Sous vide water bath vs circulator

sous vide water bath vs circulator

What cooking gadgets do you need for sous vide cooking?

If you are new to sous vide cooking, some of the equipment needed to cook delicious, tasty sous vide meals may sound a little confusing. But in fact, sous vide cooking only requires one thing to create amazing meals. A water bath.

Sous Vide Elk Steak

Credit: Sous Vide Elk Steak (see on Recipes page)

In sous vide cooking a water bath is held at a constant temperature so that your ingredients cook evenly. And you can create a sous vide water bath in one of two ways. With a sous vide immersion circulator or with a sous vide water bath, commonly called a sous vide water oven. A sous vide water bath is an all in one sous vide machine which means you don’t need any extra kitchen gadgets at all to be a successful sous vide cook in your own kitchen. A sous vide immersion circulator does require a few additional kitchen tools, although not as many as you might think. So let’s look at a sous vider water bath vs a sous vide immersion circulator. Which is best?

Is a sous vide water bath the same as a suvee machine?

There are many different terms people use to describe sous vide machines. And that language can be a little intimidating. So let’s take a quick look at some of those terms to shed some light on what they mean.

Credit: SousVide Supreme Water Oven via Amazon


The term suvee machine is commonly used to describe a sous vide machine. The term refers to either a sous vide water bath (also known as a sous vide water oven) or a sous vide immersion circulator (also commonly known as a sous vide precision cooker). There are a few other terms that refer to a sous vide machine as well. These include terms such as “sousvee machine”, “suvi machine” and “souve machine”.

So now we have that covered let’s jump into the differences between a sous vide water bath vs a sous vide immersion circulator.

Sous vide water bath vs circulator

We have written a comprehensive guide to buying a sous vide machines. It covers all of the things you should look for and consider before you purchase one. Feel free to check that article out by clicking here.

There are some obvious differences between a sous vide water bath and a sous vide immersion circulator. Those differences are explained well on the SousVide Supreme website, the manufacturer of the SousVide Supreme Water Oven and the SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven:

General Features 

SousVide Supreme

Immersion Circulators

Precise temperature control within .5 degree CelsiusYesYes
Silent operationYesNo
Maintains accuracy without re-calibrationYesNo
Lid to contain steam and prevent evaporationYesNo
Push button simplicityYesNo
Double wall insulation ensures cool touch exterior for safety and to conserve energy to maintain temperatureYesNo

Related article: SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven Review

As you can see, a sous vide water bath requires very little set up given it is an all-in-one unit. Simply turn it on, pop in your food pouches and your sous vide water bath will do the rest for you. And the lack of exposed moving parts in sous vide water baths means the risk of mineral deposits building up from water and causing malfunction are eliminated.

Sous Vide Supreme vs Anova Culinary Precision Cooker

As we mentioned above, SousVide Supreme makes two of the most popular sous vide water baths, the SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven and the SousVide Supreme Water Oven. So how does this water bath compare with some of the most popular sous vide immersion circulators? To be fair, it is difficult to consider the two different sous vide machines side by side.

Credit: Anova Culinary Precision Cooker via Amazon

This is because sous vide water ovens and sous vide immersion circulators call for completely different cooking set ups. With the SousVide Supreme you need no further sous vide accessories whatsoever. With the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker, you need a kitchen pot at a minimum to act as your water bath. And you may also choose to purchase a range of other sous vide accessories to improve your sous vide cooking experience.

The other obvious difference between the Sous Vide Supreme waters ovens and the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker is that the Anova is super portable. You can use your immersion circulator in kitchen pots or larger containers. You can use it at home, take it away with you at Thanksgiving or use it in on your annual road trip to make delicious sous vide meals. In contrast the Sous Vide Supreme Water Baths need to be placed on your counter top at all times given they have a larger footprint and are a little too heavy to move and store frequently.

Related article:  The Ultimate Anova Culinary Sous Vide Gear Set Up

Sous vide water bath vs circulator pricing

Sous vide immersion circulators are cheaper than all-in-one sous vide water baths. So if you are on a limited budget an immersion circulator is probably the best option for you.

In saying that, if you are the type of cook who wants all of the latest accessories for your sous vide cooking, you will see the costs start to add up on top of the initial price of buying an immersion circulator. Sous vide water baths are certainly more pricey to buy upfront but you really don’t need to buy any further accessories for your sous vide cooking (apart from your food bag pouches).

What are your sous vide water bath options?

So let’s assume that you would like to consider a sous vide water bath instead of an immersion circulator. Currently you have a few reputable sous vide water bath options to choose from:

SousVide Supreme Water Oven

SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven

Check out our detailed review of the SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven here 

Mellow Sous Vide Precision Cooker

Oliso Sous Vide Water Oven

Credit: Oliso Sous Vide Cooking System via Amazon

Sous vide water bath vs circulator – which is the better option for you?

The key difference we see between these two styles of sous vide machine is in their portability and their up front cost.

All in one water baths are definitely a great option if you are the type of cook who likes to set and forget. There is a little more set up work required when you use a sous vide immersion circulator. But in saying that, once you have found the ideal set up, using an immersion circulator should really become a set and forget sous vide cooking process for you as well.

If you are a little tight on pennies, then an immersion circulator is probably your best bet. You just need to curb your desire to buy a lot of sous vide accessories as well. Whilst there are some “nice to have” accessories out there, that are definitely not necessary for creating restaurant quality sous vide meals in your own kitchen.

Do you have a favorite sous vide machine? Have you tried both a sous vide water bath and a sous vide immersion circulator? We’d love to hear your thoughts on which is best for you and why. Share your thoughts in the Comments section below. 

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