In 1971, Oregon track coach and Nike Co-founder Bill Bowerman used his wife's waffle iron to experiment with the idea of using waffle-ironed rubber to create a new sole for footwear that would grip but be lightweight; hence making easier for individual's to be able to increase their speed. Oregon's Hayward Field, where he worked, was transitioning to an artificial surface and "Bill wanted a sole without spikes that could grip equally well on grass or bark dust." He was talking to his wife about this puzzle over breakfast, when the waffle iron idea came into play.  Bowerman's design inspiration led to the introduction of the so-called "Moon Shoe" in 1972, so named because the waffle tread was said to resemble the footprints left by astronauts on the moon. Further refinement resulted in the "Waffle Trainer" in 1974, which helped fuel the explosive growth of Blue Ribbon Sports/Nike.
“Sometimes when cooking, one tends to get distracted by the kid screaming, the dog barking, the front doorbell ringing, or some other exciting moment. I was surprised to hear a little alarm go off when I began using this waffle-maker. There I was cooking, I mean, doing laundry and cooking, I mean helping with last-minute homework, cramming the towels in the dryer, and trying to provide a nutritious breakfast while putting my makeup on, when lo and behold I heard BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. I screamed, ‘Oh no! I forgot the waffle!!’ I went to the machine and there was a perfectly cooked non-burned waffle. Most impressive! The hearts are darling. The waffle comes out very thin and crispy.”
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
Belgian and American waffles differ in size and thickness, which means you can’t use one waffle iron to make both kinds. Belgian waffles are taller—1 to 1½ inches thick—and have deeper wells than their thinner American cousins. Traditionally, they’re also made with a different batter. As Kathleen Purvis writes in the Seattle Times, “Most Belgian waffle recipes are yeast-based, to get that crispy texture.” But you can certainly put yeast-raised batter in a regular waffle maker (as we did in our tests). Likewise, you can put regular old Bisquick, baking-powder-leavened batter, or even pancake batter in a Belgian-style waffle maker. The resulting waffles will just have a different texture and flavor than those made with yeasted Belgian-waffle batter. Any kind can be crispy, depending, as Maichel told us, on the recipe you use and how hot the waffle maker gets: “The more oil [or fat] in your recipe, the higher the temperature you cook it at, the crispier your waffle will be.”
Hamilton Beach® Waffle Makers are designed for quick cleanup, and in select models, an overflow channel, nonstick coating, and pre-measured batter cup all help prevent messy spills. Nonstick surfaces are easy to clean with a damp cloth, and select models take convenience one step further with removable, dishwasher safe grids for the easiest cleanup imaginable.
“For getting the waffles out,” Maichel said, “a wooden chopstick is good because you can get it under there. Don’t use any metal … if [the plate] gets scratched, it’ll turn into a sticky spot.” In testing, we found that chopsticks were also useful for scraping out burned bits that got stuck in the Presto FlipSide, and tongs with silicone or nylon heads worked well for removing waffles, too.
The Presto FlipSide 3510 Belgian Waffle Maker draws an unqualified recommendation and Best Buy designation from a professional test kitchen. Thousands of happy owners agree, saying it makes the best waffles they've ever eaten and does so consistently, waffle after waffle. The 3510 is small enough for even the tiniest kitchen, and includes a nice array of features that make it very simple to use. Durability is another plus, with some owners reporting they've had theirs for years.
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.
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!
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.
Germany became a leader in the development and publication of waffle recipes during the 18th century, introducing coffee waffles, the specific use of Hefeweizen beer yeast, cardamom, nutmeg, and a number of zuickerwaffeln (sugar waffles). At the same time, the French introduced whipped egg whites to waffles, along with lemon zests, Spanish wine, and cloves. Joseph Gillier even published the first chocolate waffle recipe, featuring three ounces of chocolate grated and mixed into the batter, before cooking.
A related side-note: I recently made the waffles (live!) on Nom, a new video platform that allows you to live broadcast your cooking adventures. The platform was started by one of the founders of YouTube, so you know it’s good! I’ll be sharing more recipes and having more chats on our channel starting every Sunday, so be sure to subscribe to the channel get notified about scheduling. If you have any recipe or chat requests, please let me know in the comments below!
One feature of the Classic Round Waffle Maker which we loved was the browning dial with seven settings, allowing you to choose the exact crispness you prefer. Another was a “ready-to-eat” alert – when waffles are ready, the machine beeps to let you know. That’s a lot better than interfering with the cooking process by continually opening the lid to check on progress.
Waffles are preceded, in the early Middle Ages, around the period of the 9th–10th centuries, with the simultaneous emergence of fer à hosties / hostieijzers (communion wafer irons) and moule à oublies (wafer irons). While the communion wafer irons typically depicted imagery of Jesus and his crucifixion, the moule à oublies featured more trivial Biblical scenes or simple, emblematic designs. The format of the iron itself was almost always round and considerably larger than those used for communion.
Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who is now a Wirecutter editor. Yang worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—for over a decade. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
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 machine works fine, but there are lots of nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean. And the noise to tell you a waffle is "done" is horrific. It's an emergency alarm type sound so every time we use it, the sound nearly sends me running out of the house with my child thinking something awful is happening. I never get used to it. And to top it off, the alert timing is wrong so it serves no functional purpose. If it had no alarm or one that could be disabled, the rating would be 4 stars.
American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes like hearts, or for use in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches.
If you love waffles, it’s worth giving the large Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker some of your precious counter real estate. It makes the waffles dreams are made of thick, fluffy, and tender on the inside, and crunchy on the outside. Plus, it bakes two at a time. After you add batter to one chamber, you rotate it in its frame, fill the other side, and rotate it again. Lights and tones signal when each one is done. Unlike less expensive flip machines, this one feels solid and well built. It also comes with a ¾ cup measure for batter.
The selection of Williams-Sonoma waffle makers includes a variety of countertop appliances that can simplify the task of making breakfast or specialty desserts. These appliances have aluminum nonstick baking plates for even browning and easy cleaning. Several different shapes and styles of waffle irons are available for making traditional square waffles, round breakfast waffles and Belgian waffles, as well as waffle cones and pizelles. The waffle irons in our breakfast electrics collection start with basic units that are perfect for beginners and those who appreciate simplicity.
One of the most important attributes of a waffle maker is how well its nonstick coating works—there’s nothing worse than trying to clean stuck-on waffle from those narrow cracks. Luckily, waffles popped out easily from the Krups GQ502D with the aid of silicone tongs or chopsticks, even on the one or two occasions when opening the lid took a little prying. The manual recommends oiling the plates just once each time you use the machine, and we found that this step was more than enough to keep waffles from sticking, even through many rounds of batter. Best of all, the waffle plates detach from the machine, so once they’re cool you can pop them in the sink and wash them with soap and water, or, according to the manufacturer, even run them through the dishwasher. This is so much easier than cleaning most of the other machines we tried, including our former top pick, which requires you to wipe down the plates still in the machine with first a soapy cloth and then a damp one; inevitably, some soap seems to cling stubbornly in the cracks. But only two other machines we tested—the Nordic Ware stovetop model and Black+Decker’s brand-new (as of 2016) Removable Plate Waffle Maker, model WM700R—featured removable plates, and both fell far short of the Krups in ease of use and quality of waffles.
That said, quite a few users say that this waffle maker isn't as sturdily built as previous versions of the same model, and that if you don't get the top heating plate aligned just right, it can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot. The top of the G48TD also gets very hot. Some use pliers to bend the metal clips that hold the heating plates in place, which helps them line up better -- or you can just use an oven mitt to protect your hands.