The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
There are a zillion waffle irons. I own a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Manning-Bowman "Twin-O-Matic" both because of its unusual design and the way that it implicitly fosters "togetherness." The "twin" was designed by Karl Ratliff explicitly for the 1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR. The Twin is a direct descendant of Mr. Cole's design but with an added Art Deco zest. This unique design won world awards and is the ONLY waffle iron shown in Tony Fusco's noted "ART DECO" BOOK, Volumes 1 and 2. It consists of 2 pieces: a double TOP/BOTTOM Waffle Iron derived from the Coles patent (above) and a circular chrome plated "trunion mount" that has 2 heavy Bakelite Cradles to support the irons. It is somewhat unique because it has both a Thermometer and a Thermostat.
Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.
Unlike most flip waffle makers, the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker doesn’t take up a lot of space when it’s not baking waffles. Its slim and sits low on the counter and it can easily be locked into place so it can stand up for storage. However, you do need to make sure you have room on the countertop to flip it completely over on its side after you fill it with batter. Rather than settings, the Presto has a timer which you set by pushing a tiny button. It is designed to beep with only two minutes remaining, but often, at that point, it didn’t beep and stopped counting down. Nonetheless, it produced evenly browned, crispy waffles one after another and it is among the less expensive Belgian waffles.
“Leslie Knope is my spirit animal, as I am completely obsessed with waffles, and I am a little bit crazy just like her. She would love this waffle iron, but then she would probably trash it after one use because she would be scared of putting JJ’s Diner out of business. Thankfully, I don’t have a JJ’s Diner near me, and I like to make my own waffles. I can see Jerry/Larry/Garry Gengurch buying this waffle iron for Leslie Knope, and the mockery that would follow the next day as Leslie and the entire office would blame Jerry/Larry/Garry for putting JJ’s Diner in danger.
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If you're willing to pay for a classic waffle maker that doesn't require much fiddling, also consider the All-Clad 99012GT Classic Round Waffle Maker (Est. $130), which draws praise from Good Housekeeping, Top Ten Reviews and Groom and Style for making one perfect waffle after another. "No fancy features here -- just perfectly crisp, buttery waffles, batch after batch," writes Betty Gold for Good Housekeeping.
Breakfast is better with this stainless steel Belgian-style waffle maker. The nonstick, extra-deep grids make thick, fluffy waffles with plenty of room for all your favorite toppings. Plus, the nonstick plates are easy to clean and they’re perfect for making a variety of foods—try out hash browns, grilled sandwiches, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and more! The versatile BLACK+DECKER™ Belgian Waffle Maker lets you create new treats and discover classic favorites.