As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you love cooking, you may have heard of two popular cooking methods: sous vide and slow cooker. But what are their differences, and which should you choose for your cooking needs? In this blog post, we will examine and differentiate between these two techniques to assist you in determining which one is superior.
Sous vide, and slow cooker are both methods of cooking food at low temperatures for a long time, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful dishes. However, they have different principles, advantages, disadvantages, and costs. Now, let’s examine the workings of each one.
How does a slow cooker work?
A slow cooker, also known as a crock pot, is a simple appliance consisting of a ceramic or metal pot with a lid and a heating element surrounding the pot. Place the ingredients in the pot, set the desired temperature and time, and let the slow cooker rest.
The slow cooker maintains a constant temperature between 160°F and 200°F (71°C and 93°C) and cooks the food slowly over several hours or even days. The lid prevents moisture from escaping, creating a moist environment that helps break down tough fibres and collagen in meat, making it tender and succulent.
How does a sous vide appliance work?
The term “sous vide” is of French origin and translates to “under vacuum” It is a method of cooking food in a sealed plastic bag immersed in a water bath at a precise temperature. It would help if you had sous vide appliances, such as an immersion circulator or a water oven, to control the temperature of the water bath.
It would help if you also had a vacuum sealer or a zipper-lock bag to seal the food in the bag. You place the food in the bag, remove the air, seal it, and submerge it in the water bath. The sous vide appliance maintains the water temperature between 130°F and 180°F (54°C and 82°C), depending on the type of food and the desired doneness. The food cooks evenly throughout, retaining its natural juices and flavours.
Slow cooker benefits:
- Easy to use: You must put the ingredients in the pot, set the temperature and time, and forget about it until it’s done.
- Versatile: You can cook various dishes in a slow cooker, such as soups, stews, casseroles, roasts, curries, and more.
- Economical: You can use cheaper cuts of meat in a slow cooker, as they will become tender and tasty after hours of cooking. You can also save energy using less electricity than an oven or stove.
- Convenient: You can prepare your meal ahead of time and leave it cooking while you are away or busy with other tasks. You can also keep your food warm until you are ready to serve it.
Slow cooker cons:
- Lack of control: You cannot adjust the temperature or time once you start cooking. You must also lift the lid to check on your food, affecting the cooking process.
- Loss of nutrients: Some vitamins and minerals may be destroyed or leached out by the high temperature and long cooking time. You may also lose some flavour and colour from your food.
- Overcooking: If you cook your food for too long or at too high a temperature, it may become dry, mushy, or burnt.
- Safety issues: You must be careful with raw meat and poultry in a slow cooker, as they may not reach a safe internal temperature quickly enough to kill harmful bacteria. It would help to leave your slow cooker unattended for only a short time or overnight.
5 Best Slow Cooker
Hamilton Beach Portable 6 Quart Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooke
KitchenAid KSC6223SS 6-Qt. Slow Cooker
Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, Extra Large 10 Quart, Stay or Go Portable
Cuisinart MSC-400 3-In-1 Cook Central 4-Quart Multi-Cooker
Sunvivi Slow Cooker, Triple Slow Cooker
- Precise control: You can set your food’s exact temperature and time according to your preference and recipe. You can also monitor your food with a thermometer or an app connected to your sous vide appliance.
- Consistent results: Your food will be cooked evenly throughout, with no risk of overcooking or undercooking. Your food will also retain its shape, texture, colour, and flavour.
- Enhanced flavour: Your food will be infused with its juices and any seasonings or marinades you add to the bag. You will also preserve more nutrients and aromas from your food.
- Flexibility: It is possible to prepare your meals in advance and keep them refrigerated or frozen until you are ready to consume them. You can also finish your food with a quick sear or broil to add some browning or crispiness.
Disadvantages sous vide:
- Expensive: You must invest in sous vide appliances, ranging from $50 to $500 or more. It would help to buy plastic bags or rolls to seal your food.
- Time-consuming: You need to plan for your sous vide cooking, as it can take hours or even days to cook your food. Before cooking, preheat the water bath and seal your food in the bag.
- Limited options: You can only cook some things in sous vide appliance, as some foods may not benefit from low-temperature cooking. For example, bread, pasta, rice, and eggs may cook poorly in sous vide appliance.
- Safety issues: You need to be careful with the temperature and time of your sous vide cooking, as some foods may not reach a safe internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. You must also avoid puncturing or leaking your plastic bags, as they may contaminate your food or water bath.
5 Beat Sous-vide
Breville Joule Sous Vide, White Polycarbonate, CS20001
Anova Culinary AN500-US00 Sous Vide Precision Cooker (WiFi), 1000 Watts
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Greater Goods Kitchen Sous Vide
Instant Pot 800W Accu Slim Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Similarities Between Sous Vide and Slow Cooker
- Both methods use low-temperature cooking to make food tender and juicy.
- Both methods require minimal supervision and intervention during the cooking process.
- Both methods can cook various foods, especially meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables.
Differences between sous vide and slow cooker.
- Sous vide uses a sealed plastic bag and a water bath, while a slow cooker uses a pot and a heating element.
- Sous vide allows precise control over the temperature and time, while slow cooker has limited or no control over these factors.
- Sous vide cooks food evenly throughout, while slow cooker may create hot spots or uneven cooking.
- Sous contains more food nutrients and flavours, while slow cookers may lose some of these elements.
We will examine price, specifications, and consumption to compare the cost of sous vide and slow cooker.
Sous vide cooker
The price of a sous vide appliance can vary depending on the brand, model, features, and quality. A basic immersion circulator can cost around $50 to $100, while a more advanced water oven can cost up to $500 or more. It would help if you also bought plastic bags or rolls for sealing your food, which can cost around $10 to $20 per pack.
The specifications of sous vide appliance can affect its performance, durability, and convenience. When considering options, it’s important to look at the specifications, such as:
- Power: The power of a sous vide appliance determines how fast it can heat the water bath and maintain the temperature. Higher power means faster heating and a more stable temperature. The power of a sous vide appliance can range from 800 watts to 1500 watts or more.
- Capacity: The size of the sous vides machine dictates how much food can be prepared in one go. A larger capacity means more food or larger portions. The capacity of a sous vide appliance can range from 2 quarts to 12 quarts or more.
- Accuracy: The accuracy of a sous vide appliance determines how close it can keep the temperature to your desired setting. A higher accuracy means more consistent results and less risk of overcooking or undercooking. The accuracy of a sous vide appliance can range from +/- 0.1°F to +/- 1°F or more.
- Features: The features of sous vide appliance can affect its ease of use, functionality, and safety. Some of the features to look for are:
- Timer: A timer allows you to set the desired cooking time for your food and alerts you when it’s done.
- Display: A display shows you the current temperature, time settings, and other information or notifications.
- App: An app connects your sous vide appliance to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, allowing you to control and monitor your cooking remotely. You can also access recipes, tips, and guides from the app.
- Safety: A safety feature prevents your sous vide appliance from overheating, short-circuiting, or malfunctioning.
The consumption of sous vide appliance refers to how much electricity it uses during cooking. The consumption depends on the power, temperature, time, and water volume of your sous vide cooking. A higher consumption means higher electricity bills.
To estimate the consumption of sous vide appliances, you can use this formula:
Consumption (kWh) = Power (W) x Time (h) x Temperature (°C) / 1000 x Water Volume (L)
For example, if you use an immersion circulator with 800 watts of power to cook 4 litres of water at 140°F (60°C) for 4 hours, the consumption would be:
Consumption (kWh) = 800 x 4 x 60 / 1000 x 4 Consumption (kWh) = 0.768 kWh
The price of a slow cooker can also vary depending on the brand, model, features, and quality. A basic slow cooker can cost around $20 to $50, while a more advanced slow cooker can cost up to $200 or more.
The specifications of a slow cooker can affect its performance, durability, and convenience. When considering options, it’s important to look at the specifications, such as:
- Power: The power of a slow cooker determines how fast it can heat the pot and maintain the temperature. Higher power means faster heating and a more stable temperature. The power of a slow cooker can range from 100 watts to 300 watts or more.
- Capacity: The size of a slow cooker dictates the amount of food that can be prepared in one go. A larger capacity means more food or larger portions. The capacity of a slow cooker can range from 1 quart to 8 quarts or more.
- Settings: The settings of a slow cooker determine how you can control the temperature and time of your cooking. Here are some settings to keep an eye out for:
- Low: A low setting cooks your food at a lower temperature, usually around 160°F to 200°F (71°C to 93°C), for a longer time, usually 8 to 10 hours or more. This is ideal for tougher cuts of meat, beans, and grains.
- High: A high setting cooks your food at a higher temperature, usually around 200°F to 300°F (93°C to 149°C), for a shorter time, usually 4 to 6 hours or less. This is ideal for softer cuts of meat, vegetables, and soups.
- Warm: A warm setting keeps your food warm after it’s done cooking, usually around 140°F to 160°F (60°C to 71°C). This is ideal for serving your food or keeping it ready until you eat it.
- Programmable: A programmable setting allows you to set the desired temperature and time for your cooking and automatically switches to warm when it’s done. This is ideal for convenience and flexibility.
- Features: The features of a slow cooker can affect its ease of use, functionality, and safety. Some of the features to look for are:
- Lid: A lid prevents moisture from escaping and helps retain heat and flavour. A glass lid lets you see your food without lifting it, while a locking lid lets you transport your food without spilling it.
- Pot: A pot holds your food and transfers heat from the heating element. A ceramic or metal pot is durable and easy to clean, while a removable pot is convenient and versatile.
- Handles: Handles allow you to carry or move your slow cooker safely and comfortably. They should be sturdy, heat-resistant, and ergonomic.
- Indicator: An indicator shows you the current status of your slow cooker, such as on, off, warm, low, or high. It should be visible and clear.
- Safety: A safety feature prevents your slow cooker from overheating, short-circuiting, or malfunctioning.
The consumption of a slow cooker refers to how much electricity it uses during the cooking process. The consumption depends on your slow cooker’s power, temperature, time, and pot volume. A higher consumption means higher electricity bills.
To estimate the consumption of a slow cooker, you can use this formula:
Consumption (kWh) = Power (W) x Time (h) x Temperature (°C) / 1000 x Pot Volume (L)
For example, if you use a slow cooker with 200 watts of power for cooking 6 litres of food at a low setting for 8 hours, the consumption would be:
Consumption (kWh) = 200 x 8 x 180 / 1000 x 6 Consumption (kWh) = 0.432 kWh
To compare the preparation of sous vide and slow cooker, we will look at how to cook pulled chicken using each method.
Sous vide preparation pulled chicken.
To cook pulled chicken using the sous vide method, you will need the following:
- Chicken breasts or thighs
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Barbecue sauce
- Plastic bags or rolls
- Vacuum sealer or zipper-lock bag
- Sous vide appliance
- Water bath
- Large pot or container
- Thermometer or app
- Skillet or grill
Here are the steps to follow:
- To prepare the chicken, sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika evenly over it.
- Place the chicken in a plastic bag and add some barbecue sauce.
- Remove the air from the bag and seal it using a vacuum sealer or a zipper-lock bag.
- Preheat the water bath to 165°F (74°C) using your sous vide appliance.
- Place the bag in the water bath and attach it securely to the edge of the pot or container.
- Cook the chicken for about an hour using a thermometer or an app to monitor the temperature and time.
- Take the bag from the water bath and move the chicken onto a cutting board.
- To shred the chicken, you can use two forks or your hands. Finish the chicken with a quick sear or broil in a skillet or grill to add some browning or crispiness.
- Enjoy your pulled chicken with more barbecue sauce if desired.
Slow cooker preparation of pulled chicken.
To cook pulled chicken using the slow cooker method, you will need the following:
- Chicken breasts or thighs
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Barbecue sauce
- Slow cooker
Here are the steps to follow:
- Try seasoning it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika to add flavour to your chicken. Place the chicken in the pot of your slow cooker and add some barbecue sauce.
- Cover the pot with the lid and set your slow cooker low.
- Cook the chicken for about 6 to 8 hours or until it’s tender and easy to shred.
- Place the chicken onto a cutting board and shred it with two forks or your hands. Enjoy your pulled chicken with more barbecue sauce if desired.
Sous vide, and slow cooker are great methods of cooking food at low temperatures for a long time, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful dishes. However, they have different pros and cons and costs. Sous vide offers more precise control, consistent results, enhanced flavour, and flexibility, but it’s more expensive, time-consuming, limited, and risky. Slow cooker offers more ease of use, versatility, economy, and convenience, but it needs to be more controllable, nutritious, flavorful, and safe.
Choosing between sous vide and slow cooker depends on your preference, budget, and cooking needs. Try both methods and determine which one better suits your needs. Try combining both methods for different dishes or occasions. For example, you can use sous vide for special meals or delicate foods that require precise cooking and use a slow cooker for everyday meals or hearty foods that require simple cooking.
This blog post has helped you understand the differences between sous vide and slow cooker and how to choose the best one for your cooking needs. Happy cooking!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.