Partly I think my nostalgia is preemptive: it’s for Brussels. We’re not leaving, not yet. We have no concrete plans. We speculate, throw ideas in the air, see where they land, then back away from them for now. It’s just that I’m beginning to think we might be heading towards done. Eventually I want more hens and less saxophone free jazz in my life and my husband wants space and peace. One day, perhaps not until the boys leave, we’ll do it. But this will forever be the place they grew up and it was pretty great, most of the time.
There’s no better way to start your day than with a deliciously cooked waffle or two… or three. And you don’t need to run over to The Waffle House to get them. You just need the right appliance. There are a lot of waffle makers available today and they all have varying features that allow them to cook waffles a certain way. So, how do you know which one will cook a waffle in the way that you prefer? Well, we’ve got just the guide to help you out.
We rigorously tested the top 12 models ranging in price from $20 to $125 (at the time of testing) to find you the ones that consistently make the best waffles—ones that are crisp and golden on the outside while still fluffy and moist on the inside, ready to mop up country gravy, runny yolks, or warm maple syrup. We want waffle irons that reheat quickly so you can feed a crowd. We also want ones that are easy to clean, store, and operate. Because waffle irons are bonus, luxury appliances, we’ve found winners that we’re confident are worth the splurge (and counter space)—tools you’ll want to reach for any time of day. For those who don’t want to spend a lot, we’ve also picked our favorite budget models; they don’t work quite as well, but, with bonus features like removable plates for easy cleaning, we think they’re worth considering.
The red Power light comes on when the waffle baker is plugged in. This light will stay on until the unit is unplugged. The green Preheat light comes on when the waffle baker has reached the desired temperature and is ready for waffle batter. Check for doneness when steaming slows. Most waffle batter cooks in 5 to 8 minutes, making for a quick meal with easy clean up.
This may seem like a silly question to ask but some really good waffle makers are more suited for experienced waffle makers (the human kind) such as the NordicWare 15040 Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgium Waffle Iron. If you’re more on the inexperienced side of the waffle cooking spectrum, you may want to consider a model that offers beeping alerts and variable doneness settings to let you know you’ve achieved the level of waffle doneness you prefer. One good choice with these features is the Hamilton Beach 26030 Flip Belgian Waffle Maker.
As for extra features, there's a small clip-on tray attached to the rear of the waffle maker to catch any errant drips (it really works), and a sturdy dial that allows you to adjust your browning preferences on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being the lightest and 7 being the darkest. A lighted indicator and pleasant chime let you know when your waffles are done cooking. The locking lid is solid and the handle feels great in the hand. The interior heats up evenly and is generously proportioned to produce 1-inch thick waffles with deep, crisp wells. And though the plates are not removable, the nonstick surface requires no greasing, releases the waffles with ease, and cleans astonishingly well after cooking.
Belgian waffles are thicker than American waffles, and also have deeper wells for butter, syrup, or whatever else you decide to put on top of your waffle. In our opinion, choosing a waffle style comes down to a personal preference. However, the majority of highly-regarded waffle makers are Belgian — with the notable exception of one of our top picks: the Cuisinart-Round Classic Waffle Maker.
“For getting the waffles out,” Maichel said, “a wooden chopstick is good because you can get it under there. Don’t use any metal … if [the plate] gets scratched, it’ll turn into a sticky spot.” In testing, we found that chopsticks were also useful for scraping out burned bits that got stuck in the Presto FlipSide, and tongs with silicone or nylon heads worked well for removing waffles, too.
More than one of our tasters declared this model’s results to be “the perfect waffle.” And it truly excels at creating consistently thin, crunchy waffles. Those waffles were not quite as perfect looking as those made by the Krups GQ502D or the Chef’sChoice 840B, since the plate made a browner circle in the center of the waffle. But that was just an aesthetic issue: The waffles were just as crisp and delicious at the paler outer edge as in the center. If, however, you prefer a thick Belgian-style waffle over a thin, crisp one, you’ll want to go for our other budget pick (more on that below).
Crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside, with perfect indentations for toppings, waffles are one of the most loved breakfast foods out there. Being able to prepare waffles at home for yourself and your loved ones will satisfy both your hunger and your confidence in yourself as a cook. Wonderfully easy to use, wafflers broaden your breakfast horizons. I hope this list has helped you find a waffle maker that is right for you.
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.