For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
As always, though, with any kitchen appliance, user reviews are king because they tell how the appliance does under real-world conditions with a real person at the helm -- and how long they hold up under that real-world use. Combining all those terrific resources with our own kitchen experience led us to our recommendations for the waffle irons that are easiest to use and clean, and, of course, make a perfect waffle.
Belgian waffles are a North American waffle variety, based on a simplified version of the Brussels waffle. Recipes are typically baking soda leavened, though some are yeast-raised. They are distinguished from standard American waffles by their use of 1 ½" depth irons. Belgian waffles take their name from an oronym of the Bel-Gem brand, which was an authentic Brussels waffle vendor that helped popularize the thicker style at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
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.
I am always skeptical when people leave comments about how great the recipe sounds but not their actually experience with the recipe. I woke up today, Christmas morning, and realized I forgot to buy boxed Belgian waffle mix. I braved a quick internet search before I had my coffee knowing that my son was going to be disappointed if we didn’t have waffles on Christmas morning. I knew I didn’t have any yeast in the house because we eat paleo 95% of the year, so I needed a recipe that didn’t call for yeast.
The Coleman Waffle Iron is the perfect size for camping, tailgating or living -- and cooking -- off the grid. It cooks two waffles at once and has no moving parts that could be damaged. The non-stick coating works best if it's brushed with cooking oil and then preheated before pouring in the batter. Even if you're "just" cooking at home, the Coleman Waffle Iron is a great choice for those with small kitchens or limited space.
Essentially, waffles are a form of griddle-cake based on flour, milk, eggs, butter, oil and leavening that are cooked on both sides simultaneously in a mold that takes the form of a gridded surface. Because of the "teeth and gaps" of the waffle mold or "iron", considerably more of the surface area is heated and caramelized relative to the "pancake" -- thus, the waffle has more taste and a crispness that enables it to serve as a support for other foods. Waffles serve many of the same roles in sweets as toast serves in savories.
With all three batters, as well as our bonus rounds of stuffing and grilled cheese, there was a clear difference in the quality of results between higher-end, more expensive models and lower-end, budget models. The high-end models heated up significantly faster and hotter, and had a much shorter recovery time between waffles. They all have heavier plates than the lower-end models, resulting in even heat and consistent browning. The waffles made in our more expensive models all became deeply browned in under four minutes, while the less expensive models took anywhere from eight to 15 minutes. This resulted in huge variations in the density of the inside and the texture of the exterior of the waffles.
The green “ready” light didn’t always turn off immediately after we filled the Krups with batter and closed the lid, which was confusing—a glance at the machine might make you think the waffle is done. But the light always did turn off in time, and it consistently turned on again with a resonating beep when the waffle was ready. By being patient and waiting for the beep, we were never led astray, and waffles always came out cooked to the right doneness.
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).
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.
The earliest waffle irons originated in the Low Countries around the 14th century. These waffle irons were constructed of two hinged iron plates connected to two long, wooden handles. The plates were often made to imprint elaborate patterns on the waffle, including coat of arms, landscapes, or religious symbols. The waffles would be baked over the hearth fire.
Once the waffle iron has preheated, using a pastry brush, coat the inside (top and bottom) of the iron with oil. Pour enough batter into the waffle iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close the iron and cook the waffle as per the manufacturer’s instructions, about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. To prevent the waffles from getting soggy, toss them— one at a time— back and forth between your hands a few times to help release any steam. Continue on with the rest of the batter until done.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
The oublie was, in its basic form, composed only of grain flour and water – just as was the communion wafer. It took until the 11th century, as a product of The Crusades bringing new culinary ingredients to Western Europe, for flavorings such as orange blossom water to be added to the oublies; however, locally sourced honey and other flavorings may have already been in use before that time.
In 1926, Mr. Charles M. Cole of Oakland, California came up with a novel idea for cooking two waffles at once. He devised a three-part mold with each segment heated by electric current. This device allowed couples to have their waffle at the same time (contributing to happy and harmonious breakfasts) and also was fairly economical in use of electric current. (In the 1920s, electricity was VERY expensive, perhaps 25 cents/Kwh in 1926 dollars. This would be about $7.50/kwh in today's dollars compared with an actual cost of about 7 cents/Kwh.)
What’s more reassuring is when you sit down to tuck-in and the waffles are still crisp and warm. In my experience, a moderately warm oven can be helpful in maintaining ultimate crispness, but only in small batches. Large batches can end up unappetizingly rock-hard because they can overcook from the heat of the oven. A better approach to all of this is to toss the freshly made waffles— one at a time— back and forth between your hands. This essentially helps release any steam and allows for divine crispness. However, for another approach to this, I’ve some more tips.