The ChefSteps Joule is an elegant and compact sous vide machine. Although it’s one of the smallest immersion devices on the market, it performs exceptionally well. Wi-Fi integration, voice control and a polished app make this a truly modern kitchen appliance but the lack of a screen might make this device a little harder to use than others.
Performance & Heating
The ChefSteps Joule is the Apple iPhone of sous vide machines. Small, sleek and sexy, its minimal design contrasts sharply to bulkier competitors. For instance, this device only weighs 1.28 pounds and at 11 inches tall, is the shortest immersion cooker we tested, while PolyScience Professional, the heaviest immersion sous vide we tested, weighs 9 pounds and is 14 inches tall. The miniature size is great if you have limited storage space or if you plan to cook away from home since it is more portable than others.
In our testing, the Joule won the hearts of our taste testers with its exceptionally tender and flavorful chicken and steak. However, we found the device slightly harder to use and monitor than the other sous vides, like the Anova, since there is no screen on the device. It would be nice if you could at least see the current temperature of the water without having to pull out your phone. If you happen to have an Amazon Alexa device, you can voice control the unit or check the current temperature, which is nice when your hands are busy preparing other dishes or when you're doing other activities. For anyone without a smart home device, this unit might be a little more frustrating to use.
Clean white lines and stainless-steel fittings make it a stylish addition to any kitchen. It even includes a magnetized bottom covered in silicone so it won't damage your pots, but will keep the device secured in place as you cook. There is also a slim side clip if you plan on using this device with a plastic container. The lowest temperature it can reach is 68 degrees, while the highest is 208 degrees. This gives you plenty of room to cook your foods at your desired temperatures.
Small size sometimes comes at a cost to performance or other standout features. This is not the case for the Joule. Though smaller than the rest, its specs match up with the best. Two design specifications in particular stand out. Of all the sous vide circulators we looked at, this unit has the highest water capacity at 10 gallons. This huge capacity will allow you to cook enough chicken for a family reunion dinner. That's a lot of chicken. Moreover, this unit has the widest water level range at 6.5 inches. This range is the distance between the minimum and maximum water level needed for proper functioning. The wider the range, the better. Compared to the average range of 4.5 inches on other machines, this machine does surprisingly well for its small size.
Convenience & Safety
This unit does not have a display or manual interface. Aside from a small indication light on the top, it's controlled solely by an app. The app is one of the most impressive ones we've seen as it provides a number of recipes and even provides step by step videos to show you what to do next. The app also offers a Visual Doneness feature that allows for easy and precise cooking. Rather than relying on online sous vide recipes and guides, you can use the app to program the machine using pictures of how your food will turn out. Select the picture of the medium rare steak, and your steak will come out medium rare. The app makes sous vide cooking easy and stress-free. However, this design does mean that the Joule requires a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection and a smartphone. Without these, the machine is inoperable. If you want to cook amazing sous vide steak on a camping trip, you're out of luck. No internet or a bad connection means no sous vide.
The ChefSteps Joule sous vide machine bears a convenient and graceful design. It’s small, powerful and user-friendly, making it a top contender in the market. In our testing, this device produced the most flavorful and moist steak and chicken. Tech savvy people with a good internet connection will love this device, but it might not be a good fit for anyone who has a bad internet connection or doesn't want to constantly use their phone when cooking.