Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.
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Now, because you can't toss your new electrical appliance in the sink with soapy water, here's how to clean a waffle maker: The good news is that waffle makers have drastically improved in recent years — nearly every model now comes with nonstick cooking plates, which means that (with proper upkeep) you won't be using a toothpick to dislodge burnt-on waffle bits. We recommend allowing your iron to cool first, then wiping the plates clean with a dry paper towel. If any grime remains, spot clean them with a damp cloth or let a bit of cooking oil sit on the grime for a few minutes before wiping away. And avoid using nonstick cooking spray, as this stuff will cook onto the plates and become nearly impossible to remove. The result: No more nonstick coating.
There are millions of recipes for waffles, but most batters fall into two distinct categories: yeast-raised (more commonly used for thicker Belgian-style waffles) and baking powder-leavened (also called "American"; think Bisquick and the like). That said, you can use yeast-raised batter in American-style waffle makers and American-style batter in Belgian-style waffle makers—the results will just be a little different than usual due to the differing shapes and sizes. Our lineup of contenders included both Belgian- and American-style machines, though for the sake of simplicity we eliminated "flip-style" models. (They tend to take up more space than other waffle irons and a perusal of anecdotal reviews indicated that they didn't perform any better.) We tested all of the machines using this crispy waffle recipe, minus the caramel coulis.
“My husband and I love Belgian waffles. Over the past 20 years, you would not believe how many waffle-makers I have purchased. Some were good, and others were just terrible. My new All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker makes perfect Belgian waffles. It is on the pricey side, but obviously worth every penny. I wish I had found it years earlier. The waffles that are perfect for us are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the color is a golden brown. I was able to achieve this on setting No. 5. I like to use King Arthur Flour Belgian Waffle Mix. The resulting waffles are outstanding.”
Quoted very punchily for a couple of jobs on my spouse's advice and as a result have no work or money (I still think he was right but I have €8 in my bank account before my (holiday) credit card bill goes through). I genuinely can't quite see how to earn a living at the moment. I can't be entirely unskilled, but my skills such as they are are not highly valued in monetary terms in 2017.
- listening to Graceland, for some reason? For a while even podcasts, my usual refuge, became too intense and only the soothing sounds of Paul Simon could calm me. I am now more robust and listening to The Poisonwood Bible on Audible at my friend Fran’s suggestion and my god, it is brilliant. Why had I never read it? Because I am stupid, I suppose. It’s wonderfully read too. Recommend.
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.
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 Oster Flip Nonstick Belgian Waffle Maker nearly made it to the winners' list. Its design is similar to that of the Hamilton Beach, featuring a drip tray for easy cleanup and a folding handle for compact storage. The waffles it produced were evenly browned, but, once again, they required too much time to cook, resulting in dense and soggy waffles.
Depending on the quality of the device, waffle makers can last anywhere from a matter of months to a decade. I would suggest that you read reviews by people who have had their wafflers for longer to get an idea of how long you can expect your machine to last. As long as you purchase a decent waffle maker and take care of it, you should be able to make it last for at least a few years.
The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
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.
Electric waffle irons are available in flip and stationary models. Proponents of flip waffle makers suggest that they heat more evenly by better distributing the batter throughout the plates. After testing both styles with different batters to see if this was truly a useful feature, we found that our three high-end picks cooked all the batters on the top and the bottom evenly. There was no difference between our flip model and a high-end stationary model. We did, however, find the flip a useful function when comparing lower-end models cooking the thinner buttermilk batter. Ultimately, we didn't pick any low-end flip models because, although they may have heated more evenly than our budget picks, they cooked the batter so slowly that the waffles ended up too dense and heavy.
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
The green “ready” light didn’t always turn off immediately after we filled the Krups with batter and closed the lid, which was confusing—a glance at the machine might make you think the waffle is done. But the light always did turn off in time, and it consistently turned on again with a resonating beep when the waffle was ready. By being patient and waiting for the beep, we were never led astray, and waffles always came out cooked to the right doneness.
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.
Our final round of waffles was made out of Aunt Jemima waffle mix, prepared according to the package’s instructions. These waffles use a combination of chemical leavening and steam from the added liquid to result in the rise of the waffles. The waffles made with this batter were consistently dense and cake-like in all the waffle makers, but the color came out evenly brown in all machines. Where we found variations was in the crispness of the crusts, with machines that were hotter yielding thinner and crispier crusts. With this batter, we also found no differences between flip and non-flip units. If you make waffles mostly with a boxed mix, you can definitely get away with using a cheaper iron, since the differences were closer to minimal.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.