Best Brunch Ever: How to Make Incredible Waffles

How-to’s and recipe tweaks for perfect, golden results every time. Plus, the best waffle makers from Consumer Reports' tests.

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waffles Tali Aiona / EyeEm

Crisp, airy waffles can be an easy, mess-free affair at home. Getting a top-rated waffle maker is a good start, and that’s where our testing comes in handy.

“Few waffle makers can get you picture-perfect waffles that are evenly golden throughout,” says Tara Casaregola, a CR test engineer who oversees our waffle-maker tests.

More on Waffle Makers

“Besides rating how models cook and brown waffles, we also look at how easy they are to use, including whether there are seams and crevices that batter can get stuck in,” she says. You can see how all the models fare in our waffle-maker ratings.

But a great waffle maker is only part of the equation. You need great batter, too, and you want to make sure you’re keeping your waffle maker in tip-top shape to ensure the best results.

Read on for advice on making great waffles. Plus, discover other food you can make with your waffle maker, and have a look at some of the best performers in our waffle-maker tests.

How to Get Light, Crispy Waffles

A great waffle starts with a great recipe, but you may want to experiment to find your signature flavor. Here are some tips:

Strike while the iron’s hot.
If your waffles come out pale and soft, it could be because the appliance isn’t hot enough. It’s important to preheat the waffle maker for at least 10 minutes. Also, pause for a couple minutes between batches to let the iron heat up again.

Whip your whites.
For lighter, fluffier waffles, add egg yolks and whites separately. Add just the yolks to the batter’s liquid ingredients. Whisk the whites until stiff peaks form, and fold them gently into the batter using a rubber spatula. For similar results, try substituting seltzer for some of the liquid in the recipe.

Opt for oil instead of butter.
For crispier waffles, use vegetable oil instead of melted butter in your recipe. Unlike butter, oil doesn’t have any water content, which adds moisture and hinders a crust from forming. A waffle study published in Food Science & Nutrition showed that waffle batter made with oil browned more than batter made with butter.

Try a yeasted waffle recipe.
Yeast gives waffles airiness and a crisp crust, and it adds flavor that waffles made with baking powder or baking soda lack. Yeast batters need to rise, though, so make the batter the night before, pop it into the fridge, and you’ll be ready to go in the morning.

Add cornstarch.
If you’re making waffles with baking powder and baking soda, adding cornstarch to the mix will get you waffles that are crisp on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Because waffle recipes vary, start with ¼ cup and work in as much as ½ cup to get the desired effect.

Finish them in the oven.
To keep waffles warm while you continue cooking, transfer them from the iron to an oven set to 200° F. Place the waffles directly on the oven rack. The low heat will “set” their crispness, so they'll actually get crispier and stay that way longer.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Waffle Maker

Features that make cleaning easy, such as nonstick cooking plates and drip trays to catch overflow, factor into our waffle-maker ratings. But even if your appliance aces our ease-of-use test, grease, batter, and crumbs are unavoidable.

Always unplug the waffle maker and let it cool before cleaning. (While it's easier to clean when the iron is still warm, be sure to check your user manual to see if that's recommended for your model.) Use a pastry brush to brush away crumbs from the plates, and wipe down the exterior and interior with a damp paper towel.

To get cooked batter out of stubborn spots, use a cotton swab dipped in water to scrub it out. Or pour a small amount of oil onto hardened batter and wipe it off after 5 minutes. If batter gets stuck in crevices on the exterior of the waffle maker or around the controls, use a toothpick to scrape it out.

To protect the nonstick coating, never use abrasive sponges to clean the plates or anything sharp or made of metal to lift waffles out of the iron. They could easily scratch the coating.

Use a wooden chopstick to get underneath a waffle to lift it out. Also, don’t use aerosol nonstick cooking sprays, which contain chemicals that burn into the plates and ruin the nonstick coating. The best way to grease a waffle iron is to dip a pastry brush in oil or butter and coat the surface very lightly.

Stand-Ins for Special Features

Some waffle makers come with indicators that light up or make a sound when your waffle is done cooking or when the iron is finished preheating. Bargain models may not have these features, but don’t worry: Here are other ways to take the guesswork out of making waffles:

No preheat indicator?
If your waffle maker doesn’t have an indicator that alerts you when it’s preheated, test the iron’s temperature by flicking water on it. If the droplets sizzle and dance on the surface, it’s ready.

No doneness alert?
If your waffle maker doesn't have a doneness indicator, watch the steam coming out of the unit as you cook. Once the steam stops (usually after 5 to 6 minutes), the waffle should be done. If the lid resists when attempting to lift it, cook the waffle for 30 seconds longer. Time the first batch, and set a timer for subsequent batches so you don’t have to hover over each waffle.

No batter cup?
If your waffle maker doesn’t come with a cup for exact portioning to avoid batter overflow, it’ll take some trial and error to figure out the perfect amount you need for each waffle. Start with ⅓ cup of batter for small irons and ⅔ cup for bigger ones, and increase as necessary to fill out your waffles. Make note of the final cup size and tape it to your waffle maker's exterior, in case you forget during the next use.

Other Food to Cook in a Waffle Maker

Believe it or not, you can use a waffle maker to cook all kinds of food. And they cook many dishes faster than an oven or a stovetop because they cook both sides simultaneously (no flipping required). Most recipes don’t need to be adapted, either. Just don’t force the lid to close all the way if it can't. Here are some ideas for starters:

  • Hash browns
  • Omelets or frittatas
  • Cornbread
  • Panini
  • Grilled cheese
  • Falafel
  • Brownies (cakey recipes only, not the fudgy kind)
  • Banana bread
  • Quesadillas
  • French toast

3 Top Waffle Makers From CR’s Tests

These produce evenly browned waffles and are easy to clean.

Headshot of Perry Santanachote, editor with the Home editorial team at Consumer Reports

Perry Santanachote

A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook