Is your waffle iron smelling bad? It might just be operating as it should. Here are 5 known causes, with solutions.

If you’re anything like me, you love waffles. It’s not only their delicious taste, but also the wonderful aroma they release into the air as they cook, that makes them truly remarkable. So, what happens when the latter is not pleasant, but quite the opposite?

Well, that’s the age-old question.

If your waffle iron is smelling bad, this could be happening for a wide variety of reasons. From curating materials to burning components, it’s really anyone’s guess. Except it isn’t.

In these situations, a detailed list of the most common causes and their possible solutions are essential for a proper troubleshooting process. This is why I’ve prepared one for you below, so you can address this issue ASAP.

Are you ready? Let’s get you back to waffle heaven!

Your Waffle Iron Might Be Smelling Bad Due To…

  • Normal first-time use
  • Food remains
  • Too much oil
  • Overheating
  • Internal burning

When troubleshooting, I am a strong believer in going from the simplest answer, to the most complicated scenario. This way, it’s easier to avoid spending money and making unnecessary repairs and revisions.

You wouldn’t believe how many people complain at online marketplaces because their waffle iron smells bad, only to realize there was nothing wrong with it. And to be honest, we can’t blame them. After all, we’re used to appliances working perfectly from the get-go.

#1 First Time Use

Your waffle maker is coated with oil

Every heard about people say that you should always throw away the first batch of waffles you prepare in a waffle iron? Have you ever wondered why?

Turns out that most waffle irons are coated with food-grade oil when they’re made at the factory to protect the internal cooking surfaces from damage during transportation. It can be a rough ride.

This oil film stays on your appliance up until the moment you first plug it in and start using it. Then the temperature rises and starts interacting with the oil, at which point, an unpleasant smell takes over your kitchen. This is completely normal.

In fact, you could even eat the first batch of waffles you prepare on your appliance, but they would probably taste awful. This process is similar to curating a brand-new pan or wok.

Solution: Most waffle iron manufacturers recommend that you cook a batch of waffles and let the process run normally.

Once you have thrown them away, unplug the appliance and let it cool down completely. After reaching ambient temperature, you can wipe off any remaining oil film from the cooking surface, and you’re good to go! 

The smell should be gone completely, and no taste should linger on future batches.

#2 Food Remains

Keep your waffle iron clean

If you’re constantly running in the morning or simply forgetful, there might be times when you neglect cleaning your waffle iron between batches. This is a big no-no.

Not cleaning your appliance frequently will not only make it harder to scrape off any burnt crumbles or remains from the cooking surface, but also contaminate your kitchen with an unpleasant charred smell.

If your waffle iron is smelling bad every time you use it, there’s a very good chance that poor maintenance is to blame.

Solution: I know life can be hectic, but making time to keep your waffle iron clean is very important. Maybe setting an alarm on your phone every day could help you remember. It works wonders for me!

waffle iron
A waffle iron should be cleaned after every use to remove food particles that can allow bacteria to grow, which causes odor.

#3 You’re Using Too Much Oil

Watch out for vegetable oil fumes

Unlike teflon pans and pots, most waffle irons need a little oil to prevent sticking.

It really doesn’t matter what brand you use, as long as it’s food-grade, but using too much might actually be contributing to an unpleasant smell coming from your appliance.

If you’ve ever smelled burnt vegetable oil before, you know that it’s not particularly a very enjoyable experience. In fact, it can be very dangerous.

When oil burns beyond its recommended temperature, it releases harmful chemicals into the air that can put your health at risk and wreak havoc all over your kitchen. It’s advisable to keep it from reaching extremely high temperatures and leaving it on the fire for too long.

Solution: Use your oil wisely. Before turning on your waffle iron, put only a couple of drops on the cooking surface and spread it evenly with a napkin. Alternatively, you can use one of those spray cooking oils for better distribution.

This should get rid of your olfactory conundrum.

#4 Overheating

Do not leave your waffle iron unattended

Overheating in a waffle iron is a thing. In fact, it is very common.

Leaving your appliance on and unattended for extended periods can contribute to the accumulation of excessive temperature. And while these machines have components designed to prevent this, like a thermal fuse, they can only do so much.

If your waffle iron is smelling bad, and you’ve already ruled out all previous possibilities, the smell might be coming from the appliance’s plastic. Yes, your waffle iron can get hot enough to start melting the casing.

Solution: Try and be more mindful about how you operate your waffle iron. As I said before, it is designed to prevent this occurrence from happening, but there’s always room for error or malfunction.

Moreover, even if there is no burning plastic smell coming from it, letting your waffle iron overheat frequently will significantly reduce its life span.

waffle iron burnt
If the waffle iron overheats frequently, it could start melting some of the internal components and plastic might start to break.

#5 Internal burning

There could be internal component damage involved

I’ve saved the worst case scenario for last.

If you’ve already checked that none of the other possible causes listed above are responsible for your problem, there’s a very high chance that there might be something burning inside your waffle iron.

It’s very easy to tell when the unpleasant smell comes from a burnt electronic, as it is very specific. The same goes with plastic.

This is one of the consequences I was talking about in the previous point. Letting your waffle iron frequently overheat can lead to other, more severe issues. If you acknowledge this to be your case, the smell could be coming from a blown fuse or heating element.

Solution: Depending on how confident you are around waffle iron components, you can either try the repair yourself, or call a technician.

If you choose the former, the steps to follow are:

  • Unplug your waffle iron and let it cool down.
  • Look for the screws holding the external lid in place to expose the appliance’s guts and remove them.
  • Find the source of the burning smell (likely the thermal fuse or heating element)
  • If you have a multimeter, test the components for conductivity
  • Replace them if necessary

Identifying the source of the burning smell is not only important to solve your waffle iron’s smell issue, but also to prevent the appliance from overheating or even catching on fire.

Please, try and fix this as soon as you can.

Conclusion

A smelly waffle iron can kill anyone’s appetite. How can an appliance, responsible for making such delicious food, create these unpleasant smells?

Addressing this issue is not only essential to rid your kitchen of unwanted smells, but also to protect yourself and yours from inhaling harmful chemicals and being exposed to house fires whilst cooking.

More often than not, the solution is very simple, and a few changes in how you operate your waffle iron are enough to go back to normal.

Even the small things like proper frequent cleaning and adequate oil distribution can do the trick.

That being said, there are some instances where the problem will be more complicated, and require inspection. In these cases, I always commend you for trying to DIY, but if you ever feel doubtful or uncertain, there’s no shame in calling a professional and have them take a look. Safety first. Always.

Thank you very much for reading. I hope you learned something new and valuable today. We have a ton of great knowledge resources below waiting for you. Why not check them out?

 Bon Appétit!