Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
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.
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.
Introduced in North American in 1962, Belgian waffles usually use a yeasted batter that results in a waffle that rises, making them thicker and softer than American waffles -- although they should still be crispy on the outside. They're larger too, which is why they need a different type of waffle maker than traditional, American-style waffles. The deeper pockets on Belgian waffles are great for holding toppings like syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
“I have fallen in love with Waffle Love! You are catering my daughter’s wedding in April. There are always many meetings while planning a wedding. I schedule all of mine at the Fort Union Waffle Love. I have at least a waffle a week as I plan and prepare this wedding. These waffles are the yummiest treat I have ever eaten in my life! They are worth every single penny! If you have not had a waffle from Waffle Love, drop what you are doing, and search one out. It will blow your mind! They are that good! This life is short, grab someone you love, & go get a waffle!”
The Kalorik Traditional Belgian Waffle Maker makes large, fluffy, Belgian-style waffles with ease. Pour your favorite waffle batter onto the non-stick coated plates and close the lid, the waffle maker does the rest! Equipped with an adjustable temperature control knob, you can cook your waffles to perfection, make them as soft or as crispy as you would like. The unit features power and ready indicator lights, so that you always know when your waffle maker has reached its optimum cooking...
However, we found the absolute best value to come from the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker. With just a slightly larger footprint than the Cuisinart, this will give you the tastiest, most consistent, and most evenly cooked waffles. Best of all, the BELLA is even quicker than our old top pick, so you can grab a cup of coffee and start enjoying those delicious waffles as quickly as possible.
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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.
Modern waffle iron makers offer a large variety of choices. Some waffle irons can make a very thin waffle, capable of making waffle cones or Pizzelle. While there is no set standard of classification for waffle shapes or thicknesses, models that fall within the most common shapes and thicknesses are often labeled as "traditional" or "classic". Models that make thicker and/or larger pocketed waffles are often labeled as "Belgian" waffle makers. In the US, the most commonly used determining factor of whether a waffle is a "Belgian waffle" or not is the thickness and/or pocket size, although the recipes for Belgian waffles and American waffles do differ.
This batter also benefited the most from the flip mechanism found in some of the irons we tested, likely due to the fact that it's a thinner batter that flows flat into the iron. (The flip design delivers even heating by making sure that a thin batter receives equal contact with the plates on both the top and the bottom.) The waffles resulting from this batter browned more evenly in the flip models than in the stationary ones, with the exception of our high-end picks, the Breville and All-Clad, both of which performed excellently. Ultimately, though, aside from our top-rated flip model, we’d steer you toward our other top picks, including the budget ones, even though they’re stationary: They produced better waffles overall due to higher heat and shorter cook time, despite their uneven browning.
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.
"... No appetites are safe from the magnificent Southern Creole cuisine when visiting Wells restaurant, located uptown in the Big Apple. Famous for more than their chicken and waffles, Wells entertains customers with Caribbean flair and a frenzy of live music. Harlem hasn't been the same since Wells opened in May 1938. The owner, Elizabeth Wells, is determined to bring people a humble, homey atmosphere with exciting home-style cooking, but with a twist of island flavor and a lot of fun. Joseph T. Wells, the late husband of Wells, had a record of cooking techniques in the mix. Working as a waiter and manager of a restaurant in Florida, Joseph took his craft to New York during the late 1920s. It was inevitable for the young entrepreneur to start his business and, by the spring of 1938, the restaurant bearing his name opened its doors. Elizabeth Wells entered the picture later. They married in 1966, even though she had joined the establishment in 1963. The married couple produced a son named Tommy Wells. With an avalanche of victory for the restaurant, Wells bloomed as one of the greatest hot spots in Harlem, with a bevy of entertainers who dropped in...Wells has been spinning the wheels of the restaurant with tip-top soul food and no regrets..."
As it is, not every recipe for American-style Belgian waffles is made the same. Some require folding voluptuous clouds of firmly whipped egg whites into the batter. Others also require that egg yolks and sugar be ribboned together until thick and a stunning pale primrose. These methods and tips are acceptable, of course— everyone has a technique that works for them.
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.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.