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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.
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.
Hungry diners know whether or not their breakfast is ready when the Cuisinart's convenient "ready to bake/ready to eat" indicator lights with corresponding red and green hues come on. The Cuisinart features a cool-touch lid and round, non-stick cooking plates with four quarters, giving users the option of having a single waffle or dividing it up. We particularly like how this waffle maker, in its brushed stainless steel housing, stands on end for convenient storage in tight spaces.
As on many waffle makers, two indicator lights sit on this machine, one red and one green. But unlike any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 does not indicate when your waffle is ready. The red light merely indicates preheating, while the green light tells you only that the machine is ready for baking. This means making waffles requires a little extra attention, but in our tests, watching for the machine to stop steaming was an accurate marker. You could also set a timer.
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.
Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
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.
It’s not always easy to compare waffle makers, because there are a number of different styles: those which make thick Belgian waffles, those which make thin and crispy American waffles, ones which can make both types, and even some which have both corrugated surfaces and flat surfaces so you can fry an egg at the same time you’re preparing a waffle.
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.
If looks matter to you most, consider a rotating waffle maker. Because you flip the iron over as it bakes, the batter can become more evenly distributed over the grates. That being said, if you really want picture-perfect waffles, try our Lab's even-heating hack: After pouring waffle batter over the hot grates, use a rubber spatula to gently (and quickly) distribute the batter evenly across the surface before closing the waffle maker's lid. You'll never have to eat a waffle with absent, sorry-looking edges again!
Another kind of waffle that is gaining popularity in the US is a type of Belgian waffle called the Liege. Liege waffles are a centuries old street treat in Belgium, made from yeast-risen dough and Belgian pearl sugar. This gives the waffle its own natural sweetness — no toppings needed. They are softer, sweeter and doughier than other Belgian waffles. They're also much harder to make. Our picks are primarily for Belgian and American style waffles.
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.
If picture-perfect waffles are a must-have, then this flip model is the pick for you. The flip function makes it easy to distribute the batter from edge to edge, without worrying about overflow. The Cuisinart waffle maker heats up and cooks waffles fast, producing a crisp outer shell and fluffy interior. Its heavy plates heat evenly and retain the heat well, so batch after batch of waffles turns out consistently browned. This iron quickly makes two large waffles at a time and reheats rapidly, so it can handle a lot of growling stomachs. This model also features an on/off switch, allowing you to always have it set up on your counter for waffles on the fly.
Brussels waffles are prepared with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter, traditionally an ale yeast; occasionally both types of leavening are used together. They are lighter, crisper and have larger pockets compared to other European waffle varieties, and are easy to differentiate from Liège Waffles by their rectangular sides. In Belgium, most waffles are served warm by street vendors and dusted with confectioner's sugar, though in tourist areas they might be topped with whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate spread. Variants of the Brussels waffles – with whipped and folded egg whites cooked in large rectangular forms – date from the 18th century. However, the oldest recognized reference to "Gaufres de Bruxelles" (Brussels Waffles) by name is attributed from 1842/43 to Florian Dacher, a Swiss baker in Ghent, Belgium, who had previously worked under pastry chefs in central Brussels. Philippe Cauderlier would later publish Dacher's recipe in the 1874 edition of his recipe book "La Pâtisserie et la Confiture". Maximilien Consael, another Ghent chef, had claimed to have invented the waffles in 1839, though there's no written record of him either naming or selling the waffles until his participation in the 1856 Brussels Fair. Neither man created the recipe; they simply popularized and formalized an existing recipe as the Brussels waffle.
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.
What’s more reassuring is when you sit down to tuck-in and the waffles are still crisp and warm. In my experience, a moderately warm oven can be helpful in maintaining ultimate crispness, but only in small batches. Large batches can end up unappetizingly rock-hard because they can overcook from the heat of the oven. A better approach to all of this is to toss the freshly made waffles— one at a time— back and forth between your hands. This essentially helps release any steam and allows for divine crispness. However, for another approach to this, I’ve some more tips.