“There is something intrinsically quirky and joyful about waffles,” says Daniel Shumski, author of “Will it Waffle.” They’re clearly a special occasion breakfast, which makes it the more vital that they’re cooked to perfection and easy to clean up.
We tested three recipes: American, Americanized-Belgian, and authentic Belgian for this guide, focusing on American and Belgian waffle makers. The thinner grids of American-style waffle makers reflect the fact that American waffles are the thinnest and crispiest (think Eggos). Belgian waffles are characterized by deep wells, thick walls, and fluffy interiors. Traditionally, a yeasted batter is used to generate this texture, but in this Americanized version, baking powder and whipped egg whites are used to replicate the texture of rising dough.
I spoke with Shumski, David Solomon, founder of Mountain Waffle Co., and Max Fisback, proprietor of The Waffle Window in Portland, Oregon, before writing this guide. After conferring with experts and baking more than 40 waffles on six different waffle makers, I’ve found three that consistently produce golden brown, evenly raised waffles.
Cuisinart Waffle Maker, Classic Round
Pros: Waffles have a consistent golden brown color, an even waffle crust, and are simple to store.
Cons: Indicator light accuracy isn’t always reliable.
If you want consistently baked American-style waffles, the Cuisinart Classic Round Waffle Maker is a solid bet. Each heat setting yielded a fully cooked waffle throughout my tests, with higher temps producing darker and crispier exteriors. The difference between this machine and the Breville Classic was the crust. The longer the waffles sit off the iron, the softer they become, although the Breville’s waffles were not as crisp on the outside as the Cuisinart’s. The Cuisinart waffles kept sharper for longer than those from rival waffle machines.
It was easy to remove the waffles without their splitting into parts, and each batch only needed one coat of vegetable oil to keep non-stick.
It’s worth noting that the green “ready” light isn’t always a trustworthy indicator of completion. It starts cooking two to three minutes after you put the batter in, which I didn’t think was long enough to get the crispier waffles I wanted on the higher heat settings. The indication light, on the other hand, does not turn on until the waffle is fully formed, so you don’t have to worry about tearing it when checking the color.
Belgian Waffle Maker by Hamilton Beach
Pros: Thick and fluffy waffles with every recipe, fully cooked waffles on every setting
Cons: It takes up a lot of space on the counter.
The thickest and most aerated waffles I created were from the Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker. And that’s impressive considering I made three different kinds of waffles in each Belgian waffle maker I tried: American, Americanized-Belgian, and authentic Belgian (you can read more on our recipes and testing methodology here). While other Belgian waffle makers failed to make American-style waffles on the lowest heat setting, the ones I prepared in the Hamilton Beach came out fully cooked and light brown (as opposed to raw).
This was also the only maker who did a 180-degree turn. “Waffle makers flip to disperse the batter more evenly,” Fisback explained. Traditional Belgian waffles have a consistency that is midway between dough and batter. The flipping seemed to assist the Belgian waffles prepared in the Hamilton Beach: they never stuck, browned uniformly, and rose evenly throughout the parts.
The indicator lights aren’t very clear. Because the maker turns, you have lights on the top and bottom, but I didn’t find either to reliably signal when the waffles were browned. This was a prevalent issue among waffle makers, owing to the fact that doneness is a matter of personal preference and batter quantity.
4-inch Dash Waffle Maker
Pros: Consistent browning and texture; available in a variety of colors.
Cons: There’s only one heat setting, and the indicator light isn’t always accurate.
Overall, the American-style Dash Mini Waffle Maker impressed me. It doesn’t have any heat settings, however the temperature seems to be comparable to medium heat on other makers after trying. Because the waffles are little, the heat has a smaller surface area to reach. Every waffle I produced in the Dash Maker came out golden brown and completely cooked.
The 4-inch waffle is around the size of one full-size waffle portion. It is, however, slightly smaller than commercial frozen waffles, so keep that in mind if you’re making them at home. The Dash waffles, like most waffles, freeze nicely and reheat beautifully in a toaster.
This is excellent for a college dorm or first apartment, or for anyone who enjoys tiny servings. When pouring batter on the plates, however, be careful; start with small scoops to see how much will fit on the 4-inch surface.
What else we suggest:
Breville No-Mess Classic Round Waffle Maker: In our tests, this waffle maker produced fluffy, evenly cooked waffles that were deeper than those manufactured by other American-style waffle makers. One of the Breville’s standout features is the drip tray that surrounds the waffle plates, catching any spilled batter before it lands on the counter. Although there is less mess, the structure makes it much more difficult to remove the waffles.
The waffles from the Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker were fluffier than those from the Oster Waffle Maker, but not as thick as those from our top pick, the Hamilton Beach Waffle Maker. Furthermore, the American-style waffles did not fully cook on the lowest heat setting.
What we don’t advise:
Oster Belgian Waffle Maker: This waffle maker had two issues: browning and thickness. The waffles were prepared to perfection, but the browning was uneven. On the good side, the waffles came off the plates effortlessly. In terms of thickness, the issue is that this Belgian waffle machine makes waffles that are more like to those made in the United States. It’s a good equipment for the price as an American waffle maker, but we recommend getting something else for Belgian waffles.
The method we used to test waffle makers was as follows:
In our testing, we used three different recipes: King Arthur Baking Company’s Classic Buttermilk Waffles for American waffles, Melissa Clark’s NYTCooking Waffle recipe with stiff egg whites for Americanized Belgian waffles, and King Arthur Baking Company’s Yeasted Waffles for traditional Belgian waffles.
Tests on waffles: We prepared all three varieties of waffles in the Belgian waffle makers: American, Americanized-Belgian, and authentic Belgian. We prepared Americanized-Belgian and American-style waffles in the American waffle makers. We created the same sort of waffle in at least three different waffle makers at the same time in order to compare the waffles directly. We also created waffles on the lowest, middle, and high settings on the temperature-adjustable waffle makers.
Traditional Belgian waffles are created with yeast-risen dough that is let to rise overnight, whereas the shortcut approach (also known as Americanized-Belgian) uses baking powder and whipped egg whites to provide the rise. We looked for waffle makers that produced equally browned waffles that were cooked all the way through but still had a light and fluffy texture in both recipes.
Waffles made in the United States are thinner and crispier than those made in Belgium. The recipes for American-style and quick Belgian (or Americanized-Belgian) waffles are essentially identical, except that real American-style waffle recipes don’t use whipped egg whites and only employ chemical raising agents.
Ease of use: Waffle makers can be used once a month or every day, depending on the cook. We thought about how easy it would be to store the waffle makers, whether there was a good way to wrap their cords, and whether other dishes, such as cake pans, could be balanced on top of them.
We took note of how quickly the plates warmed up and when the waffle makers said they were ready to use. We also took note of how quickly the irons cooled after being turned off, because a waffle maker should never be stored until it is absolutely cool and clean.
Questions and Answers about Waffle Makers
Is it possible to use pancake batter in a waffle maker?
Yes, however your waffle will be thinner and less crispy than if you used waffle batter. Waffle batter contains more sugar and fat than pancake batter, which helps the exterior brown and caramelize while preserving a fluffy interior.
When should my waffle maker be replaced?
Treat your waffle maker the same way you would any other small appliance: replace it if the wires fray or if it begins to smoke after you’ve cleaned it completely. Nonstick coatings on some waffle machine plates might wear away over time. If you find flaking coming off the plates, it’s time to replace your waffle maker.
What factors should I consider while purchasing a waffle maker?
Decide whether you want Belgian or American-style waffles first. (We discuss the differences between the two and when they can be used interchangeably further down.) Then, evaluate how often you make waffles and how much counter space or storage you have. The more you use a tiny appliance, the more counter or storage space it needs, according to a simple rule of thumb.
Is it possible to produce American waffles with a Belgian waffle maker?
It’s a rectangle-square situation: making Belgian waffles in an American-style machine won’t work, while making American waffles in a Belgian maker will. The size and depth of the waffle grid is one of the key variations between American and Belgian waffles. Belgian waffles feature deeper pockets than American waffles, which are thinner. The waffle makers themselves reflect this, with larger and deeper grids on Belgian waffle makers.
We tried making American waffles in all of our Belgian waffle makers and Belgian waffles in our top American-style maker during our testing. The Belgian waffle makers did not cook the American waffles on the lowest heat setting. Because of the difference in grid size, the waffles cooked at a higher temperature and were thicker than those prepared on American waffle makers. The Belgian waffles were effectively flattened into American waffles by the American creators.
Is it possible to create pizzelles with a waffle maker?
Waffles can be made using a variety of doughs and even meats, but not a typical pizzelle. Pizzelle presses with the shallow pizzelle pattern are used to make these thin and light cookies. A waffle grid is too deep to produce the thin pizzelle texture, even if you don’t care about the classic pattern.
How are Liege waffles different from Belgian waffles?
Both Liege and Belgian waffles are made in Belgium and are waffles, although their textures are distinct. Liege waffles are produced using a dough that produces a thicker, sturdier waffle; even conventional Belgian waffles are created with a liquid batter. This, according to Solomon, also helps Liege waffles support toppings without becoming soggy.
The Liege waffle experience is incomplete without Belgian Pearl Sugar. “When the dough touches the waffle iron, the pearls burst and caramelize, imparting a sweet crunch throughout the waffle,” Solomon explained.