To determine our original winner, we evaluated top-rated waffle makers on America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required), Good Housekeeping, and food blogs and websites like The Kitchn, in addition to the best sellers on Amazon. For this update, we started with the available winners from our original guide and looked for new competitors. We eliminated anything that cost $100 or more, since there’s no use in paying a lot for such a single-purpose, occasional-use machine. We also passed on anything with a higher-than-average rate of complaints about failures or overheating.
In the pantheon of waffle irons, the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker is the undisputed queen, but she comes with a price tag to match—so if you're watching your wallet, it's worth considering the Krups as a good alternative. Still, if you can save up some dough to take the plunge, you'll be rewarded with the best waffles of your life. And the build of the machine is so solid, you can think of it as you would a Le Creuset Dutch oven or a vintage Griswold cast-iron skillet—an heirloom to pass on to future generations for hundreds of more happy Sunday mornings.
The Cuisinart WMR-CA has been a budget pick at Wirecutter for multiple years. "It truly excels at making consistently thin, crunchy waffles," write the Wirecutter editors. They say that a bit of uneven browning they noticed in their test (there's a darker brown patch on the center) is just aesthetic and doesn't affect the waffle's crispness or taste. It's also a top pick from Your Best Digs.
A dial on the Krups GQ502D controls browning, on a scale of 1 (lightest) to 5 (darkest). You can easily control how cooked your waffles are without ever producing an inedible one: The lightest waffles are barely brown but still cooked through, while the darkest are crisp and brown but never burnt. Compare that with the Chef’sChoice 830B, which in our tests got so hot that it started to burn waffles on a medium setting, or even with our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, which can burn its thinner waffles on the highest setting. The dial on the Krups machine also allows you to turn the waffle maker off without unplugging it, a feature that very few waffle makers have. Such a feature isn’t totally necessary, but it is nice to have if you want to keep the machine on your counter ready to use; it’s also one that a lot of Amazon customers seem to desire, judging from reviews of other waffle makers across the board.
With the free digital recipe book, you’ll have the power to make amazing waffles that will reboot your spirit and import a gigabyte of flavors to your body’s hard drive! Included are classic, paleo, vegan, and gluten-free recipes. Step out of “safe mode” with recipes for hash browns, paninis, brownies, and more. With the fun and easy-to-use Keyboard Waffle Iron, you can upgrade your creative cooking skills without the pesky updates!
“I have no bad things to say about this. It’s completely nonstick — not like a little bit nonstick — it’s COMPLETELY nonstick. Don’t spray it or oil it or butter it. It’s nonstick. It heats incredibly fast and cooks fast, too. I’d play with the timing because it often says cook a waffle for four minutes, and I can get a nice fluffy waffle that’s not too crisp in way less. It depends on your preference. You can store it upright. I can tuck it out of the way much easier than stacking it in a cabinet somewhere. And lastly, I have made protein waffles and regular waffles and no matter the batter type or consistency, I had great results. My insane toddler keeps asking for waffles and I can’t deny him because they are just too easy to make.”
"... Hi there! I ran across your website today while doing a Google search for antique waffle makers. I bought one and am thinking of spiffing it up and using it, but I can't find ANY information on it anywhere! I was wondering if you'd heard of it. It's called the Self-Timer Waffle Iron and is made by the Self-Timer Waffle Iron Company of Chicago, Illinois (pretty creative name, huh?). I'm attaching some pictures. Any help you could give me in identifying this machine would be great. .."
With an ultra flip design, this waffle maker expertly bakes golden brown, fluffy waffles and gives you total flipping control so you can create restaurant-quality results right at home. Make your waffle just the way you want it – lighter or darker – in just minutes. Designed for the thickest batter and most complex waffle, the Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker has Belgian-style grids with deep pockets to hold plenty of toppings. Even better, the nonstick grids are removable to go in the dishwasher for easy cleanup afterwards.
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.”
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.
One other nice, though not strictly necessary, feature is the toggle switch, which allows you to select either a “crisp exterior/moist interior” setting or an “evenly baked” setting. For the most part, these settings work as promised: The former produced waffles with a custardy interior, while the latter produced more evenly crisp waffles. The only caveat is that, on a lower browning setting, your crisp-exterior, moist-interior waffles may come out underdone.
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.
This waffle iron was the priciest of the units we tested, but the waffles that it produced were so evenly browned, so delicately crisp on the outside while fluffy on the inside, that we believe it's the best option for Belgian waffles. This All-Clad model features extra-deep divots, for Belgian-style waffles with maximum butter and syrup capacity. It makes two waffles at a time and contains a drip tray for minimizing spills and messes. The heavy stainless steel body and die-cast plates heat up fast and evenly for consistent browning.
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.
The Chef's Choice Pro Express Waffle Maker is the most advanced waffle maker in our guide. It's full of patented technology like the "Quad" baking system that lets you customize the flavor, texture, and color of your round Belgian waffle. But the big selling point here is that it will bake your waffle in less than 90 seconds. Yep, a minute and a half folks. That transforms this sturdy unit from a weekend warrior to an everyday appliance.
“I have fallen in love with Waffle Love! You are catering my daughter’s wedding in April. There are always many meetings while planning a wedding. I schedule all of mine at the Fort Union Waffle Love. I have at least a waffle a week as I plan and prepare this wedding. These waffles are the yummiest treat I have ever eaten in my life! They are worth every single penny! If you have not had a waffle from Waffle Love, drop what you are doing, and search one out. It will blow your mind! They are that good! This life is short, grab someone you love, & go get a waffle!”
As always, though, with any kitchen appliance, user reviews are king because they tell how the appliance does under real-world conditions with a real person at the helm -- and how long they hold up under that real-world use. Combining all those terrific resources with our own kitchen experience led us to our recommendations for the waffle irons that are easiest to use and clean, and, of course, make a perfect waffle.
The closest thing to an old-fashioned non-electric waffle iron is the pizelle maker. Pizzelle (pronounced "pit-sell") are Italian wafer cookies. The name comes from the Italian pizze for round and flat. Many different cultures have adapted this technology and re-named it accordingly. In Scandinavia they are also known as "Lukken" and in Holland as Krumcake. All use an iron similar iron to the pizzelle.
First, we have to identify what makes a good waffle. Regardless of whether you prefer your waffle light golden or dark brown, it should be crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. We always want a waffle that’s evenly cooked, free of burnt centers or pale edges; it should also be the same color on both sides. The key to achieving this is a waffle maker with coils that get hot enough to quickly cook the waffles, coupled with heavy plates to better retain the heat. A waffle iron that gets and stays hot can cook the batter surface more quickly, setting it into a crisp shell while keeping the inside moist and light. Waffles that take too long to cook end up dense, flabby, and leathery. We found that the best waffles were cooked in under four minutes.
For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.