The first thing we didn’t like was an unpleasant plastic smell that emanated from the Presto waffle maker when we first started cooking with it. While this scent did mostly dissipate over the course of our testing, and most waffle maker manuals suggest throwing away your first waffle because of chemicals that might be released from the non-stick, the smell from the Presto made us more uneasy than the rest.
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.
Waffle sandwich caterer Matt Maichel, who also greases the plates before each use, had specific batter advice. “You should take your dough out of the fridge to come to room temp, or it will not cook as well,” he said. “The trick to filling is, find a batter that you like; the viscosity determines how much goes [on the plates]. Thicker stuff doesn’t spread out as well, so you might have to help it.” (We found in testing that a spatula or the back of a ladle worked well for this.) “You use the least amount of really thin batter because it goes all over the place,” he added.
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.
While the Oster and Cuisinart were the two top waffle makers among our finalists in initial testing, there are four other strong choices as well. Ultimately, we went with the two that stood out during testing. None of these really stood out as a drop-in replacement for the Oster when it was discontinued, so we went looking for something with power to match our old pick and settled on the BELLA. However, if you’re looking for something different, we encourage you to read about the other four finalists (and the additional seventh non-finalist) as well.
Aiza, that’s a great question! It usually depends on what ingredients are used in those recipes, especially if there are acidic ingredients present or not. I say this because baking soda and baking powder are not the same– they both react differently to certain ingredients. There are a number of reasons for using one over the other, or a combination of the two. Sometimes one is chosen over the other for flavor or even for visual purposes– recipes made with baking soda result in a darker product, while those with baking powder will result in a product that is lighter in color. Using a combination means you kinda get something in between. But that’s done whilst keeping in mind the combination of ingredients used. As there are so many waffle recipes on the internet, I can only speak for mine. It’s about finding a perfect balance of ingredients and and using the right techniques; this recipe is great and just works.
Some waffle makers are equipped with nothing but an on-off light and a "ready indicator," but even an increasing amount of budget-friendly models have extra features like numbered dials to adjust the preferred degrees of doneness, beeps or buzzers that indicate when the cook time is finished, and removable plates that can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.