Some consumers prefer stovetop waffle irons because they're easier to store than bulky electric models. They can be used on gas or electric ranges, and are easy to clean because the grids can be submerged in soapy water. Experts say they require more skill, however, because there are no timers, lights or audio cues. Users must determine when the waffle iron is sufficiently preheated and when waffles are done baking. Still, reviewers say stovetop waffle irons give you more control over color and texture than electric models.
In Cook's Illustrated magazine's most recent roundup of stovetop waffle irons, editors found that those made from light-colored shiny metal tend to produce pale, dry waffles, while cast iron models produce crisp, golden waffles. Shiny metal has better nonstick properties than cast iron, which batter tends to stick to even after several rounds of seasoning. Editors say the best stovetop waffle irons have a dark, nonstick coating.
In a performance test of six stovetop waffle irons by a professional cookware publication, the Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgian Waffler (*Est. $40) was a top pick. An older review in The New York Times compares this waffle iron to an electric model, and Amanda Hesser finds the Stovetop Belgian Waffler easier to store and clean than the electric one. She warns that it does require more skill, however, because the iron must be preheated on both sides. Waffles must then be cooked on one side before flipping the iron over to cook the other side.
Users who post reviews at Amazon.com, where the Nordic Ware Waffler earns 4 out of 5 stars overall from nearly 50 owners, say the learning curve is fairly small and it takes only one batch of waffles to get the process down. Although several owners say this waffle iron is very durable and lasts for several years (more than 10 years, according to a few), some say they wish it had a temperature gauge to indicate when it's hot enough. The Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgian Waffler has a five-year warranty.
The Coleman Waffle Iron (*Est. $21) is another stovetop option that can also be used over a campfire. This model came in second place in a waffle iron roundup conducted by one professional testing organization. We found fewer than 10 user reviews at Amazon.com, but most like the Coleman's affordable price and versatility. One owner says it works well but the handles loosen with repeated use. The nonstick aluminum Coleman Waffle Iron makes four 4.5-inch square waffles.
For those who eschew nonstick coatings, the Rome's Old Fashioned Cast Iron Waffle Maker (*Est. $20) gets good reviews from owners at Amazon.com, where it earns 4 out of 5 stars overall from about 75 users. This traditional (American-style) waffle iron can be used over a camp stove or a gas stove, although some owners say it also works on electric ranges. The majority of users agree that this waffle iron makes crisp waffles that are moist on the inside, but several say it's tedious to season. A handful of reviewers at Amazon.com leave instructions for seasoning (oiling the cast iron so it develops a nonstick coating) in their comments. The Rome's Waffle Maker makes 6-inch waffles and comes apart for easy cleaning.