Pancakes are great, but there’s something about a waffle that turns brunch, brinner, or anything in between -- maybe even dessert! -- into a special occasion.
Contemplating a waffle maker of your own? Maybe you have one, but only haul it out a few times a year. Either way, stick around! I'm sharing tips on how to get the most out of your waffle maker: which ones we like, how to make cleanup a snap, and waffle hacks worth knowing.
Types of Waffle Makers
Why are waffles great? Surface area. The more crevices a waffle has, the more crispy-crunchy pockets to hold maximum syrup -- or whipped cream, or sauce, or whatever you dream of drenching it with!
There's more than one type of waffle iron, but ultimately, each one makes waffles. There’s no need to tear your hair out, but here's what you'll find when you go looking!
- Standard: Just your regular old waffle iron. They can be round or square.
- Belgian: Typically round, these waffle makers have deeper, wider cavities. This gives you more spots for toppings to nestle into.
- Novelty: These are the mini-waffles, the heart-shaped waffles, the Mickey Mouse waffles, etc.
- Stovetop: Those who prefer to eschew nonstick coating (which is now pretty much standard on all electric waffle makers) can go old-fashioned and get stovetop waffle irons. They’re made with cast aluminum or cast iron, but can be tricky to heat evenly on a stove.
Features Possible in a Waffle Maker
- On/off switch: To turn on a lot of waffle makers, you simply plug them in. There’s no on/off switch. Let’s hear it for minimalism!
- Removable plates. Higher-end models sometimes offer removable plates for ease of cleaning. This can be a big boon when you have a mishap with burned gunky batter. Other models come with additional plates so you can swap out your waffle grid for, say, a flat griddle or panini press.
- Temperature control: Some waffle makers are either on or off; some give you temperature control. This can help If you want to ensure the centers of your waffles get cooked before your exteriors dry out too much. But in general, most waffle recipes will work on any waffle maker, regardless of temperature settings.
- Flipping: You know how the waffle makers in the continental breakfast at mid-range hotels can flip so you get better batter coverage in the crevices? You can get home waffle makers that do the same thing. It’s a cool feature, but it makes the waffle makers prohibitively large for storage.
- Timers: Some waffle irons beep when they are ready. Some beep when they are done cooking a waffle. Some don’t make any sounds at all and just have an indicator light. If you don’t stay put when you are making waffles, an audible beep might be helpful to prevent burned waffles.
Cheap vs. Expensive Waffle Makers
A Cadillac of waffle makers sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? There certainly is something to say for using high-end gear, and a number of spendier models get good reviews.
A number of Simply Recipes team members are fans of Breville waffle irons; they come in various styles and sizes, and are packed with features. "I I looooove my waffle maker – the Breville Smart Waffle Maker," says Emma. "It's pricey, but I think worth it if you seriously love waffles. Also, this beast will likely outlive me."
All-Clad and Cuisinart also have models we like. Why? Temperature control, dependable browning power, and, in some cases, just plain ol’ good looks. There’s no reason a waffle maker can’t be easy on the eyes.
My own waffle maker is about 15 years old, a sturdy but basic Sunbeam (no longer on the market, sadly). I like how it has very few bells and whistles. To me, this simplifies the waffle-making process. It was a wedding gift and has withstood moderate but consistent use over time. In fact, it outlasted my marriage.
If you don’t run a home waffle shop 24-7, it’s likely a mid-range waffle maker like this Cuisinart model, will be just fine for you, as long as you take decent care of it. And taking care of a waffle maker is not hard. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Consider the Size of Your Waffle Maker
One of the most important considerations when buying a waffle maker, however, has nothing to do with price. It has to do with size. If a waffle maker is too big to store easily in your kitchen, and you need to store it somewhere out of the way, you may be less likely to use it.
Or, if you have a small kitchen and the maker takes up a bunch of space on your counter, you won’t have a lot of room to do much else besides stand over a waffle maker.
So, think about your kitchen layout and the places you store appliances. Can you handle a large waffle iron, like one of the ones you flip?
Tips for Better Waffling
- Put the waffle maker on newspaper. This catches any batter that drips over the edge, making for easy cleanup.
- Let it preheat all the way. This can take about five minutes. Waffles are more likely to stick when the maker isn’t nice and hot. Turn on your waffle maker before you put together your batter. By the time you finish the batter, your maker is ready and waiting!
- Grease the maker before you pour the batter the first time. Yes, the waffle iron is nonstick, but you still should hit those plates with either cooking spray, or brush on some neutral oil. I don’t recommend butter since it can actually make the waffles stick. You might need to grease the plates before cooking every waffle after that; you might not. Refer to the recipe.
- Don’t overfill the waffle maker. Keep in mind the batter will rise as it cooks.
- Be patient. If you open the maker too soon, the waffle will likely stick to the plates and get torn apart. Almost every waffle maker has a timer built into it. Trust the timer—it’ll let you know when it’s time to peek.
- Nudge the cooked waffle out with a wooden chopstick. I also like to use a small offset metal spatula. But usually, if the waffle is fully cooked, it will release from the plates easily.
- Relax. Like pancakes, usually, the first waffle or two of the batch are not the best. Don’t freak.
- Use your oven. You can keep cooked waffles warm in the oven as you cook the rest of the batter. See more tips about cranking out crispy waffles here!
How to Clean a Waffle Maker
Breakfast is over, waffles devoured—now it’s time to clean up. Umm...how?
Some waffle makers come with removable plates for washing, but you may not even need to do that. If your waffling session was chill, you might be able to get away with simply wiping any lingering grease and crumbs off with a paper towel. Make sure to let the iron cool first!
If the scene with crumbs and stuck-on batter is more aggressive, there’s an easy way to get that off. Make more waffles! I know, sounds counterintuitive, but it works. Make a paste with one part water to one part all-purpose flour, let the iron heat fully, grease it like you would for cooking regular waffles, and cook your sacrificial waffle to collect any browned or burned bits.
What you don’t want to do is get your waffle maker wet or submerge it. If you’ve tried all of the above, wait for the waffle iron to cool and scrape any residue from the plates with a chopstick or small metal spatula.
Creative, Non-Waffle Uses for Waffle Makers
Everything that comes out of a waffle maker will be waffle-shaped...but not everything that comes out if it needs to be a waffle.
Our world is rife with waffle hacks, and not just the keto-friendly cheese-and-egg chaffles. Brownies, hash browns, funky panini, quesadillas, canned cinnamon rolls, halloumi cheese, falafel, griddled eggplant slices, toasted day-old glazed donuts...you get the idea.
A lot of these are fun, but do keep in mind, a waffle iron is not always the best tool of getting a meal for a large household on the table all in one shot. I like to bust out my waffle maker for experimental weekend lunches.
If you’re experimenting with non-waffles in a waffle maker, try to stay away from very greasy foods (chicken skin, bacon) that will render out tons of hot fat. Daniel Shumski, who ran the waffle-tastic blog Wafflizer for years, compiled the most successful of his kooky-fun waffling adventures in Will It Waffle, a cookbook that’s worth investing in if you’d like to try proven ideas off the beaten path.