Testing The Anova Sous-Vide Machine

Anova has cooked up a high-tech way to make foolproof food at home

A lot of us waste food. And, no, we're not talking about overdoing it on portion sizes. Instead, so much food is wasted simply by being burnt beyond recognition.

One way to solve that is by cooking sous vide—French for "under vacuum"—in which you drop vacuum-sealed food into a water bath. It's a pretty foolproof way of cooking proteins and vegetables (and even drinks!) evenly at a consistent temperature. But it's also expensive; full sous-vide systems range from $400 to $1,000.

Enter the Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi, which, at $179, is a lower-priced alternative to the more complicated sous-vide contraptions. It works with what you already have on hand; just fill any pot with water, clamp the cooker to the side and watch as it heats the water to just the right level—and keeps it there—until your dish is done.

What's more, Anova's Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to keep tabs on your culinary creation without stalking it. Hook it up to your home network, and when the water is ready—or when your food is ready—you'll get an alert from the app via a push notification.

That's a nice feature, but it's Anova's companion app (iOS and Android) that really makes the product stand out. It offers basic guides for cooking proteins (including helpful tips for mastering salmon and chicken, two proteins that are all too easy to overcook), as well as a variety of detailed recipes and user reviews for dishes like flank steaklobster and even a rather delicious-sounding cinnamon almond cake. Once you pick a recipe and prep the ingredients, just push the start button on the app, and you'll be prompted when to drop in the dish and, more importantly, when to pull it out.

The result? Fantastic food. Seriously. Our salmon was moist and flaky; the chicken, juicy as heck. Some dishes stood to benefit from a quick sear, but that's just preference; you could eat them straight out of the bag and be perfectly happy.  

So here's the gist: In a sea of sous-vide devices to shell out for, the Anova is currently the most affordable one with Wi-Fi; additionally, its companion technology is poised to aid novice and seasoned cooks alike. And if you're worried about handling an iPhone after massaging a spice rub into salmon fillets, fear not: Anova is working on a software update that will add support for Amazon's Alexa, so you can control the device with your voice.