Cheap Sous Vide Setup

This information, as well as over 100 recipes is available in our book Beginning Sous Vide which you can get at or as a pdf download.

One of the big misconceptions about sous vide cooking is that you have to spend thousands of dollars to do it. While it is possible to spend that much money you can also get a very good sous vide set up for much cheaper, or even for free.

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You can find more information about other sous vide machins in my guide to Sous Vide Machines or my reviews of Inexpensive Immersion Circulators.
This cheap sous vide method can be applied to many dishes that don't require long amounts of cooking time such as many vegetables or most types of fish. However, you can't use this method for most types of meat because of the constant work required to maintain the proper temperature and the fluctuations in temperature. The cheapest method for meat is to buy a sous vide cooking controller, which normally are $100-$150, and a crock pot or rice cooker.


Cheap Sous Vide Sealing

For the cheap sous vide method you can wrap the food in plastic wrap several layers thick, or even use a ziplock bag with all the air removed. If you already have a vacuum sealer such as a FoodSaver around then definitely use it to seal the food.

Cheap Sous Vide Water Bath

The cheapest way to set up a water bath is to use a large pot of water on your stove. A large pot is easier to work with than a small pot since it maintains its temperature much better.image

Cheap Sous Vide Temperature Control

Working with a thermometer it is pretty easy to maintain a temperature within a few degrees to either side of your ideal temperature. Leaving the stove on low, or turning it on and off, and adding ice cubes or cold water in small amounts allows you to keep the water temperature relatively stable. It won't stay within the .1 degree range that many devices can maintain but for cheap sous vide and small amounts of time it will do just fine.

I recommend using a meat thermometer with a cord, that way it's easy to keep it out of the way while you regulate the water temperature.

Cook the Food

image Once you put the food in the water, try to maintain the temperature that you are aiming for as closely as possible and you'll need to cook most dishes for 15 to 20 minutes.

Total Cost Cheap Sous Vide

About $50 for a thermometer if you don't already have one, otherwise it is basically a free method to cook sous vide.

While this method of cheap sous vide is more time and effort intensive than other methods it's a great place to experiment and see if you want to invest the few hundred dollars to move up to a basic "hands-off" set up with a crock pot / rice cooker and a sous vide controller that we recommend in the Basic Sous Vide Setup.

This information, as well as over 100 recipes is available in our book Beginning Sous Vide which you can get at or as a pdf download.

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Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the website.
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