Waffles are the perfect blend of crispy and soft, sweet and savory, breakfast and lunch. Or, at least, they should be.
Whipping up a batch of waffles only to have them stick to the plates and fall apart is frustrating, to say the least.
How do you stop waffles from sticking to your waffle maker? To keep waffles from sticking to the waffle iron, it’s important that you use enough oil, or another fat like butter, in the batter. The batter should be thicker than pancake batter, but not as thick as dough.
Before you throw your waffle maker at the recycle center, we’ve got a few tips to help you make a non-stick batter that should work in any waffle maker, no matter how old or well-loved.
This article is dedicated to saving your waffles. We’ll explain exactly why waffles stick to the waffle maker and how to prevent it, addressing the problem from multiple angles to ensure your future waffle-making success.
How to Make Perfect Waffles
Whenever you think about food sticking to a cooking utensil, your first instinct is likely to blame the utensil and reach for the oil. When it comes to waffles, the first thing you should be concerned with is your batter.
Ironically, you may still need to reach for that oil.
No matter how non-stick your waffle iron may be, if your batter is made too sticky, it will stick to the waffle maker. If you have trouble with your waffles sticking to the waffle maker, try some of these troubleshooting tips.
Best Oil for Waffles
Ensuring your waffles don’t stick to the waffle maker starts with the oil, or more specifically, the fat, that you use in your batter.
As long as there’s enough oil (fat) in the batter, the waffles should not stick to the waffle maker.
In terms of stickiness, the type of oil you use doesn’t really make a difference, but rather how much you use. Always follow your recipe’s directions but if there’s a question about adding a little less or a little more, always err on the side of more when it comes to waffles.
In terms of flavor, the type of oil you use may vary based on your preferences. Most recipes call for basic vegetable oil or canola oil. It’s neutrally flavored and has a high smoke point.
If you’re trying to avoid highly refined oils, avocado oil or grapeseed oil are both very neutrally flavored and can be found unrefined.
If you want to get creative and add a little more flavor you could try coconut oil, peanut oil, or another type of nut oil.
Can You Make Waffles Without Oil?
If you don’t want to use oil at all, it is still important to use fat or your waffles will not only stick to your waffle maker, but they will also be soft and lackluster, missing the crisp crust that waffles are famous for.
Butter or ghee are both oil alternatives that will work very well for making waffles, though you will have to soften them before cutting them into your batter. It’s still important not to over mix your batter.
If you have access to cocoa butter, it is pure fat similar to oil but has the texture of hard butter and the flavor of milk chocolate. It would make luxuriously decadent waffles.
How Thick Should Waffle Batter Be?
Waffle batter should be thicker than a conventional pancake batter, but not so thick that it’s verging on dough texture. It should be easily pourable, but not runny.
Waffle irons cook on both sides of your waffle evenly and without flipping, so they can efficiently cook a thick batter better than pancakes in a frying pan.
Moisture has a harder time escaping from waffles, which form a crispy crust as soon as the batter touches the hot iron.
This means that instead of escaping through popping air bubbles, the moisture in the waffle batter will expand, but only to a certain extent. If there’s too much moisture, your waffles will end up dense rather than airy.
How Much Batter Per Waffle?
How much batter is necessary for each waffle will vary with the machine size and style. Belgian waffles, for example, will need quite a bit more batter than the smaller, flatter American-style waffles.
Always do your best to follow the instructions for both your recipe and your machine.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to start pouring in the very center of the plate for each waffle and continue to fill until it’s no more than three quarters full. Closing the waffle maker will help spread the batter out the remainder of the way, but it won’t be overflowing.
You can make minor tweaks and adjustments as you become more practiced with your batter and machine.
How to Cook Waffles
Once you have the waffle batter perfect, it’s time to cook the waffles. Making sure your waffle maker is set up correctly is just as important to prevent sticking as making sure there’s enough fat in the mix.
You need to be sure you have your waffle iron at the right temperature and you’re cooking your waffles long enough, but not too long.
Waffle Maker Temperature
Making sure your waffle maker is preheated is even more important than the exact temperature your machine is set to. You want the plates to be hot when the batter is poured into the grid.
Most machines will have temperature settings pre-programmed, but there is some room for adjustment to suit your preferences.
If you like a dark, crispy waffle, the iron can be set to the max 440F (225C). For lightly golden waffles, try setting your waffle maker to the lower end of the spectrum, around 300F (150C). The average waffle is made between 350 – 370F (175-190C).
How Long to Cook Waffles in a Waffle Iron
How long to cook your waffles will also vary depending on your batter and the waffle iron in question.
A standard rule is to never open the waffle maker until an absolute minimum of 3 minutes has passed. Most waffles will take closer to 5 minutes on average to cook.
Some machines will have an indicator light that shows the waffles have cooked appropriately for that machine. If not, you can carefully crack the two plates open to see if the waffle releases from the top plate or not. If the waffles come off easy that is a good sign that it is cooked.
If the batter is not fully cooked it will continue to cling to the plate. Unless you smell smoke or burning, give the waffles another 30 seconds to 2 minutes to perfect.
They should smell sweetly toasted and a little nutty and have a golden-brown crust.
Good waffle irons will allow steam to escape during the cooking process. Keep your eye out because when the steam stops or slows to a trickle, your waffles should be ready.
Non-Stick Waffle Irons
Learn how to make the perfect waffle batter and cook them perfectly and then, if you’re still experiencing stuck breakfasts, consider laying blame on your waffle iron.
There are many waffle irons to choose from and most of them are very affordable and durable.
Our overall favorite waffle iron is the Presto Ceramic FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker.
Among many other great features, the ceramic non-stick plates not only help stop your waffles from sticking to the plates during the cooking process, but they’re also incredibly easy to clean after all the cooking and eating is finished.
Most waffle irons these days have a non-stick coating, but of course, not all waffle makers are created equal.
Being able to remove the plates from the iron is a popular feature for easy cleaning, amongst other factors. If that sounds appealing to you, check out our buyer’s guide to learn more about the best waffle makers with removable plates.
How to Use a Waffle Maker
Waffle makers should be incredibly easy to use, releasing perfectly golden waffles without any fuss or muss and cleaning with a few swipes of a cloth.
If your waffle iron has seen better days, it can still be a breakfast-creating asset. If it is covered in scratches, dents, and scuffs, it may need a little extra help to release your waffles cleanly.
Note: If you have a cast iron waffle maker that is regularly seasoned, you do not have to spray, grease, or butter your iron. The following suggestions are only for non-cast iron waffle makers.
Waffle Iron Spray
Having the right amount of fat in your batter is crucial, as we’ve already discussed, but if your recipe is low-fat or your waffle maker is showing some wear and tear, a basic cooking spray can come to the rescue.
Spray lightly before turning the machine on and wipe down the sides of the machine before turning it on to minimize the baked-on grease as much as possible.
How to Grease a Waffle Iron Without Spray
Cooking spray is without a doubt the easiest way to grease your waffle iron, but that doesn’t make it the only solution. It may not even be the best solution.
If you don’t have a cooking spray, you can pour a small amount of oil into a dish and a silicone basting brush to evenly distribute the oil over the entire surface of your waffle maker grids.
You may also want to consider good old-fashioned butter.
If you hate anything savory contaminating your sweet waffle breakfast, use non-salted butter. If you love to pair sweet with savory, you can use any butter that you have on hand. Both will work equally well.
Ghee is another fantastic option.
Before you grease your waffle iron with anything, remember, if you’ve mastered the perfect waffle batter, have your temperature right on, and your waffle maker isn’t overly scratch or scuffed, you shouldn’t need to grease your waffle iron.
How to Clean a Waffle Iron
One of the biggest downsides to spraying or greasing your waffle maker is that it leaves a sticky residue behind, even if the waffles come out cleanly.
If you happen to have had your waffles stick, the cleaning job can be even more intensive.
Unfortunately, there is no one perfect way to clean a waffle iron because how it is cleaned depends entirely on the make and model that you own.
What is it made of? Are the plates removable? Is it dishwasher safe?
All of these answers should be available to you in the owner’s manual or original packaging from your appliance but if, like most people, those items no longer exist in your life, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to find the information.
There are a few universal truths to adhere to:
- Always turn your appliance off before cleaning, unplugging it entirely.
- Use a soft, damp cloth to remove any food particles as soon as the cooking is done but be careful the plates are not still so hot that you’ll burn yourself or your cloth.
- Never use anything abrasive, including steel wool, scrubbing pads, or even bristle brushes.
Even if you’re waffles release from your waffle maker perfectly, there may be other textural issues that you’re not impressed by. Making waffles is certainly a skill that develops with practice.
Here are a few answers to the most common texture concerns that arise when making waffles. However, always keep in mind that overcompensating in one direction can lead to the opposite problem.
How Do You Make Waffles Crispy?
Limp, floppy waffles are never as impressive or as enjoyable as crisp, light as air waffles. You need the right combination of moisture levels and heat.
The most important rule to follow is to always use a hot, hot, hot waffle iron. The batter should sizzle and form an immediate crust on contact, sealing the moisture inside to fluff and rise and ensuring a thin yet crispy outer layer.
If you’re making a large batch of waffles, heat up your oven before you start and allow the waffles to stay hot while you’re waiting for the final ones to cook.
Every time you add new waffles, flip the ones that were already in the oven to keep the crispiness nice and even and make sure no moisture develops underneath them.
Keep in mind that if you’re working with a recipe that includes buttermilk it may be more difficult to get the perfect crisp on your waffle. Buttermilk makes for a heavier batter that doesn’t rise as easily nor retain the crisp factor. They’re delicious, but less crispy.
If you refuse to give up the buttermilk flavor, try a half and half mixture with buttermilk and 2% milk.
How Do You Make Fluffy Waffles?
Having a crispy, perfectly smooth exterior crust is a major feat that’s best served in conjunction with light, airy, fluffy waffles.
If that sounds almost too good to be true, don’t worry. Making fluffy waffles is easier than the professionals would like you to know.
The secret to fluffy waffles is getting plenty of air in the batter, but over-mixing the batter is a big no-no. So how can you work around this seemingly impossible dilemma?
Whip the egg whites separately before adding them to the batter. The egg whites are primarily responsible for the rise in your waffle batter, and the more you can aerate them before incorporating them into your batter, the lighter and fluffier your waffles will be.
What if you’re making vegan waffles? Is all hope lost?
It’s more difficult to get light, fluffy waffles from a vegan batter, but it’s not impossible.
Make sure you’re following these ever-important waffle-making rules for best results with vegan waffle batter:
- Use fresh, fully-active baking powder.
- Leave some lumps (a.k.a. don’t overmix!).
- Sift your flour and all your other dry ingredients.
- Use cold bowls and mixing utensils to make your batter.
- Cook on a pre-heated, hot waffle iron.