Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
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.
For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
If you love waffles, it’s worth giving the large Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker some of your precious counter real estate. It makes the waffles dreams are made of thick, fluffy, and tender on the inside, and crunchy on the outside. Plus, it bakes two at a time. After you add batter to one chamber, you rotate it in its frame, fill the other side, and rotate it again. Lights and tones signal when each one is done. Unlike less expensive flip machines, this one feels solid and well built. It also comes with a ¾ cup measure for batter.
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
Criteria for what makes an ideal waffle are somewhat subjective: I happen to like mine crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the center, but maybe you like yours golden and crispy? Still, some technical standards are pretty universally accepted, and those were what we focused on during our test. A good waffle iron should heat evenly and cook batter consistently from top to bottom and side to side without burnt spots or raw patches. It should allow enough steam to escape during the cooking process as to produce waffles that are structurally firm and not soggy. It should also be reliable, repeating the same results batch after batch, and easy to clean.
The removable waffle grids are dishwasher safe. To clean the drip tray, rinse off excess overflowed batter with hot water. For easy cleanup and storage, wipe down the exterior with a damp, soapy cloth and fold the handle. Do not use steel wool, scouring pads, abrasive cleansers or sharp or pointed objects on any part, as this will tarnish the steel exterior.
This Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker makes large waffles, a little more than 1 cup batter. I use a heavier multigrain recipe with no eggs; although waffles are delicious, they come out a little unevenly cooked around the outside. The machine is lightweight and somewhat flimsy-feeling but the price fairly reflects that. I hope that does not affect how long it lasts. But overall I am happy with the purchase.
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.