Buying Guide: The Best Waffle Irons For You

Get the Right Tool To Make Crisp Golden Waffles

How to Choose a Waffle Iron

Whether you love them with fried chicken, smothered in strawberries and whipped cream or just drizzled with melted butter and warm maple syrup, waffles are a welcome treat at any meal. Knowing how to choose a waffle iron ensures you have the right size and shape to please the whole family. Consider making thin waffles and rolling them into cones to load with your favorite custard, or make savory waffles with hash browns, crisp bacon and cheddar cheese for a real treat. The possibilities with this small kitchen appliance are almost endless and go beyond basic breakfast fare.

From creating thick Belgian to traditional four-square waffles, iron preference comes down to not only model type, style and special features, but the one that makes the golden brown picture-perfect waffle you crave. We encourage you to explore all the options available, and then choose the type of waffle iron that best fits your recipe requirements.

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How to Choose a Waffle Iron

We know that each member of the family has a favorite way to eat waffles. Some may prefer them plain, but just as many like to dip a waffle in real Vermont maple syrup. With delectable deep pockets, Belgian waffles almost beg for fresh fruit or compotes on top--finish off with a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Big families can benefit from types of waffle irons that provide more portions in a single pass, while couples might buy a multipurpose model to gain the most use out of it. When looking to buy a waffle iron, shop for type, style and size, and then consider any variations you may want to add.

Types of Waffles

Belgian Waffle Iron

When considering how to choose a waffle iron, you'll need to look at what type best suits your needs. While you'll probably see many different looking models, there are really only three basic types of waffles; Belgian, standard and a pancake type.

  • Belgian: Belgian waffles are thick waffles with deep pockets. Belgian waffle irons are either round or square and can typically cook 1-4 waffles at a time, depending on the model size.
  • Standard: Standard or traditional irons create a thin crispy square waffle that looks much like ones you might buy in the frozen food section. If you like to cook in bulk to freeze for later use as a quick morning breakfast for the kids, a traditional waffle iron is a good choice. Just pop one in the toaster for a quick hot treat.
  • Waffled pancake: This stovetop model makes pancakes with a waffle texture. If storage space is an issue, this pan takes up much less room than a full size waffle iron. It can also be used to make waffle roll-ups, using cream cheese and fresh fruit or bacon and eggs as a flavorful filling.

Waffle Iron Styles

Nonstick Waffle Iron

All waffle irons have a clam-shell body; it opens with a hinge at one end and handle at the other. Basic models open, letting you pour in batter and close until cooked. If you've ever seen waffles made at a restaurant--or taken part of a hotel's free breakfast--then you've probably seen a flip model. Often called a professional waffle iron, this style flips or rotates 180 degrees after closing. The flipping action ensures the batter distributes evenly, preventing holes and promoting even cooking without burning.

Multipurpose models combine different style grill options into one small package. These unique waffle irons have removable double-sided plates. With a little effort, you can quickly turn your traditional waffle iron into sandwich maker or a griddle and make chocolate chip waffles for breakfast and grilled ham and cheese for lunch.

Let's Get Technical

Once you learn how to choose a waffle iron, you'll want to look at the different features available.

Waffle Iron Features

Description

ThermostatsTemperature controls affect browning and doneness. It is especially important with unique waffle iron creations such as cornmeal or sweet potato waffles. Controls can be either analog or digital. Digital waffle irons often have a countdown timer so even antsy children will know when breakfast is ready
Indicator lightsIt's important to know when your iron is at the correct cooking temperature. Indicator lights show one color while heating and usually a green light indicates it's ready to use.
InsulationInsulation helps not only to hold heat inside your waffle iron but also keeps the outside cool so it's safe to touch.
Drip TrayUsually found with flip models, drip trays catch any excess batter drips. It helps make clean up faster since no drips reach your table or counter.

Grill Surface - nonstick

A nonstick surface is necessary. It helps to ensure easy release of your cooked waffle and fast easy cleanup when you're done.
Grill Surface - removableMany types of waffle irons offer removable grill plates. These are usually dishwasher safe and some models offer different surfaces such as a flat griddle.
Stovetop modelsWhen you want to cook on your stovetop, gas grill or even over a campfire, rustic stovetop models can do the job. They take up less room than a full size waffle iron and while they do need a heat source, you won't need to have an electrical outlet handy.

Waffle Iron Sizes

Round Waffle Maker

Whether you cook for a big family or just for yourself, the size of your waffle iron should be considered when learning how to choose a waffle iron . Many waffle irons look the same on the outside, but it's what's on the inside that counts. When looking at size and servings, round irons produce a single serving while many of the square models can range from single waffles up to eight servings.

Show Your Creativity with Specialty Irons

The number of waffle iron uses are almost endless, especially when you take into consideration the number of different specialty irons available and that they are often found in the same section as other specialty electrics. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Pizzelle irons: This unique waffle iron makes a very thin crispy treat often used for desserts. These have very shallow pockets and are often used to create cannoli filled with a delightful Bavarian cream or a decadent chocolate mousse.
  • KrumKake: This thin delicate waffle, featuring intricate designs, is often sprinkled with powdered sugar to make a cookie or rolled with a special cone-shaped dowel to make handmade ice cream cones.
  • Critter or cartoon shapes: Fun novelty shapes like hearts and flowers, animals and even cartoon characters are available. These are great for birthday parties or any special occasion. You could make a batch of heart-shaped waffles for your loved one, and top them with chocolate-covered strawberries to serve with a tall glass of Champagne.
  • Mini waffle irons: These small, fun waffles are just right for tiny hands or when used to make amazing appetizers. Top them with fresh fruit, or make a savory batter with basil and garlic for mini pizzas that ooze with melted mozzarella and zesty marinara sauce.

Now that you're ready to buy a waffle iron, choose the one that best suits your style, needs and even your kitchen aesthetic. Then, get ready for hot golden delicious waffles any time the craving hits.

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