A waffle maker is a luxury for some people – a piece of kitchen equipment that isn’t multipurpose like a blender or isn’t used daily like a coffee maker. But if you’re a waffle person, a quality waffle maker becomes necessary, just like any other appliance. After all, waffles are delectable and pair well with morning coffee. Since it’s a comfort food, waffle makers can be used often. This warm, tasty, hearty dish might be a popular breakfast item, but it can be eaten as any meal whenever you’re craving it.
What is a Waffle?
Waffles are a flour-based, cake-like food made from leavened batter, cooked between two hot, patterned plates. Waffle recipes differ depending on the types of waffles you are making or the ingredients you use. Traditionally, waffles are made from flour, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, and yeast. Its ingredients are similar to pancakes, but it has more sugar and fat for a crisp outer shell. Mix the batter, pour it into the waffle maker plate, close the waffle maker, and you will end up with delicious waffles.
What is a Waffle Maker?
A waffle maker is a small, electric kitchen appliance used to make waffles. It’s made of two flat plates with waffle molds and a connecting hinge. You plug it into an outlet, switch it on, and pour waffle batter into the grid plates.
Some people and even manufacturers use the terms waffle maker and waffle iron interchangeably. However, the term “waffle makers” is often used to refer to the electric gadget, while “waffle iron” is typically used to refer to the kitchen cookware used on top of the stove. This is why a better terminology for a waffle maker may be “electric waffle maker,” and for a waffle iron, “stovetop waffle maker/iron.” The differences are comparable to a cast iron skillet and an electric skillet.
But when shopping, you may find the term “waffle iron” used when referring to all waffle-making devices, whether it’s an electric waffle maker or a stovetop waffle iron.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Waffle Maker
A waffle maker can allow you to upgrade your kitchen without buying a large and costly appliance. And most importantly, it will allow you to make delightful, homemade waffles anytime you wish! But before you choose a waffle maker or waffle iron to buy, here are some of the things you have to consider to make a wise purchase:
1. Type of waffles
Waffle makers don’t come in the same styles. The first thing you would like to consider is the type of waffles you would like to make with it. There are two main types of waffle makers that exist, based on the type of waffles they can make: Belgian and classic or regular.
- Classic waffles – It makes thin waffles that are crispy on the outside. For this kind of waffle maker, you have to use batter leavened with baking powder to create a thin and dense final product. The honeycomb squares on the grids – which are sometimes called dents, cups, or pockets – are often smaller and more numerous than they are compared to other waffle types, making them perfect for holding syrup. The grilling portion on the waffle plate is not too deep to make thinner, crispier waffles. To make classic waffles, buy a 7” -8” square or round waffle maker with a ½” to 5/8” thickness.
- Belgian waffles – A Belgian waffle maker is what you should get if you enjoy flat, fluffy waffles with big and deep pockets. It has a grilling portion that is deeper and larger than a standard waffle maker. The thickness of the waffle allows you to add some filling to the center. To make Belgian waffles, buy a 7” -8” round waffle maker with 1 ¼” to 1 ½” thickness.
These are the other less-common types of waffles, such as:
- Brussels waffles – These waffles are made of batter containing beaten egg whites or yeast for leavening, giving an iconic, fluffy texture. These waffles are crispy, come with large, deep pockets, and are usually rectangular. Commonly topped with fruit, powdered sugar, or ice cream, this type of waffle is generally served as a dessert. To make Brussels-style waffles, buy a rectangular waffle maker with dimensions such as 4” x 6”, 4” x 7”, or 3” x 5”, and a thickness of 1 1/8 inches.
- Liege waffles – This type of waffle is the sweeter, denser cousin of Belgian and Brussels waffles. It’s an irregular-sized waffle made of yeast dough adapted from brioche bread dough. Towards the end of the cooking process, pearl sugar is added to the outside of the waffle, giving its distinct, sweet flavor and crispy texture. Because of its sugary exterior coating, liege waffles don’t get soggy when served with ice cream or fruit. To create liege waffles, you need a 4” x 7” or 4” x 13” irregular-shaped waffle maker with 1” thickness.
Both the classic and Belgian waffle makers come in traditional square or round shapes. Round waffles are the classic choice that you can recognize anywhere – from your favorite diner to the frozen waffles you can buy from grocery stores. Round waffles also tend to fit better on plates, which are typically round as well. But if you prefer a different presentation, a square waffle’s modern look might appeal to you.
Besides round and square, there are a lot of other shapes to choose from: animals, hearts, and other novelty shapes – however, they are less common and harder to find.
There are so many waffle maker shapes and sizes, and it’s important to remember that timing and yields will vary depending on the model. If you have multiple members of the family who will eat waffles at the same time, or if you entertain often, you must go for a model that makes multiple waffles. Making more waffles at once reduces your cooking time so that you can complete breakfast on the table faster.
Unless you’re buying restaurant-grade models, waffle makers are not large appliances. Most models can be easily stored on the counter or tucked away in a cupboard. To save space, choose a waffle maker that can stand on its end and has storage for cords.
However, if you have limited counter space or a small kitchen, a single-waffle model or a waffle iron that can be stored in a cupboard might be a better fit. A vertical waffle iron is convenient when it comes to space because it can stand upright, taking up less square footage on a kitchen counter or storage. Large kitchens usually have spacious counter space that can fit larger waffle makers that can make up to four waffles at a time. But if you prefer your countertop appliances to be compact, you can still choose a smaller model.
5. Material and plate surface
Waffle maker plates are made of different materials, and the most common are made of cast aluminum, cast iron, cast steel, and nonstick coated. The size of the pockets or squares on the waffle grids varies from unit to unit, and some even come with removable grids to do cleaning and sanitizing easier.
Here are some of the pros and cons of each material:
- Fast bake time
- Fast preheat time
- The soft metal material can get easily scratched or dented
- Must be hand-washed
- Great heat retention
- Very durable
- The surface becomes nonstick after being seasoned
- Longer preheat times
- Needs regular seasoning
- Distributes heat easily
- Longer bake times
- Longer preheat times
- Easy to clean
- Easy release keeps the waffles intact when you remove them from the pan
- The coating may scratch or chip
- Handwash only
6. Convenience and safety features
Waffle makers may come with features for a customizable cooking experience for your convenience and safety. Here are some of the features you might look for in a waffle maker:
A lot of waffle makers come with features that can help you customize and control the doneness of your waffle, from slightly crispy to a golden brown. The factory setting isn’t always the best, so try making a few until you get the consistency, doneness, or crispness you are looking for.
Heat or browning control
Ideally, waffle makers must have a thermostat that helps ensure that the waffles are evenly cooked. Some waffle irons come with a temperature setting that can be adjusted depending on the texture and browning of the waffle you prefer. If you like crispy, browned waffles, choose a waffle iron that comes with a browning setting.
Protect yourself from burn accidents by choosing a waffle maker that comes with safety features like insulation, a cool-to-the-touch handle, automatic shutoff, and a locking lid.
Most waffle makers come with indicator functions, usually in the form of an indicator light that illuminates when cooking is done or when the iron is ready. If you tend to burn the food you cook because of multitasking, you might want to get one that beeps when your waffles are done cooking. Some even come with lights and beepers for indicating different things, like when the waffle iron is on, ready for the batter, or when it’s done cooking.
7. Cleaning and maintenance
Most feature a nonstick surface, making them incredibly easy to clean. But if you want to ensure that chunks of cooked-on waffle batter won’t cling to the plates, you can use cooking spray before cooking. And before you clean, make sure to wait for the waffle maker to cool completely to avoid burning yourself or damaging the appliance.
If there’s excess grease, you can use a dry or slightly damp paper towel or cloth to remove it. Using a pastry brush or Teflon waffle brush, you can kick out crumbs. Stuck-on food residue in the crevices can be removed using a cotton bud. And for cleaning the exterior, a damp washcloth will work just fine.
Some waffle makers come with removable plates that can be hand washed or placed in the dishwasher for deep cleaning. But to be sure and safe, check the cleaning instructions for your waffle maker so you can properly clean it and avoid damaging your appliance, especially its cooking surface.