First Look: Anova Precision Cooker

Once you’ve tried sous vide food, you may never want to cook another way again.

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It’s hard cooking the perfect steak. Not many people enjoy eating an overdone slab of meat that needs to be slathered with ketchup, but getting your steak exactly right is difficult.

Enter the Anova Precision Cooker. If you’re a fan of shows like MasterChef, you may have seen a commercial version of this. It works using the “sous vide” method, where food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag and immersed in hot water at an exact temperature so cooks from all sides simultaneously.

Essentially, a sous vide machine is a spa bath for food.

Sealing the food in a bag means it cooks in its own juices alongside whatever you add. To create a vacuum-sealed bag, place the food inside a ziplock sandwich bag, partially seal the bag, dip it in water until all the air has been pushed out, then close the seal.

Some cook times are quite long. For example, I cooked a pork belly that took 10 hours at 70°C. There are lots of recipes and guides online for sous vide beginners. I recommend, which has an excellent guide, including cooking steak.

The table below is a good starting point. The timing range depends on the cut and size of the steak. I cooked two 200g scotch fillet steaks for an hour at 62°C, which made them perfectly medium.

Sous vide steak guide

Doneness Temperature[width=large] Timing range
Very rare to rare 51°C 1-2½ hours
Medium-rare 55°C 1-2½ hours
Medium 59°C 1-4 hours
Medium-well 65°C 1-3½ hours
Well done 69°C and up 1-3 hours

A problem with the sous vide method is that meat comes out of the bag looking grey and unappetising, so you need to briefly put it on a very hot pan or skillet to give it a seared look and caramelised flavour. As an aside, this is almost the reverse of how most restaurants cook steak, as they quickly sear the meat first, then put the whole pan in an oven to cook through.

My wife and I were given the Bluetooth version of the Anova Precision Cooker for Christmas. It’s a 37cm-long cylindrical device that clamps to the side of any large pot, heating and circulating the water, to create the sous vide effect. It’s different from the large machine you see on cooking shows, which takes up loads of valuable bench space.

The Precision Cooker has Bluetooth and WiFi models (the WiFi model also has a higher power output). The cooker connects to your phone and you control it via the Anova app. The app has built-in recipes and tips, but its best use is setting the temperature and timer. It’s a useful feature, but not an essential one as you can set the time and temperature manually too.

The Precision Cooker is only available through specialty cooking supplies stores and online through Anova’s website. If you go for the latter option, ensure you’re getting one with the correct power plug (220V) to work in New Zealand.

Since getting the machine, we’ve used it as often as we can. We’ve cooked pork belly, steaks, pork loin, spare ribs, vegetables, and soft poached eggs in the shell. All came out perfectly cooked. Even the eggs were cooked so that the insides were still runny (they were fantastic in our ramen alongside the sous vide pork belly). It’s hard to describe exactly how good sous vide food is, but you may never want to cook another way again.

Anova Precision Cooker

  • Bluetooth: $215 plus shipping
  • WiFi: $290 plus shipping

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Paul M.
03 Aug 2017
Great Device

We have been using the Anova Precision Cooker for several months now with great success. I have never had better-cooked steaks, chicken or fish with little effort. We purchased a Luvele Supreme Vacuum Sealer, which was excellent, at the same time which made the process easier. Delivering perfectly cooked poached eggs to a cafe quality is also a breeze.

Richard K.
01 Apr 2017
Sous vide satisfaction

Good to see a NZ review of this device. I've owned one now for a couple of years and absolutely love it - I use it several times a week, for making yoghurt and cooking meat, fish, custards al kinds of things - and the results are always predictably perfect. People assume that everything cooked sous vide will take hours, but things often only take an hour or so - cooking fish only takes half an hour.

Alexander B.
03 Apr 2017
Cooking in plastic

The jury is still out on the possible problems with cooking in plastic. I personally like to cook things naturally this just seems like another needless tool in the kitchen.