Too tired to fire up the barbecue after a long day at the office? Or is the weather simply not conducive to outdoor grilling? Indoor grills are a great alternative if you’re looking to whip up a warm meal quickly. Appliance maker DeLonghi has a number of such offerings, but if you’re looking to feed the whole family fast, the Livenza Digital All Day Contact Grill with Waffle Plates may be what you’re seeking.
Best described as the monster truck of panini makers, this versatile model sports huge grill plates that can accommodate up to six hamburgers or three panini sandwiches at once. Or you can just marinate a couple steaks and slap them down on this bad boy.
The grill delivered a dozen well-cooked waffles in batches of four in less than 20 minutes
We spent some time with the grill and found a lot of reasons to recommend it. First and foremost are those large, die-cast grill plates, which measure 14.5 inches by 9 inches. It comes with three sets of two plates, one set for grilling, another to use as a griddle, and the last to make waffles. Compared to other grills we’ve used, the grill plates on this model are a breeze to swap out. They are also dishwasher safe, but based on our experience with other brands we’ve owned, we still recommend putting them in the top rack or washing them by hand when convenient to protect the coating on the plates for as long as possible. It can peel off after a few years.
Speaking of waffles, our first brush with this grill came when we used it to make breakfast for more than a half-dozen guys prior to our fantasy baseball draft. Despite only having about a half hour to make them, the grill, which is easy to figure out and use, delivered a dozen well-cooked waffles in batches of four in less than 20 minutes. The waffles are smaller than what you’ll get from a dedicated waffle maker, but still tasty.
From paninis to pancakes
The next biggest selling point is this formidable grill’s versatility — it may be big but it’s also agile. It can be positioned in several different ways, including contact grill mode, which is perfect for paninis, hamburgers, deboned meat, and vegetables. Food is placed on the lower grill plate and the grill is closed to cover it with the top plate. A special handgrip and hinge allow the upper plate to be adjusted according to the thickness of the food.
We popped in the grill plates to make six hamburgers and found that it took the grill about 3 minutes or so to heat up. We set the timer for 9 minutes based on the cooking table in the included manual. The burgers were well-done with a couple minutes to spare — especially the areas of the meat with lines created by the protrusions on the grill — so it’s better to cut a minute or two off those suggested times to make sure your food isn’t overcooked. You can always leave it on the grill a bit longer if it’s not done. Remember to use the removable plastic tray to catch any grease runoff.
Next, there’s barbecue mode, which allows you to fully open the grill so you can cook on two flat surfaces simultaneously. Separate controls for each grill plate are another killer feature. For example, you can cook bacon and sausages on one grill and eggs on the other — without mixing flavors — if you happen to be in the mood for a hearty breakfast. Or use both griddle plates to cook up a large batch of pancakes. You can also choose to use just one grill plate in barbecue mode by leaving the cover and upper grill plate at a 90-degree position.
Separate controls for each grill plate are another killer feature.
Finally, there’s broil mode, which allows you to cook vegetables, soft sandwiches, and more without having the top plate touch the food. The upper grill can be locked into four height positions depending on what you’re cooking.
The heating elements below each plate ensure that heat is distributed evenly, and the LED screen on the front is intuitive and easy to use, as are the two adjustable dials, one for each plate. Not sure what to make? That’s OK. There’s a Digital Cookbook app that features recipe recommendations, as well as suggested settings for specific foods.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this model. First, the power cord, at just 3 feet, is not long enough and will dictate where you set the grill up. Second is the price. This is a high-end, very versatile, and well-made model, and the $270 price tag on Amazon reflects that. If you’re single or have a smaller family, a less humongous — and cheaper — model may do the job just fine. But if you’re feeding a figurative army, then the Livenza Digital All Day Contact Grill with Waffle Plates is tough to beat.