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.
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.
No matter what you’re buying, easy cleanup is always an issue. For waffle makers, it’s even more crucial. If you’ve ever gone through the exercise of trying to scrape burned bits of waffle out of the nooks and crannies of a sub-standard waffle maker – particularly one which is supposedly “non-stick,” with surfaces that can be easily damaged – features like removable grids and easily-accessible surfaces everywhere on the machine are probably at the top of your “must-have” list.
We considered looking at dual-purpose waffle makers with interchangeable plates such as the T-fal EZ Clean Sandwich and Waffle Maker (SW6100) but ultimately passed. Appliances that try to excel at two disparate tasks often fail at one, and from reading the reviews, it seems clear that this T-fal model—which is now discontinued—might make great sandwiches but fails to make excellent 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.
This model is also equipped with an on/off switch, which people with large kitchens may find useful, as it makes it easier to keep it set up on a counter without having to unplug after each use (especially helpful if your outlets are in inconvenient places, and repeatedly plugging and unplugging is a hassle). It makes two seven-inch waffles at a time, with a two-minute recovery time, allowing you to make waffles for a crowd. The flip function means it evenly cooks thicker and thinner batters alike and requires less batter to fill edge to edge.
Cooks can use a convenient appliance like a double waffle maker or a countertop oven to save time and space. The baking plates of a double waffle iron are coated to prevent sticking so the Belgian waffles don’t get caught when removing the pastries from the unit. The flip design of a double waffle iron makes it easy to perfectly brown and then remove each waffle. If the waffle maker accidentally gets left on, its automatic shutoff feature turns it off. This preserves the life of the device and avoids the risk of an overheated electric appliance causing a fire.
The Swedish tradition dates at least to the 15th century, and there is even a particular day for the purpose, Våffeldagen (waffle day), which sounds like Vårfrudagen ("Our Lady's Day"), and is therefore used for the purpose. This is March 25 (nine months before Christmas), the Christian holiday of Annunciation. They are usually topped with strawberry jam, bilberry jam, cloudberry jam, raspberry jam, bilberry and raspberry jam, sugar and butter, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Other, savory, toppings include salmon roe, cold-smoked salmon and cream fraiche.
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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.
It’s not always easy to compare waffle makers, because there are a number of different styles: those which make thick Belgian waffles, those which make thin and crispy American waffles, ones which can make both types, and even some which have both corrugated surfaces and flat surfaces so you can fry an egg at the same time you’re preparing a waffle.
Here are two ads that show the Manning Bowman Smokeless Table Broiler in direct competition with the Farberware Broiler Robot. These ads came from facing pages in the September 18, 1941 issue of LIFE magazine, and are a very rare example of head-to-head competition. The Farber item was priced $2 less than the M-B appliance. They were still both expensive! $7.95 and $9.95 in 1941 would be approximately equal to $168 and $210 in terms of 2005 purchasing power. We note that the Manning-Bowman folks were practically "giving away" a very nice serving platter (for an extra $2) if you bought their broiler.
Overall, the Krups was as easy to use as any machine we tested—though no machine is particularly tricky to figure out, as long as you read the instructions. Still, the GQ502D’s intuitive, set-it-and-forget-it system made the process particularly simple. Like all waffle makers, it does get hot in places: The steam vent at the back heated up quickly for us, and the top of the machine was too hot to touch after a couple of rounds of waffles. But the heatproof handle stayed cool, even after multiple uses, something that couldn’t be said of competitors like the Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R), where built-up steam around the handle made the machine uncomfortable and risky to use.
If you’re craving the sweet and mouthwatering taste of a waffle, but can’t decide the flavor or ingredients, you’re in good company. The Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker fits you like a glove. Its deep-grooved waffle grid design is built to handle any type of batter you pour in. Simply choose your recipe and it will handle the rest – effortless flipping, fast, even cooking and browning control.
“My 40-year quest to find the perfect waffle-maker ended when I purchased this double-flip model. Over the decades, I had bought and used a number of different non-flip models. All suffered from the same problem of requiring more precise filling than I was capable of — too much batter and it oozed out the sides and made a big mess, but too little and the waffles ended up with bald spots. Then I started paying attention to the waffle-makers that hotels use for brunch. From Frankfurt to Burlington to Savannah, they all used flip-style waffle-makers. So I hunted down and tried this model. It works great! The flip action distributes the batter evenly. No oozing, and no bald spots. And the thermometer/timer works very well — I set it around 4, and when the beeper sounds, I have perfectly golden-brown waffles every time. The waffles release easily, and there’s minimal cleanup. Best. Waffle. Maker. Ever.”
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.
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.
Unlike the Krups GQ502D, the Chef’sChoice 840B does not handle thin batter well—in fact, the manual explicitly states, “A thicker batter that pours slowly works best.” This model did a great job with Bisquick batter, turning out perfectly cooked waffles every time, but with our favorite yeasted batter it produced blotchy, limp, flat, and soggy waffles. So the Krups model is the winner in terms of versatility.
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..
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.
After narrowing the list of finalists to six waffle makers, we ordered them and put them through a series of tests in our office, all of which were designed to measure the differences between each of our finalists. We took the data we gained from our testing and factored it in alongside the features that each waffle maker offers (indictor lights, ability to flip, etc.).
The Canyon BWR attracts world-class cyclists from around the world. It has a cult following of fervent racers from cyclocross, road and mountain biking. As a result, it has become known as much for its difficulty, with all the glorious trappings of the Belgian Spring Classics—as it has for the celebratory atmosphere that pervades the event’s every funky facet.
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.