We considered looking at dual-purpose waffle makers with interchangeable plates such as the T-fal EZ Clean Sandwich and Waffle Maker (SW6100) but ultimately passed. Appliances that try to excel at two disparate tasks often fail at one, and from reading the reviews, it seems clear that this T-fal model—which is now discontinued—might make great sandwiches but fails to make excellent waffles.
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.
We rigorously tested the top 12 models ranging in price from $20 to $125 (at the time of testing) to find you the ones that consistently make the best waffles—ones that are crisp and golden on the outside while still fluffy and moist on the inside, ready to mop up country gravy, runny yolks, or warm maple syrup. We want waffle irons that reheat quickly so you can feed a crowd. We also want ones that are easy to clean, store, and operate. Because waffle irons are bonus, luxury appliances, we’ve found winners that we’re confident are worth the splurge (and counter space)—tools you’ll want to reach for any time of day. For those who don’t want to spend a lot, we’ve also picked our favorite budget models; they don’t work quite as well, but, with bonus features like removable plates for easy cleaning, we think they’re worth considering.
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“Sometimes when cooking, one tends to get distracted by the kid screaming, the dog barking, the front doorbell ringing, or some other exciting moment. I was surprised to hear a little alarm go off when I began using this waffle-maker. There I was cooking, I mean, doing laundry and cooking, I mean helping with last-minute homework, cramming the towels in the dryer, and trying to provide a nutritious breakfast while putting my makeup on, when lo and behold I heard BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. I screamed, ‘Oh no! I forgot the waffle!!’ I went to the machine and there was a perfectly cooked non-burned waffle. Most impressive! The hearts are darling. The waffle comes out very thin and crispy.”
If looks matter to you most, consider a rotating waffle maker. Because you flip the iron over as it bakes, the batter can become more evenly distributed over the grates. That being said, if you really want picture-perfect waffles, try our Lab's even-heating hack: After pouring waffle batter over the hot grates, use a rubber spatula to gently (and quickly) distribute the batter evenly across the surface before closing the waffle maker's lid. You'll never have to eat a waffle with absent, sorry-looking edges again!
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
As always, though, with any kitchen appliance, user reviews are king because they tell how the appliance does under real-world conditions with a real person at the helm -- and how long they hold up under that real-world use. Combining all those terrific resources with our own kitchen experience led us to our recommendations for the waffle irons that are easiest to use and clean, and, of course, make a perfect waffle.
If you’re making a double batch, and want to keep your waffles warm, preheat the oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC and switch it off once it’s preheated. After that, make the waffles as per the directions and put them in the warm oven on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet (avoid stacking them). I’ve also been known to put the cooked waffles straight onto the oven rack in the warm oven– whatever works best for you.
With a little flick of the wrist, The Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker lets you effortlessly bake, make and flip perfect waffles just like a gourmet restaurant chef. Best of all, the adjustable browning control makes waffles golden brown and crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. To cook waffles like the best restaurants do, simply preheat the waffle maker until the READY light comes on. Then, pour in waffle batter and flip to lock in place. Waffles are done in 5-8 minutes, depending on the setting and the recipe. Using an oven mitt, flip the waffle maker back and open the cover to a perfect waffle.
The Breville quickly produces crispy brown waffles, with the most consistent color of all the batches we tested, making it the best option if you prefer the thinner type of American waffle. The waffles managed to be perfectly crispy, without becoming dry, and maintained some fluffiness within. Although it makes only one waffle at a time, it reheats and cooks rapidly, so you can crank out waffle after waffle with ease. The built-in drip tray, nonstick surface, and minimal design keep cleanup effortless.
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.
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.