Automatically cooks food to temp
Efficiently drains liquids
Nonstick, dishwasher safe cooking plates
Top is heavy; can smash soft food
Plates are not reversible
Food on bottom doesn’t always brown
The T-fal OptiGrill has one very unique feature: It lets you know when your food is done. This means there’s no need to open the grill to check the temperature of the steak or the meltiness of the grilled cheese sandwich. We reviewed the indoor grill with a healthy dose of skepticism because we weren’t quite sure it could actually deliver on its promise. Our first test was flattened chicken breasts, and when they emerged perfectly cooked and still juicy, we were suitably impressed. But was it a fluke? Could it cook everything else just as well? We emptied the fridge and kept on cooking.
Setup Process: You’ll be cooking in no time
Before the first use, the grill plates should be washed and dried, but then it’s ready for cooking. The program icons are easy enough to understand, but we’d suggest browsing through the quick start guide before cooking.
Performance: It's nearly magical
We’re not sure what magic this grill uses, but it cooked our food to the correct temperature without our intervention. A colorful light on the handle indicated the cooking process, from preheating, to starting to cook, to rare, to medium, to well done. An audible beep warned when the next step was beginning, just in case we weren’t hovering over the grill, mesmerized by the ever-changing color of the light.
We’re not sure what magic this grill uses, but it cooked our food to the correct temperature without our intervention.
We found the cooking performance was good, and we particularly liked the way it handled chicken, which is prone to drying out if overcooked. Sandwiches also were impressive, but also very squished. We weren’t quite as excited about the grill marks we got. The marks on top were visible, but the spaces between the marks were pallid. The bottom of our pork chops looked quite pale after cooking, with no grill marks at all, but sausages browned well on both top and bottom. Let’s face it, though: No one is going to flip their food over to inspect the bottom, and if you’re cooking a burger to put on a bun, it won’t be seen anyway.
One downside is that the lid on this grill is very heavy, so it’s constantly pressing down on the food as it cooks. This meant that the bread on our grilled cheese sandwiches was nearly flat where it was pressed by the ridged parts of the plates. Our sausages cooked well, but they were more oval than round when cooking was done.
We found the cooking performance was good, and we particularly liked the way it handled chicken, which is prone to drying out if overcooked.
Design: Bulked up with features
Because this grill does so much, it’s a bit bulky, particularly the handle with the controls. It’s also quite tall when opened, which was a bit awkward since our kitchen’s upper cabinets hang a little lower than standard. We couldn’t open the grill fully without pulling it far forward.
The grilling plates are sloped for efficient draining of liquids, and the drip tray sits in front of the grill for easy access, but it also makes the grill seem even larger and bulkier.
One downside is that the lid on this grill is very heavy, so it’s constantly pressing down on the food as it cooks.
Features: Automatic cooking for a variety of foods
The handle on this grill houses the controls, where you can choose one of the preset programs. The grill can also be operated manually for foods that don’t have their own program. There are icons for burgers, poultry, sandwiches (the icon looks a bit like cake slices), sausages and pork (the icon is a pair of sausages), red meat, and fish or seafood.
When cooking time is done, the grill begins to cool down. This keeps the food warm but also continues cooking it, so the machine beeps regularly, nagging you to remove the food before it’s overdone. The grill plates are dishwasher safe, but we found that it was easy enough to wash them by hand.
Because this grill does so much, it’s a bit bulky, particularly the handle with the controls.
Other: Cook from frozen
A snowflake icon on the handle represents the program for cooking frozen foods. While that button was mentioned in the manual, it wasn’t explained, so we turned to the Internet for more information. Basically, you choose your type of meat as well as the frozen icon and let the grill do its work. The frozen fish we cooked wasn’t stellar but would have been fine in a taco. Burgers fared better. Overall, we wouldn’t suggest this as a plan, but it’s a good option to have when you have nothing thawed.
Price: More than reasonable for what it does
At around $80 to $100, this grill is understandably more expensive than more basic models, but it’s not excessively priced considering its performance. There are certainly more costly grills available, so we’d consider this a reasonable price for the features. If it saves you from ruining your steaks, it may well pay for itself.
T-fal OptiGrill vs. Cuisinart Griddler
While we were suitably impressed with the T-fal’s ability to cook food to a specific temperature, it has a lot of competition, each with its own set of features. We also tested and liked the Cuisinart Griddler for its smaller size, its reversible grill/griddle plates, and its ability to open flat for a larger cooking area. However, it couldn’t tell us when our food was done. The T-fal is generally more expensive, but not outrageously so, so the real decision is which one has the features you’ll use most often.
We were surprised and impressed at the way this grill handled all the food we shoved between its plates, particularly since we didn’t have to lurk near the machine to check the progress. While the insistent beeping was sometimes annoying, it also saved our food from destruction when we wandered away, and the beep was distinguishable from all the other kitchen beeps that we’ve become immune to. And while we’re spending our time being pleased with what this grill does, we’re still curious about how it does it.
- Product Name OptiGrill
- Product Brand T-fal
- SKU GC702D53
- Price $129.99
- Color Stainless steel, black
- What’s Included Grill and small cookbook pamphlet with 32 recipes
- Material Nonstick-coated aluminum grilling plates, brushed stainless steel body
- Warranty Limited lifetime for manufacturing defects