I had a Breville panini press for years, it is a well-made appliance and served me well but a few months ago a little plastic clip broke off the handle and I decided to replace it. Looking at my appliances, I saw an opportunity to bring an efficiency by replacing my Cuisinart waffle maker at the same time with a press that featured reversible plates.
The waffle maker and press combo I purchased ended up coming far short of either the Breville or the Cuisinart. After a brief search, it was clear that one griddle rose above all the others, the Cuisinart GR-4NR 5-in-1 Griddler.
In addition to offering multiple functions, I also like the fact that it has ribbed plates in addition to smooth, and the waffle plates, which are an add-on purchase, make 4 waffles at a time that are somewhere between a Belgium waffle and a traditional flat one. All in, it is $100 for this appliance with the additional waffle plates, and it replaces two separate appliances that are, in combination, a higher replacement cost.
The Griddler is well built and features reversible plates that are smooth and ribbed, with the second set of waffle plates dedicated to that function. The plates are easy to swap out and the unit preheats quickly because the plates are not themselves heavy. The overall unit is heavy, and it the weight of the lid that works well as a panini press. The removable plates have an additional benefit of being easier to clean than a completely integrated unit.
The controls are easy to understand, offering simple heat control. To use it for waffles, set the control switch to “griddle” and set the heat control to 400 degrees. This is one function that I believe could be improved because there is no sensor that lights or beeps when the waffles are done. It takes 4-5 minutes to cook the batter to a nice crusty waffle. But honestly, it is a bit of a crap shoot because the cooking time is a function of the amount of moisture in the batter. The best method I have found it to watch the steam coming out of the edges of the plates, and when that stops the waffles are done.
On additional design feature that I would appreciate is a clasp on the lid that allows the appliance to be stored upright. Whatever features I would ask for, the fact remains that this is a really nice appliance that looks like it will serve me well for many years.
Whatever features I would ask for, the fact remains that this is a really nice appliance that looks like it will serve me well for many years.
And now for the lunch that inspired my post:
1 torta roll
pickled green tomatoes
1 slice Havarti cheese