If you're ready to tackle the challenge of making waffles by hand, both home users and expert testers love the Nordic Ware Belgian Waffle Maker. It heats consistently and evenly, although there's a bit of a learning curve, and cooks four waffles at once. Waffles releases quickly and it cleans up easily; you can even submerge the entire thing if need be. Thin handles make it easy for the Nordic Ware Belgian waffler to lie flat, even on flat-surface electric stoves.
The Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker also has a non-stick coating (although you'll want to apply a little cooking oil beforehand for best results), and it's small enough to take up very little space, especially when stored on its edge. Watch your fingers, though: testers for Wirecutter and Your Best Digs warn that steam sometimes vents onto the handle when you open the lid, making it hot to the touch. Users who encounter this issue solve it by putting something heavy on top of the waffle maker's lid to keep it shut as the waffle cooks, which in turn stops the steam from escaping; or you could just wear an oven mitt when you open it.
The Cuisinart Vertical Waffle Maker (WAF-V100) seems clever at first: It stands upright, and you pour batter into a spout at the top. But Amazon customers complain that the spout clogs easily, and that it’s too small to allow add-ins such as blueberries or chocolate chips. Plus, this model won’t work at all if you want to waffle anything else, like grilled cheese or hash browns.

Flip or stationary? Once you’ve chosen between Belgian or American-style waffles, the next step is to determine if you want the assistance of a flip mechanism. Without flipping over the irons, you’re relying on the rising agent in your batter (or just over-filling your waffle maker) to quickly and evenly fill the top plate. The flip mechanism ensures even distribution for more consistent waffles. They take up more space vertically, but in the storage position they’re actually pretty manageable.
Essentially, waffles are a form of griddle-cake based on flour, milk, eggs, butter, oil and leavening that are cooked on both sides simultaneously in a mold that takes the form of a gridded surface. Because of the "teeth and gaps" of the waffle mold or "iron", considerably more of the surface area is heated and caramelized relative to the "pancake" -- thus, the waffle has more taste and a crispness that enables it to serve as a support for other foods. Waffles serve many of the same roles in sweets as toast serves in savories.
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.
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