Your kitchen should have the right tools. Welcome to A Guide to Gearing Up Your Kitchen, a series where I help you outfit the space with all the small appliances you need (and ditch the ones you don’t).

The waffle iron is an indispensable tool in my kitchen. Naturally, it allows me to make waffles, but that’s just the tip of the breakfast bread. The dual plates of coordinated, dimpled squares is an opportunity. With a firm press in this electric kitchen appliance, you have the ability to add caramelization, texture, and flavor to countless foods, and even cook entire meals. If you’ve only ever seen a breakfast bread pop out of a waffle machine, allow me to expand your world. The waffle iron is a multi-meal cooking appliance.

Watch this video to hear me explain:

Here are some of the highest-rated waffle irons you can buy, and a list of the first things you should put between those plates. 

Buying a waffle iron

Before you waffle, you need a waffle iron. When it comes to buying a waffle iron, you have a few options. You can’t make a bad choice, so just trust your gut (and your budget). 

Presto Ceramic FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker

This machine turns out a classic Belgian waffle with deep divots and tall sides. The overall shape is circular with four quadrants. This model includes a flip feature with a handle, so it’s low-profile but you can still turn out an impressive breakfast. 

Dash Mini Waffle Maker

If you’re looking for something a little smaller and more budget-friendly than the typical Belgian behemoth, try this model, which cooks up one wee waffle at a time. Its small size fits easily in cabinets, and it’s the perfect size to make a quick sausage biscuit for one. But I’m getting ahead of myself—there’s more on that later.

Krups Breakfast Set Large Waffle Maker

Maybe a large waffle maker is more your speed. That’s completely understandable for feeding a crowd, and once you take a look through this list of foods to waffle, larger might be better (it’s easier to fit a whole sandwich in there). This waffle maker can turn out four square waffles at a time, giving you almost 12 inches diagonally of pure waffling real estate. 

Waffle these foods immediately


I once moved into an apartment where it took about a month to get the gas stove working. That didn’t stop me from making entire home-cooked meals—after all, the electricity was working just fine. I waffled chicken, steak, and sausages to juicy, browned perfection. Waffle meats just like you would cook it in a pan. Marinate or season it first, then grease the waffle iron with a brush of oil (not aerosol spray, as that can damage the non-stick coating). Press the meat in the preheated iron. If you’re using a particularly thick cut of chicken breast or steak, consider butterflying it or cutting it into smaller pieces before waffling. Use a meat thermometer to help you decide on doneness. 

Credit: Claire Lower


Cheese is perfect, and yet, melted cheese is a higher level of its existence. Melted cheese with crispy edges? That is cheese enlightenment. Waffling cheese is a great way to create lines and squares of exquisite crunchy frico encasing a soft, gooey center. What’s more, waffling cheese couldn’t be easier. Cheese supplies plenty of its own fat, so you can just heat the iron, tuck a slab of cheese in there, and close the waffle maker. Depending on the cheese and how crispy you want it, you’ll be finished waffling in a minute or two. Read here for more tips on waffling cheese.

A whole sandwich

You should waffle your meat first to create some delicious flavors, but after that, you should waffle the whole darn sandwich. This works especially well if you have a semi-soft bread that you can slather in butter before you press it in the iron. Then the grid pattern can fully plunge into the soft crumb of the slices and thoroughly brown the butter and crisp the toast. Better still, spread mayonnaise onto the bread and press it into grated parmesan cheese before you waffle it. You’ll be rewarded with a crunchy cheese crust on your sandwich. 

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann


If you’ve ever wondered how to crush a whole pack of tofu, here it is: waffled tofu. It’s another simple technique (read the post for details on how to salt it before waffling) that leaves you with a treat full of texture, and the quintessential dimples of a waffle—dimples that gently cup any sauce you like, or sprinkles of sesame seeds or chili crisp that you spread over the top.

Leftover pizza

The best way to revive cold, dry pizza has been long debated by many, but I don’t think those folks have tried waffling it yet. If they had, all debating would be laid to rest. You can re-crisp the crust and summon luxuriously melted cheese all over again with a waffle iron. The trick is to waffle two pieces at once, like a pizza sandwich with the crusts facing out. Here are the details and some tips on making your waffled pizza even better.

Credit: Claire Lower

Boxed cake batter

This might not be a far stretch from putting waffle mix in your waffle iron, but that’s the beauty of it: Cake batter works perfectly in this setting and produces tender, spongy cake-waffles. Just prepare the cake according to the package’s directions, swipe some oil onto the waffle iron plates, and ladle in some batter once the waffle iron is hot. In seven to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the waffle, you’ll have a scrumptious cake-waffle to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Leftover mac and cheese

The brilliant part of waffling mac and cheese is that leftover mac actually fares best, making this the go-to move for any hard, congealed leftovers that you’re no longer tempted by. Slice your leftover mac into slabs, or just plop a spoonful into the center of the hot waffle iron plate. Once again, there’s no need to grease the waffle maker because mac and cheese brings along its own helpful oils. Press the top plate down and listen to the bubbly, sizzling magic. Open the machine to claim your frico-encrusted, molten cheese prize.

Credit: Claire Lower

A sausage biscuit

Waffling a sausage biscuit isn’t exactly a sandwich, but it’s more than just waffled meat and butter-laced carbs. It’s a toast to pork fat, a nod to smashing things together because, united, they make each other better. It’s dead simple if you use canned biscuit dough and packaged, but raw, sausage. Preheat the waffle iron and press a round of biscuit dough into the center. Top it with a sausage patty and press. There’s no need to oil the plates since the biscuit dough and sausage will be bathed in rendered pork fat. Serve the tender, fried delight with a drizzle of maple syrup. 

This is just a sampling of the possibilities that will emerge from your waffle iron. Consider this the very beginning of your waffling journey. Try these delicious ideas, but don’t be afraid to branch out. Maybe you noticed the trend: Fatty stuff does best, and all of it is easy. When in doubt, brush the waffle iron’s plates with a bit of oil, and you’re set to get wafflin’.