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Why Does My Waffle Iron ALWAYS Get Gunky?

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I'm watching an old Alton Brown rerun, and I'm surprised to see that he uses "non-stick" (hmm) cooking spray, and it seems to work well for him, and he seems to like it. But whenever I have tried the stuff, it always gunks and sticks up my waffle iron so badly, it's always a bear to clean, and I always end up eventually having to throw it away! What am I doing wrong? Is it the quality of the spray? I've also tried simply adding some oil to my waffle mix, and that seems to be the best -
Thoughts?

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  1. Is it safe to say that you have a nonstick waffle iron, and that your waffles are not sticking, but just that you have a gunk (oil) buildup after use? If you do have a nonstick iron, using aerosol type spray coatings is possibly not recommended by the manufacturer; check your instruction manual. Nonstick sprays contain lecithin which builds up, burns and is nearly impossible to get off. I wouldn't use it on a cast iron waffle maker, either. I wouldn't use it at all on a waffle iron, for that matter.

    The aerosol sprays have a big tendency to build up and are a bear to clean, as you've experienced. I've heard that a little water/white vinegar solution is great for wiping down nonstick irons after use to prevent gunk, but really, switch to another type of lubrication. Don't use the water/vinegar solution on a older cast iron waffle maker. Cast iron needs to be seasoned to prevent waffles from sticking.

    Depending on what the suface of your waffle iron is (either nonstick or older cast iron, or carbon steel) continue with the addition of oil (or melted butter) in your waffle batter, if that works well for you, or you can also lightly brush (pastry or silicon brush, paper towel)vegetable oil onto the plates (good for cast iron or CS), or use a piece of bread lightly brushed with oil and "waffled" (baked for a few minutes) while the machine is heating up. This will grease the iron; don't wipe down or regrease the iron between waffles; subsequent waffles should not stick. Nonstick is not completely no stick, and does need a bit of oil to get started.

    I'm of the opinion that people really overdo it with the nonstick spray; I believe the can instructs spraying for a very short length of time (I don't have a can in front of me) just a brief blast. It's not a good lubricant for waffle irons, imo.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I know; I've never had good luck with sprays. I wonder how Alton does it then?

      1. re: aurora50

        He uses a very, very light spray, I just watched his video at FN; like I wrote, I think that people overdo it with aerosol spray and use too much. I checked his basic recipe at athe FN website and it does indeed mention vegetable spray. I wonder if there are brands available without the gunk creating lecithin.

        I was just looking at the instructions with my own nonstick Belgian waffle iron, which is similar in appearance to Alton's (I believe his is a Villaware V2002 UNO nonstick, one of the better waffle irons on the market; I know waffle irons like mechanics know car models) and it mentions oiling it using nonstick spray as an lubricant option, or butter, maragine or vegetable oil, but I refuse to use the spray.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          FWIW, Lecithin is a soy based anti-stick and release agent, considered a safe food product by the FDA, and as far as I can see, all major vegetable spray brands, including the organic or natural ones, contain it.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Well, about all I can afford is $20-25 Target type models, so maybe it's best just to use oil in the batter and skip the spray?

            1. re: aurora50

              Yeah, try that method and see how it works, if it does, then skip the spray. I was reading through different waffle recipes and saw some comments about how a higher fat content in the batter will prevent the waffles from sticking.

              Btw, Alton's waffle iron is only $50.

              Check out the thread below, bottom of page, "Why aren't my waffles crispy? Help!" I read it earlier and IIRC, it contained some info that might be useful to you.

              Good luck, here's to no more gunk!

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Thanks so much, bushwickgirl!!