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.
Waffles from the Hamilton Beach 26009 are also quite similar to those from the Proctor Silex 26016A and the Krups GQ502D: They’re 1 inch thick and a square shape, with an evenly browned exterior. Waffles consistently came out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, and though the browning control didn’t produce quite as much range as any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 never burned or undercooked a waffle. Batter didn’t always fill the top plate evenly, leaving waffles a little blotchy on top, but not in a way that significantly affected taste or texture. And, unlike our other budget pick, the Hamilton Beach 26009 handled thin, yeasted batter with ease.
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.
As on many waffle makers, two indicator lights sit on this machine, one red and one green. But unlike any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 does not indicate when your waffle is ready. The red light merely indicates preheating, while the green light tells you only that the machine is ready for baking. This means making waffles requires a little extra attention, but in our tests, watching for the machine to stop steaming was an accurate marker. You could also set a timer.
The All-Clad 99011GT 2-Square Belgian Waffle Maker makes two Belgian waffles at once. Each waffle plate creates a one-inch thick Belgian waffle with a crispy exterior (thanks, in large part, to the All-Clad's "steam-release" system) and a fluffy interior. If you like deep waffle pockets to catch your syrup and butter, you're likely to enjoy this product. A few owners we surveyed told us that they occasionally get a "limp" or "damp" waffle out of their All-Clad. However, this could very well be the result of anxious consumers who don't wait long enough for their waffle to thoroughly cook.
We previously ordered the 26500Y and love it. We tried reorder a second one so we could make waffles twice as fast when we had company over. Unfortunately, that model is apparently discontinued, and Amazon sent this one instead. It is unfortunate that Proctor Silex took a wonderful, simple waffle maker and made it worse. The new "improved" model no longer tells you when the waffle is done. It also makes waffles with larger holes. Sure, Belgian waffles should have larger holes for holding syrup (or honey or jam or whatever you like) but these are extra large. This also means it waffle uses a little less batter.
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.