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.
Electric waffle irons are made of two plates similarly set into a hinged body, which is heated through electric coils housed in the unit behind the plates. Some of these electric waffle makers have basic plug-and-play designs, while others offer variable heat settings, timers, and indicator lights telling you when your waffle is ready. For this review, we looked only at electric waffle makers and excluded stovetop waffle irons, since success with the latter has more to do with the cook’s skill and the heat source than differences in design.
A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates that are patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression. There are many variations based on the type of waffle iron and recipe used. Waffles are eaten throughout the world, particularly in Belgium, which has over a dozen regional varieties. Waffles may be made fresh or simply heated after having been commercially precooked and frozen.
That said, the price differences between the high-end and low-end models are also significant, with the budget models ranging between $20 and $60 while the expensive models reached upwards of $125. Even though the budget models we chose as winners did not brown as evenly or result in waffles with near the quality of the expensive models, they still outperformed their peers. Our winning budget models also offer removable, dishwasher-safe plates, making them far easier to clean than our high-end winners, a much-appreciated feature that we feel makes them worth recommending.
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Belgian waffles are a family favorite when it comes to Sunday brunch or a fun weeknight treat. There are special waffle irons that are specifically made to produce the iconic fluffy and decadent Belgian waffles that everyone has come to love. These waffles are generally taller and fluffier than American-style waffles, which are short and dense. Traditional waffle makers in the United States make American-style waffles, so you’ll need a special waffle iron in order to make true Belgian waffles. If you want to spice up your offerings, then you can also find Belgian waffles with fun shapes and designs, from hearts to flowers. If you don’t have the time to create a Belgian waffler recipe from scratch, then a Belgian waffle iron is versatile enough to work with boxed waffle mix. When looking for a new Belgian waffle iron, make sure to check out the premium features and get a size, shape, and design that will make it easy to serve your friends, family, and guests without having to labor over preparation and cleanup.
For the price, we didn’t expect an audio “ready-to-eat” alert, and there isn’t one, but there is an indicator light that does the job pretty well instead. An overflow well inside the machine helps with cleanup, but the non-stick surfaces really do require a little help from cooking spray in order to make them totally non-stick and easily cleanable.
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.