Getting Started with Precision Cooking

Let’s start with the basics, what the heck is precision cooking?! A favorite cooking technique in restaurant kitchens worldwide, precision cooking (also known as sous vide) circulates water around a vacuum-sealed bag of food at a very precise temperature to cook the food to the exact level of doneness -- no worries of ever overcooking! Think about that perfectly medium-rare, tender steak you ordered at dinner last week, or the flavorful, juicy chicken breast you raved about even after you left the restaurant. Chances are, those delicious dishes were the work of precision cooking. With your Anova device, you can accomplish these impeccable results and impress your friends with your awesome culinary skills, all from the comfort of your own home.

So, now that you’ve received a beautiful, shiny new Precision Cooker at your doorstep or office (so you can show your new toy off to your coworkers), what’s next? Don't let getting started slow you down. Here, we'll go over what you'll need to get started, how to cook using the basic features on the device and in the app, as well as some basic recipes, tips and tricks. If you get stuck, don't worry! Everyone in the forum is here to help so if you get stuck, please don't hesitate to use this thread as a resource to ask questions!

For those of you who are already precision cooking pros - please join in! Help our new Anova food nerds out by answering questions and commenting with your own advice and tips on getting started. Thank you!

What's Included

  • - Awesome packaging
  • - A sweet Precision Cooker (psst...there's a sneaky plastic film on the interface that you can peel off!)
  • - A convenient clamp (it's hiding in the top half of the tube)
  • - A handy operating manual (not pictured)

What You'll Need: The Basics

Plastic Bags

You don't need a vacuum sealer to vacuum seal a bag. Just pick up a pack of gallon-sized, resealable plastic freezer baggies like these at the store and use water displacement to get the baggie sealed. More on that later.


Keep your bag from floating away by clipping it to the side of the pot - use binder clips, chip clips, hair clips, money clips…(the clip in the photo is actually a former mylar balloon anchor!)


You're going to need a good-sized vessel for your Precision Cooker and the options are endless. From stock pots to Cambro tanks to creative DIY coolers. Our community members are experts on crafty vessels, check out what they've made here.


It's going to be so friggin' good so it doesn't even matter what you decide to cook. You could cook a tire with your Anova and it would taste good. Just use a lot of pepper.

Camera / Phone

We love to see your results photos, so don't forget to take pics and share those awesome precision cooking results with us using #anovafoodnerd!


A vacuum sealer and plastic bags specific to your sealer. Otherwise, you can just use a Ziplock bag and water with the water displacement method (more on that in a moment).

Setting Up for the First Cook

Attach and adjust the clamps and fill the vessel with water until it's at least at the "Min" line marker on the skirt. If you want to give your device a super boost, use warm tap water or even simmer the water on the stove. Not necessary, but if you're impatient like me, it helps.

Prep your food however you'd like and drop it into the bag you're planning on using. If you're using a vacuum sealer then you might not need to worry about the water displacement method; however, it's sometimes beneficial to use water displacement instead of the vacuum sealer for more delicate foods like fish to avoid squishing it.

Water Displacement Method

Once you've prepped the food, place it into the bag. Holding the bag by the top, slowly lower it into the vessel of water while holding the top above the water. The water pressure will push the air out as you continue to lower the bag into the water. As you submerge the bag, slowly go from one corner to the other, sealing the bag up so that the final corner is sealed just before hitting the water.

Vacuum Sealing

If you do have a vacuum sealer, prepare your food and place it in the specialized baggie used with your vacuum sealer. Seal up the bag and place it in the water. If you don’t have a setting for moisture locking extra sauce in the bag, you can trick the sealer by adding a bit of paper towel at the top where you’ll be sealing it. It will still remove all the air, but the paper towel will block the sauce from escaping.

Starting the Cook

Set the desired temperature using the scroll wheel, hit the PLAY button, let the water get up to the set temperature, then clip the baggie to the pot. For help setting the timer, check out this handy little video: Setting the Precision Cooker Timer.

The Precision Cooker can also be controlled through a handy Bluetooth app on your phone. If you haven’t downloaded the app already, check it out for iOS here and Android (beta) here. You can browse recipes to choose what you want to start with and start the cook from your phone, or, if you already know the time and temp of you want to cook at, you can manually start a cook with your selected settings. If you’re not sure what time and temp you need, you can ask our forum members or check out the quick guide on our website here:


  • Floating bags: drop some silverware or heat-safe glass beads into the bag before sealing it to weigh it down.
  • Post-searing: No crusty deliciousness after cooking? Do a quick post-sear in the skillet for a crispy and delicious finish.
  • Reheating leftovers: The beauty of precision cooking is that you don't have to worry about over-cooking. If you have leftovers, you can pop them right back in the next day at the same temp and reheat and they'll be just as delicious as they were the night before.

Got any #SousVideHacks of your own? Share them here along with more advice for getting started and any questions you might still have.

Thank you and happy precision cooking!!

This needs to be a sticky. @Jordan, does the forum software allow stickies?

@Simon_C Agreed! It can be set as an “Announcement” which is the alternative to stickies. I’ve tried to find an add-on for stickies and have searched the support forums for more info on them but still haven’t found anything. Boo :frowning:

If anyone knows a better sticky add-on in VF Open Source please let me know!!

Baggoo! The juices in the bag make awesome sauce !Just add cream/cornflour/gelatin/wine/stock and reduce. Dry your meat thoroughly with paper towels and sear on a blazing hot, lightly oiled cast iron skillet after cooking to get the good ol’ Maillard reaction crust of deliciousness. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can cook more than you need and store the extra in the fridge (without breaking the seal) for quick reheating up to 2 weeks after (especially great for things like chicken breast). Start with something very simple (chicken breast is a perfect example, 62c for 1 hour) and avoid eggs until you have the time to experiment properly. If cooking tires, use an extra large pot and weigh them down with a tire iron and substitute chili flakes for pepper.

And best of all? This forum. It is your new best friend. It is here for you, for your wins and your fails.

@jordan please feel free to edit or delete this post if you want to incorporate these points into your main post. Nice work by the way!

@simon_C & @jordan Great tips!

Another thing I have found is that proteins (beef, chicken, etc.) really need to be generously seasoned. Many vegetables also shine when cooked sous vide. Simple carrots with brown sugar and butter are now a staple at family dinners. Another rule of thumb when cooking steaks is that the more tender cuts do not benefit from a long soak and may give up more juices than you want. On the opposite end cuts like short ribs really come into their own after a 48 hour cook. My last batch was fork tender and delicious at 72 hours.

Finally participate in the community. We have a lot of very knowledgeable people contributing and everyone is more than happy to answer your questions.

@simon_C and @jordan: what time and temperature do the tires need to cook at before they’re fall-off-the-rim tender?  And does the tire type or brand make a difference?

@jimsteph I like to do mine for about 48 hours at 185, otherwise they’re a tad bit too chewy. I prefer Michelin, but Goodyear isn’t too bad either. Season well with garlic and lemon pepper and enjoy  :wink:

Also, if you’d like more information on what you need to get started, @mamashack has a great post on her blog that will help you find exactly what you need and where you can get it:

Thanks for this Jordan! I got my cooker the other day and can’t wait for the weekend to get here so I can really get started playing with it!

@phdoty No problem! Let us know if you have any questions, we’re happy to help in any way we can. Can’t wait to see photos of your results!

For anyone thinking of getting a vacuum sealer, here’s a great thread to help get you some info and recommendations from our community members:

Vacuum sealers can be great if you’re thinking about batch cooking. To do this, you’ll prep meals for a week or two at a time for cooking with your Anova and vacuum seal them. Throw the bags into the freezer and pull them out one you’re ready to cook them. Add about 30 minutes to the cook time to account for the frozen food temp. This is great when you want to quickly toss food in for dinner after work and not think about prep or picking something up at the grocery store.

Thanks for mentioning the yum yum factor.  Really good web site… Looking forward to trying her Souvlaki…

I am going to try my Anova for the first time today and I have a question, I saw that someone suggested putting silverware into the bag to keep it submerged, did I read that right, put a spoon into the bag?  Thanks

Hi @terrykcobb, weighing the bag is not always needed if you’ve got a good vacuum seal or the food itself is less buoyant than water. Some food needs a bit of help to stay submerged, and including cutlery in the vacuum bag is one method that users have reported some success with. You can also try covering the bag with a small plate or dish, using magnets if you’re cooking in a metal vessel, or bulldog clips to clamp the bag to the side of the pot. If you’re going to add cutlery to your bag, it’s a good idea to vacuum seal the cutlery first so you don’t add any metallic flavour to your food. Probably best to use a blunt knife, otherwise you’d add air pockets which kinda defeats the purpose.

Good luck, and please let us know how you get on.

Thanks for the response Simon, I ended up just doing a simple shrimp salad.  I got the water up to the right temp but after I put the bagged shrimp in the temp started to fall so I started pushing the start button and the temp started to raise again.  Since I either lost or didn’t receive a manual, what is the procedure to start the machine and then maintain the right temp?  My husband bought this for my birthday and then the next day started bringing in hunks of meat, but truthfully I was really nervous about using it so thought I would start simple.  Thanks for any input

What I do is use hot tap water to get it started. For beef you need to chose a temperature based on how well done you like your meat. Medium rare is 130° F or a little more based on taste. For most things timing is not all that critical as you cannot overcook things. The drop in temperature is normal and a degree or so will really not impact the time since the food is at a lower temperature anyway.  In the few minutes it takes the water to recover the food is still well below the cooking temperature. When the meat is done take it out of the bag, pat dry with a paper towel and sear it in a really hot pan. Make sure to season it well and serve. The recipes on this site and on the Internet will provide temperatures and times. Our growing community here is also available to provide guidance. It is different and takes a few cooks to become comfortable. Luckily even the first ones turn out great.

Received my precision cooker today. :slight_smile: ordered on July 1 thank you for the prompt service! First cook will be a slice of flat iron steak, it’s in the water now and the cooker is coming up to temp.

If you get a chance take a picture and tell us how it turns out. What temperature are you using and cooking for how long?

It was just a slice I cooked at 150, I have an inch and a half rib eye ready to sear now cooked at 140, I’ll snap a pic of it! :slight_smile:

Here’s the rib eye, cooked at 140* for 2 hours. Used an inexpensive aluminum stock pot from Dollar General in the future I’ll use dividers and scribe the outline of the clamp and cut out the lid for a perfect fit.