Pancake Batter Dispensers

Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

Pancake batter dispensers are the secret behind restaurants’ quick-to-the-plate, perfectly shaped disks. Is there one that works just as well at home?

Overview:

Pancake batter dispensers are the secret behind restaurants’ quick-to-the-plate, perfectly shaped disks. Seeking similarly professional results at home, we tested five batter dispensers priced from about $10 to $30, comparing each with our usual method of scooping up batter with a quarter-cup measure. Although dispensers eliminate the messy batter trail left by that method, the narrow mouths on three of the models made them nearly impossible to fill cleanly, and their small capacities forced us to refill (and spill) repeatedly. The bulky design on one model made it hard to see the batter as it hit the pan—as well as gauge how much to release. Two others trapped up to a 1/2 cup of batter in their mechanisms. We fared better with a French press look-alike with settings for different pancake sizes and a plunger that smoothly pushed out batter. But our favorite was beautifully simple. Just a squeeze of this tall plastic cylinder with a heat-resistant silicone nozzle allowed us to draw letters and shapes in addition to creating… read more

Pancake batter dispensers are the secret behind restaurants’ quick-to-the-plate, perfectly shaped disks. Seeking similarly professional results at home, we tested five batter dispensers priced from about $10 to $30, comparing each with our usual method of scooping up batter with a quarter-cup measure. Although dispensers eliminate the messy batter trail left by that method, the narrow mouths on three of the models made them nearly impossible to fill cleanly, and their small capacities forced us to refill (and spill) repeatedly. The bulky design on one model made it hard to see the batter as it hit the pan—as well as gauge how much to release. Two others trapped up to a 1/2 cup of batter in their mechanisms. We fared better with a French press look-alike with settings for different pancake sizes and a plunger that smoothly pushed out batter. But our favorite was beautifully simple. Just a squeeze of this tall plastic cylinder with a heat-resistant silicone nozzle allowed us to draw letters and shapes in addition to creating perfect pancakes.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Tovolo Pancake Pen

    Comments: The heat-proof silicone nozzle on this soft plastic model turned pancake-making into an art project, allowing us to draw letters and shapes as well as create perfectly round pancakes. Two quibbles: It couldn’t hold a full 4-cup batch of batter, requiring a refill midway through cooking, and it was too narrow to live up to its claim that batter could be mixed inside.

    • Capacity ★★
    • Ease of Use ★★

    $9.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    Cuisipro Batter Dispenser

    This French press–like model easily portioned round pancakes and wasted no batter, but its 2.5-cup capacity was only large enough for half a batch, and at nearly $30, it cost three times as much as our winner. The gasket also popped out during dishwashing and almost got lost; without it, the dispenser won’t close properly.

    • Capacity
    • Ease of Use ★★

    $29.99

  • Not Recommended

    Chicago Metallic Baking Essentials Batter Dispenser

    This model’s convenient 4-cup capacity couldn’t make up for the fact that we couldn’t control the amount of batter hitting the pan. It also trapped the last ½ cup of batter so that we had to shake the dispenser to force out the final pancakes. The squeeze-style lever seemed flimsy and didn’t glide smoothly.

    • Capacity ★★★
    • Ease of Use

    $14.95

  • Not Recommended

    Progressive International Batter Dispenser

    We needed both hands to hold this heavy, clunky dispenser over the skillet when filled to capacity, and its bulk obscured our view of the skillet, making it hard to gauge how much batter to release. Its complicated construction trapped batter and made it a pain to clean and reassemble, and its size-control button was counterintuitive and difficult to adjust.

    • Capacity ★★★
    • Ease of Use

    $14.84

  • Not Recommended

    Fox Run Pancake Batter Dispenser and Donut Maker

    This model gave us little control over batter flow, producing huge, doughnut-shaped pancakes that overlapped in the pan. Its narrow opening made refills messy and frustrating.

    • Capacity
    • Ease of Use

    $9.99

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