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“Sous vide” may sound like some obscure foody term on the surface, but according to Anova, you don’t have to be a certified gourmand to appreciate the benefits of this highly precise cooking method.
Where conventional ovens can vary in accuracy up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Anova claims their sous vide cookers stay within 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit of the target temperature, and when you’re done, you only have one container to clean (without the cooked-on crusts, either).
As critically minded reviewers, we knew we had to personally investigate Anova’s sous vide cookers (and now a combination oven) for all their lofty claims—especially after seeing photo after photo of perfectly cooked protein on their website.
After trying the products ourselves and interviewing Anova team members, we have to admit—the brand actually makes good on their lofty promises.
If you’re looking to step up your dinner game without the added hassle of learning advanced techniques or heavy clean-up duty every night, then read on to learn more about Anova and their precision cooking products.
As pictured, our Anova precision cooker made extremely juicy, evenly cooked steaks with very little setup hassle.
You simply prep and bag your food, fill a pot with water, clip the Anova on (using the adjustable clamp), and set your temperature and time.
After dozens of trials, we have yet to undercook or overcook a single item.
Founded in 2013 by Jeff Wu, Natalie Vaughn, and Steve Svajian, Anova Culinary originally sold their lab-equipment-inspired sous vide cookers (more on that below) exclusively to other businesses.
Not long after, Svajian transformed the bulkier, costlier, commercial-grade sous vides of this first generation into smaller and more affordable alternatives, opening them up to the everyday home cook.
As Anova PR and Communications Manager Austin Lewis informed us, very few consumers on the non-commercial side knew about sous vide cooking when Anova first started rolling out their consumer-grade cookers, so the company still had a lot of work to do if they were to break into this virtually untapped market.
Hence, #anovafoodnerd was born, which represents just one arm of Anova’s comprehensive “sous vide awareness” campaign that continues to enlighten sous vide newbies to this day.
Thanks to this persistent advocacy and pro-consumer product design (per Anova, consumers love the app-enabled functionality), Anova followed a fairly aggressive growth trajectory for several years following the launch of their smaller sous vide cookers, eventually being acquired by Electrolux in February of 2017 for a cool quarter of a billion dollars.
In August of 2020, Anova expanded on their existing line of sous vide cookers with the Anova Precision Oven, “the first combi steam countertop oven with pro-level features designed for the home cook,” Austin told us, which catches us up on all major milestones to date.
The Anova Precision Oven is the first combi steam countertop oven with pro-level features designed for the home cook.Austin Lewis, Anova PR and Communications Manager
And yes, we will now stop assuming you know what “sous vide” means; check out our crash course below.
Originally developed as a technique to sterilize or precisely heat food and other materials in a laboratory or factory setting, sous vide cooking is the use of an immersion circulator to heat and circulate water at a precise temperature.
Sous vide cooking is the use of an immersion circulator to heat and circulate water at a precise temperature.
In the culinary setting, the sous vide cooker is clipped to a pot and partially inserted into the water, where the food therein is cooked in vacuum-sealed bags (“sous vide” is French for “under vacuum”).
In the case of sous vide cooking of staple proteins (steak, chicken, pork, etc.), most cooks will sear the meat in a pan or with a torch after the fact.
Because sous vide cookers can maintain temperatures with a significantly smaller margin of error than conventional cooking methods (between +/- 0.09-0.2 degree accuracy versus +/- 30 or more degrees), they are preferred both by busy chefs and lab scientists striving for consistency above all else.
Cooking via steam at the level of precision sous vide provides makes for a perfectly even cook each time, working around the usual brown-to-pink gradient (if we’re talking red meat) that most other cooking methods produce.
For more discerning chefs, sous vide also offers a number of technical advantages, such as helping to retain as much fat as possible in dishes like foie gras, known for its buttery, sultry flavor.
Once the initial setup is mastered, sous vide is very easy for beginner cooks to use, as no advanced techniques are required if you don’t want them to be—simply seal the food, set the cooker, and sear afterward when necessary.
In Anova’s case, app-enabled sous vide cookers can be controlled by your phone to make it easier to tend to other tasks and/or dishes in the meantime.
But it’s not all glam, and depending on your preferences, you may find that sous vide cooking isn’t for you for one or more reasons.
When pressed for time, for example, sous vide is not always the best call, since it typically takes twice as long or more to cook most items, but the Anova Precision Oven comes closer to the average cook time of conventional ovens.
Pricing is not totally prohibitive in the case of Anova’s product lines, as they offer lower entry points for budget-conscious consumers ($149.99 for the nano, and you can use your own pots/bags), but if you really want to buy into the Anova ecosystem for maximum results, you’re looking at investing around $400 or $500.
Finally, and with a big asterisk, because this is a highly subjective issue, some home cooks snub sous vide as a viable option because they believe it takes the joy out of cooking—the sensory experience and the practice of various techniques.
All this considered, budgeting for time and the initial investment and accounting for bolder flavors in the preparation phase should help to optimize your experience with a sous vide cooker.
Overall Grade: A
Though we identified one or two areas of improvement, Anova’s product quality, excellent user-friendly content and interface, and overall brand value carried the brand to an excellent score.
Our editorial team uses a six-factor rating system when reviewing brands, consisting of the following major criteria:
Underneath each of these are several sub-factors that can vary significantly depending on the brand and the products they produce.
Anova performed consistently well across our rating scale, earning an overall score of A—here’s a detailed breakdown of the review.
From the cookers and vacuum sealers themselves to the expansive suite of supporting content, Anova’s product quality is rock solid.
Very few competitors in this emerging market have transformed from the clunky, lab-grade sous vide to a feature-rich home cook mainstay as cleanly and effectively as Anova.
First and foremost, Anova’s cookers consistently work, producing perfectly cooked protein every time, and the Standard and Pro will surprise you with how quickly they can heat up.
As for key specs, the cookers are precise to within 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, made from water-resistant plastic and stainless steel, and come with adjustable and removable components for easy storage, use, and maintenance.
Add a crisp user-interface complete with app connectivity, a full library of recipes that the Anova will actually cook for you with the press of a button, and a reusable silicone bag that saves on plastic waste, and we can’t award anything but an A.
Here’s a closer look at Anova’s products to back up our grade.
Per our conversation with Anova PR and Communications Manager Austin Lewis, Anova’s mission is to “democratize pro [cooking] tools to make it simple for the home chef to cook like a pro.”
In service of that mission, Anova redesigned commercial-grade sous vide cookers, which can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, to more appropriately fit both the home cook’s needs and budget.
The result was a line of smaller, more affordable sous vide cookers with the same functionality as their hulking forebearers and a number of consumer-focused amenities added on (e.g., the mobile app).
Here’s a brief overview of the Anova product catalog, which is divided into three simple categories:
Billed as their most beginner-friendly sous vide cooker, the Anova Precision Cooker Nano offers a very competitively priced ($149.99 for the unit by itself) entry point for anyone looking for a trial run.
The margin of error on cooking temperature is +/- 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cooker is 12.8” long.
You still have the option to use either the app or the manual controls, and the cooker comes with its own clamp, so you’re ready to attach to your container and use.
A definitive step up in power is the middle point in the line: the Anova Precision Cooker.
Where the Anova Precision Cooker Nano performs at 750 watts, this one is upped to 1000 watts, accommodating larger containers and more food (with the same amenities/functionality).
Finally, the more robust Anova Precision Cooker Pro is rated to handle up to 26 gallons of water (and a ton of food).
The stainless steel, water-resistant construction is meant to handle the rigors of an especially busy kitchen, and the pro comes with a capacitive touch screen, high-fidelity speaker tones, and plenty of other frills.
Just like sous vide cookers, combination ovens (that allow you to control both temperature and humidity) have been heavily relied on by chefs in commercial kitchens, but their size and price rendered them impractical for home use.
Thus, Anova did with the combination oven what they did with the sous vide, giving home cooks a much smaller and more affordable combination oven that allows for sous vide cooking without the sous vide setup.
We found the Advanced Precision Oven to be considerably faster than many sous vides, while far more accurate than even high-end ovens, allowing us to cook with that same sous vide quality in as low as 30 minutes and without the plastic waste.
The food probe and wet probe sensor allow you to monitor your food as it’s being steamed to the optimal temperature, and according to Anova’s cooking guides, you can rapidly change temperature at the end to crisp up that chicken without drying it out.
Where conventional ovens can vary up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction, the Advanced Precision Oven touts an overall accuracy of +/- 6 degrees Fahrenheit and a sous vide mode accuracy of +/- 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, the biggest drawback of sous vide cookers for many—the hassle and environmental impact of plastic waste—is a non-issue with the Anova Precision Oven.
Though sous vide is quite hard to mess up, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer and/or a container with a lid, you may notice a subtle difference in quality.
For this reason, Anova sells four vacuum sealers (Chamber, Pro, Standard, and Handheld), cooking containers optimized to prevent evaporation, and as part of an environmentally conscious effort, reusable silicone bags.
They also offer a perforated pan for the Advanced Precision Oven that allows more heat to envelop your food, quickening cook times without sacrificing accuracy.
Anova readily shares insights about their company, processes, and products both with us and their customers.
In the case of Anova, we weren’t just expecting to see detailed breakdowns of their products (specs, features, etc.), but also a thorough introduction to sous vide cooking itself, since so many home cooks are still new to the method.
It only took a few moments to find ample content supporting both of these important transparency points on the Anova website, including the What Is Sous Vide? page and a blog lush with recipes, sous vide tips, and plenty of user-generated (or at least user-featured) content showcasing what Anova users have been creating.
Additionally, in our own correspondence with the Anova team, they’ve openly shared information about the company’s background, products, and anything else we wanted to know.
Anova provides a well-rounded user experience, thanks to an informative site that provides a seamless shopping experience and an app filled with hundreds of super easy-to-follow recipes.
Interspersed among product pages/categories themselves as well as in dedicated sections, plenty of beginner-friendly breakdowns of sous vide cooking and the various tools involved make the shopping experience less confusing and intimidating.
As far as e-commerce functionality goes, browsing and selecting products is seamless, page design and image quality are both high quality and non-distracting, and we didn’t notice any major hitches in the experience that took us out of it (excessive splash pages, being steered away from the products when adding to cart, etc.).
The app is what really propelled them into A+ territory with its huge library of recipes and super convenient accessibility.
Other sous vide cookers now offer the same app connectivity that lets you control the temperature and other settings from your phone, but with the Anova app, you can prep the food as described in a recipe and then simply hit start, and the cooker will automatically adjust throughout the process to cook that exact dish.
Both for the breadth of available information/recipes and for this ridiculously easy feature, we can’t help but award Anova the highest possible grade for website experience.
Shipping and return policies are fair and flexible, a defective product we received was swiftly and professionally addressed, but we couldn’t get through on the phone support line.
Standard shipping (4-6 business days) is free, which is generally an automatic full score for shipping in our book, and the fairly broad selection of expedited shipping plans (four options from 1-4 days) are available as well.
Throughout our use of Anova products, which extends back several years when our entire team is accounted for, we’ve had one product issue that was promptly resolved.
After receiving a defective Anova Precision Oven, we contacted the Anova customer service team, who politely and professionally managed the situation, replacing the unit with minimal turnaround time.
The Anova site offers email and phone support, which make up our minimum requirements for A territory (a live messenger bumps up to a potential A+, barring any issues).
Considering how they handled our one-time issue and the services they have available, they still made it into the top tier of brands we’ve reviewed for customer service.
As industry leaders do, Anova charges a premium, but the superior quality and functionality of their cookers offsets this and then some.
Here’s the pricing structure for all of Anova’s cooking tools:
Provided the context of other portable sous vide cookers, there are plenty of alternatives with slimmer price tags available, but going the Precision Cooker Nano route (including the use of your own bags and pots) still provides a competitively priced entry point for budget-minded consumers.
Joule and Instant Pot sous vide cookers, for example, are priced cheaper to their Anova counterparts and comparable in terms of power output, but in most cases, Anova has superior features/functionality on its side.
Considering the more sophisticated interface, portability, and all the support (recipes, guides, etc.) that comes with Anova precision sous vide cookers, we’re still ranking them above most of the competition for value.
Anova is largely responsible for sous vides being available to home cooks today, and their philanthropy efforts go well beyond lip service.
Since this criterion is meant to credit a brand for their overall impact on their respective industry as well as any not-for-profit efforts meant to promote positive change for , it’s a mandatory A+ for Anova because they essentially created the market they’re now leading.
Whether or not they were the very first to adapt lab-grade immersion circulators into the portable sous vide products widely available today, they definitely led the transformation.
If it weren’t for Anova, there’s a chance home cooks still wouldn’t have easy and affordable access to pro-level tools like sous vide cookers.
Expanding beyond their foundational contributions to the pro-level cooking tools industry, Anova also partners with Plastic Bank to maintain a plastic neutral status, which certainly earns them some extra points.
Anova also partners with Meals on Wheels, San-Francisco Marin Food Bank, and other organizations to combat food insecurity and improve their social impact.
Hence, for their substantial efforts made both in and out of their industry, we award Anova the highest grade for brand value.
Between all of us, the review team received and used the following Anova products:
Having used sous vides for 5+ years, we were equally impressed at both the quality of the food that Anova Precision Cookers and the Precision Oven make as well as how huge the margin of error is for people of all experience levels.
Especially when cooking steaks—a delicate balance that most of us have upset—it’s so much easier to trust that the sous vide will cook to the perfect temperature than to hazard a guess as to what temperature the conventional stove, oven, or grill will feel like running that day.
So long as we calibrated to the right temperature, we simply couldn’t mess up a steak or any other protein in the Anova Precision Cooker—even when letting it cook for an hour or two extra.
Because the Anova app automatically adjusts the temperature throughout the process of cooking the chicken pictured above (though you can adjust manually if preferred), we ended up with a perfectly cooked bird that just needed a quick sear to brown the outside.
Size is more of a limitation in the case of the oven, so if you’re looking to feed more than 2-3 people, it’s going to be a better job for one of the sous vides.
You don’t need the Precision Cooker Pro to accommodate medium-to-large parties of under a dozen people, but if you’re looking for serious power to keep up with that big-old pot you plan to use, the Precision Cooker Pro can handle it with less warm-up time than the other two.
The TL;DR is this: Both the precision oven and Anova’s sous vides make it ridiculously easy to cook restaurant-quality food at home, with the oven excelling at smaller/faster meals and the sous vides opening up possibilities for grander occasions.
Here’s a quick list of the major points to recap our experience reviewing Anova products, researching the brand, and speaking with the team:
Anova’s overall score: A.
For anyone looking to significantly improve their cooking game without diving into heavily hands-on and time-consuming techniques, we highly recommend Anova’s precision cooking products.
Finally, we like to end by asking the reviewed brand this question as a chance to share some of their knowledge and experience with our audience:
What is something you wish more people knew about sous vide and/or precision cooking?
“We want to change the way people cook,” Austin Lewis told us. “We’re looking at all different types of pro-level products to bring to people so that people can build confidence in the kitchen—this is our goal now and in the future.”
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