For consistent results and hands-off cooking, sous vide is the way to go. There’s an initial learning curve with this method, so finding the right tools is essential. Once you’ve secured your immersion circulator, you’ll need a place for the water bath. The best sous vide containers are reliably strong and heat-resistant for those long cooking stretches and hold at least 12 quarts to fully submerge food.
Most sous vide containers are made of polycarbonate, which has the obvious benefit of being completely see-through to monitor food but also is sturdy, lightweight, durable, and can withstand temperatures of at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit for sous vide recipes. Plus, the water heats up faster in this plastic tub versus a metal pot. There are some sous vide containers that are even enveloped in a sleeve for added insulation.
There are a couple of accessories that are worth considering if your container doesn’t already come with them. For recipes with a longer cook time, a sous vide container with a lid is helpful for minimizing water evaporation. Some lids are designed specifically for a perfect fit on some of the best sous vide machines, so be sure to choose one that fits your immersion circulator. And once you’ve tried one or two sous vide recipes, you’ll see the value of investing in a positioning rack that aids in keeping your cooking bags in place and properly submerged.
Twelve quarts is a common size for sous vide containers since it’s capable of holding enough for two to three adults or two adults and two children. Count on adding 3 to 4 quarts of water for each additional adult serving.
Now, below are the four best sous vide containers, plus a solid reusable bag to cook your food in.
1. The Overall Best Sous Vide Container
The overall best sous vide container is an industry favorite for a reason and it boasts a 4.8-star Amazon rating with over 2,000 reviews. This polycarbonate bin tolerates temperatures between -40 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can take it from the freezer to essentially any sous vide recipe, and it can go in the dishwasher. This pick is compatible with 15 different lid models, making it easier to find one for your needs (although no lid is included with the container).
Measurements in quarts and liters are conveniently marked on the sides of the bin, and this 12-quart bin is also available in 7, 18, or 26 quarts. With your immersion circulator and this container, you're off and running, but you might like to add a matching rack and lid for optimal cooking.
A helpful review: “This is hands down the best sous vide container I’ve ever owned. Rated for water temps up to boiling; thick, heavy duty sides don’t let it flex; and it’s large enough to feed 4-8. It’s crystal clear. It’s not heavy. One end is marked with quarts and the other with liters. Would be slightly better if the measurements were marked in a color that could be more easily read.”
2. The Upgrade
This sous vide container is made of polycarbonate as well but it also includes a tight-fitting silicone lid to lock in heat and it comes with a removable rack to keep food submerged in the water bath. What truly makes this pick stand out is a unique design feature: its 3-millimeter raised base protects surfaces like countertops from extreme heat, and its rounded edges help water circulate.
The lid is designed to fit Anova immersion circulators, a leading sous vide brand, but reviewers report the opening fits Joule sous vide machines as well. This 12-quart bin is highly rated with over 1,000 reviews, and it also comes in a larger 16-quart size. One shopper commented they loved that this container was built "precisely for sous vide." It has a temperature range of -4 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit.
A helpful review: “Perfect companion to my Anova Sous Vide cooker. Large vessel accommodates lots of cooking bags for batch cooking. Rack works great for [keeping] bags submerged. Very durable. Nice, tight fitting lid.”
3. The Most Affordable Pick
Rubbermaid's space-saving container is a bit of a cult favorite with over 10,000 reviews; this 12-quart bin is popular for its use in sous vide cooking and food storage. The more squared shape of this bin takes advantage of vertical space and frees up room on a shelf. And it's under $20.
Made of sturdy polycarbonate, this container is dishwasher-safe and withstands -40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, the high-contrast measurement markings in quarts and liters are much easier to read on this container than my first pick. Twelve quarts is a good universal size for sous vide containers, but this container is also available in 2, 6, 8, 18, or 22 quarts.
A helpful review: “From the pictures I did not think this was going to be as big as I wanted for sous vide but I was pleasantly surprised. So far I have cooked 8 large rib eye steaks at once and 3 racks of spare ribs with no problems. So basically most of your sous vide needs will be handled with this size (both of those meals were for more than 10 people). This setup works SO much better than the large stock pot I was using. The square shape is much better suited for lining up meat pouches than a round pot.”
4. The Best Insulated Sous Vide Container
The best insulated sous vide container comes with a nifty neoprene sleeve that tightly hugs the polycarbonate bin for more efficient cooking.
The 12-quart container, which includes a rack and lid, tolerates up to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, and it stood out among others in part because its lid opening has a universal fit that's suitable for Nano, Joule, Anova, and the majority of immersion circulators.
A helpful review: “My container arrived with the neoprene sleeve yesterday and I gave it a quick wash out, fitted the sleeve, and dropped in my sous vide device to cook up a pot roast. With the temperature set to 176F, I ensured that it was filled and left it overnight with the lid on. 10 hours later the water level had dropped a little less than 1/4 of an inch so the lid and sleeve do a great job in keeping things contained. Would recommend to people looking for a good container.”
Nice To Have: The Best Reusable Sous Vide Bag
Inside of your sous vide container, you'll need some kind of bag to house your food in the water bath. This reusable sous vide bag is a reliable choice with over 15,000 reviews and an endorsement from Epicurious. The half-gallon size is recommended for sous vide, but the sandwich size is popular for this purpose as well.
This platinum silicone bag is safe to use in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher, boiling water, and oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; its leakproof quality thanks to a pinch-loc seal puts it above the rest. You'll also love that these come in more than a dozen colors, including clear and blue, and are suitable for storing food, too. These reusable bags also come in a smaller snack size and larger stand-up version. Plus, 1% of the company's sales are donated to non-profits that protect oceans.
A helpful review: “Finally! I cook via the sous vide method frequently and have been wanting a reusable bag for this purpose. This thing worked amazingly well for this. Couple of pork chops went in, used the water displacement method and it sealed up very easily- sunk too! Super easy to use for this purpose! I handwash them and dry [them] opened and [stored] on posts to prevent mildew/mold issues. [...] I highly recommend these for sous vide.”