lightning review

OptiGrill Lightning Review: It's a George Foreman With Laser Eyes

Andrew Tarantola, Gawker Media

OptiGrill Lightning Review: It's a George Foreman With Laser Eyes

It's been a brutal day at work, you have no energy to cook, and you just want your dinner to take care of itself. With this meat-sensing indoor grill at your disposal, it kind of will.

What Is It?

It's an indoor, electric grill with a built-in optical cooking sensor.

Who's It For?

The culinarily incompetent, also impulse buyers who shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


It is an evolved form of the George Foreman grill you had in college. The OptiGrill's brushed stainless steel exterior measures 14.5" x 13" x 7". It's angled, like a Foreman, to pour rendered fats into a dishwasher safe collection bin below. Both grills are removable and machine washable, which is handy for cleanup. Plus, the upper plate is independently hinged from the rest of the unit, to prevent it from pinching the up-slope side of whatever you're cooking.

The big selling point? The automatic cooking functions, which are controlled from the front handle. The system includes six programs: burgers, poultry, sandwiches, sausage, red meat, and fish, as well as a manual mode. The stages of your food's doneness are indicated by the color-changing circle on the right side of the handle.

Using It

Plug it in, press power and select your preferred meat type. Wait for the unit to heat up-it emits an audible beep when ready-then put the meat in, close the lid and wait. As the food cooks, the indicator light changes from green to orange and the unit will beep whenever a level of doneness-rare, medium, well-is reached.

The Best Part

Cook times, when using manual mode and ignoring the sensor readings, were quite good. The grill heats rapidly, cooks evenly, and is easily cleaned thanks to its pull out griddles.

Tragic Flaw

This thing under-cooks like a motherfucker. It performed commendably with grilled cheese sandwiches, burger patties, and chicken breasts, but had no idea what it was doing with sausages, steaks, really anything more than an inch thick. And God help you if you want to cook something with a bone in it: seared bone, raw meat, nom. What's more, as soon as the Opti sensor decides the food is done it automatically shuts off the heat so you either have to switch over to manual mode or say to yourself, as I did, "forget this gimmicky mess" as you finish cooking you meal on the stove like a adult.

This Is Weird...

Sure hope you enjoy deep grill marks because everything comes off this grill looking like a panini.

Test Notes

  • Two links of Italian Sausage, 1/2 length of hanger steak, two chicken breasts, two hamburger patties, and two grilled cheese sandwiches were harmed in the reviewing of this product.
  • This thing is gigantic-it takes up plenty of storage/counter space. Heavy, too.
  • Needs 16 inches of head space to open fully.

Should I Buy It?

It's a really big, really expensive ($180, seriously) indoor grill. But it's the exact same kind of grill that you can get at the exact same store for half the fucking price. But of course this one has a sensor that may or may not try to feed you half-cooked pork products, so there's that.

T-Fal OptiGrill Specs

  • Dimensions: 14.5" x 13" x 7" (approx)
  • Weight: 10 pounds (approx)
  • Cooking Modes: burgers, poultry, sandwiches, sausage, red meat, and fish
  • Price: $180 at Bed, Bath & Beyond

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