I Tried 7 Frozen Waffles & Two Brands Blew Me Away
When you're digging into your morning waffles, have you ever wondered about the history of this breakfast delicacy? It really is quite fascinating and, although they weren't the same waffles as we know today with their perfect squares and syrupy topping, a version of the food dates back centuries and centuries ago—possibly even as far back as medieval Europe, according to Time.
So, no, Belgium was not the first to come up with this idea, although the country is arguably the most famous for them. Neither was Kellogg's with its ubiquitous Eggo. The brand did, however, pioneer frozen waffles—originally called "froffles" back in the 1950s, per Snack History.
This genius invention eliminated the need for consumers to make their own mix. It also did away with the frustrating step of trying to scoop the perfect amount of batter into the waffle iron without it pouring over the sides. All you need now to make a warm and delicious waffle is a functioning toaster and about two to three minutes.
Today, frozen waffles are sold at nearly every grocery or convenience store that contains a freezer section–and you probably have at least one or two living somewhere in your own freezer. A boatload of different flavors and brands also now exist, but which ones taste the best?
I made a few grocery runs and corralled seven different boxes of waffles–both store and name brands–to put to the test. Although you can make frozen waffles a couple of ways, I opted for the classic toaster method to run my experiment. Additionally, I didn't douse the waffles in butter and syrup–at least at first–in order to give them all a fair chance in their natural state. Because, let's be honest, anything covered in Mrs. Buttersworth's—or, really, any sugary syrup for that matter—is bound to taste good.
Upon tasting all options, two of the frozen waffles wowed me more than the others and competed fiercely for my top spot. But, first, let's check out a couple of the worst waffles in the bunch.
KashiGo Vanilla Buttermilk Protein Waffles
The Prep: Throw your frozen waffles in the toaster at the lightest or lowest setting. They may need to go two rounds before they've reached desired doneness, but that beats a burnt breakfast. Or, in a conventional oven, set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and you'll need to give the frozen bricks about five minutes of cook time on a sheet pan.
The Look: The waffle's hue, even before cooking, was slightly darker than one may expect–hinting that it may be a healthier choice (a sentiment which is not really true since the added protein here also comes with a higher sugar and fat count than most other brands). KashiGo's version did hold up pretty well in the toaster, however, resulting in evenly browned ridges and valleys.
The Taste: As these waffles toast, a pleasant vanilla aroma is released into the air. But, don't let this fool you. The vanilla scent does not transfer well into the taste–in fact, there was little to no taste at all to speak of. But, beyond that, the worst part may actually be the dryness. One bite of the KashiGo waffle had the power to suck all the moisture from my mouth at once and left me desperately grabbing for my glass of milk.
The Verdict: It seems the only redeeming quality of these waffles is that they do offer a nice bump of protein. That, and the fact that they did leave behind an agreeable fragrance. But, unless you're armed with a boatload of maple syrup, you may just want to invest in a vanilla candle and save yourself the trouble. KashiGo is a no-go.
Simple Truth Organic Homestyle Waffles
The Prep: First and foremost, a "wide-mouth" toaster is called out specifically for these Simple Truth waffles. But, that is the only difficult part. To brown the frozen waffles, just use this toaster at a low setting. Or, if you're making waffles for the whole family, consider using a conventional oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit instead. Place frozen waffles directly on the rack for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, or basically until they look done. If the waffles were thawed first, then you're looking at just about 2 minutes of cook time.
The Look: Similar to the KashiGo waffles, these were slightly brown even from frozen due to their organic nature and added whole grains. But, the color was not uniform throughout the box which was interesting (yes, these are both Simple Truth waffles on the plate). Overall, they gave off a very crusty appearance, which didn't inspire a lot of confidence or desire to dig in.
The Taste: I tried not to read this book by its cover, but the inside of these organic waffles told the same story as the outside. At first, they supplied no flavor at all. But, as I continued to chew, it turned more artificial and even became a bit reminiscent of a very old and stale graham cracker.
The Verdict: The real "simple truth" is that I probably wouldn't reach for these waffles again during my next Kroger trip, and I'm glad only six came in the box. Those 18 extra whole grains will have to come from a different food source.
Nature's Basket Organic Homestyle Waffles
The Prep: Pop the Nature's Basket frozen treats in the toaster–just one per slot, as the box directs (if that wasn't already obvious). Toast at the lowest setting until warm. Or, in the oven, preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, place your waffles on the wire rack in an organized fashion and let cook for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, or a little bit less if you let them thaw out first.
The Look: On first glance, they are a little bit thicker and meatier than other brands. But, beyond that, these are very similar in look to Simple Truth's organic waffles—which, based on this taste test, isn't great company to be in.
The Taste: I can't think of any other word to describe this flavor beyond "meh." The Nature's Basket waffles weren't as dry as originally feared, but nothing else made them particularly memorable, either.
The Verdict: I found a bit of a theme forming with these organic options ending up lower in the rankings. But, Nature's Basket has a leg up since they still offer those all-important 18 whole grains while also proving to be much easier to choke down. The only other negative (or positive depending on how you look at it), is that this waffle brand is only available throughout the midwest at Giant Eagle locations.
Great Value Homestyle Waffles
The Prep: You probably know the drill by now. Brown the Great Value waffles at a low setting in the toaster. But, as an added step, the Walmart brand also urges you to serve your golden discs on a warm plate with butter and warm syrup for the best results. In the oven, crank up the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and closely watch your waffles cook for two minutes if they were thawed, or 2 ½ to 3 minutes if you pulled them straight from the freezer.
The Look: These are as close as it gets to an Eggo lookalike, but for 56 cents less per box. The color is that familiar light yellow that comes to mind when you think of a frozen waffle, and the same color crayon you would likely pick if you had to color one. One difference, between this and the Kellogg's brand however, is that the Walmart brand has edges that look a little rough. It almost looks like someone stamped squares into an existing pancake at the last minute before throwing it in the box and calling it a waffle.
The Taste: Toasting for the allotted amount of time gave these the perfect crackling and crunchy texture on the outside. But, the interior remained protected and even came out almost gooey without being too moist (if that makes sense). As for the actual taste, you're hit with an extremely subtle note of sweetness at the end of your bite–similar to the faint fruit taste you have to try really hard to detect in a La Croix sparkling water.
The Verdict: This was certainly a nice palette cleanser after a few of the previous options. But, it didn't do quite enough to earn a spot in my top three. If I had followed Walmart's cooking instructions to a tee, however, by serving the waffles on a warm plate with butter and warm syrup, maybe I would've been singing a different tune.
Good & Gather Homestyle Waffles
The Prep: Good & Gather gets brownie points for also specifying on its box that you will need to remove the waffles from all packaging before cooking. It also warns you that cook times may vary by appliance. With this in mind, zap these bad boys in the toaster for one to two cycles on low. In the oven, set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, throw however many waffles you desire on the wire rack for 2 ½ to 3 minutes–again, this will be closer to two minutes if you're baking from thawed.
The Look: Not going to lie, I was very underwhelmed by the look of Target's Good & Gather waffles. The middle was strangely a completely different shade than the rest, and since the edges were fairly thin they burned before the remainder of the waffle was done getting warm.
The Taste: Despite its apparent dryness and toasty edges, these waffles surprised me with a very nice crunch followed by a pillowy inside that was much softer than expected. It was also accompanied by an inviting flavor with hints of butter and sweetness. But, not too much sweetness to the point where a little bit of syrup would send you into a sugar coma.
The Verdict: Good & Gather receives two thumbs up from me–not ecstatic thumbs up, but two thumbs up nonetheless. One factor which really stood out here was the buttery notes that seem to be missing in many of the other tested brands.
Kodiak Buttermilk & Vanilla Power Waffles
The Prep: Kodiak kindly reminds customers to toast or heat their waffles before eating. The company also asks parents to please supervise children while doing so. Armed with this information, waffle lovers can toast the product at a low setting until hot and crispy. In the oven, these waffles will set you back a couple extra minutes in the oven compared to most other brands. They will need about three to five minutes on a baking sheet at a temperature of 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Look: Certainly on the chunkier side and without a doubt the darkest complexion on the lineup. I didn't burn them, I swear—this is just their natural coloring. Kodiak's offering is also the most asymmetrical, sporting the most imperfections.
The Taste: Once you start devouring these waffles, all of their cosmetic flaws seem to melt away. You are greeted with a vanilla aroma–similar to KashiGo's waffles. But, this time you can also taste the vanilla baked right into the batter. Each square is just as crisp as the next and filled with just as much fluff. Plus, there is no chalky or bitter taste that would tip you off to the extra dose of protein.
The Verdict: This is by far the best protein-packed waffle option from the lineup–a stark difference compared to KashiGo's version. And, truthfully, Kodiak almost won me over for first place. Minus physical appearance, these are really everything a good frozen waffle should be, and I think one of the brand's other variations like the Chocolate Chip or Thick & Fluffy Power Waffles could eventually displace my number one choice.
Eggo Homestyle Waffles
The Prep: Pop these classic Eggo waffles into your toaster at either the lightest or lowest possible heat setting. This step might need repeated to achieve desired toastiness. You'll know they are done from the perfect golden pockets that start to appear. In the oven, crank the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, then insert your waffles on a baking sheet for about five minutes–or until hot and crisp.
The Look: Following the Kodiak waffles, these look dull in comparison. They are definitely the lightest in the bunch, but that allows for the lightly browned peaks to stand out splendidly for an aesthetic look. However, Eggo is a tad on the thin side and I noticed the most amount of tears within the holes themselves here, but maybe that just allows for more syrup to seep in?
The Taste: It's really a nostalgic work of art–what else can I say? The thinner makeup gives the waffles that quintessential crisp. You can taste the sweetness immediately as you sink your teeth into the honeycombed circle and it somehow gets better and better as you continue to chew. I can eat this plain–and certainly did at some points growing up–but it turns into a true taste sensation when combined with a smidge of butter and syrup.
The Verdict: There are many reasons why Eggo waffles triumph in my eyes and also why they dominate every grocery store's freezer section. The recipe has clearly been perfected and every tiny detail–including the tape added to the bag which makes it resealable–puts these waffles a step above the rest. Not to mention, Eggo's variety and selection is absolutely unmatched. You can find Minis, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, Blueberry, Buttermilk, Froot Loops, and even Grab & Go Liège-Style Waffles all living in harmony on the grocery store shelf.