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.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
Earliest of the 16th century waffle recipes, Om ghode waffellen te backen – from the Dutch KANTL 15 manuscript (ca. 1500–1560) – is only the second known waffle recipe after the four variants described in Le Ménagier de Paris. For the first time, partial measurements were given, sugar was used, and spices were added directly to the batter: Take grated white bread. Take with that the yolk of an egg and a spoonful of pot sugar or powdered sugar. Take with that half water and half wine, and ginger and cinnamon.
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.
The instructions say to warm up the waffle iron on heat setting 7, but there is no heat setting 7. The waffle iron has a knob on top numbered 1 through 6. I can't actually rotate the knob to numbers 5 and 6 though; the knob is physically stopped from rotating at 4. When I rotate the knob the other direction, I can rotate past 1 almost a full 360 degrees (stopping just before I reach 6 from the opposite side). The iron seems to heat up as soon as it's plugged in regardless of how the knob is rotated, so as far as I can tell there is no "off" setting even if I've rotated the knob to well below 1. Since I can't tell how the knob actually maps to heat settings (if the knob even does anything at all) I'm afraid to even try actually poring waffle batter onto the thing..
As far as food goes it was good. I had the original chicken waffle sandwich. The waffle had bacon bits in it and it was a little too thick for the rest of the sandwich. But the chicken in the sandwich was very tender and fresh. And the fries were seasoned very well. My friend got the tres leches waffles and he said it was good. He also got the classic breakfast and judging by the looks of it, it looked a little disappointing. He said the eggs were dry and he did not touch them.
I am always skeptical when people leave comments about how great the recipe sounds but not their actually experience with the recipe. I woke up today, Christmas morning, and realized I forgot to buy boxed Belgian waffle mix. I braved a quick internet search before I had my coffee knowing that my son was going to be disappointed if we didn’t have waffles on Christmas morning. I knew I didn’t have any yeast in the house because we eat paleo 95% of the year, so I needed a recipe that didn’t call for yeast.
As it is, not every recipe for American-style Belgian waffles is made the same. Some require folding voluptuous clouds of firmly whipped egg whites into the batter. Others also require that egg yolks and sugar be ribboned together until thick and a stunning pale primrose. These methods and tips are acceptable, of course— everyone has a technique that works for them.
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.
With all three batters, as well as our bonus rounds of stuffing and grilled cheese, there was a clear difference in the quality of results between higher-end, more expensive models and lower-end, budget models. The high-end models heated up significantly faster and hotter, and had a much shorter recovery time between waffles. They all have heavier plates than the lower-end models, resulting in even heat and consistent browning. The waffles made in our more expensive models all became deeply browned in under four minutes, while the less expensive models took anywhere from eight to 15 minutes. This resulted in huge variations in the density of the inside and the texture of the exterior of the waffles.
The Krups GQ502D took a little more time than some of the other models we tested to bake waffles. In our tests, waffles typically took about seven or eight minutes to cook, while the Presto FlipSide, for one, cooked a thicker waffle in about half the time. But the machines that cooked faster also tended to overcook, or to develop hot spots. A few extra minutes of waiting time is a small price to pay for golden, even-toned waffles, and the wait isn’t so bad when you can make four waffles at once.
The Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker wins this category by a landslide, not because of fancy bells and whistles but because of the one thing it does very well: Turning out thin, crunchy American-style waffles. Cooking time is quick -- about three minutes per waffle -- and as long as you apply a little oil to the grid, its non-stick coating releases those waffles quickly and cleanly. The three-year warranty is impressive in this price range.
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.