Criteria for what makes an ideal waffle are somewhat subjective: I happen to like mine crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the center, but maybe you like yours golden and crispy? Still, some technical standards are pretty universally accepted, and those were what we focused on during our test. A good waffle iron should heat evenly and cook batter consistently from top to bottom and side to side without burnt spots or raw patches. It should allow enough steam to escape during the cooking process as to produce waffles that are structurally firm and not soggy. It should also be reliable, repeating the same results batch after batch, and easy to clean.
The Krups GQ502D took a little more time than some of the other models we tested to bake waffles. In our tests, waffles typically took about seven or eight minutes to cook, while the Presto FlipSide, for one, cooked a thicker waffle in about half the time. But the machines that cooked faster also tended to overcook, or to develop hot spots. A few extra minutes of waiting time is a small price to pay for golden, even-toned waffles, and the wait isn’t so bad when you can make four waffles at once.
It is sometimes difficult to justify single-use appliances, and not just due to the cost. The space that the appliance takes up, whether in a cupboard or on a counter, is space that cannot be used for other multi-function appliances, as a prep area, or for anything else you may want to do in the kitchen. Products that make an effort to be compact, or at least efficient with the space they take up, always have an advantage over those that do not (all else being equal).
This is ideal for making waffle pops – if you haven’t heard of those before, this is a waffle maker you’re going to want to check out. It cooks mini heart-shaped waffles individually and has a space provided for putting in Popsicle sticks or cake-pop sticks to make sure your waffle pop process goes smoothly. But don’t worry – it will make your standard, no-stick waffles just as well as any other waffle maker, too.
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.
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.
Hamilton Beach® Waffle Makers are designed for quick cleanup, and in select models, an overflow channel, nonstick coating, and pre-measured batter cup all help prevent messy spills. Nonstick surfaces are easy to clean with a damp cloth, and select models take convenience one step further with removable, dishwasher safe grids for the easiest cleanup imaginable.
Because waffle irons are more of a kitchen extravagance than an absolute necessity, we decided to test out a few non-waffle items in the machines just for kicks—the more versatile these tools can be, the better. We waffled up some grilled cheese and sage stuffing to see how the machines would do. As we’ve seen in the past, a waffle iron may be the best tool to make things like grilled cheese: The divots become extra crisp, with cheese oozing out and forming a crackling frico, while the peaks remain soft and chewy. The nonstick surface ensures no bits of stuffing or bread are left behind. The results of this test followed the trend of the previous ones, with our high-end picks edging out the rest.
Belgian and American waffles differ in size and thickness, which means you can’t use one waffle iron to make both kinds. Belgian waffles are taller—1 to 1½ inches thick—and have deeper wells than their thinner American cousins. Traditionally, they’re also made with a different batter. As Kathleen Purvis writes in the Seattle Times, “Most Belgian waffle recipes are yeast-based, to get that crispy texture.” But you can certainly put yeast-raised batter in a regular waffle maker (as we did in our tests). Likewise, you can put regular old Bisquick, baking-powder-leavened batter, or even pancake batter in a Belgian-style waffle maker. The resulting waffles will just have a different texture and flavor than those made with yeasted Belgian-waffle batter. Any kind can be crispy, depending, as Maichel told us, on the recipe you use and how hot the waffle maker gets: “The more oil [or fat] in your recipe, the higher the temperature you cook it at, the crispier your waffle will be.”
A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who is now a Wirecutter editor. Yang worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—for over a decade. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
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.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
After spending 35 hours making (and eating) waffles with eight of the most popular and highly rated models on the market, we determined the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker is the best waffle maker for consumers. This model quickly and consistently produced the best-tasting waffles, evenly cooked every time and with good control over browning. For a compact option, we like the Cuisinart – Round Classic.