For this guide, we interviewed Daniel Shumski, author of the blog and cookbook Will It Waffle?; J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary director of Serious Eats; Tim Kemp, culinary manager of home cooking delivery service Blue Apron; and Matt Maichel, the ex-chef/owner of the catering company Waffle Which Way. Between them, they have made many thousands of waffles and other waffled items over the years and have used upward of a dozen waffle makers.
Optional: If you want your waffles a little crispy you can add some extra oil to this batter too. Additionally, you can experiment with adding different flavoring extracts or spices to the mix to make them taste the way you like. Sometimes we add pumpkin spice mix for a seasonal flavor, other times we may add Pecans or Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips for some variety too.
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.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
By the early 20th century, waffle recipes became rare in recipe books, and only 29 professional waffle craftsmen, the oublieurs, remained in Paris. Waffles were shifting from a predominately street-vendor-based product to an increasingly homemade product, aided by the 1918 introduction of GE's first electric commercial waffle maker. By the mid-1930s, dry pancake/waffle mix had been marketed by a number of companies, including Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, and a team of three brothers from San Jose, Calif. – the Dorsas. It is the Dorsas who would go on to innovate commercial production of frozen waffles, which they began selling under the name "Eggo" in 1953. Manufacturers are now testing the production of waffles with potato starch, which increase the stability of the waffle and protect them from sticking to the iron.
The important qualities of a waffle maker are pretty much the same, though, no matter which type of waffles it makes. The ability to provide even heat across all of the plates tops our list; obviously, no waffle is going to be crunchy and delicious if part of it is undercooked, or if it’s necessary to burn one side to a crisp in order to cook the other side all the way through.
Unlike most flip waffle makers, the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker doesn’t take up a lot of space when it’s not baking waffles. Its slim and sits low on the counter and it can easily be locked into place so it can stand up for storage. However, you do need to make sure you have room on the countertop to flip it completely over on its side after you fill it with batter. Rather than settings, the Presto has a timer which you set by pushing a tiny button. It is designed to beep with only two minutes remaining, but often, at that point, it didn’t beep and stopped counting down. Nonetheless, it produced evenly browned, crispy waffles one after another and it is among the less expensive Belgian waffles.
We looked at one stovetop model, the nonstick-coated cast aluminum Nordic Ware Original Stovetop Belgian Waffle Maker (15040). We ultimately cut it because the iron depends too much on the cook’s attention and experience to yield consistently great results. Professional and seasoned home cooks may prefer the great degree of control this Nordic Ware model allows, and if you know your stove well, J. Kenji López-Alt pointed out, you can compensate for hot and cool spots. It’s also the easiest to clean, he said, since you can just throw it in the sink when you’re done. None of the other waffle makers can go in the sink or be sprayed.
After narrowing the list of finalists to six waffle makers, we ordered them and put them through a series of tests in our office, all of which were designed to measure the differences between each of our finalists. We took the data we gained from our testing and factored it in alongside the features that each waffle maker offers (indictor lights, ability to flip, etc.).
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
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.