8 Ways To Cook Potatoes In A Waffle Iron

Potatoes are everyone's favorite side dish because they are so versatile — you can bake them, fry them, mash them, or smash them, but no matter what, you will always enjoy every bite. There are also different colored potatoes and different sweetness levels, so there is a potato and a way to cook it out there for everyone. Just as versatile in the breakfast food space are waffles, which can be frozen, made fresh, or made out of anything but waffle batter.

The waffle iron is a kitchen appliance that you might not find in every kitchen, but it's definitely worth having, both for fresh and fluffy waffles on Sunday mornings and for so much more. The best use for your waffle iron is to spice up your meals, not just your breakfast, including your potato side dishes. Use your waffle iron to reheat leftover fries and avoid the sogginess, or to crisp up your breakfast hash browns. The humble potato is as adaptable as it is tasty, and if you pair it with your waffle iron, you're sure to enhance your side dishes, whether cooked fresh or made with leftovers.

Start with a whole potato

If all you have is a bag of Idaho potatoes, you can cook a whole potato in your waffle iron. Since you can't just pop a raw potato into your waffle maker to be smushed, though, first microwave the potato. Take a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a paper towel to prevent a loud pop while it's heating. Heat the potato until it's soft enough to poke with a fork. This method would work best (and quickest) with baby potatoes, or just smaller potatoes, but if you're using a large potato, be sure to watch the microwave closely so as not to overheat it. You don't want the potato skin to get too wrinkly; just heat it enough so the inside is soft and ready to be mushed.

When it's ready, you can stick the potato in your waffle iron. It is best to coat either the potatoes or the waffle iron with grease — butter, olive oil cooking spray, or even bacon grease. You can use a cooking brush to either brush the grease onto the waffle iron itself or onto the potato directly. Close the top of the waffle iron over the potato and push down, flattening the potato into the waffle iron creases. Cook for about two minutes, or until the potato-turned-waffle is your desired crispiness. You can dress the potato the same way you would a waffle, with anything you like, including sour cream, chives, and loads of butter.

Repurpose your leftover mashed potatoes

Most people can agree that a meal is almost always better the day after it is made. Leftovers are why we all look forward to tomorrow and tomorrow, but admittedly, sometimes eating the same meal on back-to-back days can get really boring. Your waffle iron can come in and add some glitz and glamour to your dinner in these cases. Take your leftover mashed potatoes and give them a makeover — you will create a dinner side dish that is crispy on the outside and creamy and fluffy on the inside. All you have to do is add an egg and a pinch of flour to your leftover mashed potatoes to make them the consistency of a waffle batter. Scoop or pour the batter into your waffle iron and watch your leftovers be reborn.

If you don't have leftovers but are really in the mood for a mashed potato waffle, you can use a box of instant mashed potatoes for a quick and fun dinner side dish, or even a lunchtime snack. Instant mashed potatoes are usually zip-sealed packages of powder that you mix into boiling water to create a creamy, buttery mashed potato with none of the hassle. Still, instant mash isn't the most glamorous of side dishes, so adding an egg and some flour and scooping them into the waffle maker is an easy way to enhance the flavors and texture of the average package.

Elevate your breakfast with a hash brown waffle

Although it's the most important meal of the day, breakfast is often rushed through in morning chaos or eaten on the go, like fruits or granola bars. But a hearty egg and potato breakfast could be the fuel you need to get your day going smoothly, and hash browns are an iconic breakfast side dish that most people devour. Whether you shred potatoes yourself or buy them in bags from the supermarket, you could make your hash browns even more enjoyable by toasting them in a waffle iron. If you use a bag of frozen hash browns, spread some of the potato strips out onto your waffle iron after greasing the waffle iron to keep the potatoes from sticking. Make sure to spread the hash browns all the way to the corners and edges of the waffle iron to make for a thin and crispy hash brown waffle that will add a nice crunch to your scrambled egg breakfast.

American cooking icon Ina Garten, host of "Barefoot Contessa" on the Food Network, uses her waffle iron in this exact way. Garten's version of the hash brown waffle calls for shredding the potato yourself, using a box grater (typically used for cheese), and adding in some yellow onion for a bit of a twist — the fun about using your waffle maker for cooking potatoes is that you can really make your dishes your own, whether with your favorite toppings or flavorful mix-ins.

Add sweet potatoes to your waffle batter

For those who would rather their waffles be more waffle than potato, you can incorporate potatoes into your waffle batter for a more subtle potato addition to your breakfast. The best potato for this is a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutritional value — including vitamin C and potassium — and they are often eaten as a healthy alternative that can add a sweet kick to your savory meals. This makes them perfect for a sweet and savory waffle. Rather than coating your waffle in maple syrup or chocolate chips, you can add sweetness to your breakfast while also adding a health kick.

Start by chopping the sweet potatoes and boiling them until you can poke them easily with a fork. Once cooked, mash the potatoes as you would for a regular mashed potato recipe. In a separate bowl, you can make your waffle batter — usually a simple recipe, with flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and eggs. When the ingredients are combined, add in your mashed sweet potatoes and mix until smooth — but don't expect it to get perfectly smooth, because part of the joy of adding sweet potatoes to your waffle batter is to change up the waffle texture, which is sometimes just as important as flavor. Cook your sweet potato waffle just as you would any other waffle, top with whatever tastes good to you that morning — and remember, it can be sweet or savory.

Turn frozen tater tots into a breakfast delight

Frozen tater tots are an easily accessible breakfast side dish, but they often need a ton of time in the oven to get even the slightest bit crispy, and when you wake up with a rumbling stomach and no time before work, it can be hard to wait that long to have a hearty breakfast. Next time you're in a pinch with a craving for tater tots, try speeding up the process by popping your frozen tots into a waffle iron for a quick and crispy result.

If you like loaded tater tots, you can layer some cheese on top and cook the tater tots in the waffle iron until the cheese is melted and the tater tots are toasty. You can serve these with fried or scrambled eggs for a filling breakfast that is sure to curb your hunger. If you are really into the sweet potato hack mentioned above, you can choose to use sweet potato tots instead — two hacks for the price of one.

Turn to everyone's favorite french fry

Maybe you like to stick to the classics, and if that's the case, use your waffle iron to make waffle fries. If you have leftover shoestring french fries that have gone soggy, you can give them a chance at redemption by stacking them into the waffle iron and pressing down, creating a revived fry with more crunch and crispiness. Or, if you've got some time on your hands and a desire to make fresh fries, take a whole potato and a waffle-fry cutter and get to work. You can also buy a frozen bag of pre-cut waffle fries and cook them in your waffle iron for more freshness than leftovers, but less work than doing it yourself.

The waffle pattern on a waffle fry is crucial to lock in the flavors of any toppings you put on your fries, making waffle fries the best type of fry for loaded heaps of french fries. The waffle cut allows toppings to fall within the little holes in the fry, ensuring that every bite you have has something you're looking forward to — sour cream, cheese, chili, maybe even jalapeños. You could add these toppings after the fries are cooked and plated, or you could layer the cheese and jalapeños into the waffle iron with your potatoes so all the ingredients get warm and melted together. Whatever your decision, using your waffle iron to recreate a classic french fry is surely a dinnertime win.

Make smashed potatoes

Smashed potatoes are all the rage as a new, trendy way to eat potatoes if you get sick of the age-old french fry, mashed potato, and baked potato trio. Usually, smashed potatoes are made in a few simple steps. You boil the potatoes until they are tender, and then you prep them for baking. This means seasoning them with whatever you want — olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt, and so much more — and laying them out on a baking sheet. This is when the smashing happens: Use the bottom of a cup or a spoon or anything with a sort of flat surface and rounded edges to smash the potatoes down. Because they're soft already, the potatoes should flatten and maybe even break apart in some places. You can re-season your smashed potatoes for good measure, and bake them a little while more until they are at your desired crispiness.

The process seems simple enough, but even simpler than smashing the potatoes with a cup is utilizing your waffle iron to smash the potatoes. The process of smashing potatoes in a waffle iron is faster and more fun, and you end up with a smashed potato-waffle fry combination that means your smashed potatoes will hold their seasoning even better. Plus, making smashed potatoes in your waffle iron means you don't have to turn on your oven — you can boil the potatoes until tender, and smash them in the waffle iron to get them crisp.

Recreate the viral mini-hasselback potatoes

Hasselback potatoes are a viral sensation because they're a fun and easy way to shake up your potato side dish. Usually, you slice the bottom of a whole potato off to create a flat surface and then cut thin slits widthwise into the potato without cutting it all the way through. The result is an accordion-like potato with slices that separate in the oven, making room for your favorite toppings to sit in each gap. The process may seem tedious, though, so using your waffle iron to ease into it is a great alternative.

To make mini hasselback potatoes in your waffle iron, you can cut your potatoes into slices, thick enough so they don't burn, but thin enough that they cook evenly when you boil them. Once you have your slices, you'll cut those the same way you would cut the whole potato — make a few slits widthwise without cutting all the way through to the bottom of the potato. You can boil or bake the potatoes until they're just tender enough for a fork to poke through, and then comes your waffle iron. Stick the soft potato slices into the waffle iron, which will help them get crunchy and save time in the oven. Plus, the ridges on your waffle iron will meet the ridges on your hasselback potato to make even more slits, leaving even more space on your mini potatoes for toppings like butter, garlic, and cheese to sink into.