T-fal GC702D OptiGrill – Full Review
The T-Fal GC702D OptiGrill stainless steel indoor electric grill has some unique features not commonly found in similar products. Sensors that automatically adapt cooking time to food’s thickness, a cooking indicator light and audible beeps that alert you when food reaches various stages of doneness, a frozen food function for defrosting and cooking frozen favorites, plus a manual function that allows you to customize the cooking process make the OptiGrill stand out from the crowd.
While T-Fal’s Optigrill is like other indoor grills in that it does not impart smoky, backyard barbecue flavor to foods, it does a great job of cooking a variety of things to perfection, complete with signature grill marks.
The OptiGrill is simple even for inexperienced home cooks to use, and comes complete with a user’s manual and cookbook to help you familiarize yourself with its features. It heats up a little bit more slowly than some other indoor grills I’ve tried, however it maintains its temperature very well once it’s hot, which is something not all countertop grills do. The meats I’ve prepared with it turn out juicy, not dry or overcooked, yet I see that plenty of excess fat has drained into the trap every time I’ve used the grill.
This appliance is a straight-up grill along the lines of the George Foreman, meaning it doesn’t open up fully to allow you to cook on both plates like some others do. It’s not suitable for things like pancakes and eggs, but it does make great burgers and awesome panini-style sandwiches. It is very sturdily built, which is something I expected with a product from T-Fal, and unlike the George Foreman, it’s plates are removable as well as dishwasher safe, making cleanup quick and easy.
I’d like it if this grill were large enough to handle more food at once, but its compact size makes it easy to put away. The fact the OptiGrill doesn’t take up loads of cabinet space makes it easier to reconcile the fact that I’ve got to make more than one batch of burgers if hungry friends are coming over. I’ve gotten around this by warming up the oven and keeping food warm in there for a few minutes while the rest cooks, and it still saves time (and mess) over the backyard barbecue. These are just a few of the main pros and cons that come with owning the T-Fal GC702D OptiGrill. Read on for more.
Quick Cooking Process
If you’re short on time and want to make healthy, affordable meals at home, you’ll find that this countertop grill will help you meet your goals. It needs to warm up for about 5 minutes (I turn it on while prepping food) and once it’s ready, set it to the desired doneness and finish making the rest of your dinner while it cooks. Just to give you a better idea, it took me about five minutes to cook 1-inch thick New York strip steaks to medium.
Cooking Sensors Provide Reliable Results
I read some reviews before I decided to try this grill, finding quite a few complaints about the sensors not working as advertised along the way. In several cases, reviewers mentioned that they had gotten defective grills that were ultimately replaced by the company. In my case, the cooking sensors worked great, providing reliable results each time I cooked something. Frozen chicken breasts, no problem. Steaks, great. Fish, very nice although I did discover that I should have used a bit of olive oil just to make removal from the grill a bit easier.
Audible Beeps Allow For Kitchen Multitasking
Many countertop grills are built with simplicity in mind, and I can appreciate that. I have to say though, I like the audible beeps that alert you when things are finished and ready to take off the grill. I didn’t feel the need to stand guard over the food as it cooked, and I was perfectly comfortable taking care of other food prep tasks while the OptiGrill was doing its thing.
Cool Frozen Food Feature
One of my favorite things about the OptiGrill is its’ frozen food feature. We eat quite a lot of frozen chicken breasts as they are quick and healthy, and it’s really nice to put them on the grill without having to thaw them separately beforehand. This setting does the thawing for you, then heats up a bit more to cook the food all the way through just as if you’d thawed it separately. T-Fal’s design team did a nice job with this particular aspect of the grill.
Makes Healthier Cooking A Snap, From Setup To Cleanup
All the countertop grills I’ve tried are capable of making healthier foods easy to cook, and this one is no exception. It isn’t difficult to set up, the entire cooking process is user-friendly, and cleanup is super-simple. There are no obstacles to using the OptiGrill, meaning that once you get it home, you’ll probably find yourself using it frequently.
This being said, I do have one minor complaint about the cleanup process. Like some other indoor grills I’ve reviewed, this one comes without a grooved spatula for scraping gunk off the plates. If you decide to get this grill or another, similar one that doesn’t come with its own cleaning supplies, do yourself a huge favor and spend a few dollars on some George Foreman sponges or a special cleaning spatula for nonstick indoor grills. You can get around the little bit of extra scrubbing by giving the grill plates a quick soak in hot water before handwashing or popping them in the dishwasher. I don’t count this as a real problem, just something to consider.
Great-Looking, Solid Design
The T-Fal OptiGrill is a good looking machine, with a nice stainless steel housing that’s easy to wipe clean with a little bit of glass cleaner and a paper towel as needed. The display is attractive, and the unit has a solid, well-constructed feel. It’s tilted profile makes it a little smaller, width-wise, than some competitor grills, and it fits comfortably into a cabinet.
“Does the OptiGrill smash sandwiches so all the fillings come out? I’ve had this issue with other grills.”
No, you can make very nice paninis with this grill, particularly if you use good, robust bread. I have also had great luck with quesadillas.
“Is there much grease splatter with the OptiGrill?”
I have not noticed much of a mess at all, even when doing bacon. The degree to which the cooking surface is angled makes all the excess grease flow away pretty quickly, unlike one of the grills that operates flat with a very small drainage hole. Because I’ve tried a number of these grills, I am in the habit of laying a few paper towels around to absorb any grease that splashes out, and that makes cleanup a whole lot easier when there is a bit of a spill.
“Are the grill plates removable? I bought a George Foreman when they first came out years ago and ended up donating it because it was a pain to clean.”
The grill plates pop right out for cleaning, and they can go into the dishwasher along with the tray. The cleanup process is very, very simple. Just be sure the grill is completely cool before starting cleanup.
“Can I make waffles with this grill?”
No, you can’t make waffles with this. It doesn’t come with waffle plates, and since the grill is tilted pretty well to encourage grease to flow away, you’d lose your batter before it had a chance to cook.
“What is the thickest item this grill can cook?”
According to the user’s manual, the automatic settings work with items up to 1 ¾ inch thick, but you can do just about anything using the manual setting, including thicker pieces of chicken, ribs, etc.
“Does this come with recipes, etc.?”
Yes, it has a pretty thorough user’s manual with more than 30 recipes. Do read the instructions that come with the grill so you understand the process before getting started. I am familiar with these indoor countertop grills and thought I didn’t need to read the instructions; wrong! It’s important to learn how the settings work so you don’t make the same mistake I did and ruin your first recipe.
“Can I make kabobs with this grill? How about vegetables?”
You can make all sorts of things, including vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, and mushrooms, and you can definitely do kabobs. Be sure you soak the skewers first if you’re using wooden ones, the grill gets so hot it can scorch them otherwise.
“Does this appliance come with a warranty?”
Yes, according to T-Fal, the OptiGrill comes with a one year warranty.
The T-Fal GC702D OptiGrill is very easy to set up, quick and easy to use, and simple to clean up after cooking. It is well-designed and well-manufactured, and it performs as the manufacturer promises. The food that I’ve cooked using this indoor grill looks and tastes great, and the sensors and alert beeps are a really nice addition that make me feel even more comfortable using it. If you are looking for a reliable countertop grill that has a little more to offer than very basic models, you’ll probably enjoy using this one as much as I have.
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