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.

First, we have to identify what makes a good waffle. Regardless of whether you prefer your waffle light golden or dark brown, it should be crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. We always want a waffle that’s evenly cooked, free of burnt centers or pale edges; it should also be the same color on both sides. The key to achieving this is a waffle maker with coils that get hot enough to quickly cook the waffles, coupled with heavy plates to better retain the heat. A waffle iron that gets and stays hot can cook the batter surface more quickly, setting it into a crisp shell while keeping the inside moist and light. Waffles that take too long to cook end up dense, flabby, and leathery. We found that the best waffles were cooked in under four minutes.


Allow the liquid to come to room temperature. Reserve one cup of the liquid and dissolve the yeast in it. Sift the flour into a bowl; sprinkle the salt at the edge of the flour and make a hole in the middle. Pour the dissolved yeast and the melted butter into the hole. Then, add the egg yolks, the sugar and the remaining liquid into the hole. Scoop the sides over and mix the ingredients. You may also do this with a mixer and a dough hook.
Allow the waffle maker to cool completely before cleaning it. Wipe the plates down with a soft, damp cloth or paper towel. Brush any crumbs off with a soft kitchen brush. Use a rubber spatula to pick off any pieces of batter stuck to the plates. For really stubborn spots, cover them with cooking oil, wait 5 minutes, then wipe them away with a soft cloth.

Now, because you can't toss your new electrical appliance in the sink with soapy water, here's how to clean a waffle maker: The good news is that waffle makers have drastically improved in recent years — nearly every model now comes with nonstick cooking plates, which means that (with proper upkeep) you won't be using a toothpick to dislodge burnt-on waffle bits. We recommend allowing your iron to cool first, then wiping the plates clean with a dry paper towel. If any grime remains, spot clean them with a damp cloth or let a bit of cooking oil sit on the grime for a few minutes before wiping away. And avoid using nonstick cooking spray, as this stuff will cook onto the plates and become nearly impossible to remove. The result: No more nonstick coating.
If you prefer a thick Belgian waffle over the thin American-style ones produced by the Cuisinart WMR-CA, but don’t have either the money or the space for our top pick from Krups, the compact Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009) is your best bet. In make, it actually looks similar to our previous top pick, the discontinued Proctor Silex 26016A, offering the same handle and locking system, as well as the same slider for browning control.
Our final round of waffles was made out of Aunt Jemima waffle mix, prepared according to the package’s instructions. These waffles use a combination of chemical leavening and steam from the added liquid to result in the rise of the waffles. The waffles made with this batter were consistently dense and cake-like in all the waffle makers, but the color came out evenly brown in all machines. Where we found variations was in the crispness of the crusts, with machines that were hotter yielding thinner and crispier crusts. With this batter, we also found no differences between flip and non-flip units. If you make waffles mostly with a boxed mix, you can definitely get away with using a cheaper iron, since the differences were closer to minimal.
With that in mind, if you intend to serve Brussels waffles, then you should pick a unit with a rectangular shape. However, if you’re planning on making Liege waffles, then a unit with an irregular shape will be better suited. As for Belgian waffles, they are usually round, requiring a round-shaped waffle maker. American waffles can be either round or square, allowing you to choose one of the two.
We were looking for an iron that consistently produced tall, evenly browned waffles with crisp shells and moist crumbs without any trial and error on our part. We focused on the newer, more prevalent flip- and rotary-style models, which either turn on a hinge or spin 180 degrees on a stand, but we also included several conventional stationary models. We set a price cap of $100 and tested 13 irons, making batches of both Belgian-style yeasted waffles and our everyday Cook’s Illustrated Best Buttermilk Waffles in each machine.
There’s a lot to love about the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker. It heats up and bakes faster than any other in our test. And it was one of the few that gave a very distinct range of shades from light to dark—although it’s beyond me why anyone would want their waffles pale and flabby. Not only is the appliance itself small and thin, it stands up for storage and the cord can be wrapped in the bottom. While there’s a light to indicate that it’s ready for batter and that waffles are fully baked, there’s no sound so you have to keep an eye on it. We think that’s a small drawback for a waffle maker this good and this inexpensive.
Electric waffle irons are made of two plates similarly set into a hinged body, which is heated through electric coils housed in the unit behind the plates. Some of these electric waffle makers have basic plug-and-play designs, while others offer variable heat settings, timers, and indicator lights telling you when your waffle is ready. For this review, we looked only at electric waffle makers and excluded stovetop waffle irons, since success with the latter has more to do with the cook’s skill and the heat source than differences in design.
The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
Wells continued to play a role even during the Swing Revival of the 1990s. On Monday nights, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra played in a small corner of the restaurant and many of the original Lindy Hoppers (including Norma Miller and Frankie Manning) were regulars, joined by whatever newcomers (like the Rhythm Hot Shots) may have been in town. I made the pilgrimage to Wells in 1998. I loved the fried chicken and waffles, but I was not so thrilled about the carpet on the dance floor.
Introduced in North American in 1962, Belgian waffles usually use a yeasted batter that results in a waffle that rises, making them thicker and softer than American waffles -- although they should still be crispy on the outside. They're larger too, which is why they need a different type of waffle maker than traditional, American-style waffles. The deeper pockets on Belgian waffles are great for holding toppings like syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
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.
"... No appetites are safe from the magnificent Southern Creole cuisine when visiting Wells restaurant, located uptown in the Big Apple. Famous for more than their chicken and waffles, Wells entertains customers with Caribbean flair and a frenzy of live music. Harlem hasn't been the same since Wells opened in May 1938. The owner, Elizabeth Wells, is determined to bring people a humble, homey atmosphere with exciting home-style cooking, but with a twist of island flavor and a lot of fun. Joseph T. Wells, the late husband of Wells, had a record of cooking techniques in the mix. Working as a waiter and manager of a restaurant in Florida, Joseph took his craft to New York during the late 1920s. It was inevitable for the young entrepreneur to start his business and, by the spring of 1938, the restaurant bearing his name opened its doors. Elizabeth Wells entered the picture later. They married in 1966, even though she had joined the establishment in 1963. The married couple produced a son named Tommy Wells. With an avalanche of victory for the restaurant, Wells bloomed as one of the greatest hot spots in Harlem, with a bevy of entertainers who dropped in...Wells has been spinning the wheels of the restaurant with tip-top soul food and no regrets..."
Recipes for both Waffles and Fried Chicken appear in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, (Abby Fisher, 1881). Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her book is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African-American. Apparently, white people were eating waffles and fried chicken as well as recipes for the two appear in Mrs. Porter's Southern Cookery Book published in 1871.

I searched everywhere. I unsuccessfully raided the kitchen cupboards with the hope I’d find the recipe scribbled on an index card splattered in batter. After months of searching, I finally found it in the turquoise journal I filled with recipe notes from when I wrote the book. Somewhere between cacao percentages and the perfect crumb-to-apple ratio on a crumble was a nonchalantly scribbled list of ingredients for this gilt-edged Belgian waffles recipe.

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.[23] 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.[24]

Electric waffle irons are available in flip and stationary models. Proponents of flip waffle makers suggest that they heat more evenly by better distributing the batter throughout the plates. After testing both styles with different batters to see if this was truly a useful feature, we found that our three high-end picks cooked all the batters on the top and the bottom evenly. There was no difference between our flip model and a high-end stationary model. We did, however, find the flip a useful function when comparing lower-end models cooking the thinner buttermilk batter. Ultimately, we didn't pick any low-end flip models because, although they may have heated more evenly than our budget picks, they cooked the batter so slowly that the waffles ended up too dense and heavy.
The Black and Decker G48TD earns a nod from the lifestyle website Groom and Style, and many positive reviews from users who like that it can make four waffles at a time -- a plus for larger families, although you'll get more even browning if you let the heating plates warm back up for a minute or two between uses. Of course, that four-waffle capacity means this waffle iron has a larger footprint that single-waffle irons, and you can't stand it on end to save storage space. But most say they're more than willing to give up some counter space to this appliance and a little bit of control over the final waffle color in exchange for its versatility and the ability to give it a thorough cleaning.
The Black & Decker G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker and Grill is a waffle maker, a griddle, and a grill. All you have to do to switch from making waffles to frying up eggs and bacon is to change the nonstick reversible cooking plates. A unique 180-degree hinge also doubles the available cooking area, so you'll end up with two eight-inch-square griddles for pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Then you can switch it up again to grill a sandwich for lunch.
More than one of our tasters declared this model’s results to be “the perfect waffle.” And it truly excels at creating consistently thin, crunchy waffles. Those waffles were not quite as perfect looking as those made by the Krups GQ502D or the Chef’sChoice 840B, since the plate made a browner circle in the center of the waffle. But that was just an aesthetic issue: The waffles were just as crisp and delicious at the paler outer edge as in the center. If, however, you prefer a thick Belgian-style waffle over a thin, crisp one, you’ll want to go for our other budget pick (more on that below).
The Liège waffle[68] is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the greater Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium – and alternately known as gaufres de chasse (hunting waffles) – they are an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation.

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.
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