What the best
waffle iron does
consistent, even heat. There's no point in making
waffles unless they turn out crispy and golden-brown every time. Having the
right batter makes a huge difference in how your waffles turn out, but the best
waffle makers are less finicky about the batter.
you to control the heat. If you're using a stovetop
waffle maker, it should conduct heat evenly across its surface and be easy to
hold and turn over the burner. Electric waffle irons should heat evenly across
the surface and respond appropriately to any temperature adjustments.
just one waffle style. Waffles should be either thin
and crispy, with relatively shallow pockets (American style) or thick and
fluffy inside (but still crispy outside), with deep pockets that can hold
plenty of syrup or fruit (AKA Belgian style). The best waffle irons will make
just one style or the other; those that fall in between are usually judged
mediocre at best.
cool to the touch. This is especially important if
you're dealing with a stovetop waffle iron (in which case the handles should be
cool enough to touch).
you when the waffle is done. This only applies
to electric waffle irons. The best models either beep or flash an indicator
light to let you know when the waffle is done, saving you the trouble (and
potential waffle damage) of lifting the lid to check.
waffles easily. There's no point in making waffles if
you have to scrape them out of the waffle iron in hunks.
with removable grids. Removable grids make the
cleaning process so easy that we're mystified as to why they're such a rare
feature. If you have an electric waffle maker without removable grids, you
can't submerge it for a thorough cleaning -- you're limited to wiping the grids
down with a damp rag or a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Know before you go
How much cabinet
space do you have? Multi-slice waffle irons make it
easier to cook for a large gathering, but they also take up more space on your
kitchen counter or in the cabinets. If you're really pinched for space,
stovetop waffle makers are the most space-efficient models out there, and can
still cook up to four waffles at a time.
How do you feel
about non-stick coatings? Almost all waffle irons come
with a non-stick coating to help the waffles release quickly and completely.
Not only does this create prettier waffles, it also makes cleanup much easier,
especially if you're dealing with an electric waffle maker that cannot be fully
submersed for cleaning. If you want to avoid non-stick coatings, a cast iron
waffle maker is the natural alternative -- but they require consistent,
repetitive seasoning to establish the iron's natural non-stick quality.
Have you found a
good batter recipe? If you're getting so-so results with
your first few batches of waffles, it might not be your waffle maker's fault at
all. A poor batter recipe will make even the best waffle maker produce duds;
one of the most common user comments we found was to beware the waffle mix
recipes found on the back of some pancake mix boxes. Instead, head to sites
like SeriousEats.com, FoodNetwork.com and AllRecipes.com to find batter recipes
that have already been thoroughly vetted.
Waffle irons aren't just a one-trick-pony
Waffles are one of
the few kitchen products left that you can't make with a clever Pinterest hack;
there's just no way around buying that waffle maker. But once you have it,
there's no reason to stop at "just" making the standard sweet
breakfast waffle. Try adding bacon or other savory ingredients to the waffle,
or get really creative and use that waffle iron to make anything from cinnamon
rolls to cookies, French toast and "waffled" toasted sandwiches.
Check out this list of eight non-waffle things to make in your waffle maker for some clever ideas.
in this report:
Best Waffle Irons | Best Belgian Waffle Makers | Best Stovetop Waffle Irons | Our Sources