If you’re tight on space and money, the Black+Decker offers the most bang for your buck for thin, American-style waffles. It produces waffles that are thin and crunchy on the outside, with some chewiness on the inside; it makes four square waffles, with shallow wells, at a time; and its reversible plates and adjustable hinge convert it into a panini press for toasting thick sandwiches. The unit also opens up to lie completely flat as a griddle for eggs, pancakes, and more, making this a cheap all-in-one breakfast station. The plates are fully removable and dishwasher-safe for fast and easy cleanup.

Before pouring batter into grids, always spray them with a small amount of nonstick cooking spray. Waffle color and crispiness are determined by the temperature of the grids, so the higher the temperature, the browner and crisper the waffle. If the cover of the waffle maker doesn’t lift up easily, let your waffle cook a little longer before lifting the lid again. To store waffles for later reheating, pack in airtight container and keep in the refrigerator or freezer.

We couldn’t find any editorial reviews of this Hamilton Beach model, but at the time of our research it had a good rating on Amazon. Some reviews complain of a flimsy locking mechanism, but for occasional use we still think this model is a great buy. At around $20 (at the time of writing), it’s less than half the price of our top pick, and even cheaper than our other budget pick.
Most modern waffle makers run on electricity and can be adjusted to produce lighter or darker waffles. Many, but not all, have indicator lights and audible beeps to cue you through the preheating, battering and cooking stages. Even more important, the waffle maker should maintain consistent, even heat to make sure your waffle isn't overcooked on the outside and mushy on the inside, or cooked in some places but not in others.
“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.”

A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who is now a Wirecutter editor. Yang worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—for over a decade. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
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.
This waffle iron was the priciest of the units we tested, but the waffles that it produced were so evenly browned, so delicately crisp on the outside while fluffy on the inside, that we believe it's the best option for Belgian waffles. This All-Clad model features extra-deep divots, for Belgian-style waffles with maximum butter and syrup capacity. It makes two waffles at a time and contains a drip tray for minimizing spills and messes. The heavy stainless steel body and die-cast plates heat up fast and evenly for consistent browning.
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.

“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.”


This brushed stainless steel appliance has five browning setting and dual indicator lights that tell you when it's time to bake the waffle and when it is ready to eat. The round nonstick cook plate, with four quarters, produces one large, round, traditional-style waffle. Rubber feet keep the unit from sliding around and the lid is weighted so it doesn't pop open.
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.
×