Pros: Cook meats, waffles, pancakes and more; removable plates for cleaning.
Cons: No timer.
Over the years we have had a number of George Foreman grills, all of which we used a few times a week, until they were worn out. A few months ago, the Foreman grill that we were using began taking longer and longer to heat up, and did not seem to get as hot as it had when it was new so it was time to replace it. Around the same time, I began seeing advertisements for the George Foreman G5 (#GRP90WGR) and thought that it would make a good replacement.
The two things that immediately drew me to this appliance were the fact that the cooking plates were removable and the fact that it could be used to cook different types of foods, such as waffles and pancakes.
This grill is larger than the others that I have owned, with a footprint of about 10" by 8", but with handles and hinges extending another two to three inches in each direction. If you are choosy about the color scheme in your kitchen, then this might not be the grill for you as it only comes in red and black. My kitchen is very bland, with woodtones and beige coloring so I welcomed a bit of color into it. Even if the color clashed, I would still like this grill since it has performed beautifully for us. I keep it out on the counter, mostly because it gets used daily, but if I had to I could store it out of site.
Original George Foreman appliances are made for grilling meats and vegetables and therefore have grilling indentations on the portions which touch the food. This George Foreman G5 comes with five heating plates: grilling plate, steak plate, baking plate and 2 waffle plates. Each plate has a black plastic release handle on either side which need to be pressed and hooked into the grill before turning the grill on. Each grilling plate is marked on the underside with either "upper" or "lower", which is helpful as they will not fit into the wrong space.
When preparing to cook, make sure that you have the plates that you want inserted prior to heating the grill up because the plates get very hot and you will not want to touch them once the appliance is turned on. Also, there is a "Lock Lever" near the bottom on the right hand side, which you need to make sure is in the proper position. This lever either makes the bottom grilling surface level for items such as pancakes or if you turn it, puts it on a slight angle so that grease from meats will roll down away from your food. If you are grilling greasy foods, make sure that you place the plastic drip tray underneath so that the grease does not drip onto your countertop.
Make sure the appliance is plugged in and closed, and turn the large dial on the front to "L" for low, "M" for medium, or "H" for high. The red power light and the green indicator light will both be illuminated, and when the grill is fully heated the green light will go off. If you are cooking for a long period of time, the light may go back on if it cools off from opening the top, but it will warm up again in a minute or two, if the top is kept closed.
The instructions indicate that a potholder should be used to open the lid, but the black handle, though warm, has never gotten so hot that I could not touch it. The red outside portion of the grill also gets warm, but will not burn you if you accidentally touch it.
My George Foreman G5 came with The Next Grilleration G5 Cookbook by Deb Roussou, and my children love the "Perfect Morning Waffles" recipe it includes. My children would eat Eggo frozen waffles every morning if I let them, but when I would make waffles on my VillaWare waffle maker, they barely touched them. Using the recipe in the included cookbook and the two waffle plates included, my children get homemade waffles at least twice a week, and they often look for more.
To cook two 5.5" by 7" waffles, it takes about three to four minutes and it is basically the same operation as any other waffle maker. After making the batter and preheating the grill (with the proper plates attached), I spray it with non-stick spray, pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto the bottom plates, close the top and wait a few minutes until I get perfect waffles that are easy to remove and taste great.
When we are not having waffles for breakfast, we might have pancakes, French toast or eggs and those items would need to be cooked on the flat baking pan. Items like quesadillas and grilled cheese can also be cooked on this plate. Recipes are included for chocolate chip cookies and biscuits (though I have not tried them yet), and the steak plate should be placed on the top so that the grill can be closed.
Though two of the plates are referred to as a "steak plate" and a "grilling plate", they are used in conjunction with each other at the same time. According to all of the recipes that I have read in the included cookbook, when these plates are used, the top should always be closed, allowed the heat to penetrate both sides of the food. These are the plates I use when cooking any kind of beef, pork or poultry pieces. Please do not do what my husband did and use these plates to make a quesadilla because the gooey cheese will seep between the indentations in the steak plate and require a lot of elbow grease to clean.
The grilling surface is large enough for my family of four. I can fit two grilled cheese sandwiches on the baking pan or four hamburgers on the grilling pan at once. I would not want it to be any larger, because if the grill had enough room to cook four sandwiches at once for example, it would take up a tremendous amount of room. and not be practical for a typical kitchen.
Cleanup of this appliance is easy. After waiting for everything to cool down, I can remove the plates and either use a sponge and dish detergent to get any grease or stuck on food off or just place them in the dishwasher. We have had our George Foreman G5 for more than three months and I would estimate that it has been used at least five times a week, though sometimes even more since there have been days that we have made breakfast, lunch and dinner, using this grill. I put the plates in the dishwasher almost all of the time and so far there have been no problems with any of them. I use a damp sponge to wipe off the outside of the grill and it looks new again.
The grilling plates have a non-stick surface, but when making foods like waffles or pancakes, I do use a non-stick spray just to be safe. It is recommended to only use wooden or plastic utensils with these plates, as metal utensils could scratch the special surface.
84 square inch cooking surface.
One of the prior George Foreman grills that I owned had a built in timer, so that you could set something for a few minutes and not forget about it. This one does not have that accessory, and though I do have a kitchen timer, it would be more convenient to have a timer as part of the appliance. Of course, you should never leave the hot grill unattended, but when making a meal, there are always other things to get together in the kitchen (especially when children are involved) so that a timer is necessary to remind me that the food is done.
The George Foreman G5 grill has been everything I expected it to be. I can make breakfast, lunch or dinner on it, and it certainly has been invaluable in assisting me with meals. My children (seven and eight years old) are eager to begin cooking foods themselves, and I think that using this grill (supervised, of course) might be safer than having them stand over our gas stove while cooking. The versatility of this grill far outweighs the minor inconvenience of the lack of a timer.