Making crisp and fluffy homemade waffles has gotten easier since the days when you had to hold a long-handled waffle iron in the fire to get them perfectly browned. Modern waffle makers require little more effort than plugging them in and heating them up, but it can take a little practice to effortlessly turn out golden grids that pair perfectly with real maple syrup or crunchy fried chicken. A generously oiled and thoroughly preheated waffle maker should produce an irresistible result every time.
Wash your waffle maker with a damp sponge or dishcloth and a bit of mild dish soap. Rinse it with clear water to remove the soap residue and dry it thoroughly. This is a good idea whether your waffle iron is a thrift store find or new out of the box.
Oil the top and bottom plates of the waffle maker generously by wiping them down with a paper towel dampened with oil, an oil mister or nonstick cooking spray.
Plug in the waffle iron. Make sure it is sitting securely on the counter without wobbling. Set the indicator, if there is one, to the darkness you prefer.
Prepare your waffle batter. This can be from a recipe or a mix, and generally includes flour, water or milk, eggs and either butter or oil. Do not overbeat the waffle batter, because if gluten develops the waffles become slightly rubbery rather than crisp and light.
Pour the waffle batter evenly onto the lower waffle plate. The amount of batter you need varies between brands of waffle makers, so use a measuring cup to figure out your best amount. This can be anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of batter per waffle.
Close the lid of the waffle maker. Flip the main part of the machine if you are using a flip waffle maker. Let the waffle cook without peeking at it until the waffle maker indicates that the waffle is done. This usually involves a light or a beep. If your waffle maker doesn't have a doneness indicator, watch the steam; when it stops, the waffle is done.
Open the waffle maker carefully and remove the waffle using a non-metal spatula.
Unplug the waffle maker and let it cool completely. Clean it thoroughly just as you did before using it.
Add a little more butter or oil or an extra egg yolk to your waffle batter if your waffles tend to stick and tear when you try to remove them.
Keep waffles hot in a single layer on a baking sheet in a warm oven if you're whipping them up for a crowd.
Do not use nonstick cooking spray unless the instructions for your waffle maker specifically recommend it. The chemical propellant can leave a hard-to-remove brown residue on some brands of waffle maker.