There are millions of recipes for waffles, but most batters fall into two distinct categories: yeast-raised (more commonly used for thicker Belgian-style waffles) and baking powder-leavened (also called "American"; think Bisquick and the like). That said, you can use yeast-raised batter in American-style waffle makers and American-style batter in Belgian-style waffle makers—the results will just be a little different than usual due to the differing shapes and sizes. Our lineup of contenders included both Belgian- and American-style machines, though for the sake of simplicity we eliminated "flip-style" models. (They tend to take up more space than other waffle irons and a perusal of anecdotal reviews indicated that they didn't perform any better.) We tested all of the machines using this crispy waffle recipe, minus the caramel coulis.
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.
What we liked: The All-Clad is well built and sturdy, and heats up quickly and evenly for perfectly crisp, light, and consistent waffles. The crunchy, golden waffles made with this model are tall and square, with deep nooks. The All-Clad makes two waffles at a time in under four minutes and reheats fast, requiring just two minutes between batches. It browns evenly along the surface and between the top and the bottom of the waffle, even without a flip mechanism. A drip tray is fitted to the back of the unit to contain spills for easy cleanup. This unit is also compact, as it's equipped with cord storage and locking handles.
Allow the waffle maker to cool completely before cleaning it. Wipe the plates down with a soft, damp cloth or paper towel. Brush any crumbs off with a soft kitchen brush. Use a rubber spatula to pick off any pieces of batter stuck to the plates. For really stubborn spots, cover them with cooking oil, wait 5 minutes, then wipe them away with a soft cloth.
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.
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.
You can freeze waffles -- why pay the Eggo people to charge a lot for something that you can make cheaply. After the waffles have been cooked in the waffle iron, put them out on a cooling rack. When they are cool, place them in a plastic bag taking out as much air from the bag as possible. Then freeze the bag of waffles. The next time you want a quick waffle, microwave one from the freezer for about 45 to 60 seconds. They are almost as good as fresh waffles.
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.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
A Sunday morning spent in a sunny kitchen, surrounded by fairytale-like wisps of steam slowly fluttering from the Belgian waffle iron, is oddly reassuring— no matter what time of the year. You don’t need earsplitting machinery or a workout to mix up delectable waffles, which is one of the many reasons why you’ll adore this recipe. Everything practically comes together in a few stirs. That’s it. Oh, happy day!
Finally, be aware that if you're getting so-so results from a waffle maker that usually draws rave reviews, the problem might be your batter instead of the machine. Users who substitute pancake batter for waffle batter quickly find out that there is, indeed, a difference between the two. Pancake batter in a waffle iron generally produces a heavy, dense mess that'll stick to the waffle iron like glue, and users warn that some "waffle recipes" found on the back of pancake mix boxes don't do much better. If you're into creative pancake making, you'll do better cooking them on a stovetop skillet or electric skillet, both of which we cover in separate reports.
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.