Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
Though some have speculated that waffle irons first appeared in the 13th–14th centuries, it was not until the 15th century that a true physical distinction between the oublie and the waffle began to evolve. Notably, while a recipe like the fourth in Le Ménagier de Paris was only flour, salt and wine – indistinguishable from common oublie recipes of the time – what did emerge was a new shape to many of the irons being produced. Not only were the newly fashioned ones rectangular, taking the form of the fer à hosties, but some circular oublie irons were cut down to create rectangles. It was also in this period that the waffle's classic grid motif appeared clearly in a French fer à oublie and a Belgian wafelijzer – albeit in a more shallowly engraved fashion – setting the stage for the more deeply gridded irons that were about to become commonplace throughout Belgium.
While the Oster and Cuisinart were the two top waffle makers among our finalists in initial testing, there are four other strong choices as well. Ultimately, we went with the two that stood out during testing. None of these really stood out as a drop-in replacement for the Oster when it was discontinued, so we went looking for something with power to match our old pick and settled on the BELLA. However, if you’re looking for something different, we encourage you to read about the other four finalists (and the additional seventh non-finalist) as well.
Because waffle irons are more of a kitchen extravagance than an absolute necessity, we decided to test out a few non-waffle items in the machines just for kicks—the more versatile these tools can be, the better. We waffled up some grilled cheese and sage stuffing to see how the machines would do. As we’ve seen in the past, a waffle iron may be the best tool to make things like grilled cheese: The divots become extra crisp, with cheese oozing out and forming a crackling frico, while the peaks remain soft and chewy. The nonstick surface ensures no bits of stuffing or bread are left behind. The results of this test followed the trend of the previous ones, with our high-end picks edging out the rest.
I am always skeptical when people leave comments about how great the recipe sounds but not their actually experience with the recipe. I woke up today, Christmas morning, and realized I forgot to buy boxed Belgian waffle mix. I braved a quick internet search before I had my coffee knowing that my son was going to be disappointed if we didn’t have waffles on Christmas morning. I knew I didn’t have any yeast in the house because we eat paleo 95% of the year, so I needed a recipe that didn’t call for yeast.
If boring waffles aren’t your thing, then this may be just the added excitement your breakfast needs. We think a breakfast with these Mickey Waffles would also be a great way to surprise your children to announce a planned trip to Disney World! And even if that’s not in the plan, these waffles will still bring a smile to the face of all Mickey lovers.
What we liked: This large and affordable unit makes four waffles at a time. The square waffles produced by this model don’t feature wells as deep as those of the Cuisinart or All-Clad, but they are chewy and tender, with crispy edges and peaks. The removable, dishwasher-safe plates are our favorite feature, as deeper-welled Belgian-waffle makers can be difficult to clean. This waffle iron is particularly worth considering if you typically use a store-bought waffle mix, which is less sensitive to inconsistent heating than homemade batter. The cord storage and locking handles make the Krups simple to store, even with its large capacity.
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.