Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
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.)
The ones we definitely tend to avoid are the machines which claim to be able to make both great American and Belgian waffles. The old cliché “Jack of all trades, master of none” almost always holds true when it comes to models which supposedly are versatile enough to produce terrific waffles whether you prefer them thin or thick. The optimal construction of a waffle maker is very different for each type, and there’s no way a quality machine can do justice to both.
Despite most waffle irons having nonstick coatings, you’ll need to liberally grease both the top and bottom of the waffle iron with oil. If you’ve ever had the problem of a waffle sticking, it’s likely that you’ve been too stingy with the oil. Worry not; so long as your waffle iron is hot, your waffles will not be greasy. If you’re like me and have forgotten to grease the waffle iron before pouring your batter in, all is not wasted (I promise— you can see how I rectified the problem here). Using a pastry brush, grease around the sides of each waffle, and let the oil settle between the waffle and the waffle iron for about 10 seconds. Then, carefully lift the waffles out of the iron and all should be well in the world!
I really would like to give this place better reviews, but the service is SO BAD. I came twice, once during lunch and again during breakfast (but early, so it wasn't even crowded). Both times I sat outside, and both times the service was inexcusably bad. At breakfast, my husband never got a refill on his coffee. Both times I sat for so long that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get up to place my order at the counter (I wasn't).
The drip tray included with the BELLA waffle maker makes cleanup even easier. After cooking several dozen waffles, we still found very little that needed to be cleaned from the waffle maker itself once the drip tray was removed. In addition, the nonstick surface was effective — however, it didn’t particularly stand out compared to the rest of the field.
The important qualities of a waffle maker are pretty much the same, though, no matter which type of waffles it makes. The ability to provide even heat across all of the plates tops our list; obviously, no waffle is going to be crunchy and delicious if part of it is undercooked, or if it’s necessary to burn one side to a crisp in order to cook the other side all the way through.
I hate myself for how much I loved this machine. I don't think anyone should have to spend $200 on a waffle maker, and I was actively rooting for another, more budget-friendly model to best or at least match it. But after a full day of testing and eating, I cannot in good conscience recommend any waffle iron more enthusiastically. None of the machines we tested even came close. The All-Clad has ruined all other waffle makers for me.
Optional: If you want your waffles a little crispy you can add some extra oil to this batter too. Additionally, you can experiment with adding different flavoring extracts or spices to the mix to make them taste the way you like. Sometimes we add pumpkin spice mix for a seasonal flavor, other times we may add Pecans or Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips for some variety too.
My engineering instinct tells me to stick to what is simple, which led me to this cute little snapper. THIS WAFFLE IRON IS AMAZING. I have only made three waffles on it so far, but IT MADE PERFECT GOLDEN, CRISPY WAFFLES WITH HOT, STEAMY FLUFF ON THE INSIDE. And it required no cleaning! And it stores upright nicely! And … And … And … I have decided, unless you run a professional kitchen or feed a family of 13 waffles every day, you do not need to pay any more money for a professional waffle iron that ‘flips’ or ‘shoots flames out its behind.’ This waffle iron is inexpensive, but I have no regrets. This iron does exactly what I want it to do. And that is to make perfect waffles.”
“My girlfriend is great, but this thing is amazing. She laughed when I said it, but in an uncomfortable way, as if she knows there is a chance I may run away with this machine never to be seen or heard from again. I have never been so overly satisfied with a product that exceeded my expectations right off the bat. We made the traditional-style waffles and filled them with an assortment of berries and peanut butter and syrup, and everybody was satisfied. We even tried cooking eggs, just eggs, as an omelette, and at about one minute a little more you have perfect omelette bowls to fill with whatever you wish. Tonight, I may throw some ground beef in there just to see what happens. Buy this and never look back … Shoot, buy four and feed the neighborhood every morning.”
The best waffles are obtained by using yeast for the dough. You can also use self-raising flour or baking powder, but the result is not as tasty. Alas, waffles with yeast cannot be stored for longer than one or two days. You should eat them during the baking or as soon as possible afterwards (warm them up in the iron which was used for the baking).
Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.