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.
The Krups GQ502D took a little more time than some of the other models we tested to bake waffles. In our tests, waffles typically took about seven or eight minutes to cook, while the Presto FlipSide, for one, cooked a thicker waffle in about half the time. But the machines that cooked faster also tended to overcook, or to develop hot spots. A few extra minutes of waiting time is a small price to pay for golden, even-toned waffles, and the wait isn’t so bad when you can make four waffles at once.
The Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker wins this category by a landslide, not because of fancy bells and whistles but because of the one thing it does very well: Turning out thin, crunchy American-style waffles. Cooking time is quick -- about three minutes per waffle -- and as long as you apply a little oil to the grid, its non-stick coating releases those waffles quickly and cleanly. The three-year warranty is impressive in this price range.
Someone gave us one of these 12 years ago as a wedding gift. Used it every other weekend for all that time, and, like many heat-producing appliances, the heating element just wore out over time. We definitely got our money's worth out of it, and when it failed, we decided to get another one just like it because it had been so good. This one LOOKS the same as our old one, but definitely doesn't have the same quality build or performance of our old one. Hinge was loose and wobbly out of the box, the thermostat lacks precision (no difference between 3 and 5 settings), the heating element burns the center of the waffle while leaving the outside soggy and undercooked, it overflowed even with less than the 1/4 cup of batter recommended by the recipe, and the waffles invariably stick! We sent back the first one we ordered after it demonstrated these substandard characteristics, thinking it was just defective, and ordered another one. It wasn't a defect -- the second one had the same shortcomings: flimsy build, useless thermo adjustment, uneven cooking, and shallow waffle plates. It's too bad. This used to be a great product, but Cuisinart has cheaped out -- recommend you look elsewhere for a waffle maker.
The versatile four-waffle size allows you to feed large or small crowds, but this sturdy machine is still relatively compact, and it can easily store vertically or horizontally. Not only is it about the same price as our former top pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A (which is no longer being manufactured), it even feels of better quality and comes with more great features.
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.)
For the second round of waffle testing, we used Stella’s overnight yeasted waffle batter. Although this batter also relies on steam to power the rise, the fermentation by the yeast fills the batter with air bubbles even before the creation of steam, so it gets a one-two punch of leavening. This batter was thicker than the buttermilk batter due to the air bubbles it contained, which meant there was no difference between waffles made in a flip waffle maker and those made in a non-flip unit. The same irons that performed poorly due to inadequate heating in the previous test fell short here as well, but with less dramatic results, because steam isn’t the only leavening agent in this batter.
This waffle iron will make your Valentine’s Day morning all the more special – or any day you want to celebrate love – because it will make you one waffle that will separate into 5 smaller waffles, each shaped like hearts. It beeps to notify you when it’s preheated and ready to cook, and another beep lets you know when the waffle is done. And its Teflon surface makes for a smooth clean up, too.
If you’re tight on space and money, the Black+Decker offers the most bang for your buck for thin, American-style waffles. It produces waffles that are thin and crunchy on the outside, with some chewiness on the inside; it makes four square waffles, with shallow wells, at a time; and its reversible plates and adjustable hinge convert it into a panini press for toasting thick sandwiches. The unit also opens up to lie completely flat as a griddle for eggs, pancakes, and more, making this a cheap all-in-one breakfast station. The plates are fully removable and dishwasher-safe for fast and easy cleanup.
We also offer waffle irons with many attributes that add value for advanced chefs. Additional features include a variety of temperature settings, locking lids, countdown timers and chimes that announce the waffles are cooked. Some useful qualities for cooks of any skill level include griddle surfaces that don’t get gummed up with dough and moats to catch excess batter and keep it off the counter, which reduces the likelihood of messes and helps to simplify cleanup. Make the perfect pastry for serving cold desserts, such as ice cream or gelato, with specialty electric cookware such as a waffle cone maker. Properties like nonstick plates allow for easy cleaning, and they help make it possible to move quickly from completing one cone to starting the next without regreasing each time.
If picture-perfect waffles are a must-have, then this flip model is the pick for you. The flip function makes it easy to distribute the batter from edge to edge, without worrying about overflow. The Cuisinart waffle maker heats up and cooks waffles fast, producing a crisp outer shell and fluffy interior. Its heavy plates heat evenly and retain the heat well, so batch after batch of waffles turns out consistently browned. This iron quickly makes two large waffles at a time and reheats rapidly, so it can handle a lot of growling stomachs. This model also features an on/off switch, allowing you to always have it set up on your counter for waffles on the fly.
Waffle makers can vary widely in prices. More affordable options go for around 15-30 dollars, while if you really want to splurge you can spend as much as 130 dollars. For basic waffle making, a cheaper unit works fine. However, you do sometimes run the risk of it breaking after a few months because of lower quality parts. If you feel like getting fancy with variable temperature controls, flip plates, or the like, it will probably cost you a bit extra.