Waffle Makers Buying Guide
Everyone has probably used a waffle maker at some point in their life, or at the very least, has seen one be used. They are relatively simple machines, allowing you to pour the batter in and close the lid to make golden brown waffles. Waffle makers were actually invented a lot longer ago than most people think.
Many people consider them an invention of the industrial age, but the truth is, waffle irons were around as far back as the 1300’s. The first waffle iron was two pieces of iron connected to pieces of wood, and the waffles weren’t the boring squares that we’re usually stuck with today. They were fitted with patterns like a family’s coat-of-arms, or actual pictures of the landscape or animals or even religious symbology. The first waffle iron to be introduced to the United States was one that was placed on top of wood-burning stoves, invented in 1869.
What is a Waffle Maker?
So, what is a waffle iron exactly? In modern times, a waffle iron is pretty much the same design as when it was first invented, although it has been made to be safer and work with electricity. Modern waffle irons are made with the honeycomb pattern that has made waffles famous. You pour the batter between the two metal plates and then close the unit.
You have to be careful about how much batter you pour in, but once you have used it a few times, you will be able to easily estimate how much you need. The waffle iron should have a light or another notification feature that lets you know when the waffle is done.
Modern waffle irons are much more advanced than the ones of the 70’s and 80’s. Waffle irons today can give you a choice as to what kind of waffle you want to make, from the very thick waffle to thin and crispy ones. Some waffle irons will even make waffle cones. There are two kinds based upon the design of the pattern – traditional and Belgian waffles.
Types of Waffle Makers on the Market
There are basically four types of waffle makers on the market right now. Each one of them has advantages and disadvantages, but you will have to make up your own mind as to which one you prefer for your morning waffles.
The Stove-Top Waffle Maker
There are still waffle makers in many kitchens today that do not require any electricity. They work by sitting on top of a burner and then distributing the heat across the waffle iron. This is great at home of course, but their real benefit is using them for camping or other places where you don’t have access to electricity. Of course, these waffle irons do have some drawbacks as well. For one thing, they are almost impossible to clean, and requires an hour of soaking and then lots of work in between the indentations with a rag. Also, they don’t always heat your waffle evenly.
Round Waffle Makers
The second type of waffle maker is the round design. This is a relatively simple way to make waffles and it is one of the older styles. The benefit is that these waffles cook pretty evenly, and the round waffle irons are very cost affordable, but if you don’t like crispy waffles you might not like this particular waffle maker.
Square Belgian Waffle Irons
Belgian waffles are actually just thicker waffles, although some do have larger indentations. There are square waffle makers out there that are very cost effective and they work about the same as the round waffle irons with the exception that they make thicker waffles. The disadvantage with these is that if you are an impatient person, you might end up with waffles that are under-cooked.
Round Belgian Waffle Irons
Round Belgian waffle makers are also available. Basically, they are just thicker than the round waffles made with a regular waffle iron.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Waffle Maker
The first thing that you need to consider is the size of the waffles that you are getting, as well as the size of the waffle maker. What kind of waffle maker you get will depend upon how much extra room you have. As for the size of the waffles themselves, many waffle makers seem to have standardized sizes, but you can find larger (and smaller) waffle molds out there on different appliances.
You’ll also want to look at the number of waffles that your new waffle iron makes. This is especially true if you have a medium to large sized family. Making waffles for breakfast can be done very easily for one or two people, but if you have 4 or more people in your family, you probably want to look for a waffle iron that makes at least four waffles at once, and possibly even more. The only difference in making a few different waffles a once is that you’ll sometimes have to cut them when you are done.
As we discussed before, the shape and thickness of the waffle will depend upon what waffle irons you get. Most people aren’t overly concerned about the shape of their waffles. In fact, many more people are concerned about how thick their waffles are. This is probably because some people really like thin, crispy waffles while others prefer soft and fluffy. Also, be aware that you don’t have to stick with the plain old waffle shapes that they sell in your local department store. You can look online and find waffle irons to make waffles in all kinds of creative shapes.
One problem with waffle irons is that they often are difficult to clean up afterward. This is why you need to look at the grill surface when you buy your waffle iron. Ideally, you want to be able to spray some Pam on your waffle iron and be able to pull out your waffles with almost no residue left behind. This means that when the waffle iron cools down, you can simply take a wet rag or a scrubber and clean the waffle iron in two or three minutes. Some waffle irons shouldn’t be sprayed with cooking spray so check the manual before you do it.
The thermostat and the light are two other features that you need to look at. If you get a waffle maker that doesn’t tell you when your waffles are done, you are almost certain to waste some of them. Most waffle irons have lights that work with a thermostat to tell you when to pour the batter and when to take the waffle out, usually by turning the light on when the optimal temperature has been reached and then off when the waffle is done.
Finally, be aware that you can often get a much better waffle if you spend a bit more money on a flip-model of waffle maker. These have become quite common place in hotels where breakfast is included (bur prepared by the guests themselves) so most people have at least seen them, even if they haven’t used them. They do cost a little more but they can create a better waffle and even help you create both soft and crispy waffles.