Review Price £149.99
Tefal OptiGrill: PerformanceThe key selling point of the Tefal OptiGrill is its ability to cook steak, and it definitely does a good job of it. Without needing to oil the plates, the pre-heating stage takes around three minutes and you are ready to slap on the meat.
Cooking time is roughly the same as it is with a George Foreman grill or a griddle pan on the hob and the nice loud beeps give you a clear indication when it's rare, medium-rare or well done. The photo below is of a medium-rare steak that retains the juices and produces the grilled cooking lines to produce a soft, succulent well-cooked piece of meat.
Steak cooked medium-rare cooks is juicy and has an even pink line through the meat
Chicken breasts are one of the best things to cook and also retains natural juices well
For fish, the best results come from cooking steaks like tuna or salmon rather than whole pieces of fish. We tried out a tuna steak in the OptiGrill and the George Foreman and the difference in the results are easy to see (below), The tuna steak in the OptiGrill produces a juicer more succulent piece of fish while the fish in the Foreman was noticeably drier. Both have nice defined grill lines on top but the OptiGrill steak was definitely more evenly cooked.
Tuna steak cooked in the Tefal OptiGrill (left) and George Foreman grill (right)
One of the biggest appeals of the OptiGrill is being able to cook from frozen when you hit the defrost mode. This increases the cooking time but not by a substantial amount. One obvious disadvantage is that you cannot season beforehand and it's definitely a mixed bag using this option. When we tried out steak it came out dry and tough but it fared better with frozen steak burgers producing the kind of tender burgers you'd expect when they have been defrosted.
Steak burgers cooked from frozen work well although some meat can come out dry and hard
Elsewhere, it handles toasted sandwiches and bacon well, in a reduced cooking time - especially if you like crispy bacon. The clamping lid might leave your sandwich a little flatter than a panini maker but at least the filling is unlikely to escape. Unless it is melted cheese of course.
Bacon takes a couple of minutes to cook and comes out nice and crispy
Should I buy the Tefal OptiGrill?If you have the room for it, the Tefal OptiGrill is an impressive smart grill. It cooks steak, chicken, bacon and fish beautifully and is a step up from something like the George Foreman grill. The adjusted cooking temperature works well and the beeping indicator means you don't have to hover around it to keep an eye on progress.
It's not without its issues though. First and foremost, it's just really big and not that nice-looking. Cooking from frozen can be hit-and-miss, and some might find the LED indicator tricky to interpret at times which is why it's handy to keep hold of the very useful cooking instructions.
Compared to the Cuisinart grill and griddle (£90) and a 4-portion George Foreman grill (£20-£30), it's a significantly more expensive investment. The Foreman doesn't have removable plates or the automatic cooking sensor and definitely drains more of the juices out of meat and fish. The Cusinart grill does let you take out the plates, has a cooking adjustment according to thickness - although its cooking surface is much smaller.
If there was a smaller OptiGrill we'd be sold on it, but even in its current gigantic state it still yields great results.
VerdictIf you have the room for it, the Tefal OptiGrill is a smart grilling machine that cooks up meat, fish, bacon, toasted sandwiches and a whole lot more beautifully.
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