I am always skeptical when people leave comments about how great the recipe sounds but not their actually experience with the recipe. I woke up today, Christmas morning, and realized I forgot to buy boxed Belgian waffle mix. I braved a quick internet search before I had my coffee knowing that my son was going to be disappointed if we didn’t have waffles on Christmas morning. I knew I didn’t have any yeast in the house because we eat paleo 95% of the year, so I needed a recipe that didn’t call for yeast.
Still, the route will take its riders on a ronde through North County San Diego, where it will clatter through agrarian hamlets and the Ardennes-like hills—not over classic mountains per se, but rather a never ending string of ups and downs—along single track climbs, sandy trails, and roughly paved roads carved through inland San Diego’s beautiful rural and sometimes forested backcountry. On a scale of one to ten, this course is an eleven! We think this year we will just make 10 that much louder.
There are two other key subjects to consider, both related to the cooking process. First, you shouldn’t have to wrestle with your waffles (or have to pry them out with a sharp knife) when they’re ready to come out of the machine. That doesn’t mean a waffle maker must have non-stick surfaces, but we’ve found that non-stick coatings usually make all the difference. A good alternative can be a cast-iron waffle maker, but continually seasoning a cast-iron appliance calls for another level of care and work.
The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
A dial on the Krups GQ502D controls browning, on a scale of 1 (lightest) to 5 (darkest). You can easily control how cooked your waffles are without ever producing an inedible one: The lightest waffles are barely brown but still cooked through, while the darkest are crisp and brown but never burnt. Compare that with the Chef’sChoice 830B, which in our tests got so hot that it started to burn waffles on a medium setting, or even with our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, which can burn its thinner waffles on the highest setting. The dial on the Krups machine also allows you to turn the waffle maker off without unplugging it, a feature that very few waffle makers have. Such a feature isn’t totally necessary, but it is nice to have if you want to keep the machine on your counter ready to use; it’s also one that a lot of Amazon customers seem to desire, judging from reviews of other waffle makers across the board.
Space-saving small appliances, like a food processor or vertical waffle maker free up space on the counter while getting the cooking task at hand finished. The upright design of a vertical waffle iron means the batter gets poured into a spout, so the appliance cannot be over- or under-filled and the resulting waffles are even in thickness. Aluminum plates provide even heating, so waffles come out evenly browned with no flipping required. If you are cooking for picky eaters, five browning settings make it easy to create waffles that are perfectly browned based on personal preferences. An indicator light and alert sound tell you when the waffle maker is ready to use and when the pastry is ready to eat.
The Hamilton Beach Round Waffle Maker was the closest in appearance and function to our former top pick, the (now-discontinued) Oster waffle maker. It is made from brushed stainless steel and high-quality plastics that help it fit into any kitchen. Like most flip-type waffle irons, the Hamilton Beach also has a removable tray that makes cleanup simple and straightforward.
“I have fallen in love with Waffle Love! You are catering my daughter’s wedding in April. There are always many meetings while planning a wedding. I schedule all of mine at the Fort Union Waffle Love. I have at least a waffle a week as I plan and prepare this wedding. These waffles are the yummiest treat I have ever eaten in my life! They are worth every single penny! If you have not had a waffle from Waffle Love, drop what you are doing, and search one out. It will blow your mind! They are that good! This life is short, grab someone you love, & go get a waffle!”
We were looking for an iron that consistently produced tall, evenly browned waffles with crisp shells and moist crumbs without any trial and error on our part. We focused on the newer, more prevalent flip- and rotary-style models, which either turn on a hinge or spin 180 degrees on a stand, but we also included several conventional stationary models. We set a price cap of $100 and tested 13 irons, making batches of both Belgian-style yeasted waffles and our everyday Cook’s Illustrated Best Buttermilk Waffles in each machine.
The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
Overall, the Krups was as easy to use as any machine we tested—though no machine is particularly tricky to figure out, as long as you read the instructions. Still, the GQ502D’s intuitive, set-it-and-forget-it system made the process particularly simple. Like all waffle makers, it does get hot in places: The steam vent at the back heated up quickly for us, and the top of the machine was too hot to touch after a couple of rounds of waffles. But the heatproof handle stayed cool, even after multiple uses, something that couldn’t be said of competitors like the Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R), where built-up steam around the handle made the machine uncomfortable and risky to use.
I speak from experience: a few months ago, clear out of nowhere, I was struck by a need for homemade waffles. I had to have them—and because I live in New York City and expect immediate gratification, I proceeded directly to my local discount emporium and procured a plastic waffle iron—covered in a thin film of dust—for the sum of $16.99. Back home, I washed it and hastily set about mixing up a bowl of batter. Sadly, this story has a grim ending: even after the the requisite heating and greasing, pouring and griddling, the specimens that emerged from my iron were flabby and pale—hardly deserving of the name waffle and certainly a far cry from the feast of my dreamings.
The Cuisinart 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker always cooks The Cuisinart 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker always cooks golden waffles that are crispy on the outside and mouthwateringly tender on the inside. With a stylish brushed stainless steel cover the waffle iron offers an adjustable temperature control with 6 browning settings for ultimate control. The result? Precise perfection. More + Product Details Close
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.