The 4-square model allows you to feed a family in one fell swoop, but if you're single or cooking for two, it's also easy to downsize by filling just one or two of the batter reservoirs. We made several batches of waffles at different settings throughout the day using the same batter and each one was literally flawless: tall and airy, uniformly cooked on both sides, crisp and golden on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. And judging by the reactions of customers on Amazon who call this the "best waffle maker on the planet" and report that "the results are perfect every time," our outcomes were not a fluke. While we did not venture into the world of "will it waffle," we came across anecdotal reviews that reported using it to make "amazing" brownies and panini.
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.)
This batter also benefited the most from the flip mechanism found in some of the irons we tested, likely due to the fact that it's a thinner batter that flows flat into the iron. (The flip design delivers even heating by making sure that a thin batter receives equal contact with the plates on both the top and the bottom.) The waffles resulting from this batter browned more evenly in the flip models than in the stationary ones, with the exception of our high-end picks, the Breville and All-Clad, both of which performed excellently. Ultimately, though, aside from our top-rated flip model, we’d steer you toward our other top picks, including the budget ones, even though they’re stationary: They produced better waffles overall due to higher heat and shorter cook time, despite their uneven browning.
There was one area in which the flip proved useful, which was creating full waffles with batter that flowed from edge to edge without overflowing the iron. With a stationary model, you’re left to depend on just the weight of the top plate to spread out the batter, which often requires you to overfill it to reach the edges, particularly with square waffles. With a flip model, you also get some help from the rotational movement to distribute the batter, making it easier to completely fill the plates with less batter.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
“For getting the waffles out,” Maichel said, “a wooden chopstick is good because you can get it under there. Don’t use any metal … if [the plate] gets scratched, it’ll turn into a sticky spot.” In testing, we found that chopsticks were also useful for scraping out burned bits that got stuck in the Presto FlipSide, and tongs with silicone or nylon heads worked well for removing waffles, too.
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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.
Waffles from the Hamilton Beach 26009 are also quite similar to those from the Proctor Silex 26016A and the Krups GQ502D: They’re 1 inch thick and a square shape, with an evenly browned exterior. Waffles consistently came out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, and though the browning control didn’t produce quite as much range as any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 never burned or undercooked a waffle. Batter didn’t always fill the top plate evenly, leaving waffles a little blotchy on top, but not in a way that significantly affected taste or texture. And, unlike our other budget pick, the Hamilton Beach 26009 handled thin, yeasted batter with ease.
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.
That said, quite a few users say that this waffle maker isn't as sturdily built as previous versions of the same model, and that if you don't get the top heating plate aligned just right, it can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot. The top of the G48TD also gets very hot. Some use pliers to bend the metal clips that hold the heating plates in place, which helps them line up better -- or you can just use an oven mitt to protect your hands.