By the 16th century, paintings by Joachim de Beuckelaer, Pieter Aertsen and Pieter Bruegel clearly depict the modern waffle form. Bruegel's work, in particular, not only shows waffles being cooked, but fine detail of individual waffles. In those instances, the waffle pattern can be counted as a large 12x7 grid, with cleanly squared sides, suggesting the use of a fairly thin batter, akin to our contemporary Brussels waffles (Brusselse wafels).
We rigorously tested the top 12 models ranging in price from $20 to $125 (at the time of testing) to find you the ones that consistently make the best waffles—ones that are crisp and golden on the outside while still fluffy and moist on the inside, ready to mop up country gravy, runny yolks, or warm maple syrup. We want waffle irons that reheat quickly so you can feed a crowd. We also want ones that are easy to clean, store, and operate. Because waffle irons are bonus, luxury appliances, we’ve found winners that we’re confident are worth the splurge (and counter space)—tools you’ll want to reach for any time of day. For those who don’t want to spend a lot, we’ve also picked our favorite budget models; they don’t work quite as well, but, with bonus features like removable plates for easy cleaning, we think they’re worth considering.
The Cuisinart WMR-CA has been a budget pick at Wirecutter for multiple years. "It truly excels at making consistently thin, crunchy waffles," write the Wirecutter editors. They say that a bit of uneven browning they noticed in their test (there's a darker brown patch on the center) is just aesthetic and doesn't affect the waffle's crispness or taste. It's also a top pick from Your Best Digs.
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.
Before pouring batter into grids, always spray them with a small amount of nonstick cooking spray. Waffle color and crispiness are determined by the temperature of the grids, so the higher the temperature, the browner and crisper the waffle. If the cover of the waffle maker doesn’t lift up easily, let your waffle cook a little longer before lifting the lid again. To store waffles for later reheating, pack in airtight container and keep in the refrigerator or freezer.
Another kind of waffle that is gaining popularity in the US is a type of Belgian waffle called the Liege. Liege waffles are a centuries old street treat in Belgium, made from yeast-risen dough and Belgian pearl sugar. This gives the waffle its own natural sweetness — no toppings needed. They are softer, sweeter and doughier than other Belgian waffles. They're also much harder to make. Our picks are primarily for Belgian and American style waffles.
Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande, are a specialty of northern France and portions of western Belgium. The original recipe, published in 1740 by Louis-Auguste de Bourbon in Le Cuisinier Gascon, is as follows: Take "deux litrons" (1.7 liters or 7 cups) of flour and mix it in a bowl with salt and one ounce of brewer's yeast barm. Moisten it completely with warm milk. Then whisk fifteen egg whites and add that to the mixture, stirring continuously. Incorporate "un livre" (490 grams or 1.1 pounds) of fresh butter, and let the batter rise. Once the batter has risen, take your heated iron, made expressly for these waffles, and wrap some butter in a cloth and rub both sides of the iron with it. When the iron is completely heated, make your waffles, but do so gently for fear of burning them. Cooked, take them out, put them on a platter, and serve them with both sugar and orange blossom water on top.
Krups' Good Housekeeping Seal holding baker wowed our kitchen appliance experts. It made deliciously golden, tender waffles every time and because it lets you select from five browning settings, our tasters — from those who prefer barely browned to super crisp — were equally pleased. Best part: Unlike most models, the Krups has removable nonstick plates that you can pop right in your dishwasher for cleaning.
The Thermostat uses a bimetallic strip to break the circuit when the desired temperature is reached. This is a strip made up of two metals that have different thermal expansion characteristics, such as steel and copper. If one metal expands faster than the other, the strip will warp -- and the motion caused by this warping can do useful work (like breaking the circuit...) In this case, a cam exerts some force on the bimetallic strip using a spring force to keep the contact in place for varying amounts of temperature. For "high" settings, the bimetallic strip must warp a lot more to break the contact than for "low" settings.
The selection of Williams-Sonoma waffle makers includes a variety of countertop appliances that can simplify the task of making breakfast or specialty desserts. These appliances have aluminum nonstick baking plates for even browning and easy cleaning. Several different shapes and styles of waffle irons are available for making traditional square waffles, round breakfast waffles and Belgian waffles, as well as waffle cones and pizelles. The waffle irons in our breakfast electrics collection start with basic units that are perfect for beginners and those who appreciate simplicity.
If you’re making a double batch, and want to keep your waffles warm, preheat the oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC and switch it off once it’s preheated. After that, make the waffles as per the directions and put them in the warm oven on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet (avoid stacking them). I’ve also been known to put the cooked waffles straight onto the oven rack in the warm oven– whatever works best for you.
We looked at one stovetop model, the nonstick-coated cast aluminum Nordic Ware Original Stovetop Belgian Waffle Maker (15040). We ultimately cut it because the iron depends too much on the cook’s attention and experience to yield consistently great results. Professional and seasoned home cooks may prefer the great degree of control this Nordic Ware model allows, and if you know your stove well, J. Kenji López-Alt pointed out, you can compensate for hot and cool spots. It’s also the easiest to clean, he said, since you can just throw it in the sink when you’re done. None of the other waffle makers can go in the sink or be sprayed.
With its large cooking surface, the affordable Krups waffle maker is the best for feeding a crowd on a budget. It has a large enough capacity to make four waffles at a time, but still tucks away easily, with locked handles for upright storage and a cord that coils away underneath. The removable plates are dishwasher-safe, making cleanup quick and easy.
Because waffle irons are more of a kitchen extravagance than an absolute necessity, we decided to test out a few non-waffle items in the machines just for kicks—the more versatile these tools can be, the better. We waffled up some grilled cheese and sage stuffing to see how the machines would do. As we’ve seen in the past, a waffle iron may be the best tool to make things like grilled cheese: The divots become extra crisp, with cheese oozing out and forming a crackling frico, while the peaks remain soft and chewy. The nonstick surface ensures no bits of stuffing or bread are left behind. The results of this test followed the trend of the previous ones, with our high-end picks edging out the rest.
Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
Brian, I am so glad I’m not alone in regards to the chaos in the kitchen! You most definitely need to get on the waffle iron flow. I totally understand why you don’t have one, though! There’s so much food one can consume and often there’s no time to make the same recipes over and over again each week. The waffle iron is definitely a piece of equipment that won’t get a ton of love compared to a stand mixer or a food processor, though I highly recommend getting a good one that’s inexpensive (got mine for $20 when it was on sale on Amazon); you’ll have some good waffle moments with it. Even non-waffle recipes would be fun to try in one!
This illustration anthropomorphizes the Twin-O-Matic and notes that post-war demand for small appliances will be a "half billion dollars" (about $100 billion in 2005 dollars), and encourages dealers to sign up to sell Manning-Bowman appliances. This is actually a very sad artifact, because the Manning-Bowman company was in deep financial distress because they could not get materials -- particularly chrome -- during World War II. This was an attempt to sign up dealers so that credit and financing could be obtained to last out the materiel shortages imposed by the War. It did not work, and soon thereafter, Manning-Bowman sank into a sea of red ink. The company's assets, including its spectacular Art Deco designs, were sold to the Bersted Corporation of Fostoria, Ohio. Berstead watered down the designs and made low-priced "drug store" versions of many Manning-Bowman appliances. (The Sandwich Grill on our Kitchen Aplliances page is a good example of this "cheapening" process.) Alas, Manning-Bowman met an inglorious end, but it was merely a foretaste of the vast wave of shoddy appliances made in faraway dictatorships that suffocate the American marketplace today.