Over the past two years, I’ve cooked my foods a bunch of various ways with many gadgets, and Sous Vide has ultimately been my favorite. But one thing that always bothered me was taking the food from the water bath and manually searing it. And then the Cinder Precision Grill arrived at my doorstep.
I initially hear about the Cinder Grill on a random tech site just giving a general hype post about the Cinder, without an actual hands-on experience. So I followed it for a while still using my Anova, my Joule, and the various other Sous Vide gadgets I use to create the perfectly cooked salmons and steaks of the world. So when the successful Indiegogo campaign arrived, I was surprised that the brand claimed that the precision gill would cook your foods just like a Sous vide, without the water bath, all while allowing you to sear as well. For $400, you would certainly hope that it would do this, since anyone who’s Sous vide before suffers from having to purchase additional accessories in order to get that perfect medium NY streak with the perfect sear immediately after allowing it to rest.
The Cinder straight out of the box is quite the sight to see, taking up a little bit of a footprint on my own personal countertop, sitting right beside my coffeepot. It’s roughly 30 pounds in weight so if you plan on sitting it somewhere on your counter, for the most part, you intend on it being there for a while; I haven’t moved mine since I placed it there. Its stainless steel look is nice, especially if you have matching appliances, and as my mother said to me “It looks like a more expensive, yet functional George Foreman grill.”. You have to chuckle at it because it does have that look but certainly not that functionality.
It comes complete with two aluminum plates (top and bottom) that heat once you set up the temperature with a companion “Cinder” app that is free in the App Store. Cinder states that it’s internal “nodes” continuously turn themselves on and off in order to make sure your meal is the correct temperature. Thus making sure that your food, once done, will be the temperature that you want until you’re ready for.
For example, for the steaks that I cooked, I initially overdid it. The aluminum plate doesn’t provide a lot of space, so if you plan on throwing a party and do not have an indoor grill, you may be able to toss six normal sized burgers on there. As you can see I was able to fit quite a few steaks on there, but before you make the slight mistake I did, take into account the fat and juices from the meats that you cook only have one drip tray to the left of the front of the Cinder, and it’s pretty tiny. Fat also will escape from the sides, but they land on the silver housing which you’ll want to clean immediately. In order to avoid this, just make sure you don’t over-do it as I did. If you follow that instruction, you can leave your foods on the Cinder and in the event you forget, it will still retain its temperature for hours (great if you forget other groceries or have to go to the gym).
Using the Cinder app, you’ll get all of your controls in a pretty basic app. I respect that the company kept the app simply to the point the Cinder does a lot of the heavy lifting in weighing the foods you set on it and gauging how long they should be cooked. For a typical steak, it will decide a range of time, and once you press go the rest is history. Here is where things get a bit fuzzy.
So after your food finally is done, the app will give you the option to sear your meal, which consists of:
- Taking your food off the grill and (optionally) patting it down.
- Cleaning off the griddle pan itself of all liquids
- Allowing it to sear.
Searing for me was a bit odd because it’s more of a griddle sear than a pan sear. You’ll be told to remove the meat, clean the grill plates of any liquids, and then returning them back to the Cinder, before turning the Cinder’s dial until the LCD screen states that you’ve activated “Sear” mode.
The instructions state to only allow it to sear for 30 seconds to a minute as the Cinder will sear pretty fast, and trust me, they aren’t lying. Not only does it sear fast, but the sear (especially if you close the chamber) will do more cooking your meal than you like, making them a bit tough if you leave on the Cinder longer than you expect. Luckily thanks to the companion app, the Cinder sends immediate alerts about foods reaching their perfect temperature. Chicken and steak work relatively the same when it comes to the Cinder, and depending on the thickness of your meat will determine how juicy they are.
While I absolutely love the Cinder Grill, I’ll likely end up using my Joule Sous Vide system for cooking my foods. While the Cinder is a great device that allows you cook 2/3 pieces of meat at a time, I can easily fit a week’s worth of meal prep into my water-based sous vide system, then follow them up with a sear on the Cinder. You can’t truly replace the ease of the sear of the Cinder, and it’s a bit easier to clean that making another dish dirty, so it makes a bit more sense in my eyes. Obviously, though you can just do both cook and sear in the Cinder, for larger portions, it will take you twice the time.
$400 is a lot to ask of the Cinder, but it does everything your Anova will do, including searing without multiple purchases of things like searing kits, plastic bags and more. I, however, will use both methods to just cook more meat faster.
If you would like more information about the Cinder Grill, visit their site today.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Easy all in one method of perfectly cooking your meals
What Needs Improvement: $400 is a steep price considering your other sous-vide options