The ones we definitely tend to avoid are the machines which claim to be able to make both great American and Belgian waffles. The old cliché “Jack of all trades, master of none” almost always holds true when it comes to models which supposedly are versatile enough to produce terrific waffles whether you prefer them thin or thick. The optimal construction of a waffle maker is very different for each type, and there’s no way a quality machine can do justice to both.
That non-stick coating and oil combo not only results in pretty waffles on your plate, it also means cleanup is a snap because you won't have to scrub bits of stuck waffle out of the grids. Some electric waffle makers have removable plates that can be tossed in the sink or dishwasher. If you're dealing with an electric waffle maker that doesn't have removable grids, you can't dunk the whole thing for a good cleaning -- so a soft-bristle toothbrush or damp rag are your best cleaning options.
If you’re tight on space and money, the Black+Decker offers the most bang for your buck for thin, American-style waffles. It produces waffles that are thin and crunchy on the outside, with some chewiness on the inside; it makes four square waffles, with shallow wells, at a time; and its reversible plates and adjustable hinge convert it into a panini press for toasting thick sandwiches. The unit also opens up to lie completely flat as a griddle for eggs, pancakes, and more, making this a cheap all-in-one breakfast station. The plates are fully removable and dishwasher-safe for fast and easy cleanup.
Bella's rotating waffle maker bakes one round traditional waffle in less than 3 minutes, making it one of the quickest-to-cook models we tested. It received near top performance scores amongst traditional waffle makers tested, producing perfectly tender waffles from both a mix and from scratch and evenly browned 'em, too. Little ones helping cook breakfast will love flipping the waffle maker over after you add the batter.
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.