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.
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).
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.