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.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
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.