Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
Made great waffles quickly. I had been worried because of other reviews which showed ripped waffles sticking to the plates. I think I know why: the indicator light (which is supposed to turn green when your waffle is ready) is in accurate. Your waffle will stick if the surface is not cooked enough and the indicator light consistently says your waffle is ready too early. The trick is to very gently try to open the waffle iron for a few seconds. If you meet resistance, your waffle is not ready and will rip if you force it open. If the waffle iron opens with a second or two of gentle force, you're good to go.
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
This Oster model made the most substantial waffles among the waffle makers we tested. About 1¼ inches thick, they looked like the kind you might get at a hotel brunch, puffy and evenly browned all over. Unfortunately, they were a bit dry and cakey, and none of our tasters liked them very much. The two sides cook quickly and then the waffle steams from the middle, creating a pronounced pale crevice where the waffle can be broken apart easily (good for sandwiches?).
Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
CucinaPro Bubble Waffler creates a large hexagon shaped CucinaPro Bubble Waffler creates a large hexagon shaped waffle which has a unique bubbled texture. These delicious waffles sometimes called egg waffles or eggettes have crispy golden outsides and light tender interiors. They are best served hot and often eaten plain. They can also be served with fruit and flavors ... More + Product Details Close
Love the look and feel of this waffle maker, but it takes 6 min to make a light golden brown waffle. If you are only making a waffle for one person, this product is great, but if you have to make them for family or friends, I recommend you buy one with a temperature setting. I sent mine back and bought one with a temp setting. Family can now enjoy waffles together.
The Coleman Waffle Iron is the perfect size for camping, tailgating or living -- and cooking -- off the grid. It cooks two waffles at once and has no moving parts that could be damaged. The non-stick coating works best if it's brushed with cooking oil and then preheated before pouring in the batter. Even if you're "just" cooking at home, the Coleman Waffle Iron is a great choice for those with small kitchens or limited space.
The four-waffle Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 854 made waffles that were evenly browned and attractive-looking. And in addition to browning controls, this model has a switch for fast baking (crisp exterior, moist interior) or slow baking (crunchy, uniform texture). However, the waffles it made did not distinguish themselves enough to warrant this machine’s much higher price tag—for about half the price, our pick can produce just as many excellent waffles.
Use your waffle maker for something other than, well, waffles. Brave bakers can try pressing grilled cheese, cinnamon rolls, hash browns and - yes- even pizza. If you’re a dessert lover, a waffle cone maker will bring the ice cream parlor to you. You can even create a Belgian waffle bowl with a specially designed waffle maker, and then fill it with anything you like.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
Some of the models we tested come fully loaded with features, while others are more bare-bones. The question is which of these bonus features, if any, are worth having. Almost all the waffle makers come equipped with adjustable heat settings, a feature we found mostly useless, since there’s almost never a situation in which you’d want anything less than maximum heat. It’s a feature that’s even more vexing on the losing low-end models, which, even at their highest settings, were not very hot. (There were some exceptions to this: Our winning flip waffle maker got so hot that we appreciated being able to turn the heat down.)
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.
Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.
Krups' Good Housekeeping Seal holding baker wowed our kitchen appliance experts. It made deliciously golden, tender waffles every time and because it lets you select from five browning settings, our tasters — from those who prefer barely browned to super crisp — were equally pleased. Best part: Unlike most models, the Krups has removable nonstick plates that you can pop right in your dishwasher for cleaning.
Makes nice, crispy waffles, and you don't need nonstick spray. The only thing I don't like is it doesn't have an indicator when waffles are done, so you have to keep checking. My old iron had a preheat light that would turn off when ready, and would turn back on when waffles were done. This iron lights up to show its plugged in, and a random green light that turns on whenever that serves no apparent purpose (maybe that it's done preheating?). Even the manual that came with it states there's no indicator for when waffles are done. Anyway, I don't use very often, and it does make waffles, which is what it's suppose to do.
Before beginning these tests, I'd heard buzz that the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Iron was the Cadillac of waffle makers—a hulking, shiny, stainless steel behemoth capable of turning out batch after batch of five-star hotel-buffet-quality waffles. I was intrigued, but given that it came with a gulp-inducing price tag of $200, also very skeptical. Could the waffles it made really be five times better than those from its lower-priced competitors?
Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
We spent days reading through many of the reputable websites and reviews on waffle and waffle makers, as well as the popular subreddit r/cooking to determine what matters most in a waffle maker. We dug deep into what the experts said was most important, and narrowed the large number of waffle makers to just six that we determined to be the best overall.
First, we have to identify what makes a good waffle. Regardless of whether you prefer your waffle light golden or dark brown, it should be crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. We always want a waffle that’s evenly cooked, free of burnt centers or pale edges; it should also be the same color on both sides. The key to achieving this is a waffle maker with coils that get hot enough to quickly cook the waffles, coupled with heavy plates to better retain the heat. A waffle iron that gets and stays hot can cook the batter surface more quickly, setting it into a crisp shell while keeping the inside moist and light. Waffles that take too long to cook end up dense, flabby, and leathery. We found that the best waffles were cooked in under four minutes.
What we didn’t like: This is a big and bulky unit, making it a difficult fit in small spaces. Without a drip tray, there is potential for mess. (However, because it's a flip model, you need less batter to fill up the iron, so drips are also less likely.) There was some unevenness in cooking, with the edges browning a touch faster than the rest. The deep wells and fixed plates make cleanup difficult.
However, we found the absolute best value to come from the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker. With just a slightly larger footprint than the Cuisinart, this will give you the tastiest, most consistent, and most evenly cooked waffles. Best of all, the BELLA is even quicker than our old top pick, so you can grab a cup of coffee and start enjoying those delicious waffles as quickly as possible.
“Leslie Knope is my spirit animal, as I am completely obsessed with waffles, and I am a little bit crazy just like her. She would love this waffle iron, but then she would probably trash it after one use because she would be scared of putting JJ’s Diner out of business. Thankfully, I don’t have a JJ’s Diner near me, and I like to make my own waffles. I can see Jerry/Larry/Garry Gengurch buying this waffle iron for Leslie Knope, and the mockery that would follow the next day as Leslie and the entire office would blame Jerry/Larry/Garry for putting JJ’s Diner in danger.
We couldn’t find any editorial reviews of this Hamilton Beach model, but at the time of our research it had a good rating on Amazon. Some reviews complain of a flimsy locking mechanism, but for occasional use we still think this model is a great buy. At around $20 (at the time of writing), it’s less than half the price of our top pick, and even cheaper than our other budget pick.
Waffles from the Hamilton Beach 26009 are also quite similar to those from the Proctor Silex 26016A and the Krups GQ502D: They’re 1 inch thick and a square shape, with an evenly browned exterior. Waffles consistently came out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, and though the browning control didn’t produce quite as much range as any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 never burned or undercooked a waffle. Batter didn’t always fill the top plate evenly, leaving waffles a little blotchy on top, but not in a way that significantly affected taste or texture. And, unlike our other budget pick, the Hamilton Beach 26009 handled thin, yeasted batter with ease.
A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who is now a Wirecutter editor. Yang worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—for over a decade. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
The Hamilton Beach Round Waffle Maker was the closest in appearance and function to our former top pick, the (now-discontinued) Oster waffle maker. It is made from brushed stainless steel and high-quality plastics that help it fit into any kitchen. Like most flip-type waffle irons, the Hamilton Beach also has a removable tray that makes cleanup simple and straightforward.
“My girlfriend is great, but this thing is amazing. She laughed when I said it, but in an uncomfortable way, as if she knows there is a chance I may run away with this machine never to be seen or heard from again. I have never been so overly satisfied with a product that exceeded my expectations right off the bat. We made the traditional-style waffles and filled them with an assortment of berries and peanut butter and syrup, and everybody was satisfied. We even tried cooking eggs, just eggs, as an omelette, and at about one minute a little more you have perfect omelette bowls to fill with whatever you wish. Tonight, I may throw some ground beef in there just to see what happens. Buy this and never look back … Shoot, buy four and feed the neighborhood every morning.”
What we liked: The Breville made crispy and light American-style waffles in three to four minutes. The waffles made in this model come out round, thin, and crispy, yet manage to maintain a soft interior. Even though it makes only one waffle at a time, the Breville reheats and is ready for another waffle in under two minutes, so it can make a greater quantity of waffles in the same amount of time as many larger models. This model also heated the most evenly of all the brands we tested, both across the surface of the waffle and when comparing the top and bottom. With a built-in drip tray, this unit remains true to its "no mess" name. Equipped with convenient cord storage, a locking handle, and a slim design, it’s easy to store in tight spaces or small kitchens.
Two lights on the Krups machine, one red and one green, indicate when it is preheating or cooking (red) and when the machine or the waffle is ready (green). These indicators are bright and easy enough to read (unlike some machines, where it’s hard to tell if the weak light is on or off). But unlike our previous pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A, the Krups GQ502D also beeps loudly when it’s ready, which means you can focus on frying bacon without worrying about overcooking your waffles. While some other models we tested were hard to hear when they beeped, this one was loud enough that we could easily hear it from the next room, even with a radio on, but the sound is neither persistent nor so unpleasant that you won’t want to hear it first thing in the morning.