Have you recently purchased a sous vide immersion circulator or maybe decided that it’s your preferred type of sous vide cooker? Are you now trying to figure out which container to get so you can get started with sous vide cooking at home?
There are a lot of options out there for containers you can use for sous vide cooking, and it can definitely be overwhelming.
But no need to worry, because I’ve done the research for you and have highlighted 4 types of containers you can use for sous vide cooking below.
What Kinds of Containers Can Be Used for Water Baths for Sous Vide Cooking?
You can use them anywhere, but one key thing you also need is a container for the water bath.
What’s great is that you have a lot of options for what you can use as your sous vide container.
Something to keep in mind (and that I’ll address for each of the types of containers I highlight below), is whether or not the container has a lid. This is important because having a lid keeps water from evaporating out of the container.
Also, lids help with insulation, which means they help to prevent heat loss and keep the water bath at the temperature that you set it to (as you know, when cooking sous vide, keeping the water bath at the right temperature consistently throughout the container is crucial for getting the best results).
So what kind of container can you use for a sous vide water bath? Your choices range from pots to plastic containers, and even your cooler! Keep reading for more details.
This includes your regular saucepan, stock pot, pasta pot, crock pot, dutch oven, any medium or large size pot you have in your kitchen as long as it can hold the quantity of food you want to cook in one go.
While most sous vide immersion circulators clamp to the side of pretty much any pot, the Joule Sous Vide has a magnetic base that holds to the bottom of metal pots to keep it in place (it has a clamp too for versatile use with all types of containers).
|Low cost options||No lid for insulation and to prevent water evaporation|
|You most likely already have one in your kitchen||May not be large enough for cooking in bulk or large batches|
|Not too large or bulky, don’t take up too much space||Metal pots can transfer heat, so heat in the water bath can be lost and your sous vide cooker will have to use more power and work harder to keep the temperature up|
|Don’t need to worry about counter space, you can put it on your stove while cooking|
What’s great about these containers is that there are a number of sizes you can choose from, from 1 to 22 quarts or 1 to 20 liters.
The most commonly used size of container for sous vide cooking is 12 quarts.
12 quarts is just the right size for cooking in small batches without taking up too much space on your countertop.
|Come with a lid||Lid does not accommodate for clamping a sous vide cooker over the side; you’d have to cut a hole through the lid for this|
|Clear so you can see your food cooking||Not as durable compared to metal pots or dutch ovens|
|Polycarbonate holds heat better compared to metal, so you don’t have to worry about overworking your sous vide cooker||Require counter space and storage space|
|Lightweight and stackable||Not as commonly found in your kitchen as pots are; you may have to purchase one|
|Low cost options||Not BPA-free|
|Variety of size options|
Here are my 3 favorite polycarbonate containers for sous vide cooking:
Home cooks often turn to coolers if they want to cook something very large (a turkey or a whole suckling pig for example).
That being said, you can use smaller coolers (at least 12 quarts) for sous vide cooking too.
|You most likely already have one in your garage or basement somewhere||Plastic lining may contain chemicals, heating water in coolers can be safety hazard|
|Have a lid||Have to cut a hole in the lid to fit the sous vide immersion circulator|
|Made to be insulated so you don’t have to worry about heat loss and the water heats up fast||Bulky, require counter space and storage space|
|Low cost options||Sides of coolers can be too thick to clamp your sous vide cooker securely|
|Variety of size options|
|Good for cooking large food items or cooking in large batches|
Sous Vide Containers With Lids
Finally, there are the containers that are specifically designed for sous vide cooking. These are containers that come with lids with a hole made to fit your sous vide immersion circulator.
These can also come with a sous vide rack, which are used to keep sous vide bags submerged and prevent them from floating so your food cooks evenly. Click here for more details on sous vide racks.
Another cool accessory you may find with the purchase of one of these types of containers is an insulated sleeve.
These sleeves fit snugly around the outside of the container to keep heat in and prevent heat from escaping. They help to maintain the exact water temperature you need for perfect results.
|Specifically designed for sous vide cooking||Require counter space and storage space|
|Comes with lid with hole to fit sous vide cooker||Requires a separate purchase, you probably don’t already have one at home|
|Low cost options|
|Some include a sous vide rack with purchase|
Here are my 3 favorite sous vide containers that come with a lid, a sous vide rack, and some with an insulation sleeve:
If you have one of the Anova Precision Cookers (like the Anova Nano), the EVERIE Sous Vide Container bundles are my favorite for these sous vide cookers.
As you can see, you have quite a few options when it comes to selecting a container for your sous vide immersion circulator.
Having a lid is an important factor to consider, as this helps you get the perfect cook on your food while preserving the life of your immersion circulator.
That being said, there are tips and tricks around this, if you prefer a container without a lid.
I’d recommend a polycarbonate container or one of the specially designed sous vide containers with lids (most of which are polycarbonate containers).
They’re food safe (though not always BPA-free), affordable, the perfect shape for sous vide cooking, and come in a variety of sizes (so you can cook in large quantities if you’d like).
Though they can be large and require more counter space, you can put your polycarbonate container in your kitchen sink while sous vide cooking to save on counter space.
Pots are great, mostly because you probably already have one in your kitchen. You can always experiment with a pot first and see how you like the results.
Since metal pots can lose heat faster (making your immersion circulator work even harder), something cast iron like a dutch oven is probably a better way to go.
If you find you don’t like the results you’re getting with a pot, upgrade to a polycarbonate container or sous vide container with a lid.
The type of container I’d least recommend is a cooler. Mostly because these are designed for cold temperatures, and there could be safety risks with applying heat to the plastic lining.