ChefSteps Joule Review: Beautiful, Refined, and Powerful Sous Vide

ChefSteps Joule review

 

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ChefSteps CS10001 Joule Sous Vide Review

ChefSteps is a Seattle-based food and tech company that aims to help people cook smarter. ChefSteps did just that by introducing Joule to the sous vide industry, the smallest sous vide immersion circulator available. After ChefSteps announced planned development, Joule went down in history as one of the most anticipated sous vide tools ever. Customer demand surged as pre-orders piled in and lucky first-comers posted pictures on social media of their Joule in action. We finally got our hands on a Joule sous vide machine and put it to the test and compared it to other sous vide machines we reviewed. Let’s see how it fares!

Unboxing

Similar to Anova, ChefSteps crafted a sleek packaging design to protect their devices. It gives you the feeling like you’re unboxing one of the latest tech gadgets (well… I guess that makes sense). When ordered online, there’s a brown box that says Joule on it, but if you purchase it in a physical location, you’ll see the regular orange and white Joule box. Once you pull off the sleeve there is a black box, which holds the device securely in place. After taking the Joule out of the box, I was surprised to notice that was it. No paperwork. No manuals. Nothing. Instead, the left side of the box shows basic instructions to get started which essentially consists of downloading the Joule app. We’ll dive into more details on the Joule smartphone app below, but essentially, the app controls everything so it makes sense tutorials/how-to’s are on there.

Unboxing Joule
You may be surprised when unboxing the ChefSteps Joule. It comes with the sous vide machine and that’s it! No manuals or papers, just instructions on the box to download the app.

Design

If you’ve read any of our previous sous vide machine reviews, you already know we’re suckers for great product design. ChefSteps hit a home run with the Joule design, plain and simple. From aesthetics to function, it’s absolutely perfect. When first holding the Joule sous vide tool, it feels solid, well-made, and reliable. First impressions gave an Apple-esque feeling – perhaps it’s the white and silver color or the sleek and elegant size.

 

Joule button
Joule uses just one button located on the top of the device

The top of the device has one button which is used to sync your Joule sous vide machine to their app, and right below it you will see an LED status light. The bottom of the device has a magnetic base, which can innovatively be placed in the middle of a pot without worrying about clips or clamps. Our first impression of the magnetic base was that it wouldn’t be too useful, since we personally use polycarbonate sous vide containers as our primary water bath of choice. However, after an epiphany, we placed a standard cookie sheet under our plastic sous vide container. Not only does the Joule magnet work with our container now, but we also have a bit of protection between our hot water container and our countertops to help prevent any potential damage from long cooks.

 

Joule magnet bottom
The bottom of the Joule has a strong magnet which can secure the device to stainless steel pots.

Joule also has a standard clip on the back of the device to attach to your preferred cooking vessel. And once again, Joule designed this flawlessly. This is our favorite clip out of any device for using with plastic containers or pots. However, if you use a plastic cooler or something with thicker walls, Anova’s adjustable clamp will work better.

chefsteps_joule_clip
The secondary clip on the back of the Joule works great, but can’t open wide enough to fit thicker containers such as the edge of a cooler.

Features

Can the world’s smallest sous vide immersion circulator pack lots of impressive features? Of course it can, because ChefSteps rocks. From Alexa voice integration to an innovative app-enabled Visual Doneness guide, Joule surely offers unique features that you won’t see in any other sous vide machine.

1100 Watt Water Heater

The ChefSteps Joule has an impressive 1100 watt heater which helps raise water temperatures quickly. For comparison, Gourmia GSV140 has 1200 watts, PolyScience CHEF Series has 1100 Watts, and Anova Bluetooth has 800 watts. Even more impressively, they packed an 1100 watt heater into a device half the size of many other sous vide machines out there. The heater also runs really quiet which is a big plus especially when doing longer cooks. Take a quick listen to the video we recorded of the heater in action:

Powerful Circulator

Joule impresses again with its’ circulator, which can effectively circulate over 10 gallons of water! This is particularly useful if you plan any large cooks, but also a much needed feature when cooking small amounts of food to ensure an even water temperature. The minimum depth of water is just 1.5 inches of water, which is significantly lower than other devices. Many other sous vide machines are in the 3-4 inch range. Joule is able to achieve this by pulling in water from the base of the device and launching it out the hole in the front of the device. If you have 2-3 inches of water, you will notice the water shooting out from above. This is perfectly ok, but it does add to the noise level. In this short video you will see the Joule circulator in action.

Bluetooth and WiFi

Joule comes with both Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility. This is great because you can use Bluetooth when home without worrying about a WiFi connection, or use the WiFi to control your Joule while you’re leaving the office. We were curious if you could choose between which to use, so Ellen Kutscher of ChefSteps cleared this up by saying: “Joule works only with a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. You can cook without WiFi via Joule’s Bluetooth connection, but your phone or tablet needs to be connected to the internet while pairing with Joule.”

Joule App for Android and iPhone

The Joule app is hands down the best sous vide app available. Good thing, too, since the sous vide machine itself can only be controlled from this app. In addition to standard controls for operating your Joule, the smartphone app comes with step by step recipes which are thoroughly detailed. Another feature we love is the ability to submit support requests and view the status of them directly from the app.

Inside the Joule app you will also find your cook history and impressive training videos to get you started, including:

  • Getting Started with Sous Vide
  • How to Sear Like a Boss
  • Tips for Sous Vide Superstardom
  • Caring for your New Friend Joule

Joule with Amazon Alexa

How awesome is this? Joule now works with Amazon Alexa to use operate the sous vide machine with your voice. If you already have an Amazon Alexa in your house, it’s all ready to go! Just open the Amazon Alexa app, search for Joule, and enable the skill. Once setup, you can say “Alexa, ask Joule to heat water to 150 degrees F.” No more fiddling with your phone to set or check on the temperature while you have sticky hands!

Joule Performance

Long story short, Joule performed flawlessly during our review. We tested the circulator earlier in the review, so let’s take a dive into the heater and temperature accuracy. To test this, we filled a water bath with 6 liters of water at 75 degrees F, placed our Joule in the water, and set the target temperature to 135 degrees F. In just over 12 minutes, Joule reached the temperature. This is absolutely impressive given how small the device is compared to others. As another comparison, our Gourmia GSV140 review tested the same temperatures; 75 degree F starting temperature and 135 degree F target temperature concluded in over 13 minutes. The surprising part? The Gourmia GSV140 has a 1200 watt heater while Joule only has 1100 watt, yet Joule still won.

Temperatire test using Joule
We started at 75 degrees. Joule reached our target 135 degrees F in just over 12 minutes.

We further tested the accuracy of the temperature by setting the device to 135 degrees to cook a roast. 10 minutes after the target temperature was reached, we tested the temperature using a digital and infrared thermometer. Our temperatures came approximately 0.8 degree F lower than what Joule said; however, the thermometers themselves may not be entirely accurate as well. This test is to ensure the temperature is within a degree or so.
Temperature test using Joule
Our thermometers read aproximately 0.8 degree F below Joule. However, I usually test the water to ensure it is within a degree or so, given the accuracy of these thermometers may vary.

Final Thoughts of ChefSteps Joule

Overall, Joule made the top of our list of best sous vide machines. This immersion circulator outperformed every other device we’ve tested to date. The design is immaculate and realistic, tons of unique features are packed into a tiny device, and the performance was perfect. The only thing keeping this from a perfect 10 out of 10 is because we personally are hesitant of only being able to control the machine with your phone. A few controls on the device itself would be great, perhaps a rotating dial like Sansaire uses to help keep the design simplistic like it currently is. Either way, 9.8 out of 10 should be a good indication that this device rocks. ChefSteps Joule is the real deal.

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13 thoughts on “ChefSteps Joule Review: Beautiful, Refined, and Powerful Sous Vide

  • January 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm
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    It’s nice and pretty and slim… but it only sells in the US so their loss I guess. Just got an Anova and I probably will not buy another circulator for years. Too slow, Chefsteps.

    Reply
    • April 14, 2017 at 7:18 am
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      I’m afraid it’s you that is missing out. I’ve tried them all and the Joule is so far & away above the others it’s comical. Add to that the fact is is the smallest, best designed & most powerful & it’s a no-brainer. My brother purchased the Anova a year prior to the Joule coming out. We both used our circulators together during the Christmas break & he promptly ordered the Joule while sending his Anova with his son in college.

      Reply
  • August 20, 2017 at 8:25 am
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    where is the 240 volt model for the rest of civilization?

    Reply
    • August 29, 2017 at 4:55 pm
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      Hey Gary, good question… I actually reached out to a rep from ChefSteps a couple weeks ago and they mentioned that they are actively working on creating international models.

      Reply
  • September 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm
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    “The bottom of the Joule has a strong magnet which can secure the device to stainless steel pots.”

    Magnets don’t stick to stainless steel (at least, not good stainless steel). They’ll stick to regular steel, or cast iron. Seems like this would mostly be relevant in a dutch oven or something like that, or possibly a thin-bottomed vessel on top of a steel surface.

    Reply
    • September 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm
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      Ferritic stainless steel is magnetic while Austentic stainless steel is not; nonetheless, both are stainless steel. Ferritic is typically lighter weight, so you’re right, it will often be the cheaper stock pots and pans that are magnetic. I have quite a few of each.

      Another quick trick is to place a cheap baking pan under a polycarbonate container. Or, just use the clip 🙂

      Reply
  • October 24, 2017 at 12:41 am
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    I was excited about this machine, having heard a review on “Splendid Table”. I was entirely disillusioned when I found it could only be controlled via its’ app. which will not load on my BlackBerry Z30. My smartphone still does everything very well and is a long way from being ready to retire, so I will have to return the Joule I ordered on it…

    Reply

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