Sous vide claims to have the lock on precision. Where stovetop, oven and slow cooker heating elements can fluctuate a lot, sous vide machines enlist water circulators, induction tech and more to keep temperatures closer to the target.
We've had varying degrees of success with, but their relative temperature accuracy has impressed us on more than one occasion.
But a startup called Cinder is stepping in with a non-water-bath competitor called the Cinder Sensing Cooker. It looks like a George Foreman Grill, but promises to deliver the same precision of a sous vide machine as well as built-in searing functionality. Cinder's $499 US-only Cinder Sensing Cooker is available for preorder today and is expected to ship in early 2016.
The 1,800W electric Cinder Sensing Cooker comes with two cooking plates that Cinder CEO and co-founder, Eric Norman, said should accommodate up to two large New York strip steaks per cook (they plan to introduce more sizes in the future). It's also supposedly equipped with a series of sensors that judge the temperature of the thermal chamber (it shouldn't stray more than o.25 degree Fahrenheit from the target) and the thickness of the food. The Cinder Sensing Cooker is then supposed to use that information to predict the internal temperature and let you know when it's time to eat.
Like sous vide, you're supposed to be able to let your steak continue to cook at its set temperature for as long as two hours after it's "done." That could come in handy if you need to run an errand -- Norman said you can leave the house while this device is running -- but he did say that this won't work for more delicate foods like fish.
Once your food is ready, you can crank up the searing feature as high as 550 degrees to finish it without having to switch to a skillet. The Cinder Sensing Cooker seems ideal for meat, but it can also cook vegetables and one-off items like apple pie filling.
In addition to its basic features, this precision cooker is also Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled. It has an iOS app (an Android version is on the way) that you can use to customize cooking cycles or check on the status of your food wherever you have an internet connection. The app mock-ups look good, but I'm not sure how useful remote access will be, considering similar app-enabled appliances like theand the .
While the Cinder Sensing Cooker sounds interesting, I'm a little skeptical about its promised precision and how accurately it will predict the internal temperature of one flank steak versus several whole carrots. Product shipping is planned for early 2016, but we've already asked for a test unit to compare against its sous vide competition.