Before beginning these tests, I'd heard buzz that the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Iron was the Cadillac of waffle makers—a hulking, shiny, stainless steel behemoth capable of turning out batch after batch of five-star hotel-buffet-quality waffles. I was intrigued, but given that it came with a gulp-inducing price tag of $200, also very skeptical. Could the waffles it made really be five times better than those from its lower-priced competitors?
There's no easy way to say this: the real revelation of this test was just how mediocre most waffle irons are. But at least they were consistent in the ways in which they were mediocre! Far and away, the most common problem was one of uneven cooking, or what I like to call the "two-face" effect: waffles that emerged from the iron evenly browned on one side but pale and doughy on the other. It is not a good look.
The machine works fine, but there are lots of nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean. And the noise to tell you a waffle is "done" is horrific. It's an emergency alarm type sound so every time we use it, the sound nearly sends me running out of the house with my child thinking something awful is happening. I never get used to it. And to top it off, the alert timing is wrong so it serves no functional purpose. If it had no alarm or one that could be disabled, the rating would be 4 stars.
We’ve covered plenty of brunch-worthy appliances and tchotchkes in the past, including a waffle iron for Instagram-worthy waffles, eggcups à la Call Me by Your Name, the best French presses and pour-overs, and even skillets to make the perfect Chez Panisse–style eggs. Here, we’re doing a deep dive into the best waffle-makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
The Kalorik Traditional Belgian Waffle Maker makes large, fluffy, Belgian-style waffles with ease. Pour your favorite waffle batter onto the non-stick coated plates and close the lid, the waffle maker does the rest! Equipped with an adjustable temperature control knob, you can cook your waffles to perfection, make them as soft or as crispy as you would like. The unit features power and ready indicator lights, so that you always know when your waffle maker has reached its optimum cooking...
This brushed stainless steel appliance has five browning setting and dual indicator lights that tell you when it's time to bake the waffle and when it is ready to eat. The round nonstick cook plate, with four quarters, produces one large, round, traditional-style waffle. Rubber feet keep the unit from sliding around and the lid is weighted so it doesn't pop open.
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.
Belgian-style waffles were showcased at Expo 58 in Brussels. Another Belgian introduced Belgian-style waffles to the United States at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, but only really took hold at the 1964 New York World's Fair, when another Belgian entrepreneur introduced his "Bel-Gem" waffles. In practice, contemporary American "Belgian waffles" are actually a hybrid of pre-existing American waffle types and ingredients and some attributes of the Belgian model.
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.