One of the most important attributes of a waffle maker is how well its nonstick coating works—there’s nothing worse than trying to clean stuck-on waffle from those narrow cracks. Luckily, waffles popped out easily from the Krups GQ502D with the aid of silicone tongs or chopsticks, even on the one or two occasions when opening the lid took a little prying. The manual recommends oiling the plates just once each time you use the machine, and we found that this step was more than enough to keep waffles from sticking, even through many rounds of batter. Best of all, the waffle plates detach from the machine, so once they’re cool you can pop them in the sink and wash them with soap and water, or, according to the manufacturer, even run them through the dishwasher. This is so much easier than cleaning most of the other machines we tried, including our former top pick, which requires you to wipe down the plates still in the machine with first a soapy cloth and then a damp one; inevitably, some soap seems to cling stubbornly in the cracks. But only two other machines we tested—the Nordic Ware stovetop model and Black+Decker’s brand-new (as of 2016) Removable Plate Waffle Maker, model WM700R—featured removable plates, and both fell far short of the Krups in ease of use and quality of waffles.
For those who aren't happy with just wiping their waffle maker down to keep it clean, the Hamilton Beach 26030 Belgian Waffle Maker has removable non-stick plates and a drip tray that can all go straight into the dishwasher, and users say they come clean very nicely that way. The indicator lights make it easy to use, and the adjustable browning control offers some customization. Most importantly, it also turns out great, fluffy yet crisp Belgian waffles.
“Leslie Knope is my spirit animal, as I am completely obsessed with waffles, and I am a little bit crazy just like her. She would love this waffle iron, but then she would probably trash it after one use because she would be scared of putting JJ’s Diner out of business. Thankfully, I don’t have a JJ’s Diner near me, and I like to make my own waffles. I can see Jerry/Larry/Garry Gengurch buying this waffle iron for Leslie Knope, and the mockery that would follow the next day as Leslie and the entire office would blame Jerry/Larry/Garry for putting JJ’s Diner in danger.
Finally, beyond the structural superiority of the All-Clad's waffles—their lovely architecture and delicate texture—there was one more winning factor that pushed them over the top: they just tasted better. I can't explain the chemistry behind it—as I said, we used the same batter for every test—but the waffles from this machine seemed to have nuances the others lacked, like apparent notes of vanilla and caramel and a toasty depth of flavor. They tasted like $200 waffles.
When the temperature exceeds the desired setting, the strip "warps" and breaks the contact causing the resistance coils to cool. Because the iron is not being heated, the temperature falls and consequently the bimetallic strip "un-warps" and makes contact again, causing the coils to re-heat the iron. In this way, a continuous temperature is maintained in the cooking irons.
That said, quite a few users say that this waffle maker isn't as sturdily built as previous versions of the same model, and that if you don't get the top heating plate aligned just right, it can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot. The top of the G48TD also gets very hot. Some use pliers to bend the metal clips that hold the heating plates in place, which helps them line up better -- or you can just use an oven mitt to protect your hands.
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.