Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
Imagine tasting fluffy, Belgian-style waffles for breakfast every morning. Then, imagine the satisfaction of being able to make a vanilla waffle one day and add nuts, fruit or even dessert toppings to your batter on the next. Now, envision this breakfast experience with no mess and effortless cleanup. You can stop dreaming and wake up, the Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker is in the kitchen and expecting you for breakfast.
Waffle sandwich caterer Matt Maichel, who also greases the plates before each use, had specific batter advice. “You should take your dough out of the fridge to come to room temp, or it will not cook as well,” he said. “The trick to filling is, find a batter that you like; the viscosity determines how much goes [on the plates]. Thicker stuff doesn’t spread out as well, so you might have to help it.” (We found in testing that a spatula or the back of a ladle worked well for this.) “You use the least amount of really thin batter because it goes all over the place,” he added.
Some of the models we tested come fully loaded with features, while others are more bare-bones. The question is which of these bonus features, if any, are worth having. Almost all the waffle makers come equipped with adjustable heat settings, a feature we found mostly useless, since there’s almost never a situation in which you’d want anything less than maximum heat. It’s a feature that’s even more vexing on the losing low-end models, which, even at their highest settings, were not very hot. (There were some exceptions to this: Our winning flip waffle maker got so hot that we appreciated being able to turn the heat down.)
Waffles remained widely popular in Europe for the first half of the 19th century, despite the 1806 British Atlantic naval blockade that greatly inflated the price of sugar. This coincided with the commercial production of beet sugar in continental Europe, which, in a matter of decades, had brought the price down to historical lows. Within the transitional period from cane to beet sugar, Florian Dacher formalized a recipe for the Brussels Waffle, the predecessor to American "Belgian" waffles, recording the recipe in 1842/43. Stroopwafels (Dutch syrup wafels), too, rose to prominence in the Netherlands by the middle of the century. However, by the second half of the 1800s, inexpensive beet sugar became widely available, and a wide range of pastries, candies and chocolates were now accessible to the middle class, as never before; waffles' popularity declined rapidly.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
The Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R) is a new model for 2016. You can take the plates out for washing, which is a huge plus, but unfortunately this machine fell short in several other ways during our testing. The indicator lights don’t tell you when a waffle is done, and it has no browning control. Plus, our waffles came out bready rather than crisp, and after a few rounds of baking, the handle got uncomfortably hot.
Hamilton Beach's Belgian style waffle maker makes round waffles that can easily be split into eight individual waffle sticks, which kids and adults alike will love (we're already dreaming of setting up a waffle dip buffet table at brunch, plus the opportunity to carry waffles with us on the go). The product's deep grids — in addition to the deep overflow channel around their edge — make it near impossible for even the klutziest cook to spill.
Users are almost universally positive in their praise for this waffle maker's ability to turn out consistently beautiful and golden waffles, with a perfectly crispy exterior. This consistency is helped by the All-Clad's unique design -- steam is released through a vent in the top of the unit instead of building up under the lid, which cuts down on soggy waffles.
FABULOUS! The coconut oil was a great addition. Only word of warning is remember to take the rest of the rest of the waffles out of the oven. [heated to 350, then off. I made a double batch. The 3 of us taste tested the first 2. Made the remainder, putting them in the oven till completed. I didn’t remember there were more waffles left in the oven till doing the dishes. This for sure is replacing the recipe I used for 25 years.
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
With the nonstick cooking surface and a removable drip tray, cleanup is easy, too. When you are done, you can leave the gorgeous stainless steel unit on your counter or take advantage of the cord storage and the locking lid and turn it on its side for more compact storage. Like all All-Clad products, there is a limited lifetime warranty on this unit.
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.
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.