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The Healthiest Frozen Foods in the Supermarket: Waffles

Illustration: Christina Harrison Text: Daniel Boone

Waffles may seem not seem like the healthiest breakfast choice at quick glance, but frozen waffles have made major leaps taste-wise and nutritionally. The shelves are filling with whole grains-filled options with fewer grams of sugar and fake ingredients. We tested more than a dozen brands to find the best in both flavor and nutrition.

Compared to just a handful of years ago, many more frozen waffles today are made with whole grains. That means they're good sources of fiber, as well as other nutrients. and a much healthier grab-and-go breakfast pick than sugar-sweetened cereal and milk. Plus, there's plenty of other options to top them with besides maple syrup. Span both sweet and savory waffle toppers with nut butters, a melted cheese slice and lightly dressed salad greens, rotisserie chicken, and fresh fruit among many other ideas.

To pick the best frozen waffles, we taste tested dozens of brands. Our nutrition editor set strict guidelines for eliminating less-healthy options (see below for Things to Look for on Labels). Any waffles that did not meet these requirements were eliminated. Each waffle was cooked according to individual package directions. Waffles were tasted hot and fresh by panel of Cooking Light editors and staff. Initial favorites were selected, and then the tasting panel ranked each favorite to create this final list of winners.

Taste Test Winners

365 Organic Multigrain Waffles

These sweet waffles are toasty on the outside with a fluffy, pillowy texture on the inside making them good all the way around and our unanimous favorite. Another plus: we think their mild flavor will please those who like whole grains, as well as those who think they don't. $2.99 for a box of 6, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 160; Fat 4.5g (sat 1g); Protein 4g; Carb 28g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 3g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 280mg; Calc 20mg

Earth's Best Organic Mini Blueberry Waffles

Though they were designed as an option for kids and feature Cookie Monster on the packaging, we found that adults like these organic waffles' flavor and mini-size, too. In fact, these were the top winners when it came to flavored waffles. They have a sweet, fruity flavor thanks to fresh-tasting blueberry pieces. Enjoy topped with syrup or nut butter. $3.99 for a box of 32

Serving Size: 4 mini waffles
Calories 90; Fat 3g (sat 0g); Protein 2g; Carb 14g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 3g; Chol 0mg; Iron 4mg; Sodium 140mg; Calc 20mg

Other Favorites

Nature's Path Gluten-Free Homestyle Waffles

Crunchy on the outside, yet soft and sweet on the inside, these waffles were a strong runner-up. They have a slight almond flavor that makes them taste a little like a fortune cookie, which we thoroughly enjoyed as a unique flavor note. $3.39 for a box of 6, gluten-free, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 210; Fat 7g (sat 1.5g); Protein 1g; Carb 34g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 4g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 460mg; Calc 20mg

Van's Multigrain 8 Whole Grains Waffles

If you like the toasty flavor in whole-wheat waffles, then you'll love these hearty waffles. Whole wheat is the prominent grain, but the waffles are actually made with "Van's 8 Whole Grain Mix" that features a great variety of whole grains. $3.19 for a box of 6, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 150; Fat 5g (sat 0g); Protein 5g; Carb 25g; Fiber 7g; Sugars 2g; Chol 0mg; Iron 2mg; Sodium 310mg; Calc 40mg

Nature's Path Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Chip Waffles

These waffles are a little lower in protein and fiber than we'd like, but we kept them as a favorite because of the rich chocolate flavor. Eat plain, drizzled with syrup, or topped with peanut butter for breakfast or a sweet snack. $3.39 for a box of 6, gluten-free, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 220; Fat 7g (sat 2g); Protein 2g; Carb 34g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 7g; Chol 0mg; Iron 0mg; Sodium 490mg; Calc 20mg

Van's Gluten-Free Blueberry Waffles

If you don't want a waffle that's overpowered by blueberries, then these crisp, not-too-sweet waffles which have a more subtle blueberry flavor are for you. You'd also never know they were gluten-free because the texture and flavor are very hearty. $3.19, for a box of 6, gluten-free, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 210; Fat 6g (sat 0.5g); Protein 2g; Carb 35g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 3g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 320mg; Calc 40mg

Van's Whole Grain Organic Blueberry Waffles

A slightly sweet, toasty wheat flavor is prominent in these crispy waffles. The blueberry flavor is nice, but toned down, which makes this waffle a good option if you're having trouble deciding between plain or flavored. $3.19, for a box of 6, vegan

Serving Size: 2 waffles
Calories 190; Fat 7g (sat 1g); Protein 4g; Carb 32g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 5g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 310mg; Calc 20mg

Things to Look for on Labels

  • Fiber: The fiber content can vary greatly; we found ones that range from 0g to 6g, so check the label. Aim for ones that have at least 3g or more of fiber per serving.
  • Whole Grains: Typically, if waffles have 3g fiber or more per serving, then they've got some whole grains, but you really want whole grains to be predominant over refined. Check the ingredient list to make sure the whole grain flour (whole wheat, whole oat flour, brown rice flour, etc.) is listed before the refined flour.
  • Sodium: Waffles aren't where you'd necessarily think to look for sodium, but some brands sneak it in. Most servings will be in the 200 to 300mg range which is ideal, but double check to make sure you're not getting one with 500mg per serving.

How We Tested

Only frozen foods that met Cooking Light’s nutrition guidelines were tested. Products were eliminated based on the following: lack of calorie and/or protein adequacy, lack of whole grains, presence of trans fat or hydrogenation, presence of significant added sugars, and presence of artificial coloring or sweeteners. All frozen foods were cooked according to package directions and taste tested by a panel of Cooking Light editors and staff. To ensure consistency, Breville microwaves were used to cook all foods.