How To Use a Non-Electric Stovetop Waffle Maker

Many cooks insist that to make the best waffles, you need a stovetop waffle iron. Though using and cleaning a stovetop waffle iron may seem intimidating, with a little bit of practice, you’ll be using your stovetop waffle iron like a professional in no time! 

To use a non-electric stovetop waffle maker, decide what sort of waffles you want and choose the appropriate design and material. Prepare the batter, spray the waffle iron with cooking spray, and preheat until hot. Pour the batter into the iron, close the top, and let it cook for a few minutes. 

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn:

  • How to season cast iron cookware
  • The proper way to clean your waffle maker
  • Tips to make sure your waffles don’t stick to the pan 

Aluminum vs. Cast Iron Stovetop Waffle Irons

Most stovetop waffle irons are made either with cast iron or cast aluminum.

Cappuccino and Belgian waffles on a blue table with cranberries and cream

Both distribute heat well and can give you evenly cooked waffles. Of course, each material has advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Cast Iron Waffle Irons

Cast iron cookware has been used for centuries and is still found widely in both home and commercial kitchens. Cast iron cookware is generally more expensive and requires more maintenance, but many cooks swear by it.  

The Rome Industries Cast Iron Waffle Pan has excellent reviews on Amazon.

Pros

  • Durable. If you maintain your cast iron waffle iron properly, even your great-grandchildren will be able to enjoy waffles cooked on your waffle iron.
  • Distributes heat evenly. Your cast iron waffle pan will take a bit longer to heat up than aluminum, but it will be less prone to hot spots or uneven cooking.
  • Can be used on an induction stove. Because induction burners rely on magnetic fields for heating, they only work with iron or steel cookware. 

Cons

  • Heavy. A cast iron waffle iron will weigh about twice as much as a comparably sized cast aluminum waffle iron.
  • Cannot be cleaned with soap. Once your waffle iron is seasoned, you should never clean it with soap. Running it through the dishwasher or even washing it with soap will remove the seasoning, and you will have to season it again.
  • Require a cooking mitt. Cast iron distributes heat evenly, but that means even a long handle will get blistering hot when making waffles.  

In addition, cast iron requires seasoning before you cook. Some will come pre-seasoned, but it’s important to know how to do it yourself.

How To Season a Cast Iron Waffle Iron

  1. Scrub your new skillet in hot soapy water, then dry thoroughly.
  2. Spread a thin layer of vegetable oil over the skillet.
  3. Place it upside down in the oven at 375°.
  4. Bake for one hour and let cool in the oven.
  5. When properly seasoned, your cast iron waffle iron will have a semi-glossy dark finish and should not feel greasy or sticky. 

Pros and Cons of Cast Aluminum Waffle Irons

Aluminum cookware is generally cheaper than cast iron, and more modern cooks use aluminum cookware. The Cookware Manufacturers Association reports that in 2021, over 50 million pieces of nonstick aluminum cookware were sold in the USA. 

American cookware manufacturer NordicWare makes a well-regarded NordicWare 15040 Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgium Waffle Iron.

Pros

  • Have a nonstick coating. The nonstick coating means that your waffles are less likely to stick and burn. Nonstick aluminum waffle irons also require less oil to prevent sticking.
  • Easier to clean. While most nonstick waffle irons are not dishwasher safe, you can safely clean them with a gentle soap. 

Cons

  • You cannot use metal utensils with cast aluminum waffle irons. Metal utensils scrape the nonstick surface and cause flaking. Where you can re-season a cast iron waffle iron, once the nonstick surface starts peeling, your aluminum waffle iron is ruined. 
  • Possible health concerns. If your stovetop gets too hot, your nonstick waffle iron may begin releasing toxic fumes. These fumes could become a problem if you have pet birds, as birds are particularly sensitive to these gases.

Making stovetop waffles is easy once you get the hang of it, and with a little practice, you can make a whole platter for your family to enjoy. 

To make perfect waffles with your stovetop waffle iron, simply follow these steps.

Decide the Type of Waffle You Want To Make

There are many different types of waffles, with some being super thick and others being very thin. However, the most common are American Waffles and Belgian Waffles. 

  • Belgian Waffles (called “Brussels Waffles” in Belgium) are thicker, with deep pockets for syrup and toppings.  
  • American Waffles are generally smaller and thinner than Belgian waffles.

In general, a stovetop waffle pan for American waffles is more shallow than a Belgian Waffle pan. You will get better results using the appropriate batter for each type of pan, so research both kinds and find a recipe that has good reviews.

Prepare Your Waffle Batter

If you are using a premade waffle batter mix, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but don’t overmix your batter. A few small lumps are OK, so long as the ingredients are blended. Overmixing can cause the flour gluten to develop and result in chewy waffles.

If you add fruit, you may need to add a little bit more mix since fruits release water when cooked. If using frozen fruits, it is best to allow them to thaw so you can drain away any excess liquid.

Make sure your batter is thick enough before pouring it onto the hot waffle iron. A thin batter will spill over the edges and will likely turn crispy in the iron.

If you want to make your waffles from scratch, try Southern Living’s Best Ever Fluffy Buttermilk Waffles

Preheat Your Stovetop Waffle Iron

If your waffle iron isn’t hot enough when you pour in the batter, you will end up with limp and soggy waffles. To test if it is ready, drop a tiny bit of batter on the iron. If it sizzles and starts to cook on contact, your iron is hot enough. 

Filip your waffle iron over several times while preheating to have a good hot surface on both sides, allowing for evenly cooked waffles.

When you close your waffle iron, you will see steam coming out the edges. That steam release ensures that your waffles will have a golden brown exterior. If your waffle iron is not releasing steam, it is not hot enough. 

Spray Your Cast Iron Waffle Iron With Cooking Oil

An aluminum waffle iron’s non-stick surface should cook your waffles without requiring additional oil. However, it is never a bad idea to add a touch extra.

A cast iron waffle iron needs a liberal spray of cooking oil before you add the batter. Alternatively, you can brush oil or melted butter over the surface.

When the pan is hot, spray lightly, or brush lightly with oil or butter. Adding the spray before you heat the pan will lead to it burning as the iron heats up. 

Cook Until Your Waffles Are Brown

Let your waffle cook for about three minutes, then flip the waffle pan over and cook the other side until your waffle is done. You ideally want a golden brown and crunchy exterior.

Your American waffles should have a cake-like texture on the inside, while your Belgian waffles should be fluffy.

Wash Your Stovetop Waffle Iron When Finished

Whichever material you choose, you must clean stovetop waffle irons after each use. Stray bits of food become breeding grounds for bacteria, and nobody wants bacteria with their morning waffles. 

Cleaning a Cast Iron Stovetop Waffle Iron

  1. While the waffle iron is still warm, add a bit of hot water.  
  2. Clean the waffle iron by hand with a non-abrasive sponge. Do not use soap, steel wool, or abrasives which will remove the seasoning. 
  3. Use a toothbrush to get all the bits of waffle out.  
  4. Loosen stuck-on bits by boiling water in the pan.
  5. Thoroughly towel-dry the skillet with towels or dry it over low heat on the stove.
  6. Apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the inside of the waffle iron (some people also coat the outside of their cast iron cookware). 
  7. Buff away any excess with a paper towel. 
  8. Store your cast iron stovetop waffle iron in a dry place. 

Cleaning a Cast Aluminum Stovetop Waffle Iron

  1. Do not use a dishwasher unless your waffle iron manufacturer explicitly states that the nonstick coating is dishwasher safe.
  2. If you are not sure, add a bit of soapy water and scrub your aluminum stovetop waffle iron by hand with water, gentle dish soap, and a microfiber cloth.  
  3. A paste of baking soda and water can generally get rid of even the toughest stains on the outside of your waffle iron.  
  4. Dry your aluminum waffle iron thoroughly and store it away in a dry place.

How To Keep Waffles From Sticking to Your Waffle Iron

Nonstick waffle irons and well-seasoned cast iron help prevent sticking. But the real secret of keeping your waffles from sticking lies in the batter. When you are mixing your batter, don’t skimp on the butter or oil. The oil helps ensure a brown waffle that falls away from your iron when you open it up. 

Make sure your waffle batter is sufficiently thick, as thinner waffle batter is stickier and takes longer to cook. This means more of your batter will wind up stuck to your pan instead of your plate.  

Be sure that your waffle iron is also hot enough before you pour in the batter. If it is too cool, your waffle may not set on the inside, which results in a soggy waffle with its exterior sticking to the waffle iron.