Sous-Vide is the rage for all who love cooking and appliances. While the Anova Precision Cooker is causing a lot of pressure, we are putting its lean competitor ChefSteps Joule through its paces.
Here's What We Like
Small enough to store easily
Very easy to use app  Great results
It's faster than other sous vide devices.
And what we do not
There is no display on the device
Much more expensive than other options
What Is Sous Vide Again?
When we reviewed the Anova Precision Cooker last year, we looked at the details of Sous Vide. Sous Vide is actually a chic French word meaning "under vacuum". You put food in a plastic bag or a glass and then in water.
Then the sous vide set the water temperature and the food is boiled down the water bath, slowly and evenly. The appliances are very precise, so your food is constantly cooked every time. Compared to a stove (where the 375 degrees you dial are actually not 375 degrees but instead 382), choosing 132.5 degrees on a sous vide unit will give you that.
That sounds like something picky, do not confuse the precision with complications. It is a method that is as complicated as you wish. ReviewGeek's editor Jason is a big sous vide fan and owns several Anova devices and accessories. He will, however, be the first to tell you that you do not have to do everything to benefit. You can also throw some food into a Ziploc bag, slowly let it sink into the water to naturally squeeze the air out, and leave the Sous Vide device to do all the hard work for you. It's up to you.
ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide wants everything you need and is your first choice over the established Anova Precision Cooker. How did it work?
Getting Started: Simple and easy
ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide looks smaller and slimmer than the Anova precision cooker. It almost seems as if Apple has come up with something, to the intuitive and friendly-looking packaging. It is only 11 inches tall and weighs about 1.3 pounds. She's actually small enough to throw in a drawer or closet without getting in the way. It's definitely a little smarter than the Anova, but that has a price.
ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide is totally dependent on app connectivity. There is no display on the top of the device as on the Anova. So if you want to look or adjust a setting, you'll need to dive into your phone's Joule app. This is not a big deal if your phone is always with you, but there is something to keep in mind (especially if several people in your household are going to use it or you want to use it without ever having to pick up your phone.)
The setup is very simple. Just plug in Joule Sous Vide's ChefSteps and download the Joule app. In the app, there is a button to pair the new Joule. The app and the device do most of the work for you. All I had to do was enter my Wi-Fi password. You also have the option to name your Joule. This can be useful if you use multiple devices. A 5 minute update later, I was ready to cook.
The first cooking session: Juicy Chicken
The Joule app recommends some special startup options. Simple things like chicken breast, burger, pork chop or steak are the perfect starting point. How often do you end up cooking as usual or how often? Sous Vide really comes into its own when cooking meat and makes something like a chicken breast juicy and delicious while being cooked safely. As a jerk of the red meat (I'm sorry) I took as the first test a chicken breast from free-range.
The app recommends topping up a pan with warm or hot water, but you can also use cold water. The only difference is that the heating up takes longer. You can clamp the joules on the side of the pan or do what I did, relying on the magnetic base that holds them firmly to the bottom of the pan. From there it is a short process in the app to set a temperature. For chickens you can choose between 60c / 140f to 80c / 176f. For each temperature there is a small description like "tender and juicy" or "firm and fibrous". The app suggests the optimal temperature for you. As I said, it is absolutely safe.
The warming up of the water took at most a few minutes. The app calmed you down with slow but steady increases in temperature gauge. A performance of 1100 watts means that the process is much faster than that of Anova's 800 watts. Perfect for impatient cooks like me, as I spent that time seasoning the chicken with some garlic olive oil, sea salt, and smoked paprika.