Imagine yourself waking up on a cold winter morning, what would be an ideal breakfast for you that gives a good start to your day? Waffles! They are a perfect winter breakfast and can surely put you in a good mood as you go out to battle the cold air outside. I have always loved having waffles in the morning especially the Belgian-style waffles and I am sure most of you would agree with me on this. And, it is probably a little sad that every time I hear someone is making waffles for breakfast, I think of this:
After all, what is not to like about waffles, they are fluffy and nutritious and if you get one freshly baked then it can drive all the cold away from your body within minutes. However, therein lies the problem, eating waffles is a joyous experience but making them can often be not as joyous. But, what if we could change that so when make your favorite Belgian waffles at home using the best Belgian waffle maker? To answer, let’s deep dive into:
- Belgian Vs The Rest
- Waffle Decision Points
- How We Decided On the Best
- Our Top Picks and Why
Why Go For a Belgian Over the Rest?
Good question, ever since Belgian waffles have risen in popularity in the states, some distinctive characteristics have emerged separating the traditional waffle maker over the Belgian style:
- Holding Your Waffle Flavor – Your standard Belgian waffle maker will hold the good stuff in the waffle indents due to its unique shape. The standard waffle maker tends to have your yummy syrups and jams leak out during cooking because of the flatter surface.
- What A Waffle is Meant to Look Like – Your traditional griller/waffle maker is flatter (and normally comes equipped with reversible plates), so it cannot often fit the deep grooves needed to produce the correct Belgian style waffle. Belgian waffles have deeper walls compared to other makes and are about 1 to 1.5 inches thick.
- Exotic & Traditional – Live a little, and if you are a little tight on the budget to jump on a plane over to Brussels, why not have the Belgian waffles right here in your home, after all, don’t you deserve that little heaven once in a while? James from TripFilms gives us a quick introduction to what exactly entails a “traditional” Belgian waffle:
- Crispy Taste – Kathleen Purvis from the Seattle Times said that most of the Belgian waffle batters are yeast-based. This gives the waffle crispy texture when consuming.
How to Decide on the Best Belgian Waffle Maker
Size of Said Waffle
Size does matter when it comes to Belgian waffle makers. Firstly, where are you planning to store the waffle maker? If there is room to stash it away, then this is not a worry. However, if there isn’t, then you will need to leave it on the kitchen bench top and for that reason, you do not want a bulky sized machine.
Secondly, there are large and small waffle makers and one would assume the larger appliances maker larger waffles. However, this is not always the case, most times the larger waffle makers only make more small waffles at the one time. This leads to our next point, how many do you need at once?
How Many Waffles Can You Fit in Your Belly?
If you have a large family, then it is important for you to get a waffle maker that produces multiple waffles at once. Usually, large sized waffle makers have grids that allow them to churn up several waffles in a single cook. Your best bet though is a flip-styled Belgian waffle maker, which is small in size but can still produce multiple waffles as it has two compartments for cooking waffles.
The True Waffle Shape
Most Belgian waffle makers available in the market either produce round or square waffles. However, there are special waffle makers available too that can prepare waffles in all manner of shapes.
But, unless you have kids that like uniquely shaped waffles (which I would like to meet if that’s the case), it is best to stick to standard Belgian waffle maker.
Waffle Crunch Factor
The thickness of the waffles the waffle maker is going to produce is determined by the depth of its grid. Belgian waffle makers with shallow grids produce thinner and crispier waffles while those with deep grids offer thicker and fluffy waffles.
Less Mess, Less Fuss = More Waffle Making
When looking for the best Belgian waffle maker, it is extremely important to check the surface of its grill. The best waffle makers tend to have a non-stick grill surface which makes it easy for you to clean them and also makes taking the waffles out of the machine a hassle free exercise. As you will see below, we had some mixed issues with our waffle testing as some of the models required a grease up before the cook started. Therefore, our top picks avoided this hussle and clean up fuss.
Done To Perfection
It can become hard for you to know whether your waffle has been cooked through or not if it does not have some style of indicator lights. This is the reason why all the best Belgian waffle makers have indicator lights that come on when the waffle becomes ready.
This may seem like an obvious technological requirement of a modern day waffle maker, however, we have found that only the better models can tell if the waffle is truly ready no matter how thick or flavored you have your batter.
Further to this, it’s important to look for a model having an internal thermostat present in them for controlling the temperature of the cooking. The best makers, however, have adjustable thermostats so that you can control the temperature and decide how hot you want your waffle maker to be.
Cook The Waffles, Not My Fingers
From our testing, we found that insulation of the heated areas of the maker is super important to ensure that they do not burn your hands when you are using them. The better models made sure there was no external area on the appliance that was excessively hot.
This is an important consideration too if you have children looming while waiting for their waffles to cook and sticking their little grubby fingers where it may not be so safe for them to touch.
Avoiding The Mess
Waffle makers can become extremely messy if the batter spills out of them on to your kitchen’s counter top. To avoid this, the best Belgian waffle makers come with drip trays that collect the batter dripping from the waffle maker thus minimizing the amount of mess in the kitchen.
Our Waffle Testing Conditions
For our tests we grabbed a traditional Belgian waffle receipe from Daniel Shumski’s great cookbook Will It Waffle?. The recipe includes:
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 eggs
- 1 package dry yeast
- 2 cups warm milk
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Then to make the batter:
- Find a large bowl in the cupboard because once the batter is done, it will double in size.
- Pour our water into the bowl and add the yeast then leave it for about 5 minutes to let the yeast dissolve into the water.
- Now we can add our sugar, butter, flour and milk. Once in, mix everything with a beater until it’s nice and smooth (make sure you remove all the lumps).
- Grab some cling wrap and cover the mix for an overnight stay on the kitchen counter top.
- It’s the next day and we are almost ready to cook, but before the mix is ready, beat the eggs and add them to the mix while also adding the baking soda.
- Once this is all mixed again, you should have some fairly thin waffle batter on your hands.
- It’s waffle making time! You can pour the batter onto the iron.
- Leave the waffles to bake until they are smelling good and look golden and crispy.
The Best Belgian Waffle Makers
Right from the first waffle cook with this bad boy we had 3 perfectly crispy, fluffy, delicious waffles. That’s what we love about this model and why it made our top three; it’s a bargain price, it’s a compact size and it delivers simple and easy waffles.
The Presto model comes with a convenient timer which allows you to pour in the batter, set the timer and then flip the waffles when needed. The key to a perfect waffle is to wait until the steam stops rising during the cook. It’s important at that stage to flip or end the cooking process, and the Presto seems to beep every time, right on time.
We had a super easy waffle making afternoon with the Presto, we found that there wasn’t much after-mess and the best part was that the batter did not stick all of the machine. You don’t need to stress about over cleaning with each cook because the design ensures that there is no material between the grids, therefore germs will die once the waffle maker reaches a certain temperature on the next cook. This is a great pick up for an excellent price and if you haven’t owned a Belgian waffle maker before, this is the place to start.
This one is a personal favorite as I have given this maker as a present to three different acquaintances as a wedding gift and they have all reported back to me about how much they love this waffle maker.
First and foremost, you can cook two waffles at the same time, so for those parents out there with some hungry mouths to feed, this is your go to option.
There is also a handy arrow on the machine to let you know which direction to turn your waffles as well as a light for when the waffles are ready. We can confidently say this is a true Belgian waffle maker as the waffle indents are deep and can maintain extra toppings without pouring over the side.
Cleaning was a breeze and nothing stuck to the surface or the edges. This is a mid-range priced waffle maker but the best Belgian waffle maker for the family for many years to come.
The Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates is a special waffle maker as it combines the best features of all the Belgian waffle makers mentioned above. It has removable non-stick plates, six temperature control settings that allow you to make your waffles the way you want and indicator lights as well as audible alerts to tell you when the waffle is ready to eat.
But, the thing that makes this Belgian waffle maker the absolute best is that it has a set of 4-slice Belgian waffle plates that can cook 4 waffles at a time. It includes a 4-slot pancake plate as well which makes it a multi-functional waffle maker. You can take this puppy anywhere and be the superstar waffle maker you had also dreamed on becoming (I hope).
The price is a bargain for the quality and longevity you will see from this machine, this is our pick for the best Belgian waffle maker and after owning one myself for about 3 years now (without a glitch), I cannot recommend it more to my friends.