Some waffle makers are equipped with nothing but an on-off light and a "ready indicator," but even an increasing amount of budget-friendly models have extra features like numbered dials to adjust the preferred degrees of doneness, beeps or buzzers that indicate when the cook time is finished, and removable plates that can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Finally, beyond the structural superiority of the All-Clad's waffles—their lovely architecture and delicate texture—there was one more winning factor that pushed them over the top: they just tasted better. I can't explain the chemistry behind it—as I said, we used the same batter for every test—but the waffles from this machine seemed to have nuances the others lacked, like apparent notes of vanilla and caramel and a toasty depth of flavor. They tasted like $200 waffles.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
- Yeast bakery. This was my main achievement of 2017: conquering my fear of yeast bakery. I have developed a new line in naan breads (Meera Sohda’s Fresh India recipe, the parathas, which don’t even require yeast, are also bloody genius), which are very popular. Also homemade pizza, though this is just my very basic attempt to turn myself into Prog Rock who would make us homemade pizza every Sunday night. Every time I make them they are not right in some minor respect and also I have not magically taken on the deep, wondrous reserves of calm and patience of that secular saint. I keep trying in both respects. Today we are attempting pretzels (my largest son’s idea), a suicide mission of stupidity, requiring both the baking of bicarbonate and the wearing of gloves. I’m not hopeful. They're currently resting in the fridge and they are TINY which I am pretty sure is not right.
Unlike the Krups GQ502D, the Chef’sChoice 840B does not handle thin batter well—in fact, the manual explicitly states, “A thicker batter that pours slowly works best.” This model did a great job with Bisquick batter, turning out perfectly cooked waffles every time, but with our favorite yeasted batter it produced blotchy, limp, flat, and soggy waffles. So the Krups model is the winner in terms of versatility.
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.
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 Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker also has a non-stick coating (although you'll want to apply a little cooking oil beforehand for best results), and it's small enough to take up very little space, especially when stored on its edge. Watch your fingers, though: testers for Wirecutter and Your Best Digs warn that steam sometimes vents onto the handle when you open the lid, making it hot to the touch. Users who encounter this issue solve it by putting something heavy on top of the waffle maker's lid to keep it shut as the waffle cooks, which in turn stops the steam from escaping; or you could just wear an oven mitt when you open it.
After enjoying a plate of waffle goodness, you’ll need to clean up your mess. The level of cleaning you’ll have to do may depend on your waffle maker. Some models have a nonstick coating such as the Oster CKSTWFBF21 1-1/2-Inch Thick Belgian Flip Waffle Maker while others also have removable plates such as the KRUPS GQ502D Belgian Waffle Maker. Some models also feature a drip tray to make sure you don’t leave a mess on your countertop such as the All-Clad 99011GT Stainless Steel Belgian Waffle Maker. Others, like the NordicWare 15040 Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgium Waffle Iron, can be placed entirely in the sink for cleaning.
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.
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.
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.
The Cuisinart® Double Belgian Waffle Maker expertly bakes two extra-deep, restaurant-style waffles at the same time. Just add syrup or fruit and enjoy a luxurious breakfast or special dessert right at home! The easy-to-handle rotary feature flips each waffle 180 degrees to ensure even cooking on top and bottom. A 6-setting browning control knob ensures both waffles are cooked to order, from light and fluffy to crisp and brown. LED lights and audio beep tones indicate when unit is ready to cook...
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.
First and foremost, you want a waffle maker that effectively and evenly cooks the batter. Electric waffle makers have heating elements on both sides, behind each grid, to aid in even cooking. Matt Maichel explained to us that these machines work by removing moisture from the batter via heat and surface area: “The dimples create more surface area; the more surface area, the more quickly the waffle can cook.” He added, “If steam doesn’t escape properly from the device, then you won’t get a good waffle.”