The Absolute Best Uses For Your Waffle Iron

Waffles: it's a breakfast food you'll understand if you looked over your parent's shoulder while they made hotel reservations for a family vacation to be sure they picked a place with a continental breakfast. And you're not the only one; a company survey by Hilton revealed that guests' second favorite breakfast offering was indeed the DIY waffle station, per The Points Guy

If you were someone with a waffle iron in your home who didn't have to rely on diners or hotels as your source for waffles, consider yourself lucky. And you should feel even luckier knowing that you can make more than just waffles in a waffle iron. These kitchen appliances are versatile for both sweet and savory foods — plus, they make creative shapes loved by children and adults alike. So grab your waffle tongs and a bottle of cooking spray, and explore some of the most creative ways you can use your waffle iron.

Waffled cookies

If you're a night owl, you're likely no stranger to midnight cravings for something sweet. Your waffle iron can produce satisfying, single-serve cookies in a matter of minutes — no more waiting pensively by the oven.

To make waffled cookies at home, place cold, premade cookie dough a few inches apart on the waffle iron. (A standard iron will likely fit three or four discs of cookie batter.) Then, close the waffle iron and cook the cookie dough for between a minute and a half to two minutes. The exact cooking time will depend on your waffle iron and temperature; we recommend using a waffle iron with an adjustable temperature to avoid burning the cookies. You'll know the cookies are ready to remove when they are crisp and hold together when picked up from the iron with tongs. Eat your cookies hot off the iron.

If you want to make your cookie dough at home, limit the number of chocolate chips in the recipe because chocolate tends to burn quicker than the batter (via Dr. Chockenstein). You can also opt for a recipe that does not use chocolate chips, like an oatmeal cookie. It's also fun to allow two cookies to cool on a wire rack before spreading a layer of ice cream in the middle for an ice cream sandwich made with soft, pliable waffle cookies. 

Waffled cinnamon rolls

We're combining the two best Sunday brunch foods: cinnamon rolls and waffles. For this recipe, you only need packaged cinnamon bun dough, such as Pillsbury Grands.

Spray the waffle iron with a nonstick cooking spray and place a single cinnamon roll in the center. Press the iron shut (this may require some brute force) and cook for about three minutes. It's important to avoid opening the iron during the cooking process, no matter how tempting it can be. Firmly shutting the iron will ensure that the inside of the cinnamon roll cooks through. When the cinnamon roll is finished, you will notice steam coming out of the iron, according to The Recipe Critic

Finish the cinnamon roll waffle with a drizzle of the prepackaged icing (either cream cheese or original), or make your own cinnamon roll glaze with powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. You can also replace the icing with maple syrup or powdered sugar. To prevent sticking, it is important to spray the iron in between cooking the cinnamon roll waffles.

Waffled hash browns

The base for waffled hash browns is a bag of frozen shredded potatoes. One 20-ounce bag of shreds will make about four standard-sized waffle hash browns, according to Yellow Bliss Road. We recommend thawing the hash browns in the refrigerator overnight and squeezing out the water before preparing; this ensures that the potatoes cook properly and hold together.

Combine the hash browns with butter or eggs as a binder and season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and other desired spices. Once you're ready to make the hash browns, spray the top and bottom of the iron with a nonstick cooking spray and scoop a few tablespoons into the iron. Then, you can sprinkle cheese or pre-cooked breakfast meat into the mixture with a few more tablespoons of hash and close the iron. 

Like other waffled foods, the cooking time for the hash browns will depend on the heat setting of your waffle iron; it averages between five and ten minutes. Once the first five minutes have passed, you can open the iron to ensure the mixture is not burning. Remove from the heat when the waffle is golden brown in color and fragrant. Dip into your favorite ketchup or sour cream, or use it as bread for the ultimate breakfast sandwich. 

Paninis made easy

Panini irons are similar to waffle irons in their heating and press capacity. According to the Chicago Tribune, the purpose of a panini press is to grill both sides of the bread simultaneously, resulting in a crispy crust with prominent grill marks. Similar cooking methods are used for the Cuban sandwich and artisanal grilled cheese. And now, making your panini-style sandwiches at home is possible with a waffle iron.

To use your waffle iron for a sandwich, simply spray the iron with cooking spray and place your sandwich on the bottom. You only need to cook the sandwich for a few minutes. Pressing down on the waffle iron will generate the perfect grill marks and appearance of a panini. To avoid burning your sandwich and keep your ingredients safe from the heat of the iron if the bread shifts, try to leave a finger-width of space between the crust and the sandwich filling during the preparation process.

Waffle your mozzarella sticks

Mozzarella sticks are the perfect finger food at bars and children's birthday parties. Adding mozzarella sticks to a waffle iron makes them much more fun and dippable. 

You can use either bagged mozzarella sticks (thawed to room temperature) or make mozzarella sticks at home. Once your homemade mozzarella sticks are dredged, egg-washed, and breaded, place a few of them into a sprayed waffle iron. You'll only need to cook the sticks for about five minutes, or until the cheese starts leaking out of the iron. Remove with tongs and place on a cooling rack. The rack will keep the mozzarella sticks crunchy because air can circulate under the sticks and cools the food quickly, according to Bake or Break

Serve your waffled mozzarella sticks with your favorite marinara sauce or crumbled cojita cheese. You can also use the mozzarella sticks as a base for a stuffed-crust pizza by layering marinara, mozzarella, and your favorite toppings on top and baking it in the oven. 

Quick quesadillas

Quesadillas are filling because they pair a carbohydrate (tortilla) with a fat (cheese). You can also customize your quesadilla to include protein like bacon or shredded chicken or a Buffalo, ranch, or spicy sauce. Easy to cook in a waffle iron, quesadillas are also an excellent snack for kids after school or for a football watch party.

To make a quesadilla in your waffle iron, you'll want to spray a coating of oil before placing the quesadilla on the iron. You can also dab a paper towel in neutral cooking oil and clean the plates to ensure no residual particles remain. Then, add a tortilla to the iron with a sprinkle of cheese. Leave about a 1/4-inch gap between the edge of the tortilla and the cheese because it will move to the edge as it melts. Fold the tortilla or add a second one on top, and close the iron. Let it cook until the cheese is bubbly and the tortilla is lightly brown. Remove the quesadilla from the iron, slice, and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Crusty mac and cheese waffles

Macaroni and cheese probably isn't the first food you'd think to put in a waffle iron, but it is a simple way to make a crispy, creative dinner with only a few ingredients. You can use cooked boxed mac and cheese while it's still warm for this recipe. According to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, the waffle iron just compacts and crisps the mac and cheese. She also recommends adding extra cheese shredded cheese to the mac and cheese to help bind the pasta together. 

You'll want to cook the pasta for less than five minutes to ensure the pasta does not dry out. The waffle should be crispy and lightly browned but not burnt. Moreover, using a thin layer of mac and cheese instead of high peaks will force the entire waffle to cook evenly, per I am a Food Blog. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, and feel free to add hot sauce or spices like cumin for flavor. 

Fried or grilled chicken

In the heat of the summer, it can be a pain to heat up an oiled skillet and fry chicken at home. But, frying chicken in your waffle maker? It eliminates the need for a skillet and cooks the chicken relatively quickly. Plus, you can make a chicken and waffle dinner with only one appliance!

To make chicken in a waffle maker, the key is to check the internal temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 F, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, to kill off any remaining pathogens or foodborne illnesses. After the chicken is breaded (we recommend using a chicken breast), you'll want to place it on the oiled waffle maker and press. The chicken should go for at least a few minutes before checking the internal temperature — which should always be taken from the center of the chicken. 

You can also negate the breadcrumbs in this recipe for grilled chicken. The resulting chicken is crisp and perfect for a sandwich or sliced over a salad. 

Banana bread waffles

Banana bread is known for its soft interior, but what's better than a crispy edge piece from a banana bread loaf? Banana bread waffles, of course!

To make banana bread in your waffle maker, you just need to add the baked banana bread to an oiled iron and press for a few minutes until it's crispy. By using a precooked slice, you'll ensure the banana bread is cooked thoroughly and holds its shape when pressed. 

You can substitute traditional banana bread for buckwheat banana bread, which is both gluten-free and vegan. We recommend topping the pressed slice with "wet nuts" — walnuts soaked in corn syrup and whipped cream. If you like, add a sparse amount of chocolate chips to the banana bread; like waffle-ized cookies, the chocolate tends to burn before the slice presses. And, for a sweet treat during the summer, add a scoop of ice cream between two banana bread waffles. 

Wafflize omelets

Flipping an omelet should be an Olympic sport. Thanks to a waffle maker, you'll never have to worry about dropping an omelet on a hot cooktop or your kitchen floor again.

To make this quick and easy omelet, mix the toppings and eggs in a bowl and pour them onto an oiled waffle maker. You may need to use a wooden spatula to evenly disperse the toppings across the iron. Then, close the iron and cook for several minutes until the eggs are fragrant and to your liking. 

You can use a blend of vegetables, cheese, and meat in your omelet. The most important omelet mistake to avoid is adding too many toppings; it can result in the egg ripping apart and becoming a scramble in a matter of minutes. You'll also want to use thinly sliced vegetables like onions, peppers, and spinach. For meats like bacon, ham, and sausage, be sure to cook them completely before making the omelet. 

Stuffing waffles for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving leftovers are arguably the best part of the meal. While there are some creative ways to make wraps and sandwiches and use up leftovers, few of those options can beat stuffing in a waffle iron.

You'll want to combine the cooked stuffing with eggs (they work as a binder) and slowly stir in stock until the mixture is scoopable but not soaking wet. Then, add the stuffing to an oiled waffle maker and press for a few minutes until crispy. The waffle is finished when the stuffing holds together, and it can be picked up with tongs, per Just a Taste

You can make variations to this recipe by using gluten-free stuffing, and a mini waffle maker creates tiny stuffing waffles for a side dish. While you can eat stuffing waffles alone or dipped in warm gravy or cranberry sauce, we recommend sandwiching a few slices of roasted turkey and a dollop of mashed potatoes between the stuffing waffles for a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. 

Waffle brownies

Almost everyone agrees that the best part of the brownie is the corner piece. With a waffle iron, your entire brownie is nothing but corner pieces! 

Make a brownie batter waffle at home by stirring together a boxed brownie mix, oil, and eggs, following the package directions. Betty Crocker recommends pouring a scant 3/4 cup of the batter mix into a standard oiled waffle maker; too much batter will flood the machine and cause the edges to overflow. Once the brownies finish steaming — about five minutes — remove the brownie from the iron and spray it with cooking spray for the next brownie waffle. You can substitute the brownie mix with your own homemade brownie recipe or go with a vegan or gluten-free box mix. 

Use your finished brownie waffle for an ice cream sandwich, or top it with whipped cream, fruit, and chocolate syrup. Kids will love the sweet, fun shapes of brownie waffles, and you'll love not soaking a pan for a few hours to remove brownie residue. 

Reheat your leftover pizza

Leftover pizza is simply never as good as the first day. However, using a waffle maker to upgrade your pizza may actually get you excited to eat that day-old pie.

The toppings can create a mess, so Real Simple recommends placing a slice of pizza between parchment paper before placing it into your waffle maker. Today suggests sticking to a thin slice of cheese pizza rather than a Chicago deep dish. The deep dish pizza is too thick and saucy to stay in one piece, but the thinner pizza lends itself well to sandwiching with two slices (panini style). 

We recommend using a waffle maker to heat up your day-old slice rather than a microwave, which has a tendency to make your pizza super soggy. The toaster oven tends to dry out the pizza. The waffle iron will change the way you reheat pizza because it keeps all the pizza toppings compact and reheats the slice with impressive evenness.

Croissant waffles

A croissant is the perfect, buttery breakfast pastry to start your morning off just right. Although we can appreciate the delicate nature of the croissant, we dropped our jaw when we heard that you could put two mini croissants in a mini waffle maker and make the ideal hybridized breakfast of champions. 

The croffle (aka crossaint waffle) should be made with dough (we recommend Pillsbury crescent rolls) rather than a cooked croissant. As the roll cooks, the layers will squish together but still result in a flaky, soft creation that can be dressed up with sweet or savory toppings. You can also use your croffle as bread for a breakfast sandwich. 

For an even more decadent flavor, recipe contributor Jamie Shelbert recommends brushing the pan with melted butter rather than oil before adding the dough. You should also avoid overcooking the dough by cooking it for about two minutes and checking for an even cook throughout the pastry.