There are several different waffle styles and waffle irons. Everyone likes different flavors and textures for their waffles– crispy waffles, fluffy waffles, thin, and thick. Nonetheless, two types of waffles are universally detested: soggy, undercooked waffles, and blackened, charred waffles.
Both these bad textures and flavors are entirely possible to make if you don’t pay attention to your waffle machine’s temperature. At a glance, it may even seem as daunting as baking the notoriously difficult-to-perfect cinnamon roll!
No matter the style of waffle you prefer or choose to make, you have to keep your waffle maker heated to the correct temperature. (Note: See our article on waffle temperature control). Doing so makes you perfect waffles, giving them the crispy exterior and fluffy interior that pairs perfectly with whipped cream and maple syrup.
But what is the temperature you should set your waffle maker for browning control and making sure you don’t bungle your waffle recipe? Here are your answers.
Setting Your Waffle Maker at the Right Temperature Ensures a Fully Cooked Waffle
This is a bit of a trick question because it depends on your ideal waffle. Before you set your waffle maker to any setting, you have to decide on what kind of waffle you want to make and what you want them to look like. The style of waffle and waffle batter you make will affect the appearance you need to go for and how you cook your waffles with your waffle maker.
There is the good old regular waffle recipe made with a typical batter of egg whites, flour, baking powder, sugar, milk, and melted butter. This recipe will need to cook for a certain time to reach the crispiness point and appearance you desire.
On the other hand, if you are making Belgian waffles, your yeasted batter with pearl sugar may need more time to cook than other waffle batters and will need a square waffle maker.
After addressing the question of what kind of waffles you want to make, you can decide what setting your waffle maker should be on.
Most commercial waffle irons and makers have a low, medium, and high setting. These settings give you a degree of browning control and usually have unique temperature ranges.
The low ranges will heat your waffle iron anywhere from 240 degrees F to 300 degrees F, while the medium will cover 300 to about 370, and the high will cover 370 to 440. If you want lighter waffles with a doughier interior, you should keep your waffle on its low setting. Lower temperatures will brown the outside while keeping the waffle's inside softer and denser.
The only downside of working with this setting is it takes trial and error to get the combination of temperature and time right. After a couple of tries, however, you will find the right time to cook your waffles at the low setting, giving you a nice balance between crispy and fluffy.
Waffles cooked at the medium setting will give you a browned waffle but still give you an inside that can soak in flavors from toppings and intensify the waffles' flavor themselves.
Waffles cooked at high temperatures will be browned and very crispy, almost like toast, and bring out the flavor of the melted butter. You can choose this setting for slightly darker golden-brown waffles that add a nice crunchy texture to the flavors you add through toppings.
If you use a stovetop cast iron waffle iron, you are in luck. Stoves have similar settings to the settings knobs on electric waffle makers. Therefore, the same guidelines generally apply as they do to electric waffle makers. You should, however, pay extra attention to preheating your cast iron waffle maker.
While these guidelines apply to most commercial electric waffle makers, there is one more method for preparing waffles, specifically frozen waffles. Many home cooks use their air fryers for frozen waffles.
The guidelines are specific for cooking with this method. Set your air fryer at 350 to 370 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the waffles for three minutes on each side.
Let the Waffle Maker Fully Heat Up Before Pouring in the Batter
Most commercial electric waffle irons have two lights that you can use to tell if your waffle maker has reached the correct temperature. Common electric waffle makers, such as Oster or Cuisinart, have two lights: red and green.
These lights function like traffic lights. Red means "stop" or "not ready" while green means that the waffle maker has reached the right temperature.
If you do not trust these lights, there are other ways to test if your waffle maker is at the right temperature. Infrared (IR) temperature sensors can help you see the precise temperature of your waffle iron. Or you can throw drops of water on the iron to see if they evaporate. This method helps you see quickly if your waffle maker has reached the correct temperature for your desired style.
Preheating waffle irons helps your waffles cook correctly. If you can heat your waffle iron or waffle maker with the iron closed for ten minutes before you cook your waffles, it will make a difference in cooking them correctly and according to your tastes. This is because adding the waffle batter drops the waffle iron's temperature.
Thus, preheating a waffle iron allows its temperature to reach slightly above the cooking temperature at which your waffles will complete their cooking. It will also help your waffle maker reach the optimal temperature faster.
When adding the batter and the temperature drops after preheating, the temperature on both sides of the iron drops to the same temperature. When not preheated, both sides of the iron or maker heat differently. Uneven cooking will follow and can result in one side being burnt and charred while the other is undercooked.
So, preheating is a necessary step to heating your waffle iron correctly and creating the perfect waffle.
Waiting for the Waffle Maker to Preheat Allows for the Waffle to Cook Fully
This answer depends on your waffle maker and how many waffles you plan to cook. 10 minutes is the recommended time for your waffle maker to preheat, but if you are cooking a large batch of waffles, 20 minutes of heating before cooking can also help you keep cooking without having to wait so long between waffles.
Most waffles will take between four to six minutes to cook to completion when cooking at around 370 Fahrenheit, especially if you heat your waffle maker for 20 minutes before using it.
The process may take longer or shorter for you. It depends on your tastes and your waffle maker model. The process's length should not vary so much if you heat your waffle maker between 10 to 20 minutes before you use it.
In between batches, it is important to give the waffle maker time to recover and heat again. If you continue to add waffles to the waffle iron, you will drop its temperature further and further and this can result in undercooked or unevenly cooked waffles.
To prevent the temperature from dropping too much, you should allow your waffle maker or iron at least five to 10 minutes to heat back up between batches of waffles.
This Waffle Maker is Nonstick and Creates Perfect Waffles After Preheating
A belgian waffle typically uses a yeast batter as opposed to regular waffles that use baking power or baking soda. The yeast in the Belgian wafle creates a light, fluffy, and crispy wafle with larger cavities to put toppings like strawberries, whip cream, and sugar. They tend to take a bit longer to cook than regular waffles and you may need to cook them at a slightly higher temp to finish them, being careful not to let the temperature get so high that it caramelizes the pearl sugar.
The waffle grids or plates in a regular waffle maker are shallower, resulting in waffles with a smoother surface and smaller pockets than those produced by a belgian waffle maker. Regular waffle makers often have a square or rectangular shape, similar to the shape of the final waffle produced. A Belgian waffle maker is more likely to be round than a regular waffle maker.
You turn over a flip waffle maker during its cooking cycle to allow for the most even distribution of batter as uncooked batter will tend to move downward towards the cooking element. It depends on the quality of your waffle maker, but a high quality flip waffle maker may be able to cook your waffles more quickly and evenly than a regular waffle maker.