Hungry diners know whether or not their breakfast is ready when the Cuisinart's convenient "ready to bake/ready to eat" indicator lights with corresponding red and green hues come on. The Cuisinart features a cool-touch lid and round, non-stick cooking plates with four quarters, giving users the option of having a single waffle or dividing it up. We particularly like how this waffle maker, in its brushed stainless steel housing, stands on end for convenient storage in tight spaces.
There was one area in which the flip proved useful, which was creating full waffles with batter that flowed from edge to edge without overflowing the iron. With a stationary model, you’re left to depend on just the weight of the top plate to spread out the batter, which often requires you to overfill it to reach the edges, particularly with square waffles. With a flip model, you also get some help from the rotational movement to distribute the batter, making it easier to completely fill the plates with less batter.
We were looking for an iron that consistently produced tall, evenly browned waffles with crisp shells and moist crumbs without any trial and error on our part. We focused on the newer, more prevalent flip- and rotary-style models, which either turn on a hinge or spin 180 degrees on a stand, but we also included several conventional stationary models. We set a price cap of $100 and tested 13 irons, making batches of both Belgian-style yeasted waffles and our everyday Cook’s Illustrated Best Buttermilk Waffles in each machine.
One of my readers sent in the following photo of a Farber Broiler Robot in action. This is reader Frank cooking a steak in the Robot while generating power from a Kohler 1A2 portable power plant. This is the kind of gasoline generator that would have been used on farms prior to the Rural Electrification Administration. Frank brings his generator to various shows -- he has quite a nifty rig there!
I really would like to give this place better reviews, but the service is SO BAD. I came twice, once during lunch and again during breakfast (but early, so it wasn't even crowded). Both times I sat outside, and both times the service was inexcusably bad. At breakfast, my husband never got a refill on his coffee. Both times I sat for so long that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get up to place my order at the counter (I wasn't).
For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
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.
I don’t think that the geometry of the waffle iron (shape, or depth of indentations) has any effect on the taste. Grease older waffle irons with some oil or melted butter before you begin to bake. I have had some success with spraying the hot iron with aerosol cooking oil like PAM. If waffles get to stick to the iron, dig out the mess and re-grease the iron. Modern teflon waffle-makers do not need any surface treatment. However, with some practice and seasoning, nothing ever really sticks to a well-cared for waffle iron.
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Although the Krups Belgian Waffle Maker is our top pick, for the reasons laid out in the slides below, you should also consider the Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian Waffle Maker in Stainless Steel, the All Clad 99011GT Stainless Steel Belgian Waffle Maker 2-Square, the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker, the Chef's Choice Pro Express Waffle Maker, and the Black & Decker G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker.
The first thing we didn’t like was an unpleasant plastic smell that emanated from the Presto waffle maker when we first started cooking with it. While this scent did mostly dissipate over the course of our testing, and most waffle maker manuals suggest throwing away your first waffle because of chemicals that might be released from the non-stick, the smell from the Presto made us more uneasy than the rest.
The instructions say to warm up the waffle iron on heat setting 7, but there is no heat setting 7. The waffle iron has a knob on top numbered 1 through 6. I can't actually rotate the knob to numbers 5 and 6 though; the knob is physically stopped from rotating at 4. When I rotate the knob the other direction, I can rotate past 1 almost a full 360 degrees (stopping just before I reach 6 from the opposite side). The iron seems to heat up as soon as it's plugged in regardless of how the knob is rotated, so as far as I can tell there is no "off" setting even if I've rotated the knob to well below 1. Since I can't tell how the knob actually maps to heat settings (if the knob even does anything at all) I'm afraid to even try actually poring waffle batter onto the thing..
“I have no bad things to say about this. It’s completely nonstick — not like a little bit nonstick — it’s COMPLETELY nonstick. Don’t spray it or oil it or butter it. It’s nonstick. It heats incredibly fast and cooks fast, too. I’d play with the timing because it often says cook a waffle for four minutes, and I can get a nice fluffy waffle that’s not too crisp in way less. It depends on your preference. You can store it upright. I can tuck it out of the way much easier than stacking it in a cabinet somewhere. And lastly, I have made protein waffles and regular waffles and no matter the batter type or consistency, I had great results. My insane toddler keeps asking for waffles and I can’t deny him because they are just too easy to make.”
In the pantheon of waffle irons, the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker is the undisputed queen, but she comes with a price tag to match—so if you're watching your wallet, it's worth considering the Krups as a good alternative. Still, if you can save up some dough to take the plunge, you'll be rewarded with the best waffles of your life. And the build of the machine is so solid, you can think of it as you would a Le Creuset Dutch oven or a vintage Griswold cast-iron skillet—an heirloom to pass on to future generations for hundreds of more happy Sunday mornings.
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.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”