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If you’re making waffles for a lot of people, you’re going to be wondering how to overcome one of the biggest problems that waffles suffer from: they go soggy. Nobody likes soggy waffles; they’re greasy and stodgy, and not at all satisfying to eat.
You can keep waffles crispy, while waiting for the rest to cook, by placing them on a cooling rack in a low heat oven. Do not stack the waffles on top of each other, the steam will not be able to escape, resulting in soggy waffles. You can also “refresh” the crispness by putting waffles in a toaster.
We’re going to run through some ideas for keeping waffles crispy, so you can enjoy perfect waffles when feeding a crowd.
Use a Low Heat Oven
One of the best ways to keep waffles nice and crispy is to put them in an oven on a low heat. The oven will help the waffles to steam, stopping the moisture from building up in them and ensuring that they don’t end up soggy and unpleasant. It will also keep them hot and add a gentle crispiness to the texture.
To follow this method, preheat your oven to 200° F and then put your waffles on a cooling rack on the rack of the oven. This is important because it means that moisture won’t get trapped under the waffle. Putting your waffles on a flat tray or baking paper could cause sogginess because steam can’t escape.
Put the tray into the oven and leave the waffles while you cook the remaining batches. This temperature should keep them nicely crispy without letting them get too crunchy or risking burning them.
You should be able to keep about a dozen waffles warm this way, depending on the size of your oven. However, they shouldn’t be kept in the oven for more than about 20 minutes as a maximum, as they may start to dry out after this point.
It might help to work out how many people you’re feeding and how fast you can make a batch of waffles, looking at the size of your waffle maker and how long it takes. If your waffle maker takes five minutes to cook, remember that you’re only going to be producing two waffles every ten minutes.
That means you’re going to be limited about how many you can do within the 20-minute mark. You can probably stretch the time a little, but if you want nice waffles, don’t overdo it. Either borrow a second waffle maker or serve the meal in two rounds to ensure everyone is enjoying nice, crispy waffles.
Use A Preheated Oven
Like the above method, the preheated oven keeps your waffles hot and crispy, but the oven isn’t actually on when the waffles are in it. To use this method, you should preheat the oven to its maximum temperature, and then turn it off.
Allow the oven to cool just a little, and then put waffles on a cooling rack and transfer them to the warm oven to keep them hot while you cook.
Your waffles may not dry out as much, but as the oven cools down, it will obviously lose its ability to keep the waffles hot. It will cool faster if you must keep opening the door to add a waffle, so it’s a good idea to do a test run or two with this method to work out the timings.
Practicing will ensure that when you’re feeding a crowd, you won’t end up putting soggy waffles on the table or finding they’ve all gone cold while you’ve been cooking. How long your oven stays hot will depend on its insulation and how much you can limit the “door open” transferal time.
Cook In Advance and Freeze
This may not sound like a great way to get crispy waffles; they’re going to be defrosted, so they just aren’t going to taste as great as freshly made ones. That may be true to some degree because there isn’t quite anything that can beat a fresh waffle.
However, if you’re cooking for more people than you can manage in the time restrictions mentioned above and you still want to serve crispy waffles without borrowing a waffle iron or splitting up the meal sittings, this is probably your best option.
It involves making the waffles up in advance, freezing them, and then popping the frozen waffles into the toaster. This will work best if you have a large toaster but cooking them like this is a great way to give the waffles a good “sear” and it should keep them hot for longer.
Again, you should do a test run, so you know what settings to use for your toaster, ensuring that the waffles don’t either end up over-cooked and burnt, or under-cooked and soggy, or even still frozen in the middle.
A great way to ensure that this technique works well is to slightly – just slightly – under-cook your waffles when you first cook them. Take them out of the waffle maker a little sooner than you would if you were eating them fresh, and then allow them to cool and freeze them.
This means that the toaster won’t be cooking something that’s already perfectly cooked and ruining the texture. Instead, it can just add that last bit of crispiness that you would usually create with the final moments in the waffle maker, leaving you with a perfectly crisped waffle to serve to your guests.
Use a Frying Pan
You can also use a frying pan to try and keep your waffles hot and crispy. This may be tricky if you’re trying to work with very large batches, but if you have a good-sized pan and a secondary chef, it can work. Just be careful to use a reasonably low heat so the waffles don’t burn.
You will want to add a little extra butter to the waffles before transferring them to the preheated pan. Do not put them in a cold pan, but make sure it’s already warm before you drop them in.
The butter should help to crisp up the edges and keep them that way, and your secondary chef can keep turning them and moving them around to ensure that they don’t burn while you focus on getting more waffles made.
You can do this with as many pans as will fit on the stovetop, assuming you have enough hands to manage them and keep the waffles from burning. Keeping the heat down low should help this, without letting the waffles get cold.
Be aware that cooking waffles for too long using this method could result in a somewhat tougher texture, especially if you have your stove turned up high.
It’s also pretty labor intensive (especially when compared to just putting them in the oven) because you will need somebody (or several people) keeping an eye on the pans while you attend to making fresh waffles. If you are cooking alone, this is probably not a great method as you’re liable to burn the waffles.
You could use this in conjunction with the oven method if you are finding that you don’t have enough space, but don’t assume you can put a waffle from oven to pan to toaster (or another combination) and it will retain its texture just because it’s being kept hot in a different way. It will still start to dry out.
Make sure you do a practice run with this method so you know how much butter to add to the waffles, what temperature to use, and how many extra hands you might need. Your helpers aren’t likely to complain about helping with a massive waffle production experiment if they get to eat the results!
What Not to Do
Keeping enough waffles hot to serve a crowd is no easy feat, so if you’re going to attempt it, here are a few things you should avoid trying.
Firstly, don’t stack your waffles up in the hopes they will keep each other hot and trap the steam in – because they absolutely will trap the steam in, and that’s the last thing you want. Steam will make the waffles soggy fast, destroying the lovely crispy texture.
Secondly, don’t try covering your waffles with anything, such as a pre-warmed plate or baking paper, foil, or plastic. This is for the same reason as above: all these options will stop the steam from dissipating, trapping it in the waffles and making them soggy and heavy.
Don’t use a microwave. Microwaves are great for re-heating all sorts of foods, but they totally spoil the textures of waffles, and will leave you with a mess, not remotely resembling a crispy waffle. You would be much better using any of the other reheating methods above than a microwave.
Keeping waffles crispy and satisfying is no easy feat; everyone knows that this type of food does not keep well and is best served hot. However, because of how slowly waffles tend to cook, it’s not always possible to do that when you’re serving large numbers of people.
Try out the above methods and see which ones work best for you. You can also try different waffle recipes to see which offer the best and most reliable results. Hopefully, you’ll hit on the perfect combination of batter and reheating to get enough crispy waffles to feed any crowd!
Tosh learned how to cook while watching his Polish Mom at home. He also worked in a family-owned restaurant while a student and learned much from the chefs. Cooking has always interested him, especially the hearty Polish recipes he learned from his mother. He has helped create and appeared on cookery shows on radio stations in Scotland.