What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
The Cuisinart WMR-CA has been a budget pick at Wirecutter for multiple years. "It truly excels at making consistently thin, crunchy waffles," write the Wirecutter editors. They say that a bit of uneven browning they noticed in their test (there's a darker brown patch on the center) is just aesthetic and doesn't affect the waffle's crispness or taste. It's also a top pick from Your Best Digs.
We looked at one stovetop model, the nonstick-coated cast aluminum Nordic Ware Original Stovetop Belgian Waffle Maker (15040). We ultimately cut it because the iron depends too much on the cook’s attention and experience to yield consistently great results. Professional and seasoned home cooks may prefer the great degree of control this Nordic Ware model allows, and if you know your stove well, J. Kenji López-Alt pointed out, you can compensate for hot and cool spots. It’s also the easiest to clean, he said, since you can just throw it in the sink when you’re done. None of the other waffle makers can go in the sink or be sprayed.
As on many waffle makers, two indicator lights sit on this machine, one red and one green. But unlike any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 does not indicate when your waffle is ready. The red light merely indicates preheating, while the green light tells you only that the machine is ready for baking. This means making waffles requires a little extra attention, but in our tests, watching for the machine to stop steaming was an accurate marker. You could also set a timer.
As for extra features, there's a small clip-on tray attached to the rear of the waffle maker to catch any errant drips (it really works), and a sturdy dial that allows you to adjust your browning preferences on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being the lightest and 7 being the darkest. A lighted indicator and pleasant chime let you know when your waffles are done cooking. The locking lid is solid and the handle feels great in the hand. The interior heats up evenly and is generously proportioned to produce 1-inch thick waffles with deep, crisp wells. And though the plates are not removable, the nonstick surface requires no greasing, releases the waffles with ease, and cleans astonishingly well after cooking.
First, we have to identify what makes a good waffle. Regardless of whether you prefer your waffle light golden or dark brown, it should be crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. We always want a waffle that’s evenly cooked, free of burnt centers or pale edges; it should also be the same color on both sides. The key to achieving this is a waffle maker with coils that get hot enough to quickly cook the waffles, coupled with heavy plates to better retain the heat. A waffle iron that gets and stays hot can cook the batter surface more quickly, setting it into a crisp shell while keeping the inside moist and light. Waffles that take too long to cook end up dense, flabby, and leathery. We found that the best waffles were cooked in under four minutes.
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.
The Kalorik Traditional Belgian Waffle Maker makes large, fluffy, Belgian-style waffles with ease. Pour your favorite waffle batter onto the non-stick coated plates and close the lid, the waffle maker does the rest! Equipped with an adjustable temperature control knob, you can cook your waffles to perfection, make them as soft or as crispy as you would like. The unit features power and ready indicator lights, so that you always know when your waffle maker has reached its optimum cooking...
Sadly, those are the only nice things we have to say about the new Oster. Despite being rated for the same wattage and designed in nearly the same way (even the maximum warm-up temperature was basically identical to the old model when we checked with a K-type thermometer probe) this model does not cook satisfactory belgian waffles. We even sent the first machine we got back for a replacement, certain that it must be broken.
Hamilton Beach's Belgian style waffle maker makes round waffles that can easily be split into eight individual waffle sticks, which kids and adults alike will love (we're already dreaming of setting up a waffle dip buffet table at brunch, plus the opportunity to carry waffles with us on the go). The product's deep grids — in addition to the deep overflow channel around their edge — make it near impossible for even the klutziest cook to spill.
The mold that is used to cook waffles is a heavy, heat-retaining device with a top and bottom compartment. The mold is gridded in a rectangular fashion such that protrusions on the top portion are complemented by depressions in the bottom (and vice versa). Because waffle molds were historically made out of cast iron, the device has come to be known as a "Waffle Iron". Today, aluminum and steel are the principal metals used to manufacture waffle "irons".
For those who aren't happy with just wiping their waffle maker down to keep it clean, the Hamilton Beach 26030 Belgian Waffle Maker has removable non-stick plates and a drip tray that can all go straight into the dishwasher, and users say they come clean very nicely that way. The indicator lights make it easy to use, and the adjustable browning control offers some customization. Most importantly, it also turns out great, fluffy yet crisp Belgian waffles.
With that in mind, if you intend to serve Brussels waffles, then you should pick a unit with a rectangular shape. However, if you’re planning on making Liege waffles, then a unit with an irregular shape will be better suited. As for Belgian waffles, they are usually round, requiring a round-shaped waffle maker. American waffles can be either round or square, allowing you to choose one of the two.
A dial on the Krups GQ502D controls browning, on a scale of 1 (lightest) to 5 (darkest). You can easily control how cooked your waffles are without ever producing an inedible one: The lightest waffles are barely brown but still cooked through, while the darkest are crisp and brown but never burnt. Compare that with the Chef’sChoice 830B, which in our tests got so hot that it started to burn waffles on a medium setting, or even with our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, which can burn its thinner waffles on the highest setting. The dial on the Krups machine also allows you to turn the waffle maker off without unplugging it, a feature that very few waffle makers have. Such a feature isn’t totally necessary, but it is nice to have if you want to keep the machine on your counter ready to use; it’s also one that a lot of Amazon customers seem to desire, judging from reviews of other waffle makers across the board.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
Although we included one cast aluminum stovetop waffle maker, we decided to eliminate cast iron models, because seasoning the material added another layer of complexity to use and care. In addition, we were interested in testing a waffle maker with interchangeable plates (one that could also serve as a grill or panini press, for example), but the particular model we had our eye on, the T-fal EZ Clean Sandwich and Waffle Maker, has been discontinued, and in a later conversation with Matt Maichel, he confirmed that a device dedicated solely to waffle making works better than one that multitasks.
Sohla got her start decorating ice cream cakes and clown cones at her parent’s scoop shop in LA. After backpacking through Europe and discovering the world’s best arroz negro, she decided to follow food wherever it took her. This led her to work in some of New York’s top restaurants and meet her now husband over a slice of DiFara’s pizza. Together, they owned and operated a restaurant in Brooklyn, which earned them a StarChefs Rising Star Award. She can often be found chasing her dog through Tompkins Square Park (as he runs away from her…again).
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.
American waffles vary significantly. Generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle, they are often made from a batter leavened with baking powder, which is sometimes mixed with pecans, chocolate drops or berries and may be round, square, or rectangular in shape. Like American pancakes they are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and maple syrup, bacon, and other fruit syrups, honey, or powdered sugar. They are also found in many different savory dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles or topped with kidney stew. They may also be served as desserts, topped with ice cream and various other toppings. A large chain (over 2,100 locations) of waffle specialty diners, Waffle House, is ubiquitous in the southern United States.
A related side-note: I recently made the waffles (live!) on Nom, a new video platform that allows you to live broadcast your cooking adventures. The platform was started by one of the founders of YouTube, so you know it’s good! I’ll be sharing more recipes and having more chats on our channel starting every Sunday, so be sure to subscribe to the channel get notified about scheduling. If you have any recipe or chat requests, please let me know in the comments below!