The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
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.
More than one of our tasters declared this model’s results to be “the perfect waffle.” And it truly excels at creating consistently thin, crunchy waffles. Those waffles were not quite as perfect looking as those made by the Krups GQ502D or the Chef’sChoice 840B, since the plate made a browner circle in the center of the waffle. But that was just an aesthetic issue: The waffles were just as crisp and delicious at the paler outer edge as in the center. If, however, you prefer a thick Belgian-style waffle over a thin, crisp one, you’ll want to go for our other budget pick (more on that below).
As on many waffle makers, two indicator lights sit on this machine, one red and one green. But unlike any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 does not indicate when your waffle is ready. The red light merely indicates preheating, while the green light tells you only that the machine is ready for baking. This means making waffles requires a little extra attention, but in our tests, watching for the machine to stop steaming was an accurate marker. You could also set a timer.
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.
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.