Before beginning these tests, I'd heard buzz that the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Iron was the Cadillac of waffle makers—a hulking, shiny, stainless steel behemoth capable of turning out batch after batch of five-star hotel-buffet-quality waffles. I was intrigued, but given that it came with a gulp-inducing price tag of $200, also very skeptical. Could the waffles it made really be five times better than those from its lower-priced competitors?
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.
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.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
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.
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Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
Another kind of waffle that is gaining popularity in the US is a type of Belgian waffle called the Liege. Liege waffles are a centuries old street treat in Belgium, made from yeast-risen dough and Belgian pearl sugar. This gives the waffle its own natural sweetness — no toppings needed. They are softer, sweeter and doughier than other Belgian waffles. They're also much harder to make. Our picks are primarily for Belgian and American style waffles.
Breakfast is better with this stainless steel Belgian-style waffle maker. The nonstick, extra-deep grids make thick, fluffy waffles with plenty of room for all your favorite toppings. Plus, the nonstick plates are easy to clean and they’re perfect for making a variety of foods—try out hash browns, grilled sandwiches, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and more! The versatile BLACK+DECKER™ Belgian Waffle Maker lets you create new treats and discover classic favorites.
It almost goes without saying, but you’ll benefit from a waffle iron with a nonstick surface. Nonstick surfaces significantly reduce the amount of hassle involved with taking waffles out of the waffle iron, helping ensure that waffles come out unbroken. A nonstick surface also reduces the amount of oil or butter that is required to cook the waffle, making them a little healthier than they would otherwise be.
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Toppings are fabulous, but the perfectly crisp, tender, and golden brown square waffles from All-Clad's Belgian waffle maker will leave you wondering, who needs butter and syrup anyway? It was one of the top scorers in all our performance evaluations and tied for easiest to use overall. Turn the dial to your preferred doneness setting, pour in batter (it's okay if you use too much — the removable moat tray will catch any excess), and go about your business until it chimes.
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).
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.
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.
Gofri (singular gofre) are waffles in Italy and can be found in the Piedmontese cuisine: they are light and crispy in texture, contain no egg or milk (according to the most ancient recipe) and come both in sweet and savory versions. Central Italian cuisine also features waffle-like cookies, which are locally known as pizzelle, ferratelle (in Abruzzo) or cancelle (in Molise).