Sunday brunch, or any-morning brunch, is better with warm, golden waffles. Crisp and light and scented with vanilla, waffles are the shape of a perfect breakfast, cupping pools of melted butter and maple for a lavish start to the day. Even though there's always a place in my heart for frozen Eggos, nothing beats the taste of homemade waffles, and making your own lets you skip the busy brunch rush. A great waffle iron and Stella’s recipes for buttermilk or yeasted waffles make homemade waffles a cinch.
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.
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.
By the mid-16th century, there were signs of waffles' mounting French popularity. Francois I, king from 1494–1547, of whom it was said les aimait beacoup (loved them a lot), had a set of waffle irons cast in pure silver. His successor, Charles IX enacted the first waffle legislation in 1560, in response to a series of quarrels and fights that had been breaking out between the oublieurs. They were required "d'être au moins à la distance de deux toises l'un de l'autre. " (to be no less than 4 yards from one to the other).
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
You can freeze waffles -- why pay the Eggo people to charge a lot for something that you can make cheaply. After the waffles have been cooked in the waffle iron, put them out on a cooling rack. When they are cool, place them in a plastic bag taking out as much air from the bag as possible. Then freeze the bag of waffles. The next time you want a quick waffle, microwave one from the freezer for about 45 to 60 seconds. They are almost as good as fresh waffles.
The Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker wins this category by a landslide, not because of fancy bells and whistles but because of the one thing it does very well: Turning out thin, crunchy American-style waffles. Cooking time is quick -- about three minutes per waffle -- and as long as you apply a little oil to the grid, its non-stick coating releases those waffles quickly and cleanly. The three-year warranty is impressive in this price range.
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.
Criteria for what makes an ideal waffle are somewhat subjective: I happen to like mine crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the center, but maybe you like yours golden and crispy? Still, some technical standards are pretty universally accepted, and those were what we focused on during our test. A good waffle iron should heat evenly and cook batter consistently from top to bottom and side to side without burnt spots or raw patches. It should allow enough steam to escape during the cooking process as to produce waffles that are structurally firm and not soggy. It should also be reliable, repeating the same results batch after batch, and easy to clean.
Optional: If you want your waffles a little crispy you can add some extra oil to this batter too. Additionally, you can experiment with adding different flavoring extracts or spices to the mix to make them taste the way you like. Sometimes we add pumpkin spice mix for a seasonal flavor, other times we may add Pecans or Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips for some variety too.
The Krups GQ502D took a little more time than some of the other models we tested to bake waffles. In our tests, waffles typically took about seven or eight minutes to cook, while the Presto FlipSide, for one, cooked a thicker waffle in about half the time. But the machines that cooked faster also tended to overcook, or to develop hot spots. A few extra minutes of waiting time is a small price to pay for golden, even-toned waffles, and the wait isn’t so bad when you can make four waffles at once.
“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.”
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.