Finding The Best Sous Vide Container: A Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the best sous vide container is as important as choosing an excellent sous vide circulator. These two tools, when brought together, can create an effortlessly delicious home cooking experience. While the sous vide circulator pushes heat into the water, your container makes sure that heat doesn’t escape out of the sides or top of the water bath. If you choose a quality sous vide container, you’ll have a hands-off experience with perfect results every time. 

*If you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend the HOMENOTE Sous Vide Container 12 Quart with Lid & Rack and Sleeve as the best one. This sous vide container set is complete and makes a perfect starter kit or gift for a loved one at a fantastic value. 

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Sous Vide Containers 101

Best Sous Vide Container Reviews

What Types Of Sous Vide Containers Are There?

sous vide in a pot

One of the great aspects of sous vide cooking is that you can be very adaptable with the type of container you use if you need to cook your food in a pinch. Here are some of the most popular containers that people use to prepare their meals in:

Saucepans: A sauce pan is such a common kitchen item so it’s a great choice for a beginning sous vide user who doesn’t have anything other than a circulator. Saucepans are often shallow so you’ll probably need to use the biggest one you have. The minimum water depth will need to be 2.5” in the pan so that the sous vide machine can actually circulate the water.

Stockpots: Stock pots are great choices for sous viding because they are deeper than a saucepan. You can choose a pot in the range from 6 to 16 quarts for use with your sous vide.

Mixing Bowls: These may be a good option if you are trying to get creative with you options. However, since mixing bowls are rounded, you may have some difficulty with securely attaching your sous vide circulator to the side of the bowl. 

Hardware Store Buckets: Large buckets can be a great option if you’re cooking a large amount of food for many people, or are preparing something very large like a brisket or whole turkey. Their depth also helps them with water retention and you could modify a lid to further retain heat during longer cooking processes.

Polycarbonate Tubs: Many commercially available sous vide containers are made out of clear plastic, which allows you to watch your food as it cooks. Keeping an eye on your meal is helpful when you want to make sure the water isn’t evaporating and that your food isn’t floating to the surface (which may unevenly cook your food).

Coolers: Coolers are an excellent choice for when you are cooking certain foods for a long period of time, since they are extremely effective at retaining heat. You’ll want to make sure that your circulator  can attach to the side of the cooler and may also want to modify the lid by cutting a hole in it so that you can fit in your circulator without letting heat and steam escape from the top. 

How To Choose The Right Container

asparagus sous vide

Size: You’ll want to consider your cooking needs and the amount of people you will be serving in your family. Will you be having regular dinner parties? Then you may want a larger container. Just cooking for one? A small bin will be perfect. You can typically find container sizes in 8 quarts, 12 quarts, 18 quarts, and 22 quarts. 

The height of your container matters as well. Make sure your container is at least 8 inches deep to be able to fit the food, circulator, and water into it. 

Material: One of the main considerations for your sous vide container is insulation. The less heat reactive your container is, the better it will be at maintaining a consistent temperature. Metal containers are highly heat conductive and therefore release a lot of heat from the water into the air. This isn’t efficient and can also be dangerous as the container gets very hot. 

Polycarbonate containers do a good job of keeping the heat in the water. There are also several models that are made of a stronger insulating material from big brands such as Anova. Coolers are also built to hold in heat, if you’re able to modify the lid to fit your circulator in. 

Multi-Use Ability: You may only use your sous vide for special occasions or for food experimentation purposes, meaning you won’t need your sous vide container on hand all of the time. If you’re planning on being an occasional sous vide user, it may be a good idea to use your container for something else. Plastic bins with lids are perfect for organizers in the pantry and linen closets. I personally like to use my container to hold all of my sous vide accessories such as my vacuum sealer, bags, and weights. 

Safety: Understandably, many people have questions about using plastic and high heat as a cooking process. To feel extra safe, you can get a container that is BPA-free. However, this is not necessary for healthy food. The most important factor is the BPA quality of your sous vide bags. If your food is secured in a bag that is toxin-free, even using a BPA container won’t affect your food. 

Do I Need A Lid For My Sous Vide Container?

If your sous vide container has a lid, it will mean better insulation. This will save you time and energy by allowing the circulator to more easily maintain the temperature in your water bath.

Additionally, a lid is very important if you’re cooking a dish that takes a long time. Some sous-vide meals can take a couple of days to cook! A lid will prevent the need to constantly refill the container and will also eliminate any worries if you leave your sous vide running overnight. 

Certain sous vide containers come with lids and if you buy plastic cubes, there is usually a lid that you can purchase for it as well. If the lid isn’t specifically meant for a sous vide unit, you will have to cut a custom hole to fit your device in. The more snug the circulator is fitted into the lid, the better.

Another option is to use saran wrap, cling wrap, or aluminum foil to cover your container. To add another layer of insulation, place a towel on top. You can also wrap a towel around the sides of the container to help retain more heat.

A more novel option is to use lightweight ping-pong balls. Just add them to the top of your water bath and they will help to prevent the escaping of surface heat. This accessory is becoming more popular and many companies are developing sous vide balls that are more energy efficient. 

Rubbermaid Plastic Square Food Storage Container

Using a commercial storage container like the rubbermaid cube is one of the most economical ways to sous vide and you can even use it to store other items when you’re not cooking in it. Since it’s perfectly clear, you can check on your food and make sure it doesn’t float to the top. 

This model ranges in sizes from 2 quarts to 22 quarts. I use a 12 quart cube and have been able to easily cook 2 to 6 bags (portions) of food in it. This container can withstand temperatures from -40 to 212 degrees fahrenheit and is dishwasher safe. 

While this container doesn’t come with a lid, you can purchase this one and cut a custom shaped hole for your sous vide circulator. 

EVERIE Stainless Steel Sous Vide Pot 12 Quart with Lid

This beautiful 12 quart stainless steel pot is great for those who are looking for a more traditional container for their sous viding or who want to avoid the use of plastic. In case the metal gets too hot to handle, there are silicone handle grips for safe and easy movement without the need for oven mitts. 

This set includes two lids: a stainless steel lid and a silicone sous vide compatible lid. You can use this pot for both sous vide cooking and conventional stovetop cooking, perfect for those who want multi-purpose items that will take up less cabinet space. 

Another nice feature is a set of engraved measurements on the inside of the pot, allowing for easy measurement when cooking. To complete your sous vide set, consider purchasing this sous vide rack that fits perfectly inside the EVERIE pot and will keep your food submerged.

HOMENOTE Sous Vide Container 12 Quart with Lid & Rack and Sleeve

This 12 quart sous vide container is perfect for those looking for a complete set. It’s also a great gift set for those getting started, including everything but the sous vide circulator itself. You’ll receive a BPA free container, lid, rack, insulation sleeve, and cookbook.

The sous vide insulating sleeve sets this container apart from the rest. The neoprene sleeve will prevent heat from dissipating from the sides of the bin and make it easier to handle and move. The plastic bin itself can withstand temperatures from -40 to 212 F. 

The rack will keep your food submerged without pressing it to the bottom of the container, resulting in very even cooking. You can adjust the slots in the rack to accommodate larger or smaller food items as needed. There is a metal bar on the top of the rack that holds your sous vide bags down, so there is no need to check on this container until your meal is ready. 

Sous Vide Container 4.75 Gal. (19 qt) and Floating Ball Cover Kit Bundle

This sous vide container is the largest on the list and has a capacity of 19 quarts. This size is ideal for those who have large families, throw dinner parties, or want to cook large roasts or a whole chicken. 

Another feature that sets this container apart is the set of 250 balls that float on the surface of your bin and retain heat and vapor in your water bath. These sous vide balls allow for easier removal of your food without needing to interact with a hot, wet, steamy lid, making it a safer option. heat

The polycarbonate container and sous vide balls are 100% BPA free and heat resistant up to 210 degrees F.

VÄESKE Insulated Sous Vide Container with Lid and Rack

This sous vide container kit comes with everything you’ll need to cook your food in a heat efficient and hands-off way. This set comes with a durable polycarbonate container, a lid, a stainless steel rack, and an insulating sleeve. It comes in 12 quart and 26 quart sizes.

The neoprene insulating sleeve prevents heat from escaping, meaning water heats up faster and temperature is super stable for precision cooking results. The sleeve also prevents scratches and heat-related cracks from sitting on the countertop.

Summary

Sous vide containers can help take your already low-maintenance cooking process to a no-maintenance process by providing heat insulation, stability with racks, and safety with sleeves and high-quality materials. Let me know which sous vide container makes you the happiest in the comments below!

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