sous vide igloo cooler

Anova's Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Sous Vide Cooler

Can you sous vide in a cooler? The answer is yes! We've seen lots of super-cool sous vide cooker solutions that our crafty community of food nerds customized for their Anova tools, plus we've received tons of questions from curious home cooks. So, we powered up our drill to build the ultimate #anovafoodnerd-inspired sous vide cooler guide and break down the entire process step by step. Follow along and learn how easy it is to build your very own DIY sous vide container–or what we call a Frankencooler–at home!

Why Build a Sous Vide Cooler?

A sous vide cooler makes it easy to cook for days (literally). The reason? Insulation. By insulating your sous vide container, you can prevent evaporation, increase efficiency, and maintain precise temperatures in even larger vessels. The Precision Cooker is listed with a maximum vessel capacity of 20 quarts/5 gallons/~19 liters of water, but you can actually exceed the recommended max capacity and maintain temperature just as well with proper insulation. In fact, Anova can maintain down-to-the-degree temperature control with as big of a container of water as you can find. Our customers have found success with 33-quart coolers and up due to how well the insulation helps things. That’s bananas!

What You Need For Your Sous Vide Cooler AKA Frankencooler


First things first, you'll need your Anova Precision® Cooker.

While your Anova can cook massive amounts of ridiculously good food, it's also a handy tool when building a DIY sous vide cooler. You'll want to use the adjustable clamp that comes with it to trace an outline at the spot where you plan to drill the hole.

...and a cooler you are happy to slightly disfigure. 

This can be an old cooler or a new cooler, as long as it doesn't leak and keeps insulation sealed. Our Frankencooler for this time is a Coleman 25 Quart Party Stacker Cooler from Amazon. The lid is removable, which is key for removal while cooking without making a mess. We also chose this size to allow for excess room for water displacement.

And a 2 ⅜” Hole Saw

The diameter of the chassis, or cooking extension cover, on the Anova is 2.375”/60.325mm, or 2 ⅜”. We need to make a hole at least that big, and adjust with sandpaper if necessary.

An electric drill

Pretty standard, I have a $15 Coleman from the hardware store.

Medium-grit sandpaper

This helps gently widen the hole where necessary for your Anova sous vide cooler.

Safety Glasses

It’s best to protect those peepers whenever you’re working with potentially flying shards of plastic, so we recommend these. 

How to Create a Homemade Sous Vide Container

sous vide container diy
Put on safety glasses and choose your workspace near a sturdy surface with an electrical outlet. It's time to bust out the tools and get started on your sous vide cooler. If you're not using a cordless drill, attach the hole saw bit to the drill before plugging it in. Choose where you want to make the hole and set guidelines for the drill bit. One tip is to trace the hole inside the clamp bracket and get drilling. Press down slowly with a light amount of pressure. It may take a couple of minutes.
sous vide igloo cooler
PRO TIP: Pop off the sous vide cooler lid and drill from the underside. We found it's much easier AND keeps the top of your cooler looking pretty if you don't nail it on the first attempt. Once the hole has been punched through, wipe off any stray plastic bits and try to insert the Anova. It will reach its greatest potential depth without compromising the electronics this way. If it’s a little too snug to fit, then get working with sandpaper. Once your Anova sits comfortably, guess what? You’re ready to go with your brand spankin' new sous vide cooler! Fill it up and get cooking, food nerds.
homemade sous vide container

Your Sous Vide Cooler Setup

Don't feel like going full–out DIY, but still desire all the benefits of cooking in a container? We've got you covered.

The Anova Precision™ Cooker Insulated Container is what one user calls "hands down the best sous vide container ever." Stainless steel double-walled insulation improves heating efficiency by up to 70%. 

Another great option is the Anova Precision™ 16L Container. Its lid features a rubber seal to lock in heat and ensure that no steam escapes. This means virtually zero water loss to evaporation and even more precise cooking temperatures.

Smaller in size but still a great cooler for sous vide, the Anova Precision™ Cooker Container was designed with our patented HemiFlow™ design. It utilizes smooth, curved edges to help water circulate more efficiently and heat your water faster than any of the squared-off container competition to get you cooking quicker.

You really can't go wrong with any Anova sous vide cooler. Join the #anovafoodnerd family and build the ultimate cooler for sous vide with the Anova Precision™ Cooker.

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Sous vide circulators have markings for minimum and maximum water levels on the tube. They are designed to circulate water and will beep and shut down when just in air.

Jay Peterson

Do you need to have the cooker sumbmerged in water, or could you use this setup as a food warmer to hold food at temperature in just air?


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