Anova Precision Cooker Review and Tips

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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THANK YOU! + THE NotSo FINE PRINT

I hope you've found this article useful as I hope to make your life easier and more fulfilled.

Most links and images above will take you to your local Amazon website. But if you can't find what you're looking for, you can click here for my Amazon.com Shop where you'll find my most current recommended finds. You can also use these links to shop at Adorama, B&H Photo and Ebay. As affiliates we get a small percentage of qualifying purchases but rest assured you won't pay a cent more than buying it elsewhere. Thank you for starting your shopping off with us 🙂

Lastly, I'd love to hear from YOU. Please don't be shy and hit me in the comments!

Thanks for reading and happy shopping friends 🙂