Do You Need a Circulator for Sous Vide - Ask Jason

I get a lot of great questions from my readers. In order to help out everyone else I'm answering some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Have something you need help with? You can ask me on Facebook, contact me directly, or view all of the Ask Jason questions!

Glad to hear that you started with a temperature controller and a Crock-Pot. I still use a similar setup. It works great. Am I missing all that much by not using a circulator?

- Scott Walker

Note:The following article is an edited transcript from the video.

The short answer is, I don't think so. If it works for you, then great. Circulators are really nice to have though.

Sous vide magic

My Crock-Pot was an old model that didn't work very well anymore. After trying to do some ribs, I gave up on it; never used it again. I wanted to sous vide the ribs at 176 degrees and it took about 4 1/2 hours for the Crock-Pot to get the hot tap water up to that temperature. The people who say that it doesn't matter how powerful it is because you can use hot tap water, have never waited 4 1/2 hours to get up to temperature; it was ridiculous.

To make matters worse, it didn't even hold the temperature very well, and so I really struggled with those ribs. But if it's working for you and meets your needs, then stick with it. There's nothing wrong with a basic setup.

Joule review 4 compare height

The wand style circulators like the Anova and the Joule do have some benefits. You can use different size pots, which is nice. I normally use a Lipavi 12-quart polycarbonate container. Rubbermaid makes one as well. I like that size a lot, it works really well for day-to-day cooking but when I have parties, I can use their larger container that fits 4 to 5 racks of ribs in it.

Note: You can read Do I need a sous vide machine with wifi for more information.

Having the ability to sous vide larger amounts at once is really helpful if you like to have people over or entertain quite often. I think that's the main thing you're missing if you use a temperature controller or a set water bath. Also, if you really want the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth stuff, then a circulator is the way to go. However, a lot of people aren't interested in those options or don't need to turn it on away from home.

Anova precision circulator sous vide square

So if it works for you, don't worry about spending the money on something else. Get a nice piece of prime ribeye or another favorite, instead of buying a circulator and you should be just as happy.

For more information you can read my comprehensive articles on Sous Vide Equipment or Equipment Review Articles or in depth Sous Vide Machine Benchmark Tests.

Sous vide ribeye charred raw

If you like this you can get more than 85 inspiring recipes to get you on your way to sous vide success. It's all in my best selling book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide - Get Your Copy Today!

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All tags for this article: Anova, Ask Jason, Equipment, Joule, Nomiku Immersion Circulator, Sous Vide Circulators

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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