We rigorously tested the top 12 models ranging in price from $20 to $125 (at the time of testing) to find you the ones that consistently make the best waffles—ones that are crisp and golden on the outside while still fluffy and moist on the inside, ready to mop up country gravy, runny yolks, or warm maple syrup. We want waffle irons that reheat quickly so you can feed a crowd. We also want ones that are easy to clean, store, and operate. Because waffle irons are bonus, luxury appliances, we’ve found winners that we’re confident are worth the splurge (and counter space)—tools you’ll want to reach for any time of day. For those who don’t want to spend a lot, we’ve also picked our favorite budget models; they don’t work quite as well, but, with bonus features like removable plates for easy cleaning, we think they’re worth considering.
Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
The versatile four-waffle size allows you to feed large or small crowds, but this sturdy machine is still relatively compact, and it can easily store vertically or horizontally. Not only is it about the same price as our former top pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A (which is no longer being manufactured), it even feels of better quality and comes with more great features.
Modern waffle iron makers offer a large variety of choices. Some waffle irons can make a very thin waffle, capable of making waffle cones or Pizzelle. While there is no set standard of classification for waffle shapes or thicknesses, models that fall within the most common shapes and thicknesses are often labeled as "traditional" or "classic". Models that make thicker and/or larger pocketed waffles are often labeled as "Belgian" waffle makers. In the US, the most commonly used determining factor of whether a waffle is a "Belgian waffle" or not is the thickness and/or pocket size, although the recipes for Belgian waffles and American waffles do differ.
There are more than 200 user reviews on Amazon. Many of them are positive, citing the relative ease of using this waffle maker. But many users, even those who like the quality and style of waffles produced by the appliance, note that the waffles turn out too thin and crispy to truly be considered Belgian waffles. That's just fine by American waffle fans, though.
If you prefer a thick Belgian waffle over the thin American-style ones produced by the Cuisinart WMR-CA, but don’t have either the money or the space for our top pick from Krups, the compact Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009) is your best bet. In make, it actually looks similar to our previous top pick, the discontinued Proctor Silex 26016A, offering the same handle and locking system, as well as the same slider for browning control.
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).
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.