Update: They now offer a completely white version, which looks pretty awesome. The white one sells for a discount because the bottom is not stainless steel, like the one you see in the title Image. Click the link to check the current price.
Joule Review: The Apple of Sous Vide
Simply the best of the bunch. After testing 11 different immersion circulators over the course of a month (that's a lot of steak, yum!), there was one device that stood out. Not just because it looks different (but it does), but because it performed the best.
The incredibly fun and user-friendly app also helped. This is the perfect starter device for someone brand new to sous vide, but it's also an elegant kitchen appliance experienced chefs out there as well.
Being able to interact with your cooking devices through your smartphone or with your voice is the way of the future, and Chefsteps Joule is leading the pack.
Get more information about why I liked this sous vide immersion circulator so much in my detailed review of Joule below.
No device is perfect though, so also check out some comparisons to other really good circulators you should consider if this one isn't right for you.
Basic Immersion Circulator Features
Let's talk about what the Joule does that you can expect from most immersion circulators. It's basic job is to heat a vessel of water and keep it stable to cook your food to an exact temperature over a longer period of time.
By cooking with this method, you get perfectly done food that's safe to eat. You retain all of the natural flavors because you're cooking inside a sealed bag. With meats, you can still get a great seared flavor by finishing in a hot pan for just a few seconds, getting the best of both worlds!
The Joule holds the temperature to an accuracy of 0.2 degrees F (0.1 C), which is pretty common among immersion circulators. It comes equipped with a clip on the side so you can attach it to almost any style of water vessel, including regular cooking pots and polycarobonate plastic containers (what I use).
The clip is a bit tight though, and would probably not work with thicker walled containers like coolers, which some people use to sous vide large amounts of food. Though the Joule can heat, circulate, and keep temperature stable up to 10 gallons of water, for larger jobs you may want to consider the Sansaire immersion circulator which can circulate 3 gallons per minute and is much taller/wider.
Beyond these basics, the Joule really starts to shine with extra features you simply won't find with any other sous vide device.
Unique Features For Sous Vide
There's so much to discuss here, I'll have to organize it in list format so you don't get lost.
What really solidified the Joule experience to create a very unique product was the awesome app they have. Actually, as I was testing the 11 other immersion circulators, I found myself using the Joule App to decide what temperature and time to cook my meats.
It's very simple to use, and for a newbie, it's perfect because it's very visual. For example, when you want to cook a steak or some poached eggs, you can watch a delicious-looking video and swipe left or right to select the doneness of your food. With meats, you then select a thickness of the cut, and then press START.
There are also recipes included in the app, but those take a bit more time to sort through and read. For those that want to get started and just cook some awesome chicken, steak, pork, etc it's super easy. Actually, the whole setup process of the app is really interesting.
Once your device is connected to wifi and you've turned on notifications, you can watch a few short videos about basic sous vide, or just skip to the cooking part. It really is easy to navigate to your device in the app, which was one of my main complaints about another wifi-enabled immersion circulator, namely the Anova Precision Cooker.
Everything is done inside the app. I think this is awesome, and adds to the fun of cooking, though if you don't have a smartphone, it means you can't really use the Joule. If that's the case, then you don't need a wifi-enabled device, and I recommend you check out my post on basic immersion circulators.
This is an image of the notifications you'll receive while cooking. After you start the Joule, you'll get a buzz when the water reaches its target cooking temp, and when its done cooking. You can monitor the time progress, change temperatures, and start/stop the Joule from inside the app.
Did you know you can actually interact with your Joule using Amazon's Alexa? That's freakin' awesome. What a world we live in where we can talk to our kitchen appliances.
Slim, Light, & Quiet:
This is actually the smallest and lightest immersion circulator out there. Gourmia makes some pretty slim devices, and they weigh in at about 3 lbs. Others can weigh about six pounds.
The Joule weights only 1.3 pounds. It's noticeably slimmer than any other device on the market, and has a very unique, sexy look. Most sous vide cookers stick to the basic black and stainless steel look, although the Gourmia GSV140 has some fun colors to choose from.
Something you'll notice right away is that the Joule is a lot quieter than other brands. I don't really understand how the motor differs, and I'm sure you're not that interested to get into the mechanics of it. But since this thing will be cooking for anywhere between 1 and 72 hours, having a whir instead of a bubbling cauldron can make a big difference!
Magnetic, Flat Base:
Something I didn't notice until later is that the base of the Joule is flat, and it's magnetic. What this means is that you can put your device in the center of a metal pot and not have it fall over. Many devices clip on the side of the pot.
With a large enough vessel, this could cause uneven water flow (it would have to be a large vessel), but for me, I noticed that many circulators spit water out of all sides, and the side that rests against the side of the pot makes the most noise. It also means that if you can't clip it to the side of the pot for whatever reason you can just set it down in the center.
It probably won't be a deciding factor whether you buy it or not, but it's a neat little feature worth mentioning.
Cooking Experience With Joule
I cooked a lot of different foods with my Joule, and will continue to cook more so I can get more familiar with the app. I'll update this review to add insights as I continue to use this device.
So far, it's my #1 choice of all the 11 different immersion circulators I tried, so I want to really become a pro at using it! Here's a photo of me cooking a “king's cut” pork chop in my polycarbonate container. It's quite big when cooking for one, but it works!
Something interesting about the Joule is that it has a 1.5 inch minimum water depth. That's tiny! What it means is that you can cook very small amounts of food in just a little bit of water.
Your water will heat faster, there will be less waste, and it will take up less kitchen space. In the photo below you can see that the water-exit port spits out the water to move it around. The water is sucked in through the bottom and heated inside the device.
Being able to cook in smaller vessels makes this a great choice for individuals, and a perfect fit for someone living in a small apartment. It's 4 inches short, half the width, and 4.5 times lighter than the Sansaire!
Other people agree with me. The ChefSteps circulator was just released and already has almost 200 five star reviews. The only negative comments so far is something that I mentioned above, that you have to interact with the device via your phone, and it only works with iOS and Android.
Technical Stuff About The Device
- Unit Size Size: 11.0 x 1.85 inches, 1.3 lbs
- Temperature Range & Precision: +/- 0.2 Fº (0.1 Cº)
- Power: 1100 Watts
- Pump Circulation: Unknown GPM, up to 10 gallons capacity
What does all this mean? I kind of covered it all in other areas of this review, but basically it means that this is a very slim, lightweight device that can move a lot of water, but doesn't make a lot of noise. You can see from the image above how it compares to a few other of the most popular immersion cookers out there.
Comparing Joule To Other Immersion Circulators
The other is the Gourmia GSV150, which is brand new from the Gourmia Brand. It costs significantly less than the Joule, selling at about 60% of the cost. That's almost half the price! But the app is seriously lacking in usability. It works, for sure, and you can operate your device remotely, but that's about it.
So if you're looking for cheap wifi accessibility, check out the Gourmia device. If you're looking for the best, you can't beat Joule
What about power? At 1100 watts, again, Joule is right there in the top three choices. Gourmia beats them by 100 watts. All of their models rock a powerful 1200 watt heater which heats up water very fast. My favorite model from them is the GSV140.
However, it's quite a bit noisier, so keep that in mind. The Sansaire rolls in at 1000 watts. The Sansaire was a popular kickstarter project that got funded a while back and people are really like it so far. It's also quite cheap now since it's 2nd-generation and they've since released the third generation.
The advantage of Sansaire over the Joule is that it's larger and has a stronger pump. Though the GPM is not listed for the Joule, the Sansaire has a 3 gallon per minute pump which can circulate a large amount of water quickly.
However, Sansaire lists a max water capacity of six gallons, but the Joule lists a 10 gallon max. Hm. That's a bit confusing…I'll have to get back to you on that. But you may find that having a larger device like the Sansaire fits better with large coolers, if that's what you cook with.
Honestly, other than the GSV140, GSV150, Anova Bluetooth, and Sansaire, you really don't need to compare any others to the Joule.
What about price? Well the Joule is up there, but it's certainly not the most expensive. It's currently selling for two hundred dollars. The cheapest circulators you can find are about $80, but as you can see in my list of premium immersion circulators, they can cost over $700 for some brands!
Who Is ChefStep's Joule Best For?
If you love sous vide, the Joule is a great buy. There's nothing else like it. If you are brand new to sous vide but are intrigued by the idea, this is a perfect introduction. Using the ChefSteps app will make your learning process much easier.
The only reason you really wouldn't want it would be if you really wanted to go as cheap as possible and don't care about remote access to your device, which case I recommend the GSV140 which is linked earlier in the review.
If I came off like a fanboy in this review, so be it. After testing 11 of these things it was pretty obvious which one was best. I just wish I didn't have to spend $1500 to find out. LOL. I'll probably resell the other ones and keep the Joule and the GSV140 for myself now that my reviews are done.
Pros/Cons About Joule
- Sleek, Unique, Beautiful Design
- Easy To Use For Newbies
- Incredibly Awesome App
- Works With Alexa For Voice Controls
- Accurate Temperature
- Light Weight
- 1100 Watts of Power is More Than Most Circulators
- Heats Up To 10 Gallons Of Water
- Phone Notification When Target Temperature Reached
- Phone Notification When Food Is Done Cooking
- Strong Clip That Fits Most Pots & Vessels
- Magnetic Base Allows It To Sit In Center Of Pots
- Excellent Customer Support
- Removable Bottom For Easy Clean
- Holds Temperature After Cook Time Finished
- Only Works With iPhone or Android
- Clamp Doesn't Fit Thick-Walled Vessels
- No Manual Interface
- Side Clamp Tough To To Open
Opening the Joule is kind of like opening an Apple product. It's a very pleasant experience! Everything is packaged nicely and looks very sleek.
I love the soft white cord. Attention to detail is one thing that makes the Joule such a nice appliance.
Here's a zoomed in picture of the back, clamped onto my polycarbonate cooking vessel.
The light indicates if the Joule is ON, OFF, or working. It changes color and blinks.
Settings for the app to figure how how long you'll need to cook your food for.
Videos: Joule Reviews
This video is from a quirky tech channel, so it may focus more on technical aspects. “Gaben” is the name of a creator of a famous video game. There are a few more inside jokes within the video, but it's still worth watching if you aren't convinced yet!
Here's another one which is also worth watching. Normally I don't do two videos because you've probably had enough by now, but this is a pretty popular device to review so a lot of tech and cooking channels have covered it.