What we liked: The All-Clad is well built and sturdy, and heats up quickly and evenly for perfectly crisp, light, and consistent waffles. The crunchy, golden waffles made with this model are tall and square, with deep nooks. The All-Clad makes two waffles at a time in under four minutes and reheats fast, requiring just two minutes between batches. It browns evenly along the surface and between the top and the bottom of the waffle, even without a flip mechanism. A drip tray is fitted to the back of the unit to contain spills for easy cleanup. This unit is also compact, as it's equipped with cord storage and locking handles.
Our best waffle maker top 5 list looks at the performance of all of the machines on the market, rather than limiting our selections to just one category. That way, you should be able to find the exact waffle maker you’re looking for while knowing it’s one of the best available. Of course, while you are preparing your waffles you will want to serve them with a healthy fruit smoothie prepared in your top of the range blender…
After putting in a total of 63 hours on research, talking with four experts, and testing 21 models, we highly recommend the Krups GQ502D Belgian waffle maker for most people. It consistently delivers perfect-looking, crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside waffles, no matter what kind of batter you use. The nonstick grid releases waffles easily, and the dishwasher-safe plates pop out of the machine for effortless cleaning. A numbered dial allows you to control browning, and a loud beep with a green light tells you when your waffles are ready.
American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes like hearts, or for use in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches.
Belgian waffles are a North American waffle variety, based on a simplified version of the Brussels waffle. Recipes are typically baking soda leavened, though some are yeast-raised. They are distinguished from standard American waffles by their use of 1 ½" depth irons. Belgian waffles take their name from an oronym of the Bel-Gem brand, which was an authentic Brussels waffle vendor that helped popularize the thicker style at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
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.”
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.
With all three batters, as well as our bonus rounds of stuffing and grilled cheese, there was a clear difference in the quality of results between higher-end, more expensive models and lower-end, budget models. The high-end models heated up significantly faster and hotter, and had a much shorter recovery time between waffles. They all have heavier plates than the lower-end models, resulting in even heat and consistent browning. The waffles made in our more expensive models all became deeply browned in under four minutes, while the less expensive models took anywhere from eight to 15 minutes. This resulted in huge variations in the density of the inside and the texture of the exterior of the waffles.
There are several variable heat controls to choose from. The grease run-off channels along the edge of this grill quickly and easily carry away excess oils. With its chrome exterior and stay-cool black synthetic handles, this appliance looks great on the counter, but you can easily wrap the cord and stand the unit upright for compact storage. It comes with a limited one year warranty.
Unfortunately, we were disappointed by the performance of the Waring Pro. Despite being the most expensive waffle maker among our finalists, it produced waffles slower than every other waffle maker. In our benchmark two waffle cooking test, the Waring Pro took 16 minutes and 30 seconds — nearly nine minutes longer than the BELLA waffle maker, and almost two minutes slower than the second slowest waffle maker, the Hamilton Beach.
Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”
Before beginning these tests, I'd heard buzz that the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Iron was the Cadillac of waffle makers—a hulking, shiny, stainless steel behemoth capable of turning out batch after batch of five-star hotel-buffet-quality waffles. I was intrigued, but given that it came with a gulp-inducing price tag of $200, also very skeptical. Could the waffles it made really be five times better than those from its lower-priced competitors?
Out of all our picks, the Krups is the only one that can feed a large group efficiently, producing four 1-inch-thick, 4½-inch square waffles at a time. But its shape also works for feeding just one or two people. As Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski pointed out, “You can always make four at a time if you want, or you could make fewer, or you could make four, freeze two.” Neither our runner-up nor our budget picks offer that option, since they make waffles that are big enough to serve only one or two people at a time.
If you're willing to pay for a classic waffle maker that doesn't require much fiddling, also consider the All-Clad 99012GT Classic Round Waffle Maker (Est. $130), which draws praise from Good Housekeeping, Top Ten Reviews and Groom and Style for making one perfect waffle after another. "No fancy features here -- just perfectly crisp, buttery waffles, batch after batch," writes Betty Gold for Good Housekeeping.
We are including a look at Table Broilers here because they are part of the "make it at the table" ethos that prevailed when electric appliances were relatively rare and consequently tres chic. Wealthy hostesses missed no chance to show off their shiny new appliances. In turn, companies like Manning-Bowman sold appliances that were more like chrome sculpture. When appliances became more commonplace, they were removed from the table and relegated to the kitchen.