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 our main pick sells out, we also like the Chef’sChoice WafflePro Classic Belgian (840B), our original top pick, which performs just as well as the Krups—but only with thick batter, which makes it less flexible in practice. It also produces fewer waffles at a time than the Krups, but it does have a wide range of doneness settings, and it will beep when your waffles are ready.
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.
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.
Earliest of the 16th century waffle recipes, Om ghode waffellen te backen – from the Dutch KANTL 15 manuscript (ca. 1500–1560) – is only the second known waffle recipe after the four variants described in Le Ménagier de Paris. For the first time, partial measurements were given, sugar was used, and spices were added directly to the batter: Take grated white bread. Take with that the yolk of an egg and a spoonful of pot sugar or powdered sugar. Take with that half water and half wine, and ginger and cinnamon.
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.
Beyond that, we liked the very compact size (perfect for tiny apartment dwellers!) and modest price of the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker. As usual, we were won over by the solid body and smartly designed drip-catching "moat" on the Breville No-Mess Waffle Maker, but at $128 we felt the imperfect performance couldn't justify the considerable price. The Chef's Choice Waffle Maker Pro looked very promising, with a generous size, sturdy build, and dials that allow you to adjust doneness and set waffle preference ("crisp and moist" or "uniform texture"), but the execution didn't live up to the promises. Finally, the top-loading design of the Cuisinart Vertical Waffle Maker seemed like a cool innovation, but in practice the results were underwhelming. And no matter what the setting, the waffles from the Cuisinart Classic Round Waffle Maker were the floppiest of the bunch.
Alternately attributed to the 16th and 17th centuries, Groote Wafelen from the Belgian Een Antwerps kookboek was published as the first recipe to use leavening (beer yeast): Take white flour, warm cream, fresh melted butter, yeast, and mix together until the flour is no longer visible. Then add ten or twelve egg yolks. Those who do not want them to be too expensive may also add the egg white and just milk. Put the resulting dough at the fireplace for four hours to let it rise better before baking it. Until this time, no recipes contained leavening and could therefore be easily cooked in the thin moule à oublies. Groote Wafelen, in its use of leavening, was the genesis of contemporary waffles and validates the use of deeper irons (wafelijzers) depicted in the Beuckelaer and Bruegel paintings of the time.
There was one area in which the flip proved useful, which was creating full waffles with batter that flowed from edge to edge without overflowing the iron. With a stationary model, you’re left to depend on just the weight of the top plate to spread out the batter, which often requires you to overfill it to reach the edges, particularly with square waffles. With a flip model, you also get some help from the rotational movement to distribute the batter, making it easier to completely fill the plates with less batter.
Dear reader, when you mix all of the ingredients together for waffles, you’ll realize that things aren’t as smooth as silk. We’re not going for a cake batter here. The moment there’s no visible flour, you’re ready to go. Easy peasy! Mixing everything within an inch of its life to ensure a lump-free batter means you’ll likely end up with tough waffles.
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.
You can depend on the Breville the No Mess Waffle for thin crispy waffle rounds, one after another, after another. The other great thing about this brushed stainless-steel waffler is that it has a moat around the waffle grid that catches any excess batter so there’s never any runover on the counter or the machine itself making it truly no mess. It lights up and beeps when it’s hot enough for baking and again when your waffle is ready, but we wish the beeps were louder—they would be easy to miss in a noisy kitchen. After breakfast, you can latch the grids together and store it on its side to have more room to prep for the next meal.
Despite the honeyed yogurt and granola on some of the waffles pictured, please don’t be fooled. When it comes to milk, you’ll need to use full-fat (whole) milk in this recipe; this ensures there is less water content in the waffles, which means the waffles will steam less and remain crisp on the outside. More steam means you’ll end up with limp waffles. We don’t do limp and soggy anything around here, pun unintended. For flavor that is found in most classic American-style Belgian waffle recipes, feel free to use buttermilk if you have it on hand. It imparts a lovely tang to the waffles. If you don’t have buttermilk, I wouldn’t bother using the vinegar / lemon juice and milk substitute here. Buttermilk adds a nice tart flavor to the waffles that cannot be recreated with a quick substitute like that. This would work in a pinch, however. Even Bon Appetit agrees.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Eggo waffles. I vaguely remember that when I was very young, my mother used to purchase square frozen waffles. But once our family was turned on to the round Eggo waffles, we never looked back. As soon as one popped out of the toaster, I would slather it in butter and maple syrup and then cut off the rounded edges and gobble it up.
Concurrently, some units feature an adjustable temperature range. When combined with the timer feature, it enables you to personalize the texture of the waffles, depending on their specific tastes. Plus, investing in a waffle maker that has a wide temperature range gives you the chance to enhance your recipe and produce consistent results time after time.
Recipes for both Waffles and Fried Chicken appear in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, (Abby Fisher, 1881). Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her book is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African-American. Apparently, white people were eating waffles and fried chicken as well as recipes for the two appear in Mrs. Porter's Southern Cookery Book published in 1871.
The ones we definitely tend to avoid are the machines which claim to be able to make both great American and Belgian waffles. The old cliché “Jack of all trades, master of none” almost always holds true when it comes to models which supposedly are versatile enough to produce terrific waffles whether you prefer them thin or thick. The optimal construction of a waffle maker is very different for each type, and there’s no way a quality machine can do justice to both.
Butter is another thing to keep in mind when it comes to fat. Don’t use it; well, don’t use it as it is for making the waffles. As much as I love butter, it doesn’t create a crisp enough waffle in its truest form. There are options, however. A somewhat obvious option is, of course, any neutral-tasting oil. The other option, which might seem unusual, is clarified butter. If you have the time to make clarified butter feel free to use it here. But, as I’ll probably write many times, please don’t feel obliged to do so— oil works marvelously in this recipe. If you’re worried about imparting flavor, coconut oil is a fantastic option.
A Sunday morning spent in a sunny kitchen, surrounded by fairytale-like wisps of steam slowly fluttering from the Belgian waffle iron, is oddly reassuring— no matter what time of the year. You don’t need earsplitting machinery or a workout to mix up delectable waffles, which is one of the many reasons why you’ll adore this recipe. Everything practically comes together in a few stirs. That’s it. Oh, happy day!
The four-waffle Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 854 made waffles that were evenly browned and attractive-looking. And in addition to browning controls, this model has a switch for fast baking (crisp exterior, moist interior) or slow baking (crunchy, uniform texture). However, the waffles it made did not distinguish themselves enough to warrant this machine’s much higher price tag—for about half the price, our pick can produce just as many excellent waffles.
If you like your waffles a little crispier than fluffy, you can opt to add some oil to the waffle mix too which will help crisp up the outer edges. Once you get these bad boys out of the waffle iron you will want to top them and eat the right away. Feel free to top them with some fresh blueberries or strawberries and some homemade whipped cream if you prefer that over butter and syrup. Or try them my way with the sausage, eggs, and hot sauce!