The Hamilton Beach Round Waffle Maker was the closest in appearance and function to our former top pick, the (now-discontinued) Oster waffle maker. It is made from brushed stainless steel and high-quality plastics that help it fit into any kitchen. Like most flip-type waffle irons, the Hamilton Beach also has a removable tray that makes cleanup simple and straightforward.
Finally, beyond the structural superiority of the All-Clad's waffles—their lovely architecture and delicate texture—there was one more winning factor that pushed them over the top: they just tasted better. I can't explain the chemistry behind it—as I said, we used the same batter for every test—but the waffles from this machine seemed to have nuances the others lacked, like apparent notes of vanilla and caramel and a toasty depth of flavor. They tasted like $200 waffles.
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.
Because waffle irons are more of a kitchen extravagance than an absolute necessity, we decided to test out a few non-waffle items in the machines just for kicks—the more versatile these tools can be, the better. We waffled up some grilled cheese and sage stuffing to see how the machines would do. As we’ve seen in the past, a waffle iron may be the best tool to make things like grilled cheese: The divots become extra crisp, with cheese oozing out and forming a crackling frico, while the peaks remain soft and chewy. The nonstick surface ensures no bits of stuffing or bread are left behind. The results of this test followed the trend of the previous ones, with our high-end picks edging out the rest.
The Coleman Waffle Iron is the perfect size for camping, tailgating or living -- and cooking -- off the grid. It cooks two waffles at once and has no moving parts that could be damaged. The non-stick coating works best if it's brushed with cooking oil and then preheated before pouring in the batter. Even if you're "just" cooking at home, the Coleman Waffle Iron is a great choice for those with small kitchens or limited space.
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.