Space-saving small appliances, like a food processor or vertical waffle maker free up space on the counter while getting the cooking task at hand finished. The upright design of a vertical waffle iron means the batter gets poured into a spout, so the appliance cannot be over- or under-filled and the resulting waffles are even in thickness. Aluminum plates provide even heating, so waffles come out evenly browned with no flipping required. If you are cooking for picky eaters, five browning settings make it easy to create waffles that are perfectly browned based on personal preferences. An indicator light and alert sound tell you when the waffle maker is ready to use and when the pastry is ready to eat.
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.
Our final round of waffles was made out of Aunt Jemima waffle mix, prepared according to the package’s instructions. These waffles use a combination of chemical leavening and steam from the added liquid to result in the rise of the waffles. The waffles made with this batter were consistently dense and cake-like in all the waffle makers, but the color came out evenly brown in all machines. Where we found variations was in the crispness of the crusts, with machines that were hotter yielding thinner and crispier crusts. With this batter, we also found no differences between flip and non-flip units. If you make waffles mostly with a boxed mix, you can definitely get away with using a cheaper iron, since the differences were closer to minimal.
What's the difference between Belgian Waffles and "regular" American-style waffles? According to Chowhound, Belgian waffles are bigger all around — in diameter and thickness — and also have deeper square pockets than their American counterparts. They are also traditionally made with yeast, which makes them light and fluffy. Regular waffles, on the other hand, are usually made with baking powder and are thinner and crunchier than Belgian waffles. Belgian waffles require a different kind of waffle maker.
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.
“My 40-year quest to find the perfect waffle-maker ended when I purchased this double-flip model. Over the decades, I had bought and used a number of different non-flip models. All suffered from the same problem of requiring more precise filling than I was capable of — too much batter and it oozed out the sides and made a big mess, but too little and the waffles ended up with bald spots. Then I started paying attention to the waffle-makers that hotels use for brunch. From Frankfurt to Burlington to Savannah, they all used flip-style waffle-makers. So I hunted down and tried this model. It works great! The flip action distributes the batter evenly. No oozing, and no bald spots. And the thermometer/timer works very well — I set it around 4, and when the beeper sounds, I have perfectly golden-brown waffles every time. The waffles release easily, and there’s minimal cleanup. Best. Waffle. Maker. Ever.”
While this Cuisinart is undoubtedly a top performer at a great price point, it does only cook one waffle at a time, and the Wirecutter editors point out that it's not as sturdily built as some of the competition -- a point echoed by many users. That may make this waffle iron best for either small groups or occasional waffle-making. That said, Cuisinart offers a three-year warranty -- right up there with some pro-level appliances that cost six times as much. The Cuisinart WMR-CA is also versatile, with users saying it's even great for making foods like hash browns, bacon and potato cakes.