also use foil, heat proof plastic wrap, or ping pong balls. Here are a couple options for lids I really like:
So, if you already have a stockpot and/or Dutch oven, this is a great place to start. That said, if you don't have these already, I would not go out and buy them to get started with sous vide. There are cheaper, better options!
Anova Sous Vide Containers
Anova is one of the top brands when it comes to sous vide. Both my mom and my mother in law both use Anova containers when they sous vide (yes, we have made it a family affair because sous vide is awesome).
I don't personally use an Anova container in my kitchen (what I use is below), but have used Anova containers before and they work very well.
If you're really ready to amp up your game, you can also use one of these insulated sous vide container from Anova. Energy efficiency at it's best:
Pros: The lid is silicon so has a nice tight fit to avoid evaporation. The edges are round which help to promote water circulation.
Cons: The containers are that they are on the upper end of the price spectrum.
Lipavi Sous Vide Containers
These containers are made from high-quality polycarbonate and come in a range of different sizes depending on your needs. Lids are actually tailor made for you depending on the immersion circulator you have (extra charge for this).
Their offerings are basic as they typically cater to professional kitchen, but the containers are durable and affordable.
Pros: The wide range of sizes gives you options for smaller cooks as well as larger cooks. The price range is moderate so you get pretty good value for your money. While the lids have to be ordered separately, they cut holes to the exact specifications of your sous vide circulator model!
Cons: This does not include a lid - lids must be purchased separately which does add to the cost. There have been some complaints that it is hard to get your immersion circulator over the edge.
Rubbermaid Sous Vide Containers
Rubbermaid containers come in multiple different sizes and also can save some counter space as it is shorter but deeper.
Pros: The containers come in a range of sizes, which is every convenient. The container also have measurements on the side which can be helpful in some cases (I haven't really run into a need for this yet, but who knows?).
Cons: Containers are not BPA free.
Cambro Sous Vide Containers
Cambro is a company that has been around for many years in the sous vide industry. Their products are pretty highly rated. The material is very strong and durable, so this is a great option if you plan to put a lot of wear and tear on your container.
My Personal Equipment/Recommendations
Most of you already know I use an Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker (this exact one). So when I searched for a container, I made sure to look for one that was compatible.
I use a 12 Liter Everie Sous Vide Container. It comes with a lid and is compatible with all current Anova devices. It is a little more expensive than the others, but I've had it for many years and I love it.
12 Liters fits almost anything I need to cook (I'm working on experimenting with a whole turkey and or some larger cuts of beef, so I'll you know what I decide t go with to cook those) and is very cost effective. It has worked very well for me so far.
Are you currently using a sous vide container that you love not listed above? Leave a comment below and let us know what you're using - I'm always looking for great recommendations!