Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
If you can’t find the Krups GQ502D, we recommend turning to the Chef’sChoice WafflePro Classic Belgian (840B), which makes a Belgian-style round waffle that’s somewhat thinner than the results from our top pick. This model was the top pick in our original guide, for good reason: It bakes waffles evenly to a wide range of doneness levels (with some exceptions; see below), plus it has an alarm to alert you when the plates are sufficiently heated and the waffle is ready. However, it also has a couple of minor drawbacks, and those dropped it to the number-two slot.
I speak from experience: a few months ago, clear out of nowhere, I was struck by a need for homemade waffles. I had to have them—and because I live in New York City and expect immediate gratification, I proceeded directly to my local discount emporium and procured a plastic waffle iron—covered in a thin film of dust—for the sum of $16.99. Back home, I washed it and hastily set about mixing up a bowl of batter. Sadly, this story has a grim ending: even after the the requisite heating and greasing, pouring and griddling, the specimens that emerged from my iron were flabby and pale—hardly deserving of the name waffle and certainly a far cry from the feast of my dreamings.
By the 16th century, paintings by Joachim de Beuckelaer, Pieter Aertsen and Pieter Bruegel clearly depict the modern waffle form. Bruegel's work, in particular, not only shows waffles being cooked, but fine detail of individual waffles. In those instances, the waffle pattern can be counted as a large 12x7 grid, with cleanly squared sides, suggesting the use of a fairly thin batter, akin to our contemporary Brussels waffles (Brusselse wafels).
There are two other key subjects to consider, both related to the cooking process. First, you shouldn’t have to wrestle with your waffles (or have to pry them out with a sharp knife) when they’re ready to come out of the machine. That doesn’t mean a waffle maker must have non-stick surfaces, but we’ve found that non-stick coatings usually make all the difference. A good alternative can be a cast-iron waffle maker, but continually seasoning a cast-iron appliance calls for another level of care and work.
With its large cooking surface, the affordable Krups waffle maker is the best for feeding a crowd on a budget. It has a large enough capacity to make four waffles at a time, but still tucks away easily, with locked handles for upright storage and a cord that coils away underneath. The removable plates are dishwasher-safe, making cleanup quick and easy.
However, we found the absolute best value to come from the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker. With just a slightly larger footprint than the Cuisinart, this will give you the tastiest, most consistent, and most evenly cooked waffles. Best of all, the BELLA is even quicker than our old top pick, so you can grab a cup of coffee and start enjoying those delicious waffles as quickly as possible.
Criteria for what makes an ideal waffle are somewhat subjective: I happen to like mine crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the center, but maybe you like yours golden and crispy? Still, some technical standards are pretty universally accepted, and those were what we focused on during our test. A good waffle iron should heat evenly and cook batter consistently from top to bottom and side to side without burnt spots or raw patches. It should allow enough steam to escape during the cooking process as to produce waffles that are structurally firm and not soggy. It should also be reliable, repeating the same results batch after batch, and easy to clean.
Use your Deluxe Waffle Bowl Maker over and over again with nonstick plates that clean easily preserve the perfect waffle bowl shape. Whether you’re in the mood for a decadent sundae or a crispy taco shell, it can do it all. Create your delicious, Instagram-worthy and treat with zero extra assemblies. Simply plug in your waffle bowl maker, and you’re practically ready to dig in.
For this guide, we interviewed Daniel Shumski, author of the blog and cookbook Will It Waffle?; J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary director of Serious Eats; Tim Kemp, culinary manager of home cooking delivery service Blue Apron; and Matt Maichel, the ex-chef/owner of the catering company Waffle Which Way. Between them, they have made many thousands of waffles and other waffled items over the years and have used upward of a dozen waffle makers.