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My question is the exact opposite of this one. I'm considering getting a sous vide tool like this one. I'm wondering what's preventing me to use it as a slow cooker?

Like, would it make sense to use the sous vide thing to circulate water in a bain-marie, and cook something inside a second bowl? Maybe that's overkill, or consume an unreasonable amount of energy?

If that's not a good idea, what's the cheapest way of getting equipment that allows you to do both slow cooking and sous vide?

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    What is it that you want to accomplish? What end result are you looking for? – moscafj Sep 28 '17 at 12:18
  • Being able to do both, while spending as little money as possible. I couldn't find a machine that does both out-of-the-box for a reasonable price in the part of Europe that I live in. – Ted Oct 1 '17 at 6:21
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    Sorry...both what? What are you looking to make? I use sous vide frequently. On the other hand, for me, a slow cooker is a useless tool. Knowing what you want to cook (and what advantages you find in a slow cooker), might help you get more useful advice. – moscafj Oct 1 '17 at 11:51
  • Both sous vide cooking (mainly to cook meat and eggs for fancy occasions) and what a slow cooker does (being able to quickly prepare stuff in the morning, cook it all day, and get a meal when I come back from work). – Ted Oct 2 '17 at 17:36
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    If you are convinced that you need a slow cooker, then you need two tools. Other than the link provided in the answer below, I don't know of any device that will do both. I realize you are not in the US, but right now one can get an immersion circulator for just over $100 US...and slow cooker can be had for under $30 US. – moscafj Oct 2 '17 at 20:12
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I think its possible, but because you can't fit a lid on top of whatever pot is holding the water (well, not easily; you can do some cutting to make a hole for the sous vide device in a plastic lid, but then that lid/pot become dedicated to the technique), and that lets the heat escape probably more than what would be desirable for what you're trying to do.

What you really need is something more like this. It controls the water temp to perform the function of an immersion circulator for sous vide cooking, but it can also be used for slow cooking without the water. I searched Amazon for sous vide slow cooker and got lots of results.

  • Thanks! But I don't live in the US and the same search on my local version of Amazon doesn't return many results. (I only get a couple of machines, with zero reviews each, so I'm a little skeptical.) But your description of how I would have to do to make this work with just a sous vide thing was useful, I probabyl shouldn't bother. – Ted Oct 1 '17 at 6:25
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Sous vide cooking is often at low temperatures, for long periods of time. But, you lose out on things like evaporation which can be essential for slow cooked meals or certain types of flavor development. You can't do things like stir food in a sous vide setup easily. So you have to be careful with what recipes you convert to sous vide; some will be easier and better if you don't use sous vide.

People do use mason jars for sous vide cooking, e.g. to make cheesecakes/custards. But most things are done in plastic bags (ziploc freezer or vacuum bags).

If you'd like a setup that can sous vide and slow cook and you have an oven, you could buy a dutch oven and a sous vide circulator to put in it (e.g. something like Joule since it sticks to the bottom of the dish magnetically). For slow cooking, put the stuff in the dutch oven, leave the dutch oven covered but open by a crack and stick it in a low oven (225 F ish). For sous vide, put water in the dutch oven, put the circulator in and go. As The Food Lab states in their pressure cookers > slow cookers article, the dutch oven setup described prior will often give you better flavor development and is not necessarily any worse than slow cookers on the safety front. You also have versatility, e.g. you can increase the temperature to 300 F make a slow cooked tomato sauce and take advantage of the maillard reaction better and things like that.

Alternatively, just buy a slow cooker if you really want a slow cooker -- they're super cheap, particularly if you look at yard sales (likely under 10 dollars). The price will be basically negligible next to your sous vide circulator. Then buy whatever circulator you want and use it in an appropriate container.

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I am going to be the dissenting opinion here, kind of. I have had decent luck using my sous vide cooker as a slow cooker. You can put soups, stews etc in bags or Mason jars and submerge them in the sous vide water bath to achieve similar results. As someone else stated you can't get any browning or evaporation this way but for a lot of meals that you would do in a slow cooker this works.

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My first sous vide set up may be exactly what you're looking for. Get a mechanical (stupid) slow cooker (7 quart), i.e. WITHOUT any electronic control. Plug that into a precise PID temperature controller (mine was bought from Auber Instruments in US).

You can leave this setup permanently, as it will have much better control of the temperature than the usual (high) range in which slow cookers operate.

The PID controller has a probe which you'll put into the slow cooker which measures current temperature. When that temperature is one degree off from the target temperature, the controller will switch on (or off) which will turn on (or off) the slow cooker heater.

Depending upon what you're doing, the slow cooker pot will be filled with water or food. I use both methods of cooking regularly.

  • Given that you can get an Anova sous vide circulator for about 100 bucks now or less, you're not saving much money from this (and the anova will likely have better temperature distribution than what you're proposing, since it circulates the water. If you go for one of the off brand ones, like Kitchen Gizmos (which was The Sweet Home's budget pick), you could go to about 75 bucks. – Batman Oct 5 '17 at 22:09

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