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.
Earliest of the 16th century waffle recipes, Om ghode waffellen te backen – from the Dutch KANTL 15 manuscript (ca. 1500–1560) – is only the second known waffle recipe after the four variants described in Le Ménagier de Paris. For the first time, partial measurements were given, sugar was used, and spices were added directly to the batter: Take grated white bread. Take with that the yolk of an egg and a spoonful of pot sugar or powdered sugar. Take with that half water and half wine, and ginger and cinnamon.
Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
The Swedish tradition dates at least to the 15th century, and there is even a particular day for the purpose, Våffeldagen (waffle day), which sounds like Vårfrudagen ("Our Lady's Day"), and is therefore used for the purpose. This is March 25 (nine months before Christmas), the Christian holiday of Annunciation. They are usually topped with strawberry jam, bilberry jam, cloudberry jam, raspberry jam, bilberry and raspberry jam, sugar and butter, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Other, savory, toppings include salmon roe, cold-smoked salmon and cream fraiche.
If our main pick sells out, we also like the Chef’sChoice WafflePro Classic Belgian (840B), our original top pick, which performs just as well as the Krups—but only with thick batter, which makes it less flexible in practice. It also produces fewer waffles at a time than the Krups, but it does have a wide range of doneness settings, and it will beep when your waffles are ready.
With all three batters, as well as our bonus rounds of stuffing and grilled cheese, there was a clear difference in the quality of results between higher-end, more expensive models and lower-end, budget models. The high-end models heated up significantly faster and hotter, and had a much shorter recovery time between waffles. They all have heavier plates than the lower-end models, resulting in even heat and consistent browning. The waffles made in our more expensive models all became deeply browned in under four minutes, while the less expensive models took anywhere from eight to 15 minutes. This resulted in huge variations in the density of the inside and the texture of the exterior of the waffles.
Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande, are a specialty of northern France and portions of western Belgium. The original recipe, published in 1740 by Louis-Auguste de Bourbon in Le Cuisinier Gascon, is as follows: Take "deux litrons" (1.7 liters or 7 cups) of flour and mix it in a bowl with salt and one ounce of brewer's yeast barm. Moisten it completely with warm milk. Then whisk fifteen egg whites and add that to the mixture, stirring continuously. Incorporate "un livre" (490 grams or 1.1 pounds) of fresh butter, and let the batter rise. Once the batter has risen, take your heated iron, made expressly for these waffles, and wrap some butter in a cloth and rub both sides of the iron with it. When the iron is completely heated, make your waffles, but do so gently for fear of burning them. Cooked, take them out, put them on a platter, and serve them with both sugar and orange blossom water on top.
Traditional waffle irons are attached to tongs with wooden handles and are held over an open flame, or set on a stove. Most modern waffle irons are self-contained tabletop electrical appliances, heated by an electric heating element controlled by an internal thermostat. There are also two variants of the electric iron: one with removable plates and ones with non-removable plates. Professional waffle makers are usually made of cast iron whereas domestic models are often teflon coated. Many have a light that goes off when the iron is at the set temperature. Most modern waffle irons - particularly cast aluminum ones - are coated with a non-stick coating (e.g. teflon) to prevent the waffles from sticking to them. Cast-iron waffle makers are usually not coated and require seasoning like a cast-iron frying pan.
Bella's rotating waffle maker bakes one round traditional waffle in less than 3 minutes, making it one of the quickest-to-cook models we tested. It received near top performance scores amongst traditional waffle makers tested, producing perfectly tender waffles from both a mix and from scratch and evenly browned 'em, too. Little ones helping cook breakfast will love flipping the waffle maker over after you add the batter.
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.
No, this waffle maker cannot compete with the All-Clad, but at about a quarter of the price, the Krups sure gives it a respectable run for its money. The build isn't as solid—there's some plastic, no 18/10 stainless here—but like the All-Clad, it is generously proportioned to yield four tall, deeply grooved Belgian-style waffles per batch and, with an adjustable dial for cook control and an audible chime that signals doneness, it doesn't skimp on extra features. It does best the All-Clad in one regard: its non-stick plates not only release cooked waffles easily, they pop out for easy cleaning and are dishwasher safe. That's a game changer right there.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
Our biggest criticism was one of consistency: some batches turned out strong, but others showed signs of uneven heating or inefficient steam release. Some waffles had over-crisped spots while others were golden on the bottom but soggy and undercooked on top, as though they came from two different irons. Still, the Krups was a solid performer, especially given its capacity, reasonable price, and rave reviews from other testers—it was the #1 pick from the Wirecutter and has over 240 five-star reviews on Amazon. We feel confident recommending it as a wallet-friendly alternative to the All-Clad.
The 18th century is also when the word "waffle" first appeared in the English language, in a 1725 printing of Court Cookery by Robert Smith. Recipes had begun to spread throughout England and America, though essentially all were patterned after established Dutch, Belgian, German, and French versions. Waffle parties, known as 'wafel frolics', were documented as early as 1744 in New Jersey, and the Dutch had earlier established waffles in New Amsterdam (New York City).
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The ones we definitely tend to avoid are the machines which claim to be able to make both great American and Belgian waffles. The old cliché “Jack of all trades, master of none” almost always holds true when it comes to models which supposedly are versatile enough to produce terrific waffles whether you prefer them thin or thick. The optimal construction of a waffle maker is very different for each type, and there’s no way a quality machine can do justice to both.
Our best waffle maker top 5 list looks at the performance of all of the machines on the market, rather than limiting our selections to just one category. That way, you should be able to find the exact waffle maker you’re looking for while knowing it’s one of the best available. Of course, while you are preparing your waffles you will want to serve them with a healthy fruit smoothie prepared in your top of the range blender…
One feature of the Classic Round Waffle Maker which we loved was the browning dial with seven settings, allowing you to choose the exact crispness you prefer. Another was a “ready-to-eat” alert – when waffles are ready, the machine beeps to let you know. That’s a lot better than interfering with the cooking process by continually opening the lid to check on progress.
Though some have speculated that waffle irons first appeared in the 13th–14th centuries, it was not until the 15th century that a true physical distinction between the oublie and the waffle began to evolve. Notably, while a recipe like the fourth in Le Ménagier de Paris was only flour, salt and wine – indistinguishable from common oublie recipes of the time – what did emerge was a new shape to many of the irons being produced. Not only were the newly fashioned ones rectangular, taking the form of the fer à hosties, but some circular oublie irons were cut down to create rectangles. It was also in this period that the waffle's classic grid motif appeared clearly in a French fer à oublie and a Belgian wafelijzer – albeit in a more shallowly engraved fashion – setting the stage for the more deeply gridded irons that were about to become commonplace throughout Belgium.
If you can’t find the Krups GQ502D, we recommend turning to the Chef’sChoice WafflePro Classic Belgian (840B), which makes a Belgian-style round waffle that’s somewhat thinner than the results from our top pick. This model was the top pick in our original guide, for good reason: It bakes waffles evenly to a wide range of doneness levels (with some exceptions; see below), plus it has an alarm to alert you when the plates are sufficiently heated and the waffle is ready. However, it also has a couple of minor drawbacks, and those dropped it to the number-two slot.
There are more than 170 user reviews on Amazon, and most are highly positive. "This is what I have been looking for," wrote one verified purchaser in October 2016. "I make waffles weekly and even take my waffle maker on family vacations to the beach. I need a new one every few years and hesitated spending so much for this one. I am glad I did. The waffles are thick and fluffy inside."
The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
Electric waffle irons are made of two plates similarly set into a hinged body, which is heated through electric coils housed in the unit behind the plates. Some of these electric waffle makers have basic plug-and-play designs, while others offer variable heat settings, timers, and indicator lights telling you when your waffle is ready. For this review, we looked only at electric waffle makers and excluded stovetop waffle irons, since success with the latter has more to do with the cook’s skill and the heat source than differences in design.
Flip over Belgian waffles made with the Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. Professional-style flipping method ensures batter is distributed smoothly and cooks evenly for perfect results. Indulge in the experience of fresh, home-made Belgian waffles with deep pockets full of tasty toppings and syrup. Professional flipping method distributes batter evenly within the plates for waffles cooked to perfection. With the Oster® brand, you can cook with passion and serve with pleasure.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
“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.”