Hamilton Beach's Belgian style waffle maker makes round waffles that can easily be split into eight individual waffle sticks, which kids and adults alike will love (we're already dreaming of setting up a waffle dip buffet table at brunch, plus the opportunity to carry waffles with us on the go). The product's deep grids — in addition to the deep overflow channel around their edge — make it near impossible for even the klutziest cook to spill.
The Proctor Silex Mess Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26044A) has features in common with our top pick, such as browning controls and indicator lights, but we had a much tougher time getting it to produce a decent waffle. We deemed the first batch soggy, and one tester said, “It’s not enough of a step up from Eggo—I’d rather have Eggo.” In a subsequent batch, half the waffle cooked much faster than the other, which meant that the former was overly brown while the latter remained pale and limp.
A company that offers a generous warranty is a company that believes in their product — and also believes that they won’t have to replace many waffle irons under said program. A warranty also gives you peace of mind, since you know that you’re guaranteed a functioning appliance for at least as long as the warranty is good for (and hopefully much longer).
The Breville quickly produces crispy brown waffles, with the most consistent color of all the batches we tested, making it the best option if you prefer the thinner type of American waffle. The waffles managed to be perfectly crispy, without becoming dry, and maintained some fluffiness within. Although it makes only one waffle at a time, it reheats and cooks rapidly, so you can crank out waffle after waffle with ease. The built-in drip tray, nonstick surface, and minimal design keep cleanup effortless.
Overall, the Krups was as easy to use as any machine we tested—though no machine is particularly tricky to figure out, as long as you read the instructions. Still, the GQ502D’s intuitive, set-it-and-forget-it system made the process particularly simple. Like all waffle makers, it does get hot in places: The steam vent at the back heated up quickly for us, and the top of the machine was too hot to touch after a couple of rounds of waffles. But the heatproof handle stayed cool, even after multiple uses, something that couldn’t be said of competitors like the Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R), where built-up steam around the handle made the machine uncomfortable and risky to use.
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.