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.
Toppings are fabulous, but the perfectly crisp, tender, and golden brown square waffles from All-Clad's Belgian waffle maker will leave you wondering, who needs butter and syrup anyway? It was one of the top scorers in all our performance evaluations and tied for easiest to use overall. Turn the dial to your preferred doneness setting, pour in batter (it's okay if you use too much — the removable moat tray will catch any excess), and go about your business until it chimes.
It is sometimes difficult to justify single-use appliances, and not just due to the cost. The space that the appliance takes up, whether in a cupboard or on a counter, is space that cannot be used for other multi-function appliances, as a prep area, or for anything else you may want to do in the kitchen. Products that make an effort to be compact, or at least efficient with the space they take up, always have an advantage over those that do not (all else being equal).
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.