I usually use a disher when I need to fill a cupcake or muffin pan, or I pour from a large measuring cup or batter bowl when I'm making pancakes or waffles. It's good enough, but it can also be a little messy. Inevitably, I'll have drips and drops where they don't belong.
So I figured I'd give the OXO Batter Dispenser ($11.99) a test drive. It's a simple concept. Squeeze, and the batter comes out. Stop squeezing and the valve keeps batter from dripping. Some ketchup and mustard bottles use a similar system but with a smaller opening.
During filling (and between squeezing), the dispenser fits on a base. The top comes off for easy filling and the dispenser holds about three cups of batter. It comes apart for easy cleaning and it's dishwasher safe. That's all good.
One full dispenser held enough batter for a batch of pancakes I made, but a large batch of cupcakes would take a couple re-fillings. So that's something to consider. And because of the size of the dispensing opening, you're limited to non-chunky batters. Small bits are fine, but larger chunks of nuts or whole blueberries wouldn't work.
It takes a couple extra seconds to take the dispenser apart before washing, but I'm saving time by not having to clean up splattered batter that would drip off a disher. It takes a little time to fill, but it's one fill for a lot of batter, as opposed to multiple dips with the disher. I'd say this has a slight edge on time spent, but not by much.
Is this an essential gadget? Well, no. I've been using other methods for a darned long time and no one's complained. But I do like that this is a little neater, particularly when I'm cooking for company or when I want super-neat presentation for photos. It should also be great for funnel cakes or spaetzle, although I haven't tested it for those applications.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.