A waffle iron might seem like something of a specialty appliance, but with a little creativity you can get a ton of use out of it. You can make waffles, obviously—classic buttermilk, gluten-free sweet potato, tamale-inspired green chili, and more—but that's just the start. You can make lots of other things too, from churros to hash browns to ramen. Still not sold? How about making leftover mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or French fries as good as new? To find all of our favorite uses for this surprisingly versatile gadget, keep reading for 14 waffle-iron recipes.
Don't have a waffle iron yet? Check out our recommendations!
Buttermilk Vanilla Waffles
These airy waffles are leavened with steam, flecked with aromatic vanilla bean, and have a touch of tangy buttermilk. Make sure to use just egg whites for the perfect texture—whole eggs will make the waffles too dense.
Overnight Brown-Butter Yeast-Raised Waffles
The batter for these waffles needs to sit overnight, but they only take a couple minutes to whip up, so you can throw it together on a whim to give future you an easy gift. Brown butter gives the waffles a nutty richness and the overnight rise gives them a crust that is thin but super crispy.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato and Corn Waffles
People with gluten intolerance can enjoy waffles, too, thanks to this recipe made with corn flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, and sweet potato purée (or canned pumpkin). Be sure to look for a brand of corn flour specifically labeled gluten-free because some are cross-contaminated with wheat.
Fully Loaded Mexican Fried Chicken With Green Chili–Corn Waffles
This waffle is inspired by a tamale and made with masa harina, cornmeal, and roasted poblano peppers. To keep the theme going, we top it with guacamole, ancho-honey bacon, and fried chicken that is marinated in lime juice and breaded with more masa and cornmeal. Salsa roja and crema bring everything together.
Bacon, Cheese, and Scallion Waffles
Another savory waffle, this one is packed with bacon, cheese, and scallions. The cheese stays gooey in the center of the waffle but oozes out and crisps up along the edges for a nice textural contrast. Top with maple syrup for a sweet-savory note.
Waffled Mashed Potatoes With Bacon, Scallion, and Cheddar
Reheating mashed potatoes is a recipe for disappointment—they invariably dry out and become a shadow of their former glory. But don't throw out your leftovers, because you can breathe new life into yesterday's mashed potatoes by using them as the base for a waffle batter. The bacon, scallions, and cheddar aren't strictly necessary, but a little bacon and cheese make everything better.
This recipe is perfect for the day after Thanksgiving, but it's so amazingly delicious that it might motivate you to make stuffing year-round. The waffle iron maximizes the stuffing's crispiness while leaving the interior slightly custardy. When we first made these we weren't sure whether to serve them with gravy or maple syrup, but it turns out the right answer both.
Macaroni and Cheese Waffles
There are a variety of ways to make macaroni and cheese waffles, but our favorite is simply setting the mac up in the waffle iron until it gets crisp on the outside and melty on the inside. We do have one trick, though—we sandwich the macaroni around grated cheddar for extra cheesiness.
Turning to the waffle iron is a great way to make this college standby a little more interesting. To waffle your ramen, soak the noodles in hot water for a few minutes and mix them with egg to help bind them together. Do yourself a favor and ditch the seasoning packet—soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sesame oil are a much better way to go.
Waffle-Iron "Fried" Cheese (Queso Frito)
Inspired by the crispy cheese that leaks out of a quesadilla, we make this snack by breading squares of cheese and "frying" them in the waffle iron. The recipe calls for low-moisture mozzarella, but you could just as easily use another melting cheese like provolone, Jack, or cheddar.
Waffle-Iron Hash Browns
Waffle-iron hash browns aren't a gimmick—I truly believe this is the best way to cook the diner classic. The waffle iron gives the hash browns a great ratio of crisp edge to tender interior with minimal work. Like with any hash browns, it's critical to wring out the shredded potatoes before cooking to get out as much water as possible.
French Fry Waffles
We used to think that the only good way to reheat old French fries was by refrying them, which works wonderfully but means dealing with a pot of hot oil. It turns out a waffle iron works remarkably well, turning your leftovers into crispy pull-apart fries in 10 to 15 minutes.
Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Waffles
A few years ago we discovered the wonders of rolling ingredients up in puff pastry and waffling them. We've tried everything from pepperoni pizza to guava and cream cheese, but my favorite is this Buffalo chicken version made with shredded chicken, Frank's RedHot, and blue cheese.
Don't put the waffle iron away just yet—it's time for dessert. Here we make extra-crispy churros without a deep fryer. As an added bonus, the churros end up with lots of little pockets to collect chocolate sauce.