It almost goes without saying, but you’ll benefit from a waffle iron with a nonstick surface. Nonstick surfaces significantly reduce the amount of hassle involved with taking waffles out of the waffle iron, helping ensure that waffles come out unbroken. A nonstick surface also reduces the amount of oil or butter that is required to cook the waffle, making them a little healthier than they would otherwise be.
When it comes to making American-style waffles there's no question: the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (Est. $30) is the winner by a landslide, drawing hundreds of enthusiastic user reviews and kudos from experts like Your Best Digs, Wirecutter and Good Housekeeping. The Cuisinart waffle iron turns out one waffle at a time, with five doneness settings to choose from and indicator lights that tell you when it's ready for batter and when the waffle is done.
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.