As we look forward to National Waffle Day on August 24, remember that your waffle maker can make waffley goodness out of almost anything. Many starch-heavy foods cook beautifully in a waffle maker, especially bready, doughy and eggy ingredients. Did I mention bacon? Yes, bacon, too.
While you could make a day out of waffling everything in your pantry, we sacrificed our own palates and scoured the food blogs to find out what waffles best.
Without the right prep, your waffling fantasies can become stuck-on nightmares. To get started, spray the plates of your waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and let it fully heat up before adding ingredients.
In our tests, we found that while you can set and forget some things (like cinnamon buns), other waffles needed a bit more babysitting. Read the directions carefully to avoid any mishaps.
Tater tots: Make one giant tater tot by placing eight to 10 slightly thawed tots in a greased waffle iron, making sure there aren’t spaces between them. Smash the two sides together and lock for two to three cycles. A cycle is when the ready light turns on and then turns off.
Bacon plate: Ever want a plate made out of bacon? Umm, who hasn’t? It’s simple to make with a waffle iron. Cover the bottom side of the iron with overlapping bacon strips. Close it up and wait for one to two cycles. The bacon will come out as a crunchy disk of goodness.
Grilled cheese: You don’t need a panini press to have a fancy lunch. Prepare your grilled cheese sandwich as usual, but instead of sticking it in the toaster oven or on a griddle, put it in your waffle maker. Gently press on the top, though, and don’t lock it. If you press too hard all of the cheese will ooze out, making a gooey mess.
Paninis: Speaking of paninis, make them in your waffle iron, too. No need to clutter your counter space with another appliance.
Kale chips: The waffle iron replaces another appliance, the food dehydrator, with this recipe. Dip a clean, destemmed leaf of kale into 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and place in the waffle maker for around 6 minutes. The leaf will crisp up more as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to be crisp fresh out of the waffle maker.
French toast: Don’t have a toaster for your French toast sticks? Toss them into your waffle maker. They will come out crispy on the outside and moist in the middle.
Quesadillas: Grab two tortillas, spray each side with nonstick oil, sprinkle some cheese on one and cover with the other tortilla. Put your creation in your waffle maker for one cycle for the best quesadilla you’ve had this side of the border.
Healthy eggplant parmesan: This recipe for eggplant parm is about as fancy as you can get for waffle iron cuisine. Tread carefully.
Waffle omelet: If you’re brave, try this waffle omelet recipe. It’s healthy and can be topped any way you like. Just be sure not to overfill the waffle maker, since eggs expand as they cook.
Caribbean shrimp stuffed waffle pops and mango cilantro dip: Previous comment withdrawn. This recipe is hands down the waffle iron show-stopper.
Cookies: If you like crispy cookies, make them in the waffle iron. Use any cookie recipe, plop a little ball of dough around the size of a golf ball on the greased iron and cook like you would a waffle until the cookie browns.
Waffled cinnamon buns: This one may just be the tastiest idea ever. Take an uncooked cinnamon bun and place it on a greased waffle iron. Squish the two sides of the iron together and let it cook for one cycle. Check and if it isn’t done, close it up and let it go for one more cycle.
Corner brownies: If you’re the type of person who will throw down to get the corner piece in a pan of brownies, then this idea is for you. Pour a quarter cup of brownie batter into your greased waffle iron and leave it until it is cooked through. It tastes like the corner piece every time.
Apple chips: Need a healthy snack with a twist? Core and cut an apple into slices, put a few slices into your greased waffle maker and let them cook for 1 minute. These apple chips are warm and chewy, but still good for you.
Wonuts: Remember how crazy people went for the cronut? Well, this is the cronut’s homemade cousin. Here’s a good wonut recipe to get you started.
Editors’ note: This article was published November 18, 2015, and has since been updated.