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.
Flip or stationary? Once you’ve chosen between Belgian or American-style waffles, the next step is to determine if you want the assistance of a flip mechanism. Without flipping over the irons, you’re relying on the rising agent in your batter (or just over-filling your waffle maker) to quickly and evenly fill the top plate. The flip mechanism ensures even distribution for more consistent waffles. They take up more space vertically, but in the storage position they’re actually pretty manageable.
If picture-perfect waffles are a must-have, then this flip model is the pick for you. The flip function makes it easy to distribute the batter from edge to edge, without worrying about overflow. The Cuisinart waffle maker heats up and cooks waffles fast, producing a crisp outer shell and fluffy interior. Its heavy plates heat evenly and retain the heat well, so batch after batch of waffles turns out consistently browned. This iron quickly makes two large waffles at a time and reheats rapidly, so it can handle a lot of growling stomachs. This model also features an on/off switch, allowing you to always have it set up on your counter for waffles on the fly.
No matter what you’re buying, easy cleanup is always an issue. For waffle makers, it’s even more crucial. If you’ve ever gone through the exercise of trying to scrape burned bits of waffle out of the nooks and crannies of a sub-standard waffle maker – particularly one which is supposedly “non-stick,” with surfaces that can be easily damaged – features like removable grids and easily-accessible surfaces everywhere on the machine are probably at the top of your “must-have” list.
The Black & Decker G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker and Grill is a waffle maker, a griddle, and a grill. All you have to do to switch from making waffles to frying up eggs and bacon is to change the nonstick reversible cooking plates. A unique 180-degree hinge also doubles the available cooking area, so you'll end up with two eight-inch-square griddles for pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Then you can switch it up again to grill a sandwich for lunch.
Brussels waffles are prepared with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter, traditionally an ale yeast; occasionally both types of leavening are used together. They are lighter, crisper and have larger pockets compared to other European waffle varieties, and are easy to differentiate from Liège Waffles by their rectangular sides. In Belgium, most waffles are served warm by street vendors and dusted with confectioner's sugar, though in tourist areas they might be topped with whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate spread. Variants of the Brussels waffles – with whipped and folded egg whites cooked in large rectangular forms – date from the 18th century. However, the oldest recognized reference to "Gaufres de Bruxelles" (Brussels Waffles) by name is attributed from 1842/43 to Florian Dacher, a Swiss baker in Ghent, Belgium, who had previously worked under pastry chefs in central Brussels. Philippe Cauderlier would later publish Dacher's recipe in the 1874 edition of his recipe book "La Pâtisserie et la Confiture". Maximilien Consael, another Ghent chef, had claimed to have invented the waffles in 1839, though there's no written record of him either naming or selling the waffles until his participation in the 1856 Brussels Fair. Neither man created the recipe; they simply popularized and formalized an existing recipe as the Brussels waffle.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.