Featuring a six-point dial for customizing waffle doneness, this waffle maker quickly and consistently turned out two perfect waffles at a time, each with a crisp, evenly browned exterior and a custardy interior. With indicator lights on both sides of the waffle maker and a loud audible alert, it was easy to tell when each waffle was done. Weighing nearly 10 pounds and measuring more than 20 inches tall with the lid up, this model was by far the biggest and heaviest of those we tested—but that extra bulk ensured stability and durability. Two minor flaws: the lack of a removable drip tray and the shortness of the handle, on which hot condensation tended to accumulate.
Moving into the 17th century, unsweetened or honey-sweetened waffles and oublies – often made of non-wheat grains – were the type generally accessible to the average citizen. The wheat-based and particularly the sugar-sweetened varieties, while present throughout Europe, were prohibitively expensive for all but the monarchy and bourgeoisie. Even for the Dutch, who controlled much of the mid-century sugar trade, a kilogram of sugar was worth ½ an ounce of silver (the equivalent of ~$7 for a 5 lb. bag, 01/2016 spot silver prices), while, elsewhere in Europe, it fetched twice the price of opium. The wealthier families' waffles, known often as mestiers, were, "...smaller, thinner and above all more delicate, being composed of egg yolks, sugar, and the finest of the finest flour, mixed in white wine. One serves them at the table like dessert pastry."
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).
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.
First off, the build: this thing is a tank. Made of the same 18/10 stainless as All-Clad's prized cookware, the 4-square model we tested weighs in at about 14 pounds, so lifting it will give you a nice little bicep workout to offset all that maple syrup. (A smaller, slightly less expensive 2-square model is also available; it weighs closer to 10 pounds.) That said, the exterior dimensions are not considerably larger than other 4-square models on our list (in fact, it was smaller than some)—so, though heavy, the All-Clad doesn't seem like it would take up appreciably more storage space. Ultimately, because its heft seems like a result of quality and sturdiness, we decided that the extra weight was an issue we would be happy to live with.
After putting in a total of 63 hours on research, talking with four experts, and testing 21 models, we highly recommend the Krups GQ502D Belgian waffle maker for most people. It consistently delivers perfect-looking, crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside waffles, no matter what kind of batter you use. The nonstick grid releases waffles easily, and the dishwasher-safe plates pop out of the machine for effortless cleaning. A numbered dial allows you to control browning, and a loud beep with a green light tells you when your waffles are ready.
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
Of course, waffles aren’t the only thing you can make in a waffle maker; there are dozens of creative uses for these handy kitchen gadgets that can make breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime more fun (and more delicious). Whether you’re purchasing your first-ever waffle maker or you’re looking to replace an older appliance, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up 25 top-rated waffle makers, based on features and functionality, durability, ease of use, and other buying considerations. Our picks are listed below in alphabetical order for easy reference. Ratings information is based on customer feedback from Amazon.com and is current at the time of this writing.
We are including a look at Table Broilers here because they are part of the "make it at the table" ethos that prevailed when electric appliances were relatively rare and consequently tres chic. Wealthy hostesses missed no chance to show off their shiny new appliances. In turn, companies like Manning-Bowman sold appliances that were more like chrome sculpture. When appliances became more commonplace, they were removed from the table and relegated to the kitchen.