For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
“I have fallen in love with Waffle Love! You are catering my daughter’s wedding in April. There are always many meetings while planning a wedding. I schedule all of mine at the Fort Union Waffle Love. I have at least a waffle a week as I plan and prepare this wedding. These waffles are the yummiest treat I have ever eaten in my life! They are worth every single penny! If you have not had a waffle from Waffle Love, drop what you are doing, and search one out. It will blow your mind! They are that good! This life is short, grab someone you love, & go get a waffle!”
If you're willing to pay for a classic waffle maker that doesn't require much fiddling, also consider the All-Clad 99012GT Classic Round Waffle Maker (Est. $130), which draws praise from Good Housekeeping, Top Ten Reviews and Groom and Style for making one perfect waffle after another. "No fancy features here -- just perfectly crisp, buttery waffles, batch after batch," writes Betty Gold for Good Housekeeping.
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.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
What we didn’t like: This is a big and bulky unit, making it a difficult fit in small spaces. Without a drip tray, there is potential for mess. (However, because it's a flip model, you need less batter to fill up the iron, so drips are also less likely.) There was some unevenness in cooking, with the edges browning a touch faster than the rest. The deep wells and fixed plates make cleanup difficult.
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I really would like to give this place better reviews, but the service is SO BAD. I came twice, once during lunch and again during breakfast (but early, so it wasn't even crowded). Both times I sat outside, and both times the service was inexcusably bad. At breakfast, my husband never got a refill on his coffee. Both times I sat for so long that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get up to place my order at the counter (I wasn't).
Most waffle irons have removable plates. Open the waffle iron and remove the top plate. You should then be able to see the heating coil. Plug the waffle iron in for about 10 seconds, and you should see the coil get hot. Compare it to the bottom coil; they should be about the same. If they're not, then the coils could be defective. If the coils seem equally hot, the top coil may have shifted so it's no longer close to the plate.
That said, the price differences between the high-end and low-end models are also significant, with the budget models ranging between $20 and $60 while the expensive models reached upwards of $125. Even though the budget models we chose as winners did not brown as evenly or result in waffles with near the quality of the expensive models, they still outperformed their peers. Our winning budget models also offer removable, dishwasher-safe plates, making them far easier to clean than our high-end winners, a much-appreciated feature that we feel makes them worth recommending.
Belgian waffles are thicker than American waffles, and also have deeper wells for butter, syrup, or whatever else you decide to put on top of your waffle. In our opinion, choosing a waffle style comes down to a personal preference. However, the majority of highly-regarded waffle makers are Belgian — with the notable exception of one of our top picks: the Cuisinart-Round Classic Waffle Maker.
That said, quite a few users say that this waffle maker isn't as sturdily built as previous versions of the same model, and that if you don't get the top heating plate aligned just right, it can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot. The top of the G48TD also gets very hot. Some use pliers to bend the metal clips that hold the heating plates in place, which helps them line up better -- or you can just use an oven mitt to protect your hands.