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.
Versatility combines with affordability in this option from Black and Decker. The griddle plates simply reverse to give you the option of either a waffle iron, griddle, or grill. No matter what you decide to make for breakfast, this waffler will help you serve it up hot. A temperature dial also grants you complete control over how to prepare your meal.
Our top waffle makers remain the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker for American-style waffles and the Presto FlipSide 3510 for Belgian-style waffles; both perform well and are very affordable. We also have recommendations for easy-to-clean waffle makers, stovetop waffle makers, a camping waffle maker and, new in this year's report, the super high-tech BWM640XL Smart Waffle Pro.
Toppings are fabulous, but the perfectly crisp, tender, and golden brown square waffles from All-Clad's Belgian waffle maker will leave you wondering, who needs butter and syrup anyway? It was one of the top scorers in all our performance evaluations and tied for easiest to use overall. Turn the dial to your preferred doneness setting, pour in batter (it's okay if you use too much — the removable moat tray will catch any excess), and go about your business until it chimes.
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.
That said, quite a few users say that this waffle maker isn't as sturdily built as previous versions of the same model, and that if you don't get the top heating plate aligned just right, it can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot. The top of the G48TD also gets very hot. Some use pliers to bend the metal clips that hold the heating plates in place, which helps them line up better -- or you can just use an oven mitt to protect your hands.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
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.