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Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
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.
I really would like to give this place better reviews, but the service is SO BAD. I came twice, once during lunch and again during breakfast (but early, so it wasn't even crowded). Both times I sat outside, and both times the service was inexcusably bad. At breakfast, my husband never got a refill on his coffee. Both times I sat for so long that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get up to place my order at the counter (I wasn't).
Owners love the Cuisinart Round Classic's performance too, saying they're happy to finally find a good waffle maker that makes something other than Belgian waffles. In fact, this little machine took almost a third of the survey vote in a poll from Lifehacker. Users say that it takes two to three minutes per waffle and that as long as you wait for the waffle iron to preheat and apply a little cooking oil to it before adding batter, you'll never have issues with waffles sticking. There is a grooved "spillover" reservoir around the waffle grid; any excess batter gets funneled here and it also cooks, essentially making a bigger waffle. It can't hold much, though, so be careful how much batter you add.
Manning-Bowman made an earlier version of the "Twin" called the "Twinover" that only had the thermometer. Because the "Twinover" is earlier, it may be a bit more valuable than the "Twin-O-Matic", but it lacks the convenience of the Thermostat. If you are an investor, go for the "Twinover" because it is older and rarer. If you want waffles, go for the "Twin-O-Matic." The trunion base is interchangeable between the two models, so it is possible that you might find a Twinover "iron" on a "Twin-O-Matic" trunion (or vice versa) This would most likely lower the value of the combined object. SO -- if you are buying one of these by mail or through an internet auction, please be sure to ask whether the trunion base matches the iron.
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.
The four-waffle Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 854 made waffles that were evenly browned and attractive-looking. And in addition to browning controls, this model has a switch for fast baking (crisp exterior, moist interior) or slow baking (crunchy, uniform texture). However, the waffles it made did not distinguish themselves enough to warrant this machine’s much higher price tag—for about half the price, our pick can produce just as many excellent waffles.
The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
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.