Waffle irons are not just for waffles anymore. Granted, most things you put between waffle irons will come out “waffle-ized,” but that’s a good thing! The reason waffle irons are shaped the way they are is to increase the available surface area of the heating surface, so it comes into maximum contact with whatever batter or food you are pressing between the irons. This promotes crispness and browning in all the nooks, making the humble waffle iron a versatile kitchen tool.
Here are a list of 8 clever ideas for delicious foods you didn’t know you could make in a waffle iron. Get the kids involved and have fun!
Try these yummy foods in a waffle iron
1. Sandwiches. Move over, Panini press! A waffle iron makes terrific grilled cheese sandwiches. Brush it with butter or olive oil and close it down over the sandwich (you may not be able to close it completely) until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy golden brown. Sliced bread such as scali works best. Try filling your waffle sandwiches with prosciutto and provolone, gruyere and tomato, or smoked turkey and muenster. It also makes great tuna melts and Cuban sandwiches!
2. Muffins/Brownies. You can experiment with all kinds of batter in a waffle maker. A few that work really well are corn muffin batter (add onion or jalapeño for a more savory hush puppy style waffle to serve with grilled fish!), banana bread batter, date nut batter, lemon poppy, etc. Brownie batter is terrific in a waffle iron, especially if you like crispy edges. Imagine a whole waffle of crispy brownie edges topped with vanilla ice cream! Just load the batter in the iron until 3/4 full and cook 6-8 minutes.
3. Frittatas. Make a simple Spanish “tortilla,” which includes chopped onions and potatoes cooked in olive oil, allowed to cool, and mixed with scrambled eggs. Season well with salt and pepper and then ladle the mixture into the waffle iron, close, and cook until set and lightly brown. You can add cheese, meats, and all kinds of veggies to your frittata mixture. Try a Denver omelette with ham, bell pepper, onions, and some shredded cheddar cheese. Or try spinach and feta cheese; even a “crustless” quiche with bacon, swiss cheese, and onion. Whisk some light cream in with the eggs! Get creative!
4. Corned Beef Hash. Once you try corned beef hash in a waffle iron, you will never make it in a skillet again. Fair warning, it probably won’t stay together in a perfect waffle shape. It really depends on the hash you use. Getting the browned hash out of the waffle iron tends to happen in pieces, but it’s still delicious — crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Be sure not to rush it. Let it brown well. It’s hard to overcook hash. Top with a couple of poached eggs and serve!
5. Hash Browns. Another breakfast staple that works so well in a waffle maker, that you will wonder how you ever lived without it. Grease the irons well with oil, butter, or bacon drippings, and add shredded potatoes from a bag (or grate them yourself and squeeze out as much water as possible). Season with salt and pepper, add some minced onion if you like. Press in the waffle iron and let it get a rich golden brown. Want an even shorter short cut? Add frozen Tater Tots in a single layer and close the lid. Cook until your potato waffle is crispy.
6. French Toast. Continuing the breakfast theme, try making your French toast in the waffle maker. Soak slices of day old bread (brioche works fantastically) in beaten egg, butter the hot waffle iron generously, and close the egg soaked bread inside. Dust with powdered sugar and top with maple syrup, fruit preserves, or whipped cream.
7. Quesadillas – Add cheese and your favorite fillings to a large flour tortilla, fold in half and press until golden brown. A great way to use up leftovers!
8. Stuffing. Take your favorite stove top or bagged stuffing recipe and press it in a well-buttered waffle maker. Again, this one is for the people who fight over the crispy parts. You can serve sliced turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce atop a stuffing waffle!
Any other ideas to wafflize? Share them with us in the comments below!