An in-depth review of ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide
10 reasons why the Joule blows all other sous vide machines out of the water !
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ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide, 1100 Watts, White body
Note: the phone in the picture is just to show how it works.
The Joule does not come with a smartphone !
There are three models, the all white polycarbonate top and bottom, the stainless steel top and bottom, and the limited edition rose gold top and bottom. We have the all white top to bottom and love it, the others are not available everywhere in the world but I’m sure ChefSteps are working on it. They have introduced the Joule to as many countries as they can, as fast as they can in the last year or two.
US: Works with Line voltage 100 to 120 V AC
Frequency 50 to 60 Hz, single phase
UK: Works with UK outlets (Type-G).
EU: Works with EU outlets (CEE 7/7)
WEEE compliant in UK and Spain for end of life electronics
UK operating requirements
Frequency: 50 Hz, single phase. Line voltage: 230 V AC Voltage warning: Use only with 230 V AC voltage. Due to our precise heating technology, voltage transformers and converters can damage your Joule.
minimum / maximum water levels
1.5 inch / 3.8cm minimum water level, 8 inch / 20.3cm maximum water level
minimum / maximum water temperature
minimum 20℃, 68℉; maximum 208 °F (98 °C)
11 inches (28cm) LONG, 1.85 inches ( 4.7cm) DIAMETER
up to 40+ litres / 10+ gallons
0.2℉ / 0.1℃
communication and control
Bluetooth Smart 4.0 wireless technology
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi compatible (2.4Ghz Only)
smart phone iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.4 or later
Internet access required for some features
safety / security measures
Secure data transfer over WiFi and Bluetooth Smart
Thermal cutoff protection
High current protection
580g / 1.28lbs (1.1kg boxed)
1 yr limited
10 areas where we feel it outshines other sous vide machines
plus a bonus 11th at the bottom!
1. Powerfully fast heat up time
This means it heats up so fast compared even to its main competitor the Anova 900Watt culinary sous vide precision cooker, to be more specific…twice as fast! Who wants to wait around too long before cooking even starts! You’ll find the more you use sous vide, the more important this becomes.
I’ve just cooked some perfectly soft boiled eggs for a lunch salad. If I use the hot water from the tap ( 56℃), and the same small saucepan that I would normally use for eggs, pop the Joule into it and it then it only takes about 5mins to heat it to the 90℃ I need. You don’t need a pouch because of course they come in their own handy shell. Normally for salads I would do hard boiled eggs but there’s something magical about sous vide perfectly soft boiled eggs, the whites are perfectly cooked and not too hard at all in just 8 minutes, and they hold the soft centre so easily ( you can almost peel the white off and leave the centre its so robust, whilst still delicate in taste. Now I am the best intuitive boiled egg cook, Paul can’t ever figure out how I do it, but it has never been as good as this – even I’m impressed and will only sous vide eggs now. I digress!
2. The sleek, minimalist, modern style
The look is minimalist modern. If you like apple mac, you will love this – even the packaging it arrives in has that luxury feel.
3. The size and weight: smallest, lightest
Small enough to fit in the cutlery drawer with ladles and long knives. If you travel, you will love to take this with you. I am going to see the parents soon and could only get a flight which didn’t allow luggage – 6 kilos hand luggage is all I’m allowed in total so I’m still hoping to take my laptop and my Joule with me ! I’d love to take my Bamix hand blender too but the blades probably aren’t allowed in the cabin baggage. (At least there are no sharp bits on the Joule.)
4. Waterproof, and easy to clean
A little wipe down is the maximum you need to do after cooking. As its all one nice sleek piece of equipment there are no joins, no button pads or panels to join and perhaps allow leakage.
5. The best, easiest to use smartphone app.
The video rich app is so easy to use, and covers every angle. You can be taken through the cooking step by step if you are a beginner – even by choosing to cook by pictures!
It also guides you at the preparation and finishing stages too. If you want to go faster there are options to skip all that too. (The app is currently only available in English by the way.)
The email support, the website, the community forums online, face-book groups etc. It’s never-ending! There are more than a 100 cooking guides, and over a million meals cooked with Joule.
The fact that this is a software based solution means that updates will just keep on coming as it develops. So its not just a product you chose off the shelf, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Chefsteps say that they will update Joule with new content and features “as quickly as we can develop them, we are connected to our users for the long haul. “
6. Outstanding support, from both ChefSteps and their community
The rich array of digital support from email support classes, recipes, forums, face-book groups / pages, messenger, Amazon Alexa, instagrams, website FAQs and Q&A posting. The Support is pretty immediate. We use the messenger to ask about cook times etc. If we just type ‘carrots’ it will come back with recipe suggestions or ask if we just want cook times, and cleverly prompts the best questions and gives encouraging fun answers. If we get a bit too wordy it passes us on to a human support and that continues by email. Clever. Joule also boasts the world’s biggest sous vide community so you will find a lot of support from other users too.
7. The unique, super strong magnetic base
The magnetic bottom is both unique, and brilliant. You can put the pod anywhere in the pan and even keep moving it around if it’s getting the in the way of the food pouch. It also means you can put it in very small containers too, unlike the Anova / Sansaire which need bigger pots because they are larger, and also to fit their clamp / clip onto. If you are working with a plastic vessel just use the clip on the side of the Joule instead, or better still , protect your work surface ( as you would anyway from the hot water vessel ) by placing your vessel on a trivet and your magnet will still work. It’s a good reminder that actually the vessel is going to get hot so put a protective layer under it, if it’s on a fragile worktop.
8. The largest range of minimum / maximum water levels
Min / max water levels are better than any other. Only thing is that they aren’t marked on the pod itself but it’s easy to guess 1.5 or 8 inches. This means you can use any pan you would normally have in the kitchen anyway. It also means that you don’t usually need to cover the water bath to avoid evaporation. We did an overnight cook of a pack of bacon as a test. We were worried about evaporation over this lengthy cook time so we hastily put a breadboard across most ( not all! and you mustn’t cover the pod itself ) of the pan before bedtime. In the morning we didn’t notice any evaporation in fact, so it’s no longer a worry for us. You can buy covers, or just use clingfilm or tin foil if you need to.
9. Biggest cooking capacity
The capacity it can cook for is impressive at 40litres +, whereas the other Immersion Circulators are only 10 or 20litres ( for example Anova 900Watts). On top, it does non stop cooking hours…don’t need that but it suggests a flexible approach again here because if you can cook a pretty high capacity you need to be able to cook for a long time .
Cooking capacity is one big downside of a water oven but realistically you have to think will I need any more anyway? We always like to think big and like that the Joules is open and flexible too.
10. The amazing accolades: turns out we aren't the only ones that think this is the bees knees
Joule has been used to cook more than 1 million meals and is Cook’s Illustrated’s top choice among sous vide tools. It’s known to be backed as the best machine, by the New York Times and Food & Wine magazine.
Chris Young (the CEO and co-founder of ChefSteps) was also a co-founder of Modernist Cuisine, and a principal co-author of it’s best-selling six-volume books: The Art and Science of Cooking.
He was also previously the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen. The Fat Duck in the UK is one of the top restaurants in the world! The secret lab. was behind the innovative modern molecular style dishes, and Heston was known as the main driver behind the push for domestic sous vide machines about 5 yrs ago,
User reviews on Amazon are 4.4 / 5 or higher worldwide, and the Joule is rated 9.1 / 10 out of 1,177 reviews on Trustpilot.
BONUS POINT: The company ethos... it's right up our street!
“Why are we doing this? Because the more you know about cooking, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more fun it is. And hey, we think cooking should be fun. Really fun.”
I went back to our home page to read what we wrote there as it sounded so familiar ! The very ethos of ChefSteps fits us like a glove.
So are there any downsides ?
There’s no such thing as perfection, and we all have different needs and views. We love all the sous vide machines on our top 10 list – for different reasons. The Joule just happens to tick all our own boxes too Which one ticks yours? The following shows areas where you might find a machine that suits you more.
Areas where the Joule might not suit you
No manual operation on the machine itself
So, there is no display panel on the machine itself. What we mean by this is really, a manual ( on the machine itself) operation mode. Everything is notified through your phone… except for the Joule light signals on the machine itself. ( see Joule lights further down this section).
Well I guess the downside of being so modern and technology driven is that Joule isn’t traditional and manually driven. There are no actual visual display of times or temperatures, on the machine itself. There is a light which blinks orange to give a visual alarm when power fails. , or alarms on the device itself. Also, notifications of every step of the process is done through the app. You can set it to cook by voice control through Amazon Alexa however, or by conversation mode through Facebook messenger.
When choosing this was one of our stopping points for a while. We thought it would be nice, and yes it would perhaps, to have a backup of the temperature and a count down / or up timer on the machine itself. To be honest though, we worried about this more before we had one but the whole idea of sous vide means it should be hands off cooking, so having it on our phone (whether it’s Bluetooth within 30m) or wifi ( from close to far away). The whole point is that you should be able to put your sous vide on and leave it to do its thing. The Joule will tell you when the water is heated , when the cook is finished, and how long after that you can leave it in the water without overcooking.
We haven’t had any connectivity issues and tend to use Bluetooth as we tend to use it in the day when we are here, or overnight. Having no buttons does make it look very minimalist, and also much sturdier regarding water getting into the unit via button pads or display panels.
What you do get on the machine itself is a cute little light at the top, so you can see what stage it is at.
A pale aqua light shows when it is powered on. Slowly blinking, or “breathing,” light means Joule is heating to its set temperature. A solid green light shows when Joule has reached the set temperature and is holding steady. A double-blinking orange light means Power was lost during cooking and you will be notified also on the app so that you can restart the cooking if the power is back on. If you unplug Joule while it is cooking, you may see this when you plug Joule in again. When it starts cooking you can see or even hear a little the water pumping out of the little hole near the bottom. If you have very little water ( even above the minimum allowed), the hole can still be higher and it sounds like a gentle waterfall in your kitchen !
A little less noise, if we are being picky
The Joule isn’t noisy at all but if you are being picky about a little motor or waterfall noise then the Anova is better and the Sansaire is apparently even quieter. (We watched again and again, the video tests carried out by the sousvideguys.com, and this is their recommendation). By the way, if any noise at all is an issue, then your hobsons choice is the Sous Vide Supreme and Demi Supreme. These are the absolute best – pretty much silent! On the other hand, the SousVant Tribest is the most complained about regarding noise of operation!
Style and size, does it matter to you?
The competitor Immersion Circulators are more traditional, but we do also love the sci-fi Sansaire look, it’s just a bit big ! For the sous vide all in one cookers, we love the look of the Tribest. It lost its first place to the Sous Vide Supreme for us, simply because of the sophistication of the Sous Vide Supreme electronics which make theirs so so reliable. Sous Vide Supreme was one of the first on the market so it has years of experience. We read some user reviews about not liking the noise it made, and that it leaked. We’ve also read the opposite, so whilst there are varying opinions, it is our close second, and not the easy first slot we give to the Sous Vide Supreme.
So if you prefer a more traditional style, or even a commercial one, then you won’t need to appreciate that part of the Joule, and you can pop it into the drawer with the other utensils. We like to leave ours out. It looks great and it encourages us to keep it always in our mind. If you go for another machine, just remember it will also be heavier and bulkier so you will have to have a cupboard for it, or love the look of it on your worktop.
The perfect gift, boxed so beautifully
What´s included in the box
First, let’s talk about the gorgeous box ! If you like Apple Macs and how they are delivered, you will also love the Joule. It makes for a gorgeous gift! It feeeeels so good pulling the sleeve off slowly, and opening that solid feeling box to reveal what feels like jewel, well it is a gem of a kitchen appliance.
The all white version comes in a blue box, and the stainless steel version ( available in the U.S.) in an orange box.
We have a small life now, and packing just one case from Amsterdam to the Canary islands, some old clothes fell by the wayside but my spices, herbs, books, and even the Joule box had to come along… even though i carried the machine in my hand luggage. I’m never good letting go of a sexy, sleek piece of packaging. (If I can ever reuse a box, bag, or a ribbon I will.) There’s a lot of love gone into designing the cushy box for that sous vide machine, and I just need to not discard it so fast !
So what’s included… its just the pod and a little booklet which we haven’t even had to look at. Once you plug in and connect with your phone ( simple bluetooth we tend to use most), the rest is explained very easily, step by step. It even encourages you to cook, as well as making it easy.
That’s all folks. We love the simplicity, everything else is there for us through the ether.
(The big family feel connection is huge between sous vide users, and the Joule user community in particular.)
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