Waffle Maker Buying Guide
What is a Waffle Maker?
One of the best things about waffle makers is that they allow users to make waffles any time they want to without having to go to a restaurant. There are plenty of different styles and models of waffle makers available for home use and users have a variety of choices to decide from. This can be a little difficult at times, especially if the user doesn’t know enough about what makes one waffle maker better than another.
This waffle maker buyer’s guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about waffle makers so you don’t have to resort to guessing when you choose one. Using this valuable information you will know exactly what the waffle maker offers and how it works and can narrow down the choices to a manageable list that is easy to choose from.
Types of Waffle Makers
There are four common types of waffle makers available to consumers: stove top, round, square Belgian and round Belgian. All four of the choices, except for the stove top variety, have a wide range of features and options for the user to choose from. There are also multi-purpose models that do more than cook waffles.
Stove Top Waffle Makers – Take a step back in time to the way waffles used to be with the stove top waffle maker. One of the biggest draws to this type of waffle maker is that it requires no electricity and that makes it great for camping trips. You can use them right around the campfire and have delicious hot waffles in the great outdoors.
They are not typically nonstick which means they are prone to having the waffle stick and that can make them difficult to clean as well. There is a definite learning curve to adapt to using one and to ensure that the waffle isn’t over or under cooked but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll impress family and friends with your waffle making abilities.
Traditional Round Waffle Makers – Users will be able to make traditional, round waffles with this type of waffle maker. Most major kitchen product brands carry traditional style waffle makers so finding one is very easy. Prices will vary and you can usually find one in a price that will fit your budget. This type of waffle is thinner and can be crispier as well.
Square Belgian Waffle Makers – Even though most people won’t care of the Belgian waffle they make is square or round, some may have a preference and both shapes are available. Belgian waffles are thicker and fluffier than their traditional counterparts. Belgian waffle makers usually have many features available that make cooking the perfect Belgian waffle easy.
Round Belgian Waffle Makers – There is no real difference between a square waffle maker and a round one other than the shape and maybe the features that one company may offer over another. Round is the more commonly preferred shape, but there is no difference in taste.
Multi-purpose Waffle Maker – The multi-purpose kitchen appliance will be able to do more than just cook waffles. Some can make waffle ice cream cones and can be used as grills too for eggs, bacon and other foods. If you’re looking for something that can do more than just make waffles, you’ll enjoy the versatility of a multi-purpose waffle maker.
Popular and Common Features Waffle Makers can Have
There are many different features that a waffle iron has. Some are standard and others are either optional or dependent upon whether the manufacturer offers those particular features on their waffle makers. Below we’ve outline some of the more popular and common features. Once you look at the list you can decide which ones you want in your waffle maker and which ones you wouldn’t use so often. Not every waffle maker will offer all of the features listed below so do your research when looking for specific features that you must have.
Size of the Waffle Makers – Waffle makers are typically pretty bulky unless you opt for a compact model. Think about how much storage room you have when you decide on the size waffle maker to purchase. If you’ve got room on the counter, that is always convenient or if you have a pantry that has a spare place on the shelf that can work as well. Another factor determined by size is how big of a waffle the maker will produce. Small waffle makers will produce smaller sized waffles but large waffle makers will produce either one large waffle or sometimes, several smaller ones depending on the design of the plates. Just look at the grid to determine, which is the case with the waffle maker you want to purchase.
How Many Waffles does it Make? – If you have a large family, purchasing a waffle maker that only cooks one waffle at a time could make for a long cooking time over all to get everyone’s done. If you can find a large waffle maker that makes more than one waffle at a time, this would be the preferable thing to do so you don’t spend hours in the kitchen just to cook a meal.
Some of the flip style models allow for a waffle to be cooked on either side which means you can cook two at a time and that will help reduce overall cooking time as well. Others have spots for several small waffles that will be cooked together and then need to be cut into separate smaller waffles after the cooking process is complete. Of course, if you have a REALLY large family, another option would be to get two flip models that cook two each and then you can cook four at a time!
The Shape of the Waffle – Some people really have a preference as to the shape of the waffles and others don’t care as long as they’re cooked and they’re plenty of them. The most common shapes for waffle makers is round and square, but there are some specialty models on the market that cook heart shapes, triangles and other unique shapes. The specialty styles are very popular with younger kids who always enjoy unique shapes to their food.
How Thick is the Waffle? – The size of the waffle grid will determine how thick the waffle is that it produces. A shallow grid will produce a thin waffle and a deeper grid will produce a thicker waffle. Thin waffles are sometimes crispier than thicker ones, but this will be determined by how long the waffle cooks. If you want to ensure that your thicker waffles are fully cooked, crisper on the outside and fluffy inside, you may need to experiment with the cook times and see what produces the best results.
What is the Surface made of? – Old fashioned waffle makers can be a real challenge to clean but today’s models are typically made of non stick material making clean up much simpler. One thing that you need to make sure of in the flip style waffle maker is that it seals completely so flipping it does not flip batter all over the place. Not only does the non stick surface make it easy to clean but it makes it simple to get the waffles out of the maker as well. Even if the unit is non stick, be sure to use a small amount of cooking spray, oil or butter before starting as a precautionary measure. It is always better to be safe than having a burnt mess later to clean up. If your particular waffle maker tells users NOT to do this (add spray or oil) then follow the instructions for that maker.
Indicator Lights – Making great looking and tasting waffles is somewhat of an art form, even with waffle makers and it will take some practice and a bit of guesswork to figure out the best cooking times. Even with indicator lights, users may find that they like their waffles a little more or little less cooked than what the indicator lights produce. When the waffle maker is ready to be used, a light will come on and then another light will come on when the waffle is done. They may also beep as an alert.
Internal Thermostat – Having an internal thermostat is always a good feature for a waffle maker to have and ensures that the waffles will come out great. The thermostats are typically adjustable to you can decide how hot the waffle maker gets. It depends on the type of waffles you prefer what temperature to set the thermostat at. Since people like different things when it comes to waffle doneness, having the adjustable thermostat means that you can cook each set of waffles according to how the person likes them. Different batters may also require different thermostat settings as well.
The Models that Flip – Flip style waffle makers are very common in hotels that serve breakfasts and they are usually very easy to use. You can buy the flip style waffle makers for home use too. They are easy to use; simply rotate the handle and the waffle can flip 180 degrees while it’s cooking. This is beneficial because it prevents holes and unevenness while cooking. Make sure that the flip style waffle maker seals shut completely so batter doesn’t end up all of the place.
Why Insulation? – The insulation that is used for a waffle maker ensures that the iron doesn’t become hot to the touch. Used waffle makers may not have this insulation so it is something to watch out for when purchasing. The newer models are equipped with this insulation as an additional safety measure. If insulation is not used, you will need to have oven mitts to use when handling it.
Drip trays help with Mess – Drip trays re used for catching any dripping batter which tends to happen even in the drip or mess free varieties. They aren’t foolproof but they do reduce the amount of mess that you will have to clean up and it definitely makes clean up a lot simpler when you can just toss the drip tray into the sink. There are many models that offer this feature and it’s a good one.
Digital Controls – Most of the waffle makers available have analog controls but there are a few models that have come out that have started offering digital controls and timers. The digital models will cost more than the analog but many consumers prefer the digital look and feel it’s worth it to purchase this style. Digital controls offer the user more control over the cooking process and some even offer digital countdowns as the waffles are cooking. This is a nice feature to have if you are multi-tasking while you’re cooking the waffles as you will know exactly how much time you have before they are done.
Color Choices – Color doesn’t mean anything when it comes to performance, but some models offer a choice in colors and if you want to find one that matches your kitchen décor in a specific way, this feature might appeal to you. Popular color choices are white, black, stainless steel and red. Sometimes a model might be offered with a choice of different colors. Stainless steel is a good all purpose choice that will go with any décor.
Cleaning your Waffle Maker Properly
Cleaning your waffle maker properly after each use is important for many reasons. Bacteria can grow on batter that is left sitting on a waffle maker. In addition, it will last longer if you take care of it and cleaning it is part of that. Following the easy cleaning steps below will help keep your waffle maker working well and will also ensure that it continues to produce great tasting waffles.
Cleaning a Waffle Maker with Non-Removable Plates
- Unplug the waffle maker and let it cool completely
- If there is any oil on the plates, use a paper towel to mop this up.
- Using a soft bristled kitchen brush, brush away any dried pieces of waffle that remain on the iron.
- If there is any batter left in the grid, use a tuber kitchen spatula to scrape it out of the grid. Don’t use a knife as this can scratch the coating. If some batter doesn’t come up with the brush or the spatula, pour oil on the batter and let it soak until softened and then remove it with the spatula.
- Using a dry paper towel, bits of batter left on the grid.
- Using a damp cloth, wipe down the grid thoroughly and the handle and base of the waffle maker as well. Be careful not to get any of the electrical parts wet or damp and never submerge it in water regardless of how hard bits of batter are stuck on there.
- Let the waffle maker air dry completely before storing away to prevent the growth of mildew or mold.
Cleaning a Waffle Maker with Removable Plates
- Unplug the waffle maker and let cool completely
- Read the instructions on your particular brand of waffle maker to ensure that you know how to remove the plates correctly. Following those directions, remove the plates. They are usually not hard to remove and in many cases just snap out.
- Put the plates in warm water in the sink. Don’t use soap because that will deteriorate the non-stick surface from the plates and that will ruin your waffle maker.
- Using a non-abrasive scouring pad or soft brush, clean the plates carefully.
- Rinse the plates with warm water
- If there are some stubborn bits of dried batter on the plates soak a paper towel with ammonia and put the paper towel between two grid plates. You’ll need to leave it there for several hours and then you can rinse it with hot water.
- Once the plates are clean, set them on a drying rack and let them air dry completely
- After they are thoroughly dry, snap the plates back into the waffle maker.
- Use a damp rag and wipe down the rest of the waffle maker and then let the whole unit dry before you put is away to prevent mildew or mold from forming.
Waffle Maker Safety Tips to Remember
Using a waffle maker safely is just as important as using any other kitchen appliance. There are some basic rules that are important to follow to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
- Never touch the cooking plates when they unit is hot. They can give serious burns. For this reason children should never be using a waffle maker unattended.
- Never submerge the unit in water no matter how messy it has gotten. Follow the cleaning steps above for the safest cleaning.
- Make sure the cord is not hanging off the counter where a child can pull it down onto them.
- If using a non-insulated model, use oven mitts when handling the waffle maker to prevent burns.
- Watch out for the steam that comes out of the waffle maker during the cooking process. It can cause burns as well.
- Never plug in the waffle maker near a sink or on a wet counter. Don’t plug it in when your hands are wet.
- Don’t leave the waffle maker unattended or you could lose track of time and the waffle could burn.
- Keep the waffle maker on a flat surface such as the counter during use, especially if you have a flip style.
Waffles are one of the most popular breakfast foods there are and many people love having the ability to make them at home. The information in this buyer’s guide will help you sort through all the different models of waffle makers that are available and decide which features you want and what style as well. You won’t have to leave it up to guesswork and hoping. You have everything you need to make an informed decision on which waffle maker will fit your needs and be the best choice for your family. With all the new waffle maker styles coming out, you can choose a new model or stick with the old fashioned and more challenging style of days gone by. Whichever you choose, your family will love having delicious waffles right in your own home whenever you want.