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How To Choose The Right Sous Vide Container Size

Professional chefs and restaurants have been using sous vide as a method of cooking for decades.

It has now become popular in home cooking especially now that affordable immersion circulators have been available in the market.

Sous vide can is a relatively simple method of cooking that can be used at home to improve the way your meals or even desserts are cooked.

With the sous vide method, you can have your steak cooked at your desired doneness without overcooking it.

With sous vide, you just need a reliable sous vide machine and a sous vide container.

Simply set the water inside the container to a corresponding time and your desired temperature.

There is a wide array of options in choosing a sous vide container size including small jars to even a kitchen sink.

There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing the sous vide vessel that is best suits your sous vide cooking needs.

It just depends on little details such as the type of food that you are going to prepare,

the immersion circulator that you will be using, the volume and the quantity of food that you will be using for your sous vide, and a whole lot more.

The size of the sous vide container will also depend on the factors mentioned above.

Here is a list of different kinds of sous vide containers and their typical sizes


An ideal water bath container is a medium to large induction-ready metal pot.

It’s alright if you don’t have this kind of pot. Any kind of pot would do.

It should be at least 8 inches deep, 12 inches in diameter, and hold around 12 quarts.

Sauce pans are generally smaller and have a long handle. They range from 1 quart to 6 quarts.

Stock pans tend to be deeper and normally have two small handles on either side for easier lifting of heavy pots.

They range from 6 quarts up to 150+ quarts.

Plastic Coolers

A medium-sized plastic cooler is another option for a sous vide container size.

It should be at least 8 inches deep and hold between 12 to 24 quarts.

Plastic coolers are insulated that’s why they can increase the temperature easily without requiring much power from the cooker.

Polycarbonate Containers

Polycarbonate containers are the most popular types of containers used for sous vide cooking.

They are transparent, light weight, and come in different sizes and shapes. They are actually sold as food containers.

The polycarbonate material allows them to withstand temperatures that are even greater than the ones used in sous vide cooking.

Polycarbonate tubs are fancy looking clear tubs with a full range of sizes from 1 to 22 quarts.

There are 2 popular sizes for polycarbonate containers used as vessel for sous vide.

One measures 11 x 11 x 9 inches holding around 12 quarts while the other one measures 12 x 18 x 9 inches holding around 18 liters which is ideal for larger items.

Brand specific sous vide containers

LIPAVI Sous Vide Containers

These polycarbonate containers are created specifically for sous vide.

The lids of the LIPAVI containers have pre-cut holes to match each sous vide device.

It’s just a bit pricey compared to other brands because it is more focused on the professional market than the consumer market.

LIPAVI comes in two sizes: C10 – 12 quarts, and C20 – 26 quarts.

Cambro Sous Vide Containers

Cambro has a wide selection of pans and containers that can be used for a sous vide water bath. The most popular water bath container though is the 12 quart container which measures approximately 12 square inches and 8 inches deep.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products

Rubbermaid also offers a wide selection of of food containers but the price is definitely less expensive compared to the counterpart Cambro products.

A big advantage of using Rubbermaid is that their products are BPA free.

This is one of the highly recommended sous vide containers when using immersion circulators.

They are dishwasher safe and the sides have clearly marked measuring lines.

The commonly used sous vide container size is a 12-quart Space Saving Square Container that measures 11 x 10 x 8 inches.

There is also a larger container, the 3-1/2 Gallon Food/Tote Box that measures 12 x 18 x 9 inches.

Given these bunch of options for sous vide containers to choose from,

your choice should largely depend on the type or kind of sous vide cooking that you normally do.

If you get those containers that are improvised sous vide containers, you would need to cover these containers to retain heat.

You can use a plastic food wrap, aluminum foil, a container’s cover that you can easily cut to match your sous vide machine, or even a bunch of pingpong balls.

Read more sous vide tips at our Blog

Sous vide knowledge: Restaurant vs Home Sous Vide Machines | sous vide recipessous vide prime rib | sous vide steak

Related products: vacuum sealer sous vide cookerBernzomatic torch | Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker | foodsaver vacuum sealersous vide machines

Sous Vide Container Size – FAQ

What is the best container size for Sous Vide?

Well, this really depends on the type and amount of food you would like to make. We recommend looking into our detailed post that will help you decide.

Do I have to use a lid for my Sous Vide container?

When cooking Sous Vide, lids are very useful, especially when cooking for long periods of time. Cooking for hours without a lid might cause the water levels to go down and affect your cooking.

Can I use any container I have at home for Sous Vide?

For the best results we recommend BPA free sous vide container that is meant for long periods of time cooking.

Should I only use BPA free containers?

Yes. We recommend to do your research and try to be safe with Sous Vide temperatures, after all, this is your food we are talking about.

Do I have to keep my Sous Vide bags fully submerged?

When cooking sous vide, it is important that your bags stay submerged and that trapped air bubbles are pushed to the top of the bag and away from the food.

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