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.
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.
Sadly, those are the only nice things we have to say about the new Oster. Despite being rated for the same wattage and designed in nearly the same way (even the maximum warm-up temperature was basically identical to the old model when we checked with a K-type thermometer probe) this model does not cook satisfactory belgian waffles. We even sent the first machine we got back for a replacement, certain that it must be broken.
Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This waffle iron will make your Valentine’s Day morning all the more special – or any day you want to celebrate love – because it will make you one waffle that will separate into 5 smaller waffles, each shaped like hearts. It beeps to notify you when it’s preheated and ready to cook, and another beep lets you know when the waffle is done. And its Teflon surface makes for a smooth clean up, too.
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.
The important qualities of a waffle maker are pretty much the same, though, no matter which type of waffles it makes. The ability to provide even heat across all of the plates tops our list; obviously, no waffle is going to be crunchy and delicious if part of it is undercooked, or if it’s necessary to burn one side to a crisp in order to cook the other side all the way through.