How do waffle irons know when my breakfast is golden brown and delicous?

Hopefully this should be fairly easy to answer…

I made some yummy Belgium waffles this morning (Stevia worked surprisingly well as a sugar substitute in this case) and I observed that the waffle iron I was using didn’t operate on a simple timer.

The one I have turns on a little red light when you plug it in and when your waffle is done cooking, the light goes out [and the heating element goes off].

Is there a thermometer in there that keeps it at a certain temperature and when the batter hits the grill, it lowers the temp and when it is done baking, the temperature is back to ‘normal’? Maybe it’s this in conjunction with a timer?

Oh, while I’m at it - how do rice cookers work? By a timer that changes due to the weight of the rice/water?

Spectral analysis of the waffle surface? (I. e. is it brown enough?)

A timer? Is there a control for variable ‘doneness’, like on a toaster?

When it’s done, is most of the water driven out, and thus it starts to heat up more quickly, and the iron detects this and shuts off?

Hehe. And I should have mentioned that no, there is no control on the waffle iron (and the rice cooker only has a cook button that ‘pops’ up when it is done and the light switches from “Cook” to “Keep Warm”).

They both work approximately the same way.

Water boils at a relatively constant temperature. When the water has been driven out the temperature goes up and the light comes on or the cooker shuts off.

It’s a simple thermostat; in my waffle maker, the “light” is just the wires; they turn red when electricity goes through them. When the waffle surface reaches a certain temperature, the electricity is turned off and the “light” goes off with it.

Mmm … waffles.

Sorry, but I couldn’t help laughing at this. As I understand it, spectral analysis is not cheap, and certainly the machinery for such would not be put in a waffle iron.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I still don’t think that light has anything to do with it.

Are you sure? Even my waffle iron from 1982 uses spectral analysis.


If you have a sharp eye, you can see the steam coming off the waffle iron. When it stops, the waffle is done. I can’t see the light from across the room, but I can see the steam. Also, I can hear the mechanical thermostat click off. Kevbabe has not figured out how I always know when to get up from the table and take the next waffle out of the iron.

If it’s like mine it turns red when plugged in and when it’s hot enough it turns green… All the time while mine heats up it’s open, and when it’s ready I pour it in and close it to start cooking… Couldn’t it have a simple device that starts an internal timer when the device is closed? Something like the iPhone uses to know when it’s in landscape instead of picture mode?

My waffle iron hasn’t got a clue about the status of my waffles, and will continue to toast them until they are carbonized frisbees.

My waffle maker beeps when the waffles are done. She also serves them to me with butter and syrup. Sex ain’t bad either.

Does she beep when that’s done?


I lust waffles.

I despise pancakes.

They’re the same friggin batter.

What gives?


Buzz… Pancake and waffles SHOULD be made from totally different batters. Any instant-just-add-water-or-whatever store batter claiming to be both is most definitely going to suck.

I can’t remember the reasoning but it was on an episode of Good Eats in which he makes waffle batter, and he makes a very big point of it not being for pancakes.

Yeah, waffle batter ought to be totally different. It’s got more fluid in it, even if you’re a devotee of thin pancake batter like me, and for proper fluffiness and non-leadiness, it ought to have beaten egg whites mixed in.