UPDATE: See the bottom of this review to find out how you can use coupon code SVGUY10 to get free Mellow cooking bags with the purchase of a Mellow for a limited time!
Before I dive into the full review of the Mellow sous vide machine, I want to point out a few major characteristics that you’ll either love or hate. I’m not labeling them as pros and cons, because that’s really up to the user. However, I wanted to give this info up front (save you some precious internet reading time) in case one of these really makes or breaks the deal for you.
- If it wasn’t apparent from the appearance, this is an all-in-one self-contained machine, similar to the Sous Vide Supreme, so your cooking space is limited to the Mellow container.
- Similar to ChefSteps Joule, Mellow must be controlled via smartphone. There are no physical controls. Personally, I do not mind this at all, especially since the app is well-made.
- Mellow is the first sous vide machine to offer factory-tested cooling (aka ice baths) to keep your food safe throughout the day, enabling you to start a cook before you leave work.
- *Due to the restricted size and innovative refrigeration capability, Mellow is best suited for those of you who are working couples/single. If you have a larger household, the restricted size may be troublesome to fit all of the food.
Mellow Sous Vide Review
Sous vide popularity continues to rise as innovative start-ups create easy and effective methods of cooking the perfect sous vide meal. More recently, immersion circulators have been in the spotlight, serving as a compact and low-cost alternative to sous vide ovens. However, one company is working to reinvigorate the traditional sous vide oven, and I think they succeeded. Meet Mellow.
Mellow is a smart sous vide machine that can be controlled from your phone, allowing you to start cooking dinner when leaving work and come home to a perfectly cooked sous vide meal. Multiple sous vide machines currently on the market have WiFi capability, so what sets Mellow apart? Let’s dive into the key features of this sous vide machine.
Let’s be honest, at first glance, nobody thought this would be a kitchen gadget – at most, it looks like a fancy humidifier. Or a fish tank? Nonetheless, this is actually a positive in my book because the design does not look like a traditional bulky stainless steel kitchen appliance. Coming in at 16” tall and 6” wide, Mellow is quite the conversation piece when guests come over (“what the #@$% is that?”) and the first sous vide machine I’m personally fine with leaving on the counter full-time.
Heating Power: 1,000 Watt
Cooling Power: 50 Watt
Cooking Capacity: 4.5 Liters (roughly 6 regular portions)
Temperature Range: 35 degrees to 192 degrees Fahrenheit
Temperature Accuracy: +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit
The water bath consists of a double-walled removable tank which helps insulate temperatures and conserve energy. After my first test, I was really surprised with how well-insulated the container was, which was essentially cool to the touch after cooking at 135F. If you’ve ever used polycarbonate containers for an immersion circulator, you know how warm they can get. The size of the water bath is 9” x 4” x 7”, providing decent space for food. Now, when I say decent, I mean its a good size for cooking for one to two people. The container is essentially full after adding two thick cut steaks. As a reference, I was able to fit a 4” thick single rib roast in the container, with just a little bit of room to spare.
Refrigeration System and Weight Sensor
Without a doubt, the most innovative feature of Mellow is the built-in refrigeration system to keep your food fresh while waiting for your perfect time to begin cooking. This allows you to place food in the sous vide machine before leaving the house and not have to worry about the food going bad from sitting out all day. Anova’s Wifi Precision Cooker can use an ice bath hack to achieve similar results, but you then carry the risk of inadequately guessing how much ice to add in the morning.
Mellow also has a built-in weight sensor in the base of the unit. This smart sous vide machine will actually know when you place food into the water bath, which kicks on the refrigeration unit. You can then use the Mellow app to begin cooking at a later time.
Heater and Circulation
Mellow comes with a 1,000W heater, which is higher than the Sous Vide Supreme and the same as the Tribest Sousvant. This is a bit lower than some of the immersion circulators on the market, however the insulated water bath helps offset the lower wattage heater.
I always test sous vide machines by heating up 6L of water from 75F to 135F. The Mellow just barely fit 6L of water (at this level, I wouldn’t be able to add any food without it overflowing), so the test criteria worked fine. After 13 minutes and 54 seconds, it reached the target temperature and was accurate within ~1 degree F (testing with two instant read thermometers).
The circulation inside Mellow’s water bath can be a bit noisy from all of the bubbles pulsing from the bottom; there’s also a bit of a whirling/humming noise beneath the bubbles. However, if you plan to use this machine to its fullest capabilities, noise really won’t matter much since you’ll be using it when you’re not home.
Pairing my phone to the device was really easy, but also a bit weird. It instructs you to place the screen of your phone against the flashing logo on the Mellow machine. Curiously, I had to take a look at my phone screen once the process started to see if this was really necessary. Epilepsy warning: the phone just starts flashing like a strobe light. I still have no idea if that really connects the device somehow, or if it just uses a standard bluetooth but wanted the experience to be a bit cooler.
As we previously mentioned, Mellow uses your WiFi network to communicate between the device and your phone. In addition to controlling the device (when to start cooking), Mellow can also make suggestions and learn to cook the food to your personal taste. This is done by sending and receiving feedback after meals. If you didn’t like the way your salmon turned out, Mellow can offer suggestions for improving it the next time you cook based on your personal feedback.
Performance and Final Thoughts
My first test with Mellow resulted in perfection: beef short ribs served with a drippings reduction and mashed white sweet potatoes.
Honestly, this was the most excited I’ve been for the release of a sous vide product. Mellow’s Apple-esque design and innovative refrigeration capabilities not only reinvigorated the sous vide market, but it’s sure to set a new standard for sous vide machines. With that said, the water bath size may be an issue for some people and the sticker shock may be overwhelming. If you don’t need a ton of cooking space, love the idea of refrigerated water baths, and you’re willing to jump the price hurdle (especially as immersion circulators keep dropping in prices), you won’t be disappointed.
Mellow Sous Vide Discount/Coupon Code
Looking for a coupon code to use with the purchase of your Mellow? For a limited time, you can apply the discount code SVGUY10 at checkout and get a free set of Mellow Bags! Just add a Mellow sous vide unit and at least one set of Mellow Bags to your cart, and enter “SVGuy10” as your discount code at checkout.
This offer is only valid through the Mellow website and for a limited time exclusively to Sous Vide Guy readers!