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.
Unlike pancakes, waffles don’t require you to hover over the stove top, waiting for the exact right moment to flip them over. They take care of themselves; simply set a timer, check on the indicator light, or listen for the beep and you’ll have a delicious waffle all ready to go. Waffles make a convenient, decadent breakfast with relatively little work.
Use your waffle maker for something other than, well, waffles. Brave bakers can try pressing grilled cheese, cinnamon rolls, hash browns and - yes- even pizza. If you’re a dessert lover, a waffle cone maker will bring the ice cream parlor to you. You can even create a Belgian waffle bowl with a specially designed waffle maker, and then fill it with anything you like.
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.
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.
“My husband and I love Belgian waffles. Over the past 20 years, you would not believe how many waffle-makers I have purchased. Some were good, and others were just terrible. My new All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker makes perfect Belgian waffles. It is on the pricey side, but obviously worth every penny. I wish I had found it years earlier. The waffles that are perfect for us are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the color is a golden brown. I was able to achieve this on setting No. 5. I like to use King Arthur Flour Belgian Waffle Mix. The resulting waffles are outstanding.”
One other nice, though not strictly necessary, feature is the toggle switch, which allows you to select either a “crisp exterior/moist interior” setting or an “evenly baked” setting. For the most part, these settings work as promised: The former produced waffles with a custardy interior, while the latter produced more evenly crisp waffles. The only caveat is that, on a lower browning setting, your crisp-exterior, moist-interior waffles may come out underdone.
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After enjoying a plate of waffle goodness, you’ll need to clean up your mess. The level of cleaning you’ll have to do may depend on your waffle maker. Some models have a nonstick coating such as the Oster CKSTWFBF21 1-1/2-Inch Thick Belgian Flip Waffle Maker while others also have removable plates such as the KRUPS GQ502D Belgian Waffle Maker. Some models also feature a drip tray to make sure you don’t leave a mess on your countertop such as the All-Clad 99011GT Stainless Steel Belgian Waffle Maker. Others, like the NordicWare 15040 Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgium Waffle Iron, can be placed entirely in the sink for cleaning.
If you’re craving a sweet, fluffy and mouthwatering Belgian-inspired waffle, the Proctor Silex Waffle Baker can give you that taste from the comfort of your own kitchen using any of the waffle mixes available. With its nonstick design and a waffle grid that’s perfectly proportioned for one waffle, this waffle wonder can make thick waffles in the perfect size to fill you up. Most waffles are done in about 5 to 8 minutes. Waffles have long been known as a sweet breakfast food. But don’t limit them to your morning meal, try southern-inspired chicken & waffles for dinner or have a ham and cheese waffle for lunch.
Some waffle makers are equipped with nothing but an on-off light and a "ready indicator," but even an increasing amount of budget-friendly models have extra features like numbered dials to adjust the preferred degrees of doneness, beeps or buzzers that indicate when the cook time is finished, and removable plates that can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
First and foremost, you want a waffle maker that effectively and evenly cooks the batter. Electric waffle makers have heating elements on both sides, behind each grid, to aid in even cooking. Matt Maichel explained to us that these machines work by removing moisture from the batter via heat and surface area: “The dimples create more surface area; the more surface area, the more quickly the waffle can cook.” He added, “If steam doesn’t escape properly from the device, then you won’t get a good waffle.”
After spending 35 hours making (and eating) waffles with eight of the most popular and highly rated models on the market, we determined the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker is the best waffle maker for consumers. This model quickly and consistently produced the best-tasting waffles, evenly cooked every time and with good control over browning. For a compact option, we like the Cuisinart – Round Classic.