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!
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Sunday brunch, or any-morning brunch, is better with warm, golden waffles. Crisp and light and scented with vanilla, waffles are the shape of a perfect breakfast, cupping pools of melted butter and maple for a lavish start to the day. Even though there's always a place in my heart for frozen Eggos, nothing beats the taste of homemade waffles, and making your own lets you skip the busy brunch rush. A great waffle iron and Stella’s recipes for buttermilk or yeasted waffles make homemade waffles a cinch.
The Presto FlipSide 3510 Belgian Waffle Maker draws an unqualified recommendation and Best Buy designation from a professional test kitchen. Thousands of happy owners agree, saying it makes the best waffles they've ever eaten and does so consistently, waffle after waffle. The 3510 is small enough for even the tiniest kitchen, and includes a nice array of features that make it very simple to use. Durability is another plus, with some owners reporting they've had theirs for years.
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.