Waffle makers made from cast iron used to be the only option for homemade waffles, and I still believe they are the best option. It is impossible to make waffles as good as these with a modern electric waffle iron.
Not just for breakfast, but for every meal of the day, we love waffles. Whether we’re eating them for lunch or dinner, they’ll be delicious.
You won’t be able to stop eating waffles and fried chicken once you’ve tried them. Also, they make a pretty good summertime sandwich.
Benefits Of A Cast Iron Waffle Maker
My waffle making experience ranges from modern Teflon-coated waffle makers to antique aluminum waffle makers, and half a dozen non-electric waffle makers (even campfire waffle makers).
My absolute favorite waffle iron is a cast iron one that fits on the stovetop. The reason?
The first advantage of cast iron is that it is safe and health-conscious as a cooking surface. It can be harmful to your health to use a waffle maker coated with Teflon.
Aluminum is one of the worst materials for human health. It is used in older electric waffle irons. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with cooking with aluminum, among other things.
The best option is to cook on cast iron, however electric waffle irons with cast iron surfaces are not available. It’s hard to find anything (I’ve looked everywhere.)
The second advantage is that you can control the temperature more precisely with stovetop waffle makers.
The waffles you make for your family will always turn out just the way you like them. It is common for electric waffle irons to have only one setting, either “on” or “off.”
Cast iron pans are superior to Teflon or aluminum for non-stick surfaces when properly seasoned.
Waffles should never stick to the pan if they are well made and well maintained. It is still common for them to stick to Teflon and aluminum when they are poorly seasoned, more often than they will to well-seasoned cast iron.
The fourth reason is that cast iron waffles are just better. The outside of waffles was originally meant to be fried in butter, creating a buttery, crisp texture.
Often, waffles become dry and unappetizing without extra butter in the recipe (and on the pan).
Waffles are frequently made with low-fat recipes, so they may look like waffles but are not really waffles.
Making Stovetop Waffles In A Cast Iron Waffle Maker
Using an old-fashioned cast iron waffle maker on the stovetop is a great way to prepare waffles. A cast iron waffle maker is the best method for making these waffles, whether it’s an antique model or a modern one.
- 1 3/4 cups flour, all-purpose or pastry
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs, well beaten
- 4 to 16 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (1/2 to 2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- The cast iron waffle maker needs to be well seasoned before use.
- Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking them together.
- The wet ingredients, such as melted butter, eggs, and milk, should be beaten together in a separate bowl.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until combined. Be careful not to overwork the batter.
- Using butter or lard, grease the waffle iron.
- Waffle iron should be preheated until very hot, just short of smoke point. The temperature should be just under 300 degrees if you are using butter or just under 375 degrees if you are using lard.
- Spread the waffle batter until it reaches the edges of the waffle iron, about 1/2 to 1/4 inch from the center.
- Flip the waffle iron immediately after closing it.
- The second side should be cooked for approximately 2-3 minutes before being flipped back to the first side.
- After waffles are fully cooked and golden brown on both sides, remove them with a fork.
- Before adding more batter, grease the waffle iron.
- Until serving time, keep warm.
According to the recipe, you need “4 to 16 tablespoons of butter (1/2 to 2 sticks),” which is a significant range. It’s literally four times what’s recommended at the upper end.
According to Joy of Cooking,
If you want a reduced-fat waffle, you can use 4 tablespoons. If you want a classic light and fluffy waffle, you can use 8 tablespoons; or if you want a crunchy, amazing waffle, use 16 tablespoons.”
There is also a full tablespoon of baking powder used in the recipe, which is over the recommended amount for most waffle recipes. While the outside crisps on the pan, the inside gets nice and fluffy.
The waffle iron should be well seasoned, and it should be greased with butter or lard between each waffle. After using a waffle iron, never wash it.
How to Use a Stovetop Waffle Iron
The use of a stovetop waffle iron is fairly straightforward, but it requires some extra consideration.
Waffles taste better when you use an old-fashioned waffle recipe that includes lots of butter (which also prevents them from sticking).
It’s impossible to make waffles with modern “low fat” recipes. Use a classic waffle recipe.
Your waffle maker should be well seasoned before you begin. The key to creating a non-stick waffle maker is to use one that has been well seasoned.
Cast iron waffle makers shouldn’t be washed with water (or soap for that matter). Once it has been used, all that needs to be done is wipe it down with a dry towel (or paper towel).
Any sticking can be scraped off with a butter knife, and then the spot can be re-seasoned. Turn the heat up very high when you put the waffle maker on the stove.
It is important to heat the pan before adding batter so that the outside will be crisp and cook as quickly as possible. Believe it or not, high heat prevents sticking.
You only need to grease your waffle maker every 2-3 waffles if it’s well-seasoned, but you should grease it between each waffle anyway. Waffles will become crisp on the outside if you do that.
The smoke point of butter is lower than that of lard. Butter has a temperature around 300 degrees F, while lard has a temperature around 375 degrees F.)
When properly rendered, leaf lard is neutral and flavorless, making it an ideal ingredient for pies, donuts, and waffle irons.
When you heat your waffle maker too much, butter may start to smoke. Traditional waffles are cooked in lard, because its high smoke point allows them to cook at around 350°F, resulting in crispier waffles.
Between each waffle, I grease the pan with melted butter or lard using a silicone pastry brush. You can also use an old-fashioned pastry brush made of natural bristles, as long as they are food safe.
Greasing A Cast Iron Waffle Pan With A Silicone Pastry Brush
You need to get the pan as hot as you can, just short of the smoke point of the grease you’re using. Make sure both sides of the pan are evenly heated by flipping it over a couple of times.
Once the pan has been greased, make sure you brush grease into every nook and cranny.
Pour the waffle batter on top. The amount you need should be enough to fill the pan, but not so much that it overflows.
The amount of batter that fits in each pan will differ, so you’ll need to experiment until you get the right amount. I use my favorite soup ladle to fill mine exactly with two ladles.
Pouring Waffle Batter into Stovetop Waffle Maker
Close the waffle maker after pouring in the batter, then flip it over immediately to cook the other side.
In this way, the waffle puffs up and fills the whole waffle iron. In modern Belgian waffle makers, this same principle is used, and plug-in waffle makers that don’t flip won’t produce this kind of puff.
Additionally, flipping the waffle maker immediately prevents the first side from overcooking, ensuring that both sides are equally crispy.
The second side should be cooked for 2-3 minutes, then the original side should be cooked for 2-3 minutes.
You can cook waffles on the stovetop in a variety of ways depending on the heat output of your stove and the type of cast iron waffle maker you use.
Cooking each waffle takes a bit longer on models with bases, which diffuse the heat evenly.
Use a fork to remove the waffle from the stove once it is nicely crisped on both sides. Start over by greasing the waffle iron.
Types of Cast Iron Waffle Makers
Every cast iron waffle maker on the market is a stovetop waffle maker (non-electric). In spite of this, there are a number of different types, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
A cast iron waffle maker with a base and one without a base are the two main types. There are some differences within each category, but those are the most significant.
Antique Cast Iron Waffle Irons with Bases
Unlike other waffle makers that require you to remove the waffle iron from the base before flipping the waffles, these types of cast iron waffle makers have a base that holds the waffle iron. The whole “iron” is flipped, while the base remains stationary, kind of like modern Belgian waffle makers.
An old-fashioned wood cookstove provided intense direct heat that required the base to protect the iron. Waffle irons have small bases that elevate them about 2″ above the heat source. There are other models that elevate it by up to 4″.
By separating, you can still get a very hot waffle iron, but you can also make sure there are no hot spots. You’ll still be able to get a nice crisp outside on your waffles by doing that.
Due to the flame pattern of this waffle iron, the waffles cook faster on the edges than in the center when used on modern gas stoves. As well as old-fashioned wood cookstoves, they also work really well on regular wood stoves.
Due to the non-direct contact between the cooking surface and the heat source, they aren’t compatible with induction cooktops. Also, they won’t work well with electric cooktops.
Another benefit of the base is that it collects butter and batter drips. When you cook, that keeps the stove clean.
There are no longer any made, but you can find them on Etsy (reconditioned and ready for use).
There are also times when you can find them in antique shops, but they tend to be missing pieces or rusted. Somehow antique stores expect you to display it as a historical curiosity…rather than make waffles like your great-grandmother did.
Modern Cast Iron Waffle Irons (without Bases)
Waffle irons made without bases are generally designed to be flipped rather than rotated in the base, and the waffle iron is flipped along with the waffles.
Electric and induction cooktops as well as gas cooktops will work with these because they are in direct contact with the heat.
Cast iron needs to be heavy and well-made for these to work. Having burned spots next to undercooked spots is sad if the thing and cheap ones are the same thing.
They have a rough, cheaply made surface that you can never properly season no matter how much work you put into them.
The cheap ones from Rome are incredibly thin (so uneven cooking), with a very short handle (so burned hands). I’ve tried it, so you can trust me.
A slightly higher-quality version is made by Lehmans that is almost identical. The handle is short and the cast iron is thin, so it’s not ideal.
I wouldn’t recommend Nordicware’s cast aluminum waffle maker, which is similar to the non-electric one.
I strongly recommend the Skeppshult high-quality ones if you’re looking for something that will last a lifetime, like antique versions. To prevent sticking, they can be easily seasoned since they are thick enough to evenly distribute the heat.