Anova Precision Cooker Review and Tips

3 Posted by - Food & Recipes, Health & Fitness, Reviews & Buyers Guides

Updated 151212: Warranty Service Update. Anova fedexed a new unit to replace my grinding unit, and also emailed a shipping label and paid for the return of the defective unit. 2 big thumbs up not only for the product, but for the company that stands behind it.

Updated 151112: A grinding noise has developed after months of use. it seems the long impeller shaft is slowly moving out of alignment. Without sufficient guides in place, it’s hard to keep it centered. Just emailed Anova support with this issue and will report back with their reply.

We’ve been using our Anova Precision Cooker since receiving our Kickstarter unit and have been loving the results! Though not perfect, the ease of use and great design makes it an easy daily go-to sous vide machine.


Anova Precision Cooker Review:

Pros:

  • Convenient and simple all-in-one design includes temperature control unit, heating element and water circulator.
  • Price – competitively priced and even cannibalizes Anova’s other Sous Vide machine.
  • Innovative clamp design allows use in a variety of vessels from shallow pots to the cooler hack below.
  • Beautiful design fits under most countertops (unlike the eye-sore my many-wired Dorkfood DSV setup requires).
  • Can be used with up to 5 gallon/19L of water (but only really at low-ish temps).
  • Fairly easy to disassemble and clean – My metal skirt is rough to twist on and off, but really it’s been a non-issue so far.
  • Accurate to within 2°F of my super-accurate Thermapen – My Anova typically reads high by 1-2°F which is understandable since its heating element and thermometer share the same housing.

Cons:

  • Evaporative and Energy loss: due to its design you can’t use lids on most pots causing evaporative and energy loss. The fix: hack a beer cooler.
  • Impeller speed not controllable – problem when cooking delicate items like eggs in small pots.
  • Not expandable.  The Anova is great for most every-day families, but I still love my Dorkfood DSV for giving me the flexibility of cooking for big crowds.
  • Not great for high temperature cooking required for most veggies – When cooking vegetables at 183°F I found the Anova only capable of heating up a small container of water.  When cooking at high temperatures I also triggered the auto-shut off several times which was likely due to excessive moisture from the hot water below getting into the control head.  I also found when cooking carrots at 194°F the Anova’s temperature readout fluctuates wildly.  In the end it was easier (?) to cook at high temps on my range with a thermometer stuck in a pot.

Unknowns:

  • Long-term reliability.  Only time will tell if this all-in-one unit can hold up to NotSoAncient entertaining.  Whether it’s the submerged impeller, control unit above a heating element, the thermometer or the heating element itself, there are many parts that make this unit so great … and have the potential to fail.  I’ll update this article as time goes on.

Wishlist:

  • Higher powered heating element – faster heating to target temps and better control for high-temp cooking.
  • Impeller speed control – for delicate eggs and smaller vessels.
  • Wi-fi instead of bluetooth connectivity – Longer range and connected everywhere.
  • More flexible app – just tell it when I want to eat what and have it ready when I’m ready.

Note: Though I’ve downloaded the iOS app and successfully connected my iPhone to the Anova Precision Cooker, I don’t cook via the app.  I see no compelling reason to control it from my iPhone as I often go out of bluetooth range as I go about my business around the house.  Call me old-school but I prefer to manually set the temp and set timers on my phone to remind me when food needs to be eaten.

Here’s a short video with three quick tips for Anova users:


Recommended Gear for Anova Sous Vide Cooking

For low-temp and (relatively) fast cook times, we use this 6qt Cambro food-grade polycarbonate container.

Perfect for cooking a couple of chicken breasts or a mason jar full of yogurt.


NotSoAncient Tip #1: use this beer cooler hack to prevent evaporative and energy loss for long cookouts.

For longer or larger cook outs (like those required for my favourite 72hr beef ribs) I hacked this Coleman 16qt cooler to conserve energy and prevent evaporative loss.

After Tracing the outline of the Anova clamp on the lid’s corner the plastic lid was pretty easy to (carefully) cut with my favourite box cutter.

Anova Insulated Cooler Hack

NotSoAncient Tip #2: For long cook times I wrap the Anova clamp with saran wrap to prevent condensation from filling the modified lid (the cutout section is hollow). This hack works so well I haven’t needed to add a drop of water to 3-day cook times.

SAFETY NOTE: When wrapping with saran, make sure not to cover the Anova’s vents so it can properly keep its cool.

You can fit a pretty hefty party-pleasing prime rib in there and become an instant Holiday Hero.


NotSoAncient Tip #3: It’s a pet peeve of mine that the Anova has no on/off power switch.  Thankfully there’s an easy fix: I plug mine into this Belkin Conserve Switch.

Using the Belkin switch to kill power to the Anova prevents wear on Anova’s power plug from the constant plugging/unplugging required for each cook time.  It also allows me to keep my setup nicely plugged in and ready to rock on our kitchen counter.


NotSoAncient Tip #4: This universal pouch rack (not affiliated) fits perfectly in our recommended cooler above and in this Cambro 12qt container. It lets me cram more food into my cooler while making sure water can still get around each piece to insure even cooking. I love it so much I have two for super-big cook-outs in my Dorkfood sous vide mega-cooler rig.

SousVide Supreme Universal Pouch Rack


Competition and The Bottom Line

The Anova Precision Cooker gets 2 thumbs up!  For under $200 it’s unmatched in ease of use and quality.

Sure,  I wish the Anova was better at high-temps, but the simplicity and consistency of the results have make it our go-to sous vide machine for cooking up everything from a couple of chicken breasts to our perfect prime rib roast.

Looking ahead, an upcoming sous vide tool that looks interesting is the new Mellow sous vide “Robot.”  With wi-fi control and claimed to be able to keep food at refrigerator temps, it can truly make sous vide cooking achievable for everyone including busy working professionals everywhere.   It’s currently vapour-ware but I hope they make their dream a reality – we’ll all win 🙂

It’s an amazing time to be a home cook!  It’s no secret that sous vide has become one of my favourite methods for cooking my meats.  With its all-one-ease and consistent results, the Anova Precision Cooker has earned a place in our kitchen for perfect proteins.

When I need to cook up a feast for many, my Dorkfood DSV can scale to match the occasion, but the Anova’s simplicity and price point makes it a no-brainer everyday sous vide machine.

Highly recommended!


 

Anova-Precision-Cooker-Colours

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Thanks for reading and happy sous viding!


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10 Comments

  • […] Updated 150325: I’m still a huge fan of the Dorkfood DSV for its bullet-proof design and scalability. But I couldn’t resist backing the Anova Precision Cooker on kickstarter.  You can read my review of it here. […]

  • Nancy Hemmig April 19, 2015 - 10:17 am

    I use the Sensaire and it looks very similar to the Anova. To control evaporation, I purchased several different sizes of plastic containers with lids. We cut a hole in one side of each lid just large enough for the sous vide machine to fit. I almost never have water loss although I have not cooked for over 24 hours yet.
    By the way, I want to do the rib eye roast, but I don’t want to start at 7:00am! If I cook it overnight for 9 hours and then refrigerate it, how long will it take to get back to 135 degrees, so I can grill it and serve? Thanks. I adore sous vide cooking!!!

    • Dave April 19, 2015 - 6:10 pm

      Hi Nancy! Re: plastic containers. Great idea, but I still don’t like the fact they are not insulated, thus the cooler.

      Re: 7am start. Don’t worry: you can start it even the night before you go to bed and it’ll be great the next day at supper 🙂 Sous vide beef is very forgiving, so really no need to worry 🙂 Happy eating!

  • […] no secret how much we love our Anova Precision Cooker.  From the most succulent chicken breast you’ll […]

  • J. Tobias November 4, 2015 - 5:44 am

    Hi Dave. Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to make your videos and provide all this useful info. I like your enthusiasm. 🙂 Keep up the good work. Take care. J.

    • Dave November 4, 2015 - 9:14 am

      Thanks for writing in and for the kind words! It’s a labour of love so it means so much to me 🙂 Take care and happy cooking 🙂

  • George McDonald December 15, 2015 - 12:46 pm

    Hi Dave,

    Your reviews are very informative and entertaining. Everything I look for in a review.

    Have you heard back from Anova with regards to your comment (Updated 151112: A grinding noise has developed …) about the grinding noise?

    Thank you.

    Happy holidays!

    • Dave December 15, 2015 - 12:49 pm

      Thanks George! And YES: amazing customer service experience! They fedexed me a new unit and emailed return shipping of the faulty unit within days of my inquiry! So far the new unit is working perfectly and fixes the issue. But even with issues, it’s 2 big thumbs up for Anova as their customer service and support have proven to be excellent. Cheers and please use the links here to start your shopping 🙂

  • Kevin January 5, 2016 - 3:17 am

    Dave,
    Thanks for your reviews and updates on the warranty service. I’d like to support your site. Could you provide me the links to the products in Amazon.ca instead of Amazon.com? Canadian dollars is pretty low right now. Thanks.

    Kevin

    • Dave January 5, 2016 - 12:09 pm

      Hi Kevin and Thank You! Here’s my amazon.ca affiliate link: http://amzn.to/1n2jsfj Cheers and happy cooking!