American waffles vary significantly. Generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle, they are often made from a batter leavened with baking powder, which is sometimes mixed with pecans, chocolate drops or berries and may be round, square, or rectangular in shape. Like American pancakes they are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and maple syrup, bacon, and other fruit syrups, honey, or powdered sugar. They are also found in many different savory dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles or topped with kidney stew. They may also be served as desserts, topped with ice cream and various other toppings. A large chain (over 2,100 locations) of waffle specialty diners, Waffle House, is ubiquitous in the southern United States.
“Sometimes when cooking, one tends to get distracted by the kid screaming, the dog barking, the front doorbell ringing, or some other exciting moment. I was surprised to hear a little alarm go off when I began using this waffle-maker. There I was cooking, I mean, doing laundry and cooking, I mean helping with last-minute homework, cramming the towels in the dryer, and trying to provide a nutritious breakfast while putting my makeup on, when lo and behold I heard BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. I screamed, ‘Oh no! I forgot the waffle!!’ I went to the machine and there was a perfectly cooked non-burned waffle. Most impressive! The hearts are darling. The waffle comes out very thin and crispy.”
For those who aren't happy with just wiping their waffle maker down to keep it clean, the Hamilton Beach 26030 Belgian Waffle Maker has removable non-stick plates and a drip tray that can all go straight into the dishwasher, and users say they come clean very nicely that way. The indicator lights make it easy to use, and the adjustable browning control offers some customization. Most importantly, it also turns out great, fluffy yet crisp Belgian waffles.
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
There are millions of recipes for waffles, but most batters fall into two distinct categories: yeast-raised (more commonly used for thicker Belgian-style waffles) and baking powder-leavened (also called "American"; think Bisquick and the like). That said, you can use yeast-raised batter in American-style waffle makers and American-style batter in Belgian-style waffle makers—the results will just be a little different than usual due to the differing shapes and sizes. Our lineup of contenders included both Belgian- and American-style machines, though for the sake of simplicity we eliminated "flip-style" models. (They tend to take up more space than other waffle irons and a perusal of anecdotal reviews indicated that they didn't perform any better.) We tested all of the machines using this crispy waffle recipe, minus the caramel coulis.
We were looking for an iron that consistently produced tall, evenly browned waffles with crisp shells and moist crumbs without any trial and error on our part. We focused on the newer, more prevalent flip- and rotary-style models, which either turn on a hinge or spin 180 degrees on a stand, but we also included several conventional stationary models. We set a price cap of $100 and tested 13 irons, making batches of both Belgian-style yeasted waffles and our everyday Cook’s Illustrated Best Buttermilk Waffles in each machine.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”
The instructions say to warm up the waffle iron on heat setting 7, but there is no heat setting 7. The waffle iron has a knob on top numbered 1 through 6. I can't actually rotate the knob to numbers 5 and 6 though; the knob is physically stopped from rotating at 4. When I rotate the knob the other direction, I can rotate past 1 almost a full 360 degrees (stopping just before I reach 6 from the opposite side). The iron seems to heat up as soon as it's plugged in regardless of how the knob is rotated, so as far as I can tell there is no "off" setting even if I've rotated the knob to well below 1. Since I can't tell how the knob actually maps to heat settings (if the knob even does anything at all) I'm afraid to even try actually poring waffle batter onto the thing..
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
In 1971, Oregon track coach and Nike Co-founder Bill Bowerman used his wife's waffle iron to experiment with the idea of using waffle-ironed rubber to create a new sole for footwear that would grip but be lightweight; hence making easier for individual's to be able to increase their speed. Oregon's Hayward Field, where he worked, was transitioning to an artificial surface and "Bill wanted a sole without spikes that could grip equally well on grass or bark dust." He was talking to his wife about this puzzle over breakfast, when the waffle iron idea came into play.  Bowerman's design inspiration led to the introduction of the so-called "Moon Shoe" in 1972, so named because the waffle tread was said to resemble the footprints left by astronauts on the moon. Further refinement resulted in the "Waffle Trainer" in 1974, which helped fuel the explosive growth of Blue Ribbon Sports/Nike.
There was one area in which the flip proved useful, which was creating full waffles with batter that flowed from edge to edge without overflowing the iron. With a stationary model, you’re left to depend on just the weight of the top plate to spread out the batter, which often requires you to overfill it to reach the edges, particularly with square waffles. With a flip model, you also get some help from the rotational movement to distribute the batter, making it easier to completely fill the plates with less batter.
The Liège waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the greater Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium – and alternately known as gaufres de chasse (hunting waffles) – they are an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
"... Hi there! I ran across your website today while doing a Google search for antique waffle makers. I bought one and am thinking of spiffing it up and using it, but I can't find ANY information on it anywhere! I was wondering if you'd heard of it. It's called the Self-Timer Waffle Iron and is made by the Self-Timer Waffle Iron Company of Chicago, Illinois (pretty creative name, huh?). I'm attaching some pictures. Any help you could give me in identifying this machine would be great. .."
There are more than 3,250 user reviews on Amazon, and most are positive. "That sound you hear is the Angel choir when I finally sat down to golden crisp waffles. I had been craving them for months - not the thick Belgium ones, but the old-fashioned, round, thin crispy ones. Easy to use, makes delicious waffles. I used a setting between 3-4, and they came out perfect," wrote one verified buyer in March 2017.
Now, because you can't toss your new electrical appliance in the sink with soapy water, here's how to clean a waffle maker: The good news is that waffle makers have drastically improved in recent years — nearly every model now comes with nonstick cooking plates, which means that (with proper upkeep) you won't be using a toothpick to dislodge burnt-on waffle bits. We recommend allowing your iron to cool first, then wiping the plates clean with a dry paper towel. If any grime remains, spot clean them with a damp cloth or let a bit of cooking oil sit on the grime for a few minutes before wiping away. And avoid using nonstick cooking spray, as this stuff will cook onto the plates and become nearly impossible to remove. The result: No more nonstick coating.
Belgian waffles are thicker than American waffles, and also have deeper wells for butter, syrup, or whatever else you decide to put on top of your waffle. In our opinion, choosing a waffle style comes down to a personal preference. However, the majority of highly-regarded waffle makers are Belgian — with the notable exception of one of our top picks: the Cuisinart-Round Classic Waffle Maker.
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.