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After spending 35 hours making (and eating) waffles with eight of the most popular and highly rated models on the market, we determined the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker is the best waffle maker for consumers. This model quickly and consistently produced the best-tasting waffles, evenly cooked every time and with good control over browning. For a compact option, we like the Cuisinart – Round Classic.
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
The technology of waffles is fourfoldfold: (1)the "iron" or mold in which the waffle is cooked; (2)the method of heating the iron; (3) the method of regulating temperature in the iron; and (4) the recipe for the waffle batter. We will explore the basic nature of each factor of technology. However, this discussion will barely scratch the surface. Those with very detailed appetites for information about Waffle Technology should consult:
Beyond that, we liked the very compact size (perfect for tiny apartment dwellers!) and modest price of the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker. As usual, we were won over by the solid body and smartly designed drip-catching "moat" on the Breville No-Mess Waffle Maker, but at $128 we felt the imperfect performance couldn't justify the considerable price. The Chef's Choice Waffle Maker Pro looked very promising, with a generous size, sturdy build, and dials that allow you to adjust doneness and set waffle preference ("crisp and moist" or "uniform texture"), but the execution didn't live up to the promises. Finally, the top-loading design of the Cuisinart Vertical Waffle Maker seemed like a cool innovation, but in practice the results were underwhelming. And no matter what the setting, the waffles from the Cuisinart Classic Round Waffle Maker were the floppiest of the bunch.
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..
The Presto FlipSide Waffle Maker flips from side to side on a hinge, rather than with a rotary motion, like the other models we tested. It does not feature a locking handle, however, so the side-to-side flipping motion easily leads to spilled batter. The unit heats up quickly but never gets very hot, resulting in a long cook time. It features a one- or two-minute timer to indicate when to flip, but the waffles take upwards of 10 minutes to brown, so each waffle requires frequent beeping.
Hong Kong style waffle, in Hong Kong called a "grid cake" or "grid biscuits" (格仔餅), is a waffle usually made and sold by street hawkers and eaten warm on the street. It is similar to a traditional waffle but larger, round in shape and divided into four quarters. It is usually served as a snack. Butter, peanut butter and sugar are spread on one side of the cooked waffle, and then it is folded into a semicircle to eat. Eggs, sugar and evaporated milk are used in the waffle recipes, giving them a sweet flavor. They are generally soft and not dense. Traditional Hong Kong style waffles are full of the flavor of yolk. Sometimes different flavors, such as chocolate and honey melon, are used in the recipe and create various colors. Another style of Hong Kong waffle is the eggette or gai daan jai (鷄蛋仔), which have a ball-shaped pattern.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
When it comes to making American-style waffles there's no question: the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (Est. $30) is the winner by a landslide, drawing hundreds of enthusiastic user reviews and kudos from experts like Your Best Digs, Wirecutter and Good Housekeeping. The Cuisinart waffle iron turns out one waffle at a time, with five doneness settings to choose from and indicator lights that tell you when it's ready for batter and when the waffle is done.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”