Do manual, stovetop waffle makers work as well as electric waffle makers? We made dozens of waffles on both gas and electric stoves as we tested six hand-held models.
Published Nov. 1, 2009.
Material made a big difference in performance. Waffle irons made of light-colored, shiny metal yielded pale, dry waffles that stuck to even the most well greased grids. Cast iron produced crisp, golden waffles, but even after rounds of seasoning and oiling the surface, they stuck. Dark, nonstick metal was king, requiring no seasoning and producing evenly crisp, golden brown waffles that released easily.
We liked waffle irons with reservoirs to catch overflowing batter and long stay-cool handles that kept our hands safe. But thin handles were key for success on electric stovetops, allowing the waffler to lie flat on the burner—bulky handles lifted one edge away from the heat, making cooking uneven. (Handle design was less of an issue on gas burners.)
Only two waffle irons performed well in every test and on both gas and electric ranges. Both were made of dark, nonstick metal with thin, flat handles and each yielded crisp waffles that could rival those from an electric waffle maker.
Compared to electric wafflers (which preheat automatically and cook waffles to a preset degree of doneness, with no monitoring needed), hand-held models are less of a no-brainer (the cook has to gauge when the waffler is preheated, manually flip the waffles, then judge when they’re done). Still, they have their advantages: Manual wafflers tend to be smaller, for easier storage, and our winner cleans up with a quick rinse.
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