Not too long ago we told you about the iGrill and how to tell when your meat is cooked at just the right temperature on the outside grill. Today, we’re excited to tell you about an indoor grill, namely the T-fal OptiGrill. The OptiGrill also helps you determine the right time to take your meat off the indoor grill, depending upon how well you liked it cook.
Why the T-fal OptiGrill is Different
I’ve had indoor grills before. They come in handy when you don’t feel like going outside but you want the look of grilled meat. There are a number of things that make the OptiGrill better than my old indoor grill, namely:
- based on thickness and meat type, the OptiGrill adapts its grilling cycles to accommodate the meat or vegetables
- the OptiGrill continues to cook food without supervision, beeping when the meat reaches Rare, Medium and Well Done. Just take the meat off when it gets to your desired level of doneness
- has a neat defrost setting to defrost meat before cooking
- comes with a powerful 1,800-watt heating element
- to make cooking easier, it comes with 6 programs: Burgers, Poultry, Sandwiches, Sausage, Red Meat, Fish
- can cook different levels for meats at the same time, just remove the meat off the grill at the desired time and continue cooking the others
The last indoor grill I tested, but did not write a review on, had two nonstick grilling plates but only one side was grooved. This meant that the meat only looked grilled on one side, the other showed no marks. It also meant that the fat that cooked out of the meat stayed with the meat through the grilling process. I’m happy to say, that’s not the case with the OptiGrill. It has groves on both sides to give your meat a more authentic grilled look.
The OptiGrill uses a coloring system. It has a big flat light that flashes with color to tell you which cycle it is in. It starts with a purple color to tell you that it’s preheating.
- Once it turns blue, you can open it up and put your meat on the grill
- A yellow color tells you the meat is rare
- Orange tells you that your meat is Medium
- Red tells you the meat is well done.
The colors change slowly into the next color. For example, it starts bright yellow but gradually becomes light orange, than orange, than dark orange, and onto red. This gradation helps you decide which color works best for taking the meat off when your meat is done to your level of liking.
I cooked an assortment of foods these past few weeks to show you how good the food looks.
These are marinated beef skewers. The picture on the left is uncooked and the one on the right is cooked. I couldn’t use a meat program for these because they were not all red meat, so I used the Manual option. T-fal recommends that you use meats with similar heights for the optimal cooking control and to ensure all surfaces get grilled, but with these skewers, there were all sorts of different heights. Nonetheless, you can see the kabobs cooked just fine.
These marinated chicken skewers came out really well too. It was so easy to put them on the OptiGrill while working on the rest of the meal. I just waited for the bell, checked the color on the OptiGrill color light, when it was orange, I took them off. Because of the slanted grill, I did have trouble with a couple of them sliding off! But I was able to get them to stay once the lid was down.
The chicken turned out great – juicy and cooked just right. I ended up cooking the chicken breast on the right by itself because it was thicker than the first two. No marinade for this chicken, all I did was add some multi-spice seasoning to the chicken. If the chicken is frozen, I suggest washing off the frost first, so spices will stick to the meat better. We used this chicken for chicken fried rice, but the OptiGrill is so easy, I think I’ll use it for my lunches to make a chicken salad too!
Now it’s time for the steaks. I placed 2 beef round steaks on the grill and lathered on some flavorful Argentinian Chimichurri sauce on top, a recipe I got from my fellow Walmart Mom, Vanessa of De Su Mama. The Chimichurri sauce was so good and the meat was cooked perfectly. I found that if you take the steaks off right as the color is turning to medium orange, it has just the right pink color inside. Keep in mind, it’s best to let the meat rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to distribute more evenly throughout the meat and it will actually cook a little longer.
The OptiGrill works great on veggies too. I used the Manual setting to cook these potatoes, which were doused in a mixture of olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic seasoning, rosemary, and thyme.
Although I did have some slippage while putting the potatoes on the grill, the potatoes came out tender and full of flavor. Yum! They were a big hit at our 4th of July party.
Worried about clean-up? The OptiGrill is easy to clean. Sometimes I just wipe the grills down a few minutes after cooking with a wet paper towel and some dish washing soap, rinsed off by a wet paper towel afterwards. Other times, I’ll take off the OptiGrill grill plates and wash them at the sink. Nonetheless, the plates and catch pan are dishwasher safe, so you can place them in the dishwasher as well.
This mess took only a few minutes to clean up, I was very surprised!
- the grill is slanted so fats and oils drip away from the meat
- the grill pans are easy to clean…you can even put them in the dishwasher!
- the OptiGrill takes the guesswork out of getting the right amount of doneness – well, medium, rare, etc.
- the OptiGrill grills are PFOA free, meaning they don’t contain perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical feared to cause health issues in Teflon
- the food cooks evenly on both sides
- Love the defrost cycle to defrost the chicken I should have taken out earlier in the day but forgot!
- because of the slanted grill, it’s sometimes hard to get your hot dogs, hamburgers, vegetables or skewers to stay put!
- it’s a little pricey
- to cook another batch, you need to preheat the OptiGrill again before cooking
- dependent upon the size of your burgers or chicken breasts, you will only be able to cook 3 at a time
The T-fal OptiGrill sells for $179.00 at Walmart.com with free shipping.
A Mom’s Perspective
The T-fal OptiGrill is a dinner saver when you haven’t planned out your menu for the day and need to think of a quick last-minute dish that takes little time to prepare. I always have frozen chicken in the freezer but often forget to thaw it first before cooking dinner. Thawing chicken in the microwave doesn’t work well.
With the OptiGrill, I can just put the chicken on the grill plates, press the Defrost button and chicken button and the OptiGrill defrosts and then cooks the chicken. This is an amazing help for me as I can quickly cook up a vegetable or make a salad while it cooks. Dinner is ready in 15 minutes! And the meat turns out great every time.
The OptiGrill would be great for your elderly parents living on their own as well as for singles, who most often don’t event have an outside grill. They can learn how easy it is to season their meats and not worry about burning them by following the color scheme to know when to take them off.
And because theOptiGrill is portable, you can take it with you anywhere! I took it to our timeshare in Newport Beach and used it to cook potatoes so we could have a grill in our unit without having to fight for a common area grill three flights of stairs below!