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.
The first thing we didn’t like was an unpleasant plastic smell that emanated from the Presto waffle maker when we first started cooking with it. While this scent did mostly dissipate over the course of our testing, and most waffle maker manuals suggest throwing away your first waffle because of chemicals that might be released from the non-stick, the smell from the Presto made us more uneasy than the rest.
Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
Before beginning these tests, I'd heard buzz that the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Iron was the Cadillac of waffle makers—a hulking, shiny, stainless steel behemoth capable of turning out batch after batch of five-star hotel-buffet-quality waffles. I was intrigued, but given that it came with a gulp-inducing price tag of $200, also very skeptical. Could the waffles it made really be five times better than those from its lower-priced competitors?
Although we included one cast aluminum stovetop waffle maker, we decided to eliminate cast iron models, because seasoning the material added another layer of complexity to use and care. In addition, we were interested in testing a waffle maker with interchangeable plates (one that could also serve as a grill or panini press, for example), but the particular model we had our eye on, the T-fal EZ Clean Sandwich and Waffle Maker, has been discontinued, and in a later conversation with Matt Maichel, he confirmed that a device dedicated solely to waffle making works better than one that multitasks.
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
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.
For those who aren't happy with just wiping their waffle maker down to keep it clean, the Hamilton Beach 26030 Belgian Waffle Maker has removable non-stick plates and a drip tray that can all go straight into the dishwasher, and users say they come clean very nicely that way. The indicator lights make it easy to use, and the adjustable browning control offers some customization. Most importantly, it also turns out great, fluffy yet crisp Belgian waffles.
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.
This is ideal for making waffle pops – if you haven’t heard of those before, this is a waffle maker you’re going to want to check out. It cooks mini heart-shaped waffles individually and has a space provided for putting in Popsicle sticks or cake-pop sticks to make sure your waffle pop process goes smoothly. But don’t worry – it will make your standard, no-stick waffles just as well as any other waffle maker, too.
Unlike most flip waffle makers, the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker doesn’t take up a lot of space when it’s not baking waffles. Its slim and sits low on the counter and it can easily be locked into place so it can stand up for storage. However, you do need to make sure you have room on the countertop to flip it completely over on its side after you fill it with batter. Rather than settings, the Presto has a timer which you set by pushing a tiny button. It is designed to beep with only two minutes remaining, but often, at that point, it didn’t beep and stopped counting down. Nonetheless, it produced evenly browned, crispy waffles one after another and it is among the less expensive Belgian waffles.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”
I’m an impatient cook, I can’t be bothered to transform egg whites into shaving cream foam at 9am on a Sunday. Caffeine and a quick meditation sesh must be had before the cacophonous sounds of roaring kitchen engines. It’s just how I am. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love mornings— just ones with minimal amounts of noise. The point is… If you’re anything like me and want quick, silent, effortless satisfaction, these are for you.
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.
Flip over Belgian waffles made with the Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. Professional-style flipping method ensures batter is distributed smoothly and cooks evenly for perfect results. Indulge in the experience of fresh, home-made Belgian waffles with deep pockets full of tasty toppings and syrup. Professional flipping method distributes batter evenly within the plates for waffles cooked to perfection. With the Oster® brand, you can cook with passion and serve with pleasure.
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.
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Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande, are a specialty of northern France and portions of western Belgium. The original recipe, published in 1740 by Louis-Auguste de Bourbon in Le Cuisinier Gascon, is as follows: Take "deux litrons" (1.7 liters or 7 cups) of flour and mix it in a bowl with salt and one ounce of brewer's yeast barm. Moisten it completely with warm milk. Then whisk fifteen egg whites and add that to the mixture, stirring continuously. Incorporate "un livre" (490 grams or 1.1 pounds) of fresh butter, and let the batter rise. Once the batter has risen, take your heated iron, made expressly for these waffles, and wrap some butter in a cloth and rub both sides of the iron with it. When the iron is completely heated, make your waffles, but do so gently for fear of burning them. Cooked, take them out, put them on a platter, and serve them with both sugar and orange blossom water on top.
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The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
We’ve covered plenty of brunch-worthy appliances and tchotchkes in the past, including a waffle iron for Instagram-worthy waffles, eggcups à la Call Me by Your Name, the best French presses and pour-overs, and even skillets to make the perfect Chez Panisse–style eggs. Here, we’re doing a deep dive into the best waffle-makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)