American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes like hearts, or for use in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
This arrangement is quite clever but contains a small design flaw -- the electrical plug is on the hinge side of the trunion mounting. It rotates 180 degrees and in doing so creates a flex in the cord; eventually, the cord will show mechanical failure at the flex-point as illustrated below. This "flaw" can be used in authenticating the cord that goes with the "Twin-O-Matic". However, safe operation requires an intact and properly insulated cord.
Most modern waffle makers run on electricity and can be adjusted to produce lighter or darker waffles. Many, but not all, have indicator lights and audible beeps to cue you through the preheating, battering and cooking stages. Even more important, the waffle maker should maintain consistent, even heat to make sure your waffle isn't overcooked on the outside and mushy on the inside, or cooked in some places but not in others.
Use your waffle maker for something other than, well, waffles. Brave bakers can try pressing grilled cheese, cinnamon rolls, hash browns and - yes- even pizza. If you’re a dessert lover, a waffle cone maker will bring the ice cream parlor to you. You can even create a Belgian waffle bowl with a specially designed waffle maker, and then fill it with anything you like.
Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
If boring waffles aren’t your thing, then this may be just the added excitement your breakfast needs. We think a breakfast with these Mickey Waffles would also be a great way to surprise your children to announce a planned trip to Disney World! And even if that’s not in the plan, these waffles will still bring a smile to the face of all Mickey lovers.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
Owners love the Cuisinart Round Classic's performance too, saying they're happy to finally find a good waffle maker that makes something other than Belgian waffles. In fact, this little machine took almost a third of the survey vote in a poll from Lifehacker. Users say that it takes two to three minutes per waffle and that as long as you wait for the waffle iron to preheat and apply a little cooking oil to it before adding batter, you'll never have issues with waffles sticking. There is a grooved "spillover" reservoir around the waffle grid; any excess batter gets funneled here and it also cooks, essentially making a bigger waffle. It can't hold much, though, so be careful how much batter you add.
Moving into the 17th century, unsweetened or honey-sweetened waffles and oublies – often made of non-wheat grains – were the type generally accessible to the average citizen. The wheat-based and particularly the sugar-sweetened varieties, while present throughout Europe, were prohibitively expensive for all but the monarchy and bourgeoisie. Even for the Dutch, who controlled much of the mid-century sugar trade, a kilogram of sugar was worth ½ an ounce of silver (the equivalent of ~$7 for a 5 lb. bag, 01/2016 spot silver prices), while, elsewhere in Europe, it fetched twice the price of opium. The wealthier families' waffles, known often as mestiers, were, "...smaller, thinner and above all more delicate, being composed of egg yolks, sugar, and the finest of the finest flour, mixed in white wine. One serves them at the table like dessert pastry."
This waffle iron was the priciest of the units we tested, but the waffles that it produced were so evenly browned, so delicately crisp on the outside while fluffy on the inside, that we believe it's the best option for Belgian waffles. This All-Clad model features extra-deep divots, for Belgian-style waffles with maximum butter and syrup capacity. It makes two waffles at a time and contains a drip tray for minimizing spills and messes. The heavy stainless steel body and die-cast plates heat up fast and evenly for consistent browning.
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.
“My little one and I LOVE this waffle-maker. It is so easy to clean and makes them beautifully. I’ve never had a burnt or undercooked waffle. I make a full batch at a time, freeze them, and my little one is able to pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast in the morning!!! I honestly think these waffles are better than the ones at Goofy’s Kitchen (and they’re bigger).”