A dial on the Krups GQ502D controls browning, on a scale of 1 (lightest) to 5 (darkest). You can easily control how cooked your waffles are without ever producing an inedible one: The lightest waffles are barely brown but still cooked through, while the darkest are crisp and brown but never burnt. Compare that with the Chef’sChoice 830B, which in our tests got so hot that it started to burn waffles on a medium setting, or even with our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, which can burn its thinner waffles on the highest setting. The dial on the Krups machine also allows you to turn the waffle maker off without unplugging it, a feature that very few waffle makers have. Such a feature isn’t totally necessary, but it is nice to have if you want to keep the machine on your counter ready to use; it’s also one that a lot of Amazon customers seem to desire, judging from reviews of other waffle makers across the board.
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.
This model is also equipped with an on/off switch, which people with large kitchens may find useful, as it makes it easier to keep it set up on a counter without having to unplug after each use (especially helpful if your outlets are in inconvenient places, and repeatedly plugging and unplugging is a hassle). It makes two seven-inch waffles at a time, with a two-minute recovery time, allowing you to make waffles for a crowd. The flip function means it evenly cooks thicker and thinner batters alike and requires less batter to fill edge to edge.
There's no easy way to say this: the real revelation of this test was just how mediocre most waffle irons are. But at least they were consistent in the ways in which they were mediocre! Far and away, the most common problem was one of uneven cooking, or what I like to call the "two-face" effect: waffles that emerged from the iron evenly browned on one side but pale and doughy on the other. It is not a good look.
First and foremost, you want a waffle maker that effectively and evenly cooks the batter. Electric waffle makers have heating elements on both sides, behind each grid, to aid in even cooking. Matt Maichel explained to us that these machines work by removing moisture from the batter via heat and surface area: “The dimples create more surface area; the more surface area, the more quickly the waffle can cook.” He added, “If steam doesn’t escape properly from the device, then you won’t get a good waffle.”
Waffle makers can vary widely in prices. More affordable options go for around 15-30 dollars, while if you really want to splurge you can spend as much as 130 dollars. For basic waffle making, a cheaper unit works fine. However, you do sometimes run the risk of it breaking after a few months because of lower quality parts. If you feel like getting fancy with variable temperature controls, flip plates, or the like, it will probably cost you a bit extra.