After narrowing the list of finalists to six waffle makers, we ordered them and put them through a series of tests in our office, all of which were designed to measure the differences between each of our finalists. We took the data we gained from our testing and factored it in alongside the features that each waffle maker offers (indictor lights, ability to flip, etc.).
We’ve covered plenty of brunch-worthy appliances and tchotchkes in the past, including a waffle iron for Instagram-worthy waffles, eggcups à la Call Me by Your Name, the best French presses and pour-overs, and even skillets to make the perfect Chez Panisse–style eggs. Here, we’re doing a deep dive into the best waffle-makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Overall, the Krups was as easy to use as any machine we tested—though no machine is particularly tricky to figure out, as long as you read the instructions. Still, the GQ502D’s intuitive, set-it-and-forget-it system made the process particularly simple. Like all waffle makers, it does get hot in places: The steam vent at the back heated up quickly for us, and the top of the machine was too hot to touch after a couple of rounds of waffles. But the heatproof handle stayed cool, even after multiple uses, something that couldn’t be said of competitors like the Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R), where built-up steam around the handle made the machine uncomfortable and risky to use.
Although the Krups Belgian Waffle Maker is our top pick, for the reasons laid out in the slides below, you should also consider the Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian Waffle Maker in Stainless Steel, the All Clad 99011GT Stainless Steel Belgian Waffle Maker 2-Square, the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker, the Chef's Choice Pro Express Waffle Maker, and the Black & Decker G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker.
The Swedish tradition dates at least to the 15th century, and there is even a particular day for the purpose, Våffeldagen (waffle day), which sounds like Vårfrudagen ("Our Lady's Day"), and is therefore used for the purpose. This is March 25 (nine months before Christmas), the Christian holiday of Annunciation. They are usually topped with strawberry jam, bilberry jam, cloudberry jam, raspberry jam, bilberry and raspberry jam, sugar and butter, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Other, savory, toppings include salmon roe, cold-smoked salmon and cream fraiche.
The two sections of the waffle iron are held together with clamps that keep the sections from separating. Because the clamps form part of the trunion mount, there is never any danger that the section that is on the bottom will come open because its clamp part is bearing the weight in the mounting. The upper section may always be easily opened due to the "U" shaped trunion opening.
If you’re not serving the waffles as soon they come out, it pays to take a little extra care with them. As Maichel told us, when they cool down, the steam inside condenses and makes the waffles soggy—especially if you let them sit around on a plate at room temperature. “I’ll put it on paper towels on a cookie rack. Or I’ll put them in the oven,” Maichel said. If you need to make waffles in quantity and keep them warm, you can put them on a sheet tray in a low oven (200 °F) until you’re ready to serve them.
Modern waffle iron makers offer a large variety of choices. Some waffle irons can make a very thin waffle, capable of making waffle cones or Pizzelle. While there is no set standard of classification for waffle shapes or thicknesses, models that fall within the most common shapes and thicknesses are often labeled as "traditional" or "classic". Models that make thicker and/or larger pocketed waffles are often labeled as "Belgian" waffle makers. In the US, the most commonly used determining factor of whether a waffle is a "Belgian waffle" or not is the thickness and/or pocket size, although the recipes for Belgian waffles and American waffles do differ.
The mold that is used to cook waffles is a heavy, heat-retaining device with a top and bottom compartment. The mold is gridded in a rectangular fashion such that protrusions on the top portion are complemented by depressions in the bottom (and vice versa). Because waffle molds were historically made out of cast iron, the device has come to be known as a "Waffle Iron". Today, aluminum and steel are the principal metals used to manufacture waffle "irons".
Dear reader, when you mix all of the ingredients together for waffles, you’ll realize that things aren’t as smooth as silk. We’re not going for a cake batter here. The moment there’s no visible flour, you’re ready to go. Easy peasy! Mixing everything within an inch of its life to ensure a lump-free batter means you’ll likely end up with tough waffles.
There are millions of recipes for waffles, but most batters fall into two distinct categories: yeast-raised (more commonly used for thicker Belgian-style waffles) and baking powder-leavened (also called "American"; think Bisquick and the like). That said, you can use yeast-raised batter in American-style waffle makers and American-style batter in Belgian-style waffle makers—the results will just be a little different than usual due to the differing shapes and sizes. Our lineup of contenders included both Belgian- and American-style machines, though for the sake of simplicity we eliminated "flip-style" models. (They tend to take up more space than other waffle irons and a perusal of anecdotal reviews indicated that they didn't perform any better.) We tested all of the machines using this crispy waffle recipe, minus the caramel coulis.
The versatile four-waffle size allows you to feed large or small crowds, but this sturdy machine is still relatively compact, and it can easily store vertically or horizontally. Not only is it about the same price as our former top pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A (which is no longer being manufactured), it even feels of better quality and comes with more great features.
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.
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.