I hate myself for how much I loved this machine. I don't think anyone should have to spend $200 on a waffle maker, and I was actively rooting for another, more budget-friendly model to best or at least match it. But after a full day of testing and eating, I cannot in good conscience recommend any waffle iron more enthusiastically. None of the machines we tested even came close. The All-Clad has ruined all other waffle makers for me.
Hamilton Beach's Belgian style waffle maker makes round waffles that can easily be split into eight individual waffle sticks, which kids and adults alike will love (we're already dreaming of setting up a waffle dip buffet table at brunch, plus the opportunity to carry waffles with us on the go). The product's deep grids — in addition to the deep overflow channel around their edge — make it near impossible for even the klutziest cook to spill.
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.
A waffle maker isn't just a kitchen appliance—it's a wish-granter. You know the fantasy. Sunday. You awaken to the sweet scent of butter and freshly brewed coffee wafting through your home. Tiptoe to the kitchen: there's your honey at the counter and a stack of perfectly golden waffles, still steaming from the iron. You pile on the maple syrup, dig in, and then go back for more. You stay in your pajamas all day and pretend you run your own diner.
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
“Incredible waffle-maker for a great price. I’ve been making Belgian waffles for 20 years and this is by far my favorite maker. This maker makes two nice and thick Belgian waffles. The material of the plates is excellent and the waffles don’t tend to stick. By the time I’m done loading the batter for the second waffle, the first one is just about done. I can make waffles for my family of five and we can all eat together. Previously, with a single waffle-maker, I would either have to serve one at a time and then everyone eats at different times, of I would put the waffles in the toaster oven on warm and then they would get a little soggy. I don’t know why anyone would need to pay twice the price for a ‘higher-quality brand.’ It’s unnecessary!”
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.
Two lights on the Krups machine, one red and one green, indicate when it is preheating or cooking (red) and when the machine or the waffle is ready (green). These indicators are bright and easy enough to read (unlike some machines, where it’s hard to tell if the weak light is on or off). But unlike our previous pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A, the Krups GQ502D also beeps loudly when it’s ready, which means you can focus on frying bacon without worrying about overcooking your waffles. While some other models we tested were hard to hear when they beeped, this one was loud enough that we could easily hear it from the next room, even with a radio on, but the sound is neither persistent nor so unpleasant that you won’t want to hear it first thing in the morning.
For the price, we didn’t expect an audio “ready-to-eat” alert, and there isn’t one, but there is an indicator light that does the job pretty well instead. An overflow well inside the machine helps with cleanup, but the non-stick surfaces really do require a little help from cooking spray in order to make them totally non-stick and easily cleanable.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
The machine works fine, but there are lots of nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean. And the noise to tell you a waffle is "done" is horrific. It's an emergency alarm type sound so every time we use it, the sound nearly sends me running out of the house with my child thinking something awful is happening. I never get used to it. And to top it off, the alert timing is wrong so it serves no functional purpose. If it had no alarm or one that could be disabled, the rating would be 4 stars.
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.
With a little flick of the wrist, The Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker lets you effortlessly bake, make and flip perfect waffles just like a gourmet restaurant chef. Best of all, the adjustable browning control makes waffles golden brown and crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. To cook waffles like the best restaurants do, simply preheat the waffle maker until the READY light comes on. Then, pour in waffle batter and flip to lock in place. Waffles are done in 5-8 minutes, depending on the setting and the recipe. Using an oven mitt, flip the waffle maker back and open the cover to a perfect waffle.
“I have no bad things to say about this. It’s completely nonstick — not like a little bit nonstick — it’s COMPLETELY nonstick. Don’t spray it or oil it or butter it. It’s nonstick. It heats incredibly fast and cooks fast, too. I’d play with the timing because it often says cook a waffle for four minutes, and I can get a nice fluffy waffle that’s not too crisp in way less. It depends on your preference. You can store it upright. I can tuck it out of the way much easier than stacking it in a cabinet somewhere. And lastly, I have made protein waffles and regular waffles and no matter the batter type or consistency, I had great results. My insane toddler keeps asking for waffles and I can’t deny him because they are just too easy to make.”
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.