This batter also benefited the most from the flip mechanism found in some of the irons we tested, likely due to the fact that it's a thinner batter that flows flat into the iron. (The flip design delivers even heating by making sure that a thin batter receives equal contact with the plates on both the top and the bottom.) The waffles resulting from this batter browned more evenly in the flip models than in the stationary ones, with the exception of our high-end picks, the Breville and All-Clad, both of which performed excellently. Ultimately, though, aside from our top-rated flip model, we’d steer you toward our other top picks, including the budget ones, even though they’re stationary: They produced better waffles overall due to higher heat and shorter cook time, despite their uneven browning.
There's no easy way to say this: the real revelation of this test was just how mediocre most waffle irons are. But at least they were consistent in the ways in which they were mediocre! Far and away, the most common problem was one of uneven cooking, or what I like to call the "two-face" effect: waffles that emerged from the iron evenly browned on one side but pale and doughy on the other. It is not a good look.
Introduced in North American in 1962, Belgian waffles usually use a yeasted batter that results in a waffle that rises, making them thicker and softer than American waffles -- although they should still be crispy on the outside. They're larger too, which is why they need a different type of waffle maker than traditional, American-style waffles. The deeper pockets on Belgian waffles are great for holding toppings like syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
If looks matter to you most, consider a rotating waffle maker. Because you flip the iron over as it bakes, the batter can become more evenly distributed over the grates. That being said, if you really want picture-perfect waffles, try our Lab's even-heating hack: After pouring waffle batter over the hot grates, use a rubber spatula to gently (and quickly) distribute the batter evenly across the surface before closing the waffle maker's lid. You'll never have to eat a waffle with absent, sorry-looking edges again!
If you prefer a thick Belgian waffle over the thin American-style ones produced by the Cuisinart WMR-CA, but don’t have either the money or the space for our top pick from Krups, the compact Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009) is your best bet. In make, it actually looks similar to our previous top pick, the discontinued Proctor Silex 26016A, offering the same handle and locking system, as well as the same slider for browning control.
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.
The Krups GQ502D, a brand-new model for 2016, is the best waffle maker we’ve found. Not only does it produce beautifully golden, crisp-on-the-outside, evenly browned waffles, but it also has a number of features that make it easier to use than most other machines out there—and make it worth the price. A numbered dial gives you careful control over waffle doneness, and a light paired with a loud beep tells you when your waffles are done. This machine makes four thick waffles per batch, so you can easily feed a crowd (or just one or two). The nonstick plates, which release waffles cleanly without the need for extra oiling, are removable, so cleanup is a breeze. And the compact design allows you to store the Krups either flat or upright, so it fits conveniently in most kitchens.
There’s a reason it’s called a waffle iron, because it’s meant for waffles, right? Not so! Well, yes, but you know what I mean. If you’ve ever done any experimenting with your waffle maker, you know that it can produce some pretty good scrambled eggs, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and much more. Just make sure you have plenty of cooking spray as things tend to stick! I’ve compiled a list of 23 waffle iron recipes that are definitely worth a try.
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.