When considering kitchen appliances, you can’t go wrong with a mini waffle maker or mini griddle. You can use these appliances for cooking a lot of different foods with minimal mess and preparation. However, not everyone is familiar with the differences between the two – so what are the differences?
The primary difference between mini waffle makers and mini griddles is that mini waffle makers have a patterned iron made to cook batter into a certain shape, producing a single waffle at a time. Mini griddles have flat surfaces suitable for cooking pancakes and other food items.
This article will take a closer look at the differences between waffle makers and griddles, what they’re used for cooking, and other considerations when deciding what to buy.
With the exception of their size, and therefore how much food can be prepared in them at one time, the differences between mini waffle makers and mini griddles are no different than when comparing standard sized waffle makers and griddles to one another.
The fun-sized versions of these appliances work exactly the same as their counterparts.
What is a Mini Waffle Maker?
Waffle makers and mini waffle makers are easily identified by their unique waffle-shaped patterns, and are, as you may have guessed, designed for making waffles.
The primary benefit of this appliance is that the waffle-shaped iron cooks food evenly. This creates fully cooked waffles with crispy edges for tastier, crunchier waffles that can hold large amounts of syrup, butter, and other toppings.
What is a Mini Griddle?
Griddles and mini griddles generally have a flat, even surface area that’s reminiscent of a hibachi grill surface. Traditionally, griddles are used to cook things like pancakes, crepes, tortillas and flatbreads.
Nowadays, chefs have expanded their use to cook all kinds of foods from eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns for breakfast, to hamburger patties and asparagus for dinner. Food is cooked in an open space that won’t trap moisture in any way, which helps to cook foods golden-brown and delicious.
Most mini griddles feature grease wells or drip pans to catch excess batter or oil from cooking foods. This is a particularly nice feature for mini griddles, as the limited surface area would otherwise drip the mess onto your countertop.
Mini Waffle Makers vs Mini Griddles: Features and Benefits
Both griddles and waffle makers are versatile kitchen appliances capable of cooking a surprisingly wide variety of foods, yet some people use the terms interchangeably when, in fact, these are distinctly separate devices.
To be fair, they do share several common features that, at a quick glance, make these two cooking appliances look alike.
Besides both being small appliances that fit easily on even the smallest of countertops – making them great for compact and limited spaces – mini waffle makers and mini griddles offer similar benefits, such as:
- Lower price compared to full-sized griddles and waffle makers.
Less cooking surface area and other materials make these a more budget-friendly option for those who don’t need the larger, standard sized versions.
- Meals are healthier.
Both mini waffle makers and griddles require minimal oil for the cooking processes, meaning fewer fatty oils go into your food. Mini griddles sometimes have drip trays like their full-sized counterparts to capture oil produced by fatty foods like bacon and sausages.
Similarly, both appliances have common features to look out for when you’re in the market for one (or both), including:
- Temperature control vs. power on models.
A significant, often coveted feature for either of these appliances is temperature control. Options without this feature instead have a power button with only one predetermined temperature. Temperature control allows for more control over exactly how your food cooks – though it does come at a higher cost.
While inexpensive brands may only have a single cooking surface attached, many moderately priced and high-end brands feature detachable surfaces that can be easily removed and washed. (Some even offer alternate cooking surfaces on the other side, essentially creating a combo-appliance with a griddle, waffle maker, and panini press, all-in-one!)
Timers aren’t universal. Cheaper waffle makers and griddles alike may only come with an indicator light that’s lit when the appliance is on, but some come with timers. This makes it easy to put your desired food in, set a timer, and go do other things while your food cooks. On the other hand, devices without timers may require you to ‘babysit’ or risk uneven cooking or even burned food.
- Nonstick surface.
While cheaper brands may not have non-stick cooking surfaces, nicer griddles and waffle makers alike are often equipped with nonstick cooking surfaces for quick and easy cleanup. Both can typically be seasoned to further improve nonstick properties.
Mini Waffle Maker vs. Mini Griddles: Cleaning & Maintenance
Waffle makers and griddles are usually pretty easy to clean, but it can be a bit tricky, especially if they don’t have removable plates.
Mini Griddle Cleaning
Mini griddles are typically much easier to clean than mini waffle makers because they have a flat surface. If the surface detaches, it’s even easier; simply remove it and wash it by hand like a plate, or you can throw it in the dishwasher if it’s dishwasher safe.
Keep in mind, not all non-stick surfaces can handle the chemicals in dishwasher detergent, and hand washing will be required.
If the surface doesn’t detach, simply use a warm, soapy rag to wipe the surface. Once you’ve removed the grease, repeat with a clean, damp rag to rinse. Leave to air dry. For tight crevices that can’t be reached easily with a rag, use a cotton swab to reach in for cleaning.
Mini Waffle Maker Cleaning
As one might expect, it’s trickier to clean a waffle maker than a griddle due to the textured surface of the plates. The good news is waffle makers don’t always require cleaning after use. Provided you don’t use too much batter and don’t overcook them, waffles often leave little residue and few crumbs behind.
This means you could easily cook multiple waffles in a row without even needing to clean it out in between waffles!
When your waffle maker does get dirty, cleaning is simpler than you might think. Removable plates can be hand-washed or put in a dishwasher. Waffle makers without detachable parts are a little more involved, but not difficult. Soak a fine rag in a warm water-soap solution and carefully wipe down the iron.
For stubborn bits of debris, gently pick with a butter knife to loosen, being careful to avoid scratching the surface.
Types of Mini Waffle Makers
Mini waffle makers are offered in the same styles as the standard size models. They are defined by the type of waffle pattern created. Some waffle makers come with multiple waffle iron patterns all in one. Though this only applies to models with detachable irons.
Here are the different types of waffle styles:
- Regular/Standard. A regular waffle iron is either round or square.
- Belgian. Belgian waffle irons are usually round and have deeper cavities for cooking waffles that can hold lots of toppings. Belgian irons can be square or round depending on which you prefer.
- Novelty. Usually sold separately, novelty waffle irons come in dozens of forms. A few examples are heart-shaped irons, mini irons, or character-shaped irons. Some waffle makers make only novelty waffles with built-in irons. For example, The Great American USA Waffle Maker, makes waffles in the shape of America!
What Foods Can You Make Using a Mini Waffle Maker?
Waffles are obviously the number one food to make with a waffle maker but some people use waffle makers to cook and provide unique textures to other foods, such as grilled cheese, quesadillas, and more.
It is important to note, however, that many waffle makers are not considered suitable for cooking foods other than waffles by the manufacturers, and could lead to unfixable damage to the appliance. If you want to try cooking other foods in your waffle maker, first consult the owner’s manual.
Should you get a model suited for such experimentation, some foods to try are:
- Banana bread
- Hash browns
- Crab cakes
- Grilled cheese
- Melt sandwiches
Those are but a few of the foods that some people have effectively cooked with a waffle maker, though there may be many different types of foods you might find this useful for!
Types of Mini Griddles
Mini griddles are best for making individual pancakes or other single-serving flat foods. But griddles are versatile in general due to the flat, open cooking surface. There are few options when it comes to mini griddles, though you will find some variants, including:
- Flat Top. A flat top griddle is the standard, flat, open griddle.
- Griddle-Waffle Maker. This combo appliance combines the best properties of griddles and waffle makers with included removable griddle and waffle iron surfaces.
- Griddle-Grills. Griddles with grill surfaces are very popular simply for the versatility they offer. Some are just griddles with modular cooking surfaces, while others have both flat griddle plates and grill areas on the same appliance.
What Foods Can You Make Using a Mini Griddle?
Again, while best for pancakes and the like, virtually anything that can be cooked on a regular pan or griddle can be cooked on a mini griddle with similar results.
Mini griddles are perfect for cooking breakfast foods, such as fried eggs, Canadian bacon, even whole breakfast sandwiches.
Should I Buy a Mini Waffle Maker or Mini Griddle?
Perhaps the biggest reason people confuse mini waffle makers with mini griddles is they are both heavily advertised as good for cooking a variety of foods (even though that isn’t true of every model).
Regardless, you will find some differences, and you may find that you prefer one over the other. Before buying either one of these appliances, ask yourself:
- Do you want to cook a wide variety of foods? Mini griddles are best for cooking, single-sized portions of virtually any food item. You can use them at breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
- Do you want to cook waffles? A mini waffle maker would be ideal for you! You could even seek out models of mini waffle makers that may be used to cook small servings of other foods and get a more versatile appliance.
Here are some great options available on the market today for you to consider:
For those of you wanting something that can cook waffles and maybe a little something extra, the Dash Mini Maker is perfect.
This appliance is advertised as good at making not only waffles, but hash browns as well. For a starter mini waffle maker, you can’t go wrong with this one!
This adorable little waffle maker is compact and lightweight, perfect for small spaces like condos, dorm rooms, or RVs. It features cool touch handles for safe operation and a non-stick surface that wipes clean.
This particular model doesn’t allow temperature control, but it does feature an indicator light that shuts off to alert when the unit is ready for use. The Nostalgia Waffle Maker also advertises as being safe for other foods, including brownies, quesadillas, hash browns, and more!
The Liven 3-in-1 has a waffle plate, a panini plate, and a very unique donut plate, making this waffle maker a must-have for any family home.
The non-stick surfaces on the removable plates are easy to clean, and the unit’s square shape allows for easy storage inside drawers or cabinets. This unit is a little bulkier than others, yet it runs at a lower, safer wattage than some of its competitors.
While mini griddles and mini waffle makers these days often come with interchangeable surfaces, the two appliances are very different at heart. Mini griddles are perfect for cooking small portions of nearly any food, and mini waffle makers are, by definition, dedicated to making. Still, either would make a great addition to your cooking space!