First off, the build: this thing is a tank. Made of the same 18/10 stainless as All-Clad's prized cookware, the 4-square model we tested weighs in at about 14 pounds, so lifting it will give you a nice little bicep workout to offset all that maple syrup. (A smaller, slightly less expensive 2-square model is also available; it weighs closer to 10 pounds.) That said, the exterior dimensions are not considerably larger than other 4-square models on our list (in fact, it was smaller than some)—so, though heavy, the All-Clad doesn't seem like it would take up appreciably more storage space. Ultimately, because its heft seems like a result of quality and sturdiness, we decided that the extra weight was an issue we would be happy to live with.
There are a zillion waffle irons. I own a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Manning-Bowman "Twin-O-Matic" both because of its unusual design and the way that it implicitly fosters "togetherness." The "twin" was designed by Karl Ratliff explicitly for the 1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR. The Twin is a direct descendant of Mr. Cole's design but with an added Art Deco zest. This unique design won world awards and is the ONLY waffle iron shown in Tony Fusco's noted "ART DECO" BOOK, Volumes 1 and 2. It consists of 2 pieces: a double TOP/BOTTOM Waffle Iron derived from the Coles patent (above) and a circular chrome plated "trunion mount" that has 2 heavy Bakelite Cradles to support the irons. It is somewhat unique because it has both a Thermometer and a Thermostat.
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.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
A. This varies depending on a range of factors, including which waffle maker you choose, the recipe you use, and how much batter you put in. If your waffle maker has one, we recommend trusting the indicator light to tell you when your waffle's done, but if you open the lid and it doesn't look crisp enough for your liking, you can cook it a little longer. Ultimately, it may take some trial and error to find that waffle-making sweet spot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This model is also equipped with an on/off switch, which people with large kitchens may find useful, as it makes it easier to keep it set up on a counter without having to unplug after each use (especially helpful if your outlets are in inconvenient places, and repeatedly plugging and unplugging is a hassle). It makes two seven-inch waffles at a time, with a two-minute recovery time, allowing you to make waffles for a crowd. The flip function means it evenly cooks thicker and thinner batters alike and requires less batter to fill edge to edge.
A related side-note: I recently made the waffles (live!) on Nom, a new video platform that allows you to live broadcast your cooking adventures. The platform was started by one of the founders of YouTube, so you know it’s good! I’ll be sharing more recipes and having more chats on our channel starting every Sunday, so be sure to subscribe to the channel get notified about scheduling. If you have any recipe or chat requests, please let me know in the comments below!
A company that offers a generous warranty is a company that believes in their product — and also believes that they won’t have to replace many waffle irons under said program. A warranty also gives you peace of mind, since you know that you’re guaranteed a functioning appliance for at least as long as the warranty is good for (and hopefully much longer).
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.