For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
There are several variable heat controls to choose from. The grease run-off channels along the edge of this grill quickly and easily carry away excess oils. With its chrome exterior and stay-cool black synthetic handles, this appliance looks great on the counter, but you can easily wrap the cord and stand the unit upright for compact storage. It comes with a limited one year warranty.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Eggo waffles. I vaguely remember that when I was very young, my mother used to purchase square frozen waffles. But once our family was turned on to the round Eggo waffles, we never looked back. As soon as one popped out of the toaster, I would slather it in butter and maple syrup and then cut off the rounded edges and gobble it up.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”
Liège waffles, the most popular contemporary Belgian waffle variety, are rumored to have been invented during the 18th century, as well, by the chef to the prince-bishop of Liège. However, there are no German, French, Dutch, or Belgian cookbooks that contain references to them in this period – by any name – nor are there any waffle recipes that mention the Liège waffle's distinctive ingredients, brioche-based dough and pearl sugar. It is not until 1814 that Antoine Beauvilliers publishes a recipe in l'Art du Cuisiner where brioche dough is introduced as the base of the waffle and sucre cassé (crushed block sugar) is used as a garnish for the waffles, though not worked into the dough. Antonin Carême, the famous Parisian pastry chef, is the first to incorporate gros sucre into several waffle variations named in his 1822 work, Le Maitre d'Hotel Français. Then, in 1834, Leblanc publishes a complete recipe for gaufres grêlées (hail waffles), where gros sucre is mixed in. A full Gaufre de Liège recipe does not appear until 1921.
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.
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.
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.
The first thing we didn’t like was an unpleasant plastic smell that emanated from the Presto waffle maker when we first started cooking with it. While this scent did mostly dissipate over the course of our testing, and most waffle maker manuals suggest throwing away your first waffle because of chemicals that might be released from the non-stick, the smell from the Presto made us more uneasy than the rest.
With the nonstick cooking surface and a removable drip tray, cleanup is easy, too. When you are done, you can leave the gorgeous stainless steel unit on your counter or take advantage of the cord storage and the locking lid and turn it on its side for more compact storage. Like all All-Clad products, there is a limited lifetime warranty on this unit.
Cooks can use a convenient appliance like a double waffle maker or a countertop oven to save time and space. The baking plates of a double waffle iron are coated to prevent sticking so the Belgian waffles don’t get caught when removing the pastries from the unit. The flip design of a double waffle iron makes it easy to perfectly brown and then remove each waffle. If the waffle maker accidentally gets left on, its automatic shutoff feature turns it off. This preserves the life of the device and avoids the risk of an overheated electric appliance causing a fire.
Belgian waffles are thicker than American waffles, and also have deeper wells for butter, syrup, or whatever else you decide to put on top of your waffle. In our opinion, choosing a waffle style comes down to a personal preference. However, the majority of highly-regarded waffle makers are Belgian — with the notable exception of one of our top picks: the Cuisinart-Round Classic Waffle Maker.
Cleanup is simple. After grids have cooled, brush crumbs from the grooves, and absorb any excess cooking oil by wiping with a dry cloth or paper towel. You may clean the grids by wiping with a damp cloth. To clean exterior, wipe with a soft dry cloth. After you are done, wrap the cord under the bottom of the unit and then turn it on its side for compact storage. It comes with a three-year warranty, as well as a recipe book.
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.