Electric waffle irons are available in flip and stationary models. Proponents of flip waffle makers suggest that they heat more evenly by better distributing the batter throughout the plates. After testing both styles with different batters to see if this was truly a useful feature, we found that our three high-end picks cooked all the batters on the top and the bottom evenly. There was no difference between our flip model and a high-end stationary model. We did, however, find the flip a useful function when comparing lower-end models cooking the thinner buttermilk batter. Ultimately, we didn't pick any low-end flip models because, although they may have heated more evenly than our budget picks, they cooked the batter so slowly that the waffles ended up too dense and heavy.
Traditional waffle irons are attached to tongs with wooden handles and are held over an open flame, or set on a stove. Most modern waffle irons are self-contained tabletop electrical appliances, heated by an electric heating element controlled by an internal thermostat. There are also two variants of the electric iron: one with removable plates and ones with non-removable plates. Professional waffle makers are usually made of cast iron whereas domestic models are often teflon coated. Many have a light that goes off when the iron is at the set temperature. Most modern waffle irons - particularly cast aluminum ones - are coated with a non-stick coating (e.g. teflon) to prevent the waffles from sticking to them. Cast-iron waffle makers are usually not coated and require seasoning like a cast-iron frying pan.
In 1926, Mr. Charles M. Cole of Oakland, California came up with a novel idea for cooking two waffles at once. He devised a three-part mold with each segment heated by electric current. This device allowed couples to have their waffle at the same time (contributing to happy and harmonious breakfasts) and also was fairly economical in use of electric current. (In the 1920s, electricity was VERY expensive, perhaps 25 cents/Kwh in 1926 dollars. This would be about $7.50/kwh in today's dollars compared with an actual cost of about 7 cents/Kwh.)
Breakfast is better with this stainless steel Belgian-style waffle maker. The nonstick, extra-deep grids make thick, fluffy waffles with plenty of room for all your favorite toppings. Plus, the nonstick plates are easy to clean and they’re perfect for making a variety of foods—try out hash browns, grilled sandwiches, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and more! The versatile BLACK+DECKER™ Belgian Waffle Maker lets you create new treats and discover classic favorites.
We were looking for an iron that consistently produced tall, evenly browned waffles with crisp shells and moist crumbs without any trial and error on our part. We focused on the newer, more prevalent flip- and rotary-style models, which either turn on a hinge or spin 180 degrees on a stand, but we also included several conventional stationary models. We set a price cap of $100 and tested 13 irons, making batches of both Belgian-style yeasted waffles and our everyday Cook’s Illustrated Best Buttermilk Waffles in each machine.
Cooks can use a convenient appliance like a double waffle maker or a countertop oven to save time and space. The baking plates of a double waffle iron are coated to prevent sticking so the Belgian waffles don’t get caught when removing the pastries from the unit. The flip design of a double waffle iron makes it easy to perfectly brown and then remove each waffle. If the waffle maker accidentally gets left on, its automatic shutoff feature turns it off. This preserves the life of the device and avoids the risk of an overheated electric appliance causing a fire.
When the temperature exceeds the desired setting, the strip "warps" and breaks the contact causing the resistance coils to cool. Because the iron is not being heated, the temperature falls and consequently the bimetallic strip "un-warps" and makes contact again, causing the coils to re-heat the iron. In this way, a continuous temperature is maintained in the cooking irons.
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.
Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
Use your waffle maker for something other than, well, waffles. Brave bakers can try pressing grilled cheese, cinnamon rolls, hash browns and - yes- even pizza. If you’re a dessert lover, a waffle cone maker will bring the ice cream parlor to you. You can even create a Belgian waffle bowl with a specially designed waffle maker, and then fill it with anything you like.
As for extra features, there's a small clip-on tray attached to the rear of the waffle maker to catch any errant drips (it really works), and a sturdy dial that allows you to adjust your browning preferences on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being the lightest and 7 being the darkest. A lighted indicator and pleasant chime let you know when your waffles are done cooking. The locking lid is solid and the handle feels great in the hand. The interior heats up evenly and is generously proportioned to produce 1-inch thick waffles with deep, crisp wells. And though the plates are not removable, the nonstick surface requires no greasing, releases the waffles with ease, and cleans astonishingly well after cooking.
What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
The green “ready” light didn’t always turn off immediately after we filled the Krups with batter and closed the lid, which was confusing—a glance at the machine might make you think the waffle is done. But the light always did turn off in time, and it consistently turned on again with a resonating beep when the waffle was ready. By being patient and waiting for the beep, we were never led astray, and waffles always came out cooked to the right doneness.
Hungry diners know whether or not their breakfast is ready when the Cuisinart's convenient "ready to bake/ready to eat" indicator lights with corresponding red and green hues come on. The Cuisinart features a cool-touch lid and round, non-stick cooking plates with four quarters, giving users the option of having a single waffle or dividing it up. We particularly like how this waffle maker, in its brushed stainless steel housing, stands on end for convenient storage in tight spaces.
For this guide, we interviewed Daniel Shumski, author of the blog and cookbook Will It Waffle?; J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary director of Serious Eats; Tim Kemp, culinary manager of home cooking delivery service Blue Apron; and Matt Maichel, the ex-chef/owner of the catering company Waffle Which Way. Between them, they have made many thousands of waffles and other waffled items over the years and have used upward of a dozen waffle makers.
The instructions say to warm up the waffle iron on heat setting 7, but there is no heat setting 7. The waffle iron has a knob on top numbered 1 through 6. I can't actually rotate the knob to numbers 5 and 6 though; the knob is physically stopped from rotating at 4. When I rotate the knob the other direction, I can rotate past 1 almost a full 360 degrees (stopping just before I reach 6 from the opposite side). The iron seems to heat up as soon as it's plugged in regardless of how the knob is rotated, so as far as I can tell there is no "off" setting even if I've rotated the knob to well below 1. Since I can't tell how the knob actually maps to heat settings (if the knob even does anything at all) I'm afraid to even try actually poring waffle batter onto the thing..
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.