The earliest waffle irons originated in the Low Countries around the 14th century. These waffle irons were constructed of two hinged iron plates connected to two long, wooden handles. The plates were often made to imprint elaborate patterns on the waffle, including coat of arms, landscapes, or religious symbols. The waffles would be baked over the hearth fire.
One of our two budget picks, the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (WMR-CA), makes consistently excellent waffles, and its compact design is perfect for small spaces. It produces just one round, thin waffle at a time (even smaller than what our runner-up makes), so this model is a good choice only if you like your waffles thin and crispy, and don’t need a high-volume waffle maker. The hardware is also cheaper feeling than that of our other picks.
Sunday brunch, or any-morning brunch, is better with warm, golden waffles. Crisp and light and scented with vanilla, waffles are the shape of a perfect breakfast, cupping pools of melted butter and maple for a lavish start to the day. Even though there's always a place in my heart for frozen Eggos, nothing beats the taste of homemade waffles, and making your own lets you skip the busy brunch rush. A great waffle iron and Stella’s recipes for buttermilk or yeasted waffles make homemade waffles a cinch.
The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
Of course, it's a waffle iron that makes it all possible. And while the same machine may spend the other 51 Sundays a year wedged in the back of your cabinet, when that craving strikes, it better be ready for the big leagues. Because if you're going to go through the motions—the ceremony!—of making homemade waffles, why bother with mediocre results? If that's what you wanted, you could just defrost some frozen ones.
A. It's great to get kids involved in the kitchen, and making waffles is a relatively simple task. Waffle makers are fairly safe, but because the cooking plates get very hot, we don’t recommend kids use them without an age-appropriate level of adult supervision. Ideally, look for waffle makers with handles or exteriors that stay cool to the touch while in use.
What's the difference between Belgian Waffles and "regular" American-style waffles? According to Chowhound, Belgian waffles are bigger all around — in diameter and thickness — and also have deeper square pockets than their American counterparts. They are also traditionally made with yeast, which makes them light and fluffy. Regular waffles, on the other hand, are usually made with baking powder and are thinner and crunchier than Belgian waffles. Belgian waffles require a different kind of waffle maker.
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.
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.
While this Cuisinart is undoubtedly a top performer at a great price point, it does only cook one waffle at a time, and the Wirecutter editors point out that it's not as sturdily built as some of the competition -- a point echoed by many users. That may make this waffle iron best for either small groups or occasional waffle-making. That said, Cuisinart offers a three-year warranty -- right up there with some pro-level appliances that cost six times as much. The Cuisinart WMR-CA is also versatile, with users saying it's even great for making foods like hash browns, bacon and potato cakes.
American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes like hearts, or for use in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches.
The 18th century is also when the word "waffle" first appeared in the English language, in a 1725 printing of Court Cookery by Robert Smith. Recipes had begun to spread throughout England and America, though essentially all were patterned after established Dutch, Belgian, German, and French versions. Waffle parties, known as 'wafel frolics', were documented as early as 1744 in New Jersey, and the Dutch had earlier established waffles in New Amsterdam (New York City).
Belgian waffles are thicker than American waffles, and also have deeper wells for butter, syrup, or whatever else you decide to put on top of your waffle. In our opinion, choosing a waffle style comes down to a personal preference. However, the majority of highly-regarded waffle makers are Belgian — with the notable exception of one of our top picks: the Cuisinart-Round Classic Waffle Maker.
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?
You can depend on the Breville the No Mess Waffle for thin crispy waffle rounds, one after another, after another. The other great thing about this brushed stainless-steel waffler is that it has a moat around the waffle grid that catches any excess batter so there’s never any runover on the counter or the machine itself making it truly no mess. It lights up and beeps when it’s hot enough for baking and again when your waffle is ready, but we wish the beeps were louder—they would be easy to miss in a noisy kitchen. After breakfast, you can latch the grids together and store it on its side to have more room to prep for the next meal.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”