Traditional waffle irons are attached to tongs with wooden handles and are held over an open flame, or set on a stove. Most modern waffle irons are self-contained tabletop electrical appliances, heated by an electric heating element controlled by an internal thermostat. There are also two variants of the electric iron: one with removable plates and ones with non-removable plates. Professional waffle makers are usually made of cast iron whereas domestic models are often teflon coated. Many have a light that goes off when the iron is at the set temperature. Most modern waffle irons - particularly cast aluminum ones - are coated with a non-stick coating (e.g. teflon) to prevent the waffles from sticking to them. Cast-iron waffle makers are usually not coated and require seasoning like a cast-iron frying pan.
This machine makes two beautifully browned, Belgian-style square waffles and offers a lot of potential for customization. Choose from four pre-set waffles — Belgian, classic, chocolate or buttermilk — then pick from one of the 12 doneness settings. When batter is poured on the grates (lined with a wraparound moat to catch any excess), the LCD display timer counts down and sounds an alarm when ready. And if that (literally) wasn't enough, just press the "A Bit More" button to add time until your just-right waffle is achieved.
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.
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.
Belgian and American waffles differ in size and thickness, which means you can’t use one waffle iron to make both kinds. Belgian waffles are taller—1 to 1½ inches thick—and have deeper wells than their thinner American cousins. Traditionally, they’re also made with a different batter. As Kathleen Purvis writes in the Seattle Times, “Most Belgian waffle recipes are yeast-based, to get that crispy texture.” But you can certainly put yeast-raised batter in a regular waffle maker (as we did in our tests). Likewise, you can put regular old Bisquick, baking-powder-leavened batter, or even pancake batter in a Belgian-style waffle maker. The resulting waffles will just have a different texture and flavor than those made with yeasted Belgian-waffle batter. Any kind can be crispy, depending, as Maichel told us, on the recipe you use and how hot the waffle maker gets: “The more oil [or fat] in your recipe, the higher the temperature you cook it at, the crispier your waffle will be.”
Waffles remained widely popular in Europe for the first half of the 19th century, despite the 1806 British Atlantic naval blockade that greatly inflated the price of sugar. This coincided with the commercial production of beet sugar in continental Europe, which, in a matter of decades, had brought the price down to historical lows. Within the transitional period from cane to beet sugar, Florian Dacher formalized a recipe for the Brussels Waffle, the predecessor to American "Belgian" waffles, recording the recipe in 1842/43. Stroopwafels (Dutch syrup wafels), too, rose to prominence in the Netherlands by the middle of the century. However, by the second half of the 1800s, inexpensive beet sugar became widely available, and a wide range of pastries, candies and chocolates were now accessible to the middle class, as never before; waffles' popularity declined rapidly.
Recipes for both Waffles and Fried Chicken appear in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, (Abby Fisher, 1881). Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her book is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African-American. Apparently, white people were eating waffles and fried chicken as well as recipes for the two appear in Mrs. Porter's Southern Cookery Book published in 1871.
That said, the price differences between the high-end and low-end models are also significant, with the budget models ranging between $20 and $60 while the expensive models reached upwards of $125. Even though the budget models we chose as winners did not brown as evenly or result in waffles with near the quality of the expensive models, they still outperformed their peers. Our winning budget models also offer removable, dishwasher-safe plates, making them far easier to clean than our high-end winners, a much-appreciated feature that we feel makes them worth recommending.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Waffle sandwich caterer Matt Maichel, who also greases the plates before each use, had specific batter advice. “You should take your dough out of the fridge to come to room temp, or it will not cook as well,” he said. “The trick to filling is, find a batter that you like; the viscosity determines how much goes [on the plates]. Thicker stuff doesn’t spread out as well, so you might have to help it.” (We found in testing that a spatula or the back of a ladle worked well for this.) “You use the least amount of really thin batter because it goes all over the place,” he added.
A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates that are patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression. There are many variations based on the type of waffle iron and recipe used. Waffles are eaten throughout the world, particularly in Belgium, which has over a dozen regional varieties. Waffles may be made fresh or simply heated after having been commercially precooked and frozen.
While this Cuisinart is undoubtedly a top performer at a great price point, it does only cook one waffle at a time, and the Wirecutter editors point out that it's not as sturdily built as some of the competition -- a point echoed by many users. That may make this waffle iron best for either small groups or occasional waffle-making. That said, Cuisinart offers a three-year warranty -- right up there with some pro-level appliances that cost six times as much. The Cuisinart WMR-CA is also versatile, with users saying it's even great for making foods like hash browns, bacon and potato cakes.