Some of the models we tested come fully loaded with features, while others are more bare-bones. The question is which of these bonus features, if any, are worth having. Almost all the waffle makers come equipped with adjustable heat settings, a feature we found mostly useless, since there’s almost never a situation in which you’d want anything less than maximum heat. It’s a feature that’s even more vexing on the losing low-end models, which, even at their highest settings, were not very hot. (There were some exceptions to this: Our winning flip waffle maker got so hot that we appreciated being able to turn the heat down.)
The drip tray included with the BELLA waffle maker makes cleanup even easier. After cooking several dozen waffles, we still found very little that needed to be cleaned from the waffle maker itself once the drip tray was removed. In addition, the nonstick surface was effective — however, it didn’t particularly stand out compared to the rest of the field.
By the early 20th century, waffle recipes became rare in recipe books, and only 29 professional waffle craftsmen, the oublieurs, remained in Paris. Waffles were shifting from a predominately street-vendor-based product to an increasingly homemade product, aided by the 1918 introduction of GE's first electric commercial waffle maker. By the mid-1930s, dry pancake/waffle mix had been marketed by a number of companies, including Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, and a team of three brothers from San Jose, Calif. – the Dorsas. It is the Dorsas who would go on to innovate commercial production of frozen waffles, which they began selling under the name "Eggo" in 1953. Manufacturers are now testing the production of waffles with potato starch, which increase the stability of the waffle and protect them from sticking to the iron.
The removable waffle grids are dishwasher safe. To clean the drip tray, rinse off excess overflowed batter with hot water. For easy cleanup and storage, wipe down the exterior with a damp, soapy cloth and fold the handle. Do not use steel wool, scouring pads, abrasive cleansers or sharp or pointed objects on any part, as this will tarnish the steel exterior.
Featuring a six-point dial for customizing waffle doneness, this waffle maker quickly and consistently turned out two perfect waffles at a time, each with a crisp, evenly browned exterior and a custardy interior. With indicator lights on both sides of the waffle maker and a loud audible alert, it was easy to tell when each waffle was done. Weighing nearly 10 pounds and measuring more than 20 inches tall with the lid up, this model was by far the biggest and heaviest of those we tested—but that extra bulk ensured stability and durability. Two minor flaws: the lack of a removable drip tray and the shortness of the handle, on which hot condensation tended to accumulate.
Introduced in North American in 1962, Belgian waffles usually use a yeasted batter that results in a waffle that rises, making them thicker and softer than American waffles -- although they should still be crispy on the outside. They're larger too, which is why they need a different type of waffle maker than traditional, American-style waffles. The deeper pockets on Belgian waffles are great for holding toppings like syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
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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.