Types of Waffle Irons
American Waffle Makers
American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes, like hearts or for using in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches. Belgian Waffle Makers
Introduced in North American in 1962, Belgian waffles usually use a yeasted batter that results in a waffle that rises, making them thicker and softer than American waffles -- although they should still be crispy on the outside. They're larger too, which is why they need a different type of waffle maker than traditional, American-style waffles. The deeper pockets on Belgian waffles are great for holding toppings like syrup, whipped cream or fruit.Stovetop Waffle Makers
Although stovetop waffle makers are a little harder to use than electric because you have to regulate the waffle iron's temperature and cooking time, they're also more versatile. They can be used for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage (if you have a gas stove). Stovetop waffle irons are usually much smaller and thinner than countertop models, too; so they're the ideal choice for small kitchens with limited storage, camping or tailgating, off-the-grid living, or anyone who enjoys the challenge of learning to create the perfect waffle by hand.
The right batter + waffle iron =
like the taste of a crispy, golden-brown waffle straight from your own waffle
iron, but the key is a combination of a good waffle maker and good batter. A
substandard waffle maker or poor batter will make even the most generic frozen
waffle look good.
waffle makers run on electricity and can be adjusted to produce lighter or
darker waffles. Many, but not all, have indicator lights and audible beeps to
cue you through the preheating, battering and cooking stages. Even more
important is consistent, even heat to be sure your waffle isn't overcooked on
the outside and mushy on the inside -- or cooked in some places but not in
Once the waffle
is done, it should release cleanly from the waffle maker's grids. Most waffle
irons come with a non-stick coating to make this easier, but even with the best
non-stick waffle iron you'll get better results if you apply a bit of cooking
oil or spray before adding the batter.
coating and oil combo not only results in pretty waffles on your plate, it also
means cleanup is a snap because you won't have to scrub bits of stuck waffle
out of the grids with a toothbrush. Some electric waffle makers have removable
plates that can be tossed in the sink or dishwasher. If you're dealing with an
electric waffle maker that doesn't have removable grids, you can't dunk the
whole thing for a good cleaning -- so a soft-bristle toothbrush or damp rag are
your best cleaning options.
aware that if you're getting so-so results from a waffle maker that usually
draws rave reviews, the problem might be your batter instead of the machine.
Users who substitute pancake batter for waffle batter quickly find out that
there is, indeed, a difference between the two. Pancake batter in a waffle iron
generally produces a heavy, dense mess that'll stick to the waffle iron like
glue, and users warn that some "waffle recipes" found on the back of
pancake mix boxes don't do much better. If you're into creative pancake making,
you'll do better cooking them on a stove top skillet or electric skillet,
both of which we cover in separate reports.
Finding The Best Waffle Irons
Waffles are a
popular breakfast (or anytime) food, and waffle irons are popular with expert
testers and test kitchens as well. We found plenty of excellent, comparative,
waffle maker tests at Cook's Illustrated, TheSweethome.com, BonAppetit.com, YourBestDigs.com
and TopTenReviews.com, among others. As always, though, with any kitchen
appliance, user reviews are king because they tell how the appliance does under
real-world conditions with a real person at the helm -- and how long they hold
up under that real-world use. Combining all those terrific resources with our
own kitchen experience led us to our recommendations for the waffle irons that
are easiest to use and clean, and, of course, make a perfect waffle.
The best waffle irons
When it comes
to making American-style waffles there's no question: the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker (Est. $30) is the winner by a landslide, drawing hundreds of
enthusiastic user reviews and kudos from experts like TheSweethome.com,
YourBestDigs.com and Good Housekeeping. The Cuisinart waffle iron turns out one
waffle at a time, with five doneness settings to choose from and indicator
lights that tell you when it's ready for batter and when the waffle is done.
Cuisinart Classic proves you don't have to pay a lot to get beautifully browned
and tender, yet crispy waffles," write the editors of Good Housekeeping,
while the same machine has been a budget pick at TheSweethome.com for multiple
years. "It truly excels at making consistently thin, crunchy
waffles," write TheSweethome.com editors. They say that a bit of uneven
browning they noticed in their test (there's a darker brown patch on the
center) is just aesthetic and doesn't affect the waffle's crispness or taste.
Owners love the
Cuisinart Round Classic's performance too, saying they're happy to finally find
a good waffle maker that makes something other than Belgian waffles. In fact,
this little machine took almost a third of the survey vote in a poll from
Lifehacker.com. Users say that it takes two to three minutes per waffle and
that as long as you wait for the waffle iron to preheat and apply a little
cooking oil to it before adding batter, you'll never have issues with waffles
sticking. There is a grooved "spillover" reservoir around the waffle
grid; any excess batter gets funneled here and it also cooks, essentially
making a bigger waffle. It can't hold much, though, so be careful how much
batter you add.
Round Classic Waffle Maker also has a non-stick coating (although you'll want
to apply a little cooking oil beforehand for best results), and it's small
enough to take up very little space, especially when stored on its edge. Watch
your fingers, though: editors at Good Housekeeping found that its top and sides
can become very hot while cooking. TheSweethome.com and YourBestDigs.com also
warn that steam sometimes vents onto the handle when you open the lid, making
it too hot to touch. Users who encounter this issue solve it by putting
something heavy on top of the waffle maker's lid to keep it shut as the waffle
cooks, which in turn stops the steam from escaping; or you could just wear an
oven mitt when you open it.
Cuisinart is undoubtedly a top performer at a great price point, it does only
cook one waffle at a time, and the editors of TheSweethome.com point out that
it's not as sturdily built as some of the competition -- a point echoed by many
users, although that doesn't seem to affect the waffle quality. "Nothing
flashy -- just very good waffles at a terrific price," write the editors
of GroomandStyle.com. That may make this waffle iron best for either small
groups or occasional waffle-making. That said, Cuisinart offers a three-year
warranty -- right up there with some pro-level appliances that cost six times
as much. It's also versatile, with users saying it's even great for making
foods like hash browns, bacon and potato cakes.
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. $60) 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.
The Black and
Decker G48TD earns a nod from the lifestyle website GroomandStyle.com, and many
positive reviews from users who like that it can make four waffles at a time --
a plus for larger families. Of course, that means the waffle iron has a larger
footprint that single-waffle irons, but most say they're more than willing to
give up some counter space to this appliance and a little bit of control over
the final waffle color in exchange for its versatility and the ability to give
it a thorough cleaning.
user concern we found about the G48TD is that it feels cheaply made and some
have issues with the plate alignment, saying if you don't get it aligned
properly, the top plate can fall off -- an injury hazard if the plate is hot.
However, many users still remain very happy with this machine's good
performance and basic features, which include an indicator to alert you when
Another good option
for classic waffles is the All-Clad 99012GT Classic Round Waffle Maker (Est. $105), which earned perfect scores for baking, browning,
tenderness and consistency from the hands-on experts at the Good Housekeeping
Institute. It also draws a gold award (the top ranking) in a thorough, comparative
hands-on review by TopTenReviews.com.
experts are universal in their praise for this waffle maker's ability to turn
out consistently beautiful and golden waffles, with a perfectly crispy
exterior. This consistency is helped by the All-Clad's unique design -- steam
is released through a vent in the top of the unit instead of building up under
the lid, which cuts down on soggy waffles.
downside, many users report that the locks on the sides of this unit get hot
and it's a bit slow to preheat, at about 6 minutes. If you're patient enough to
let the All-Clad 99012GT preheat first, though, it only takes about three
minutes to cook each waffle, and the seven-setting browning dial gives you
great control over the results.
The best Belgian waffle irons
If you prefer a
fluffier waffle over a traditional, crispier waffle, you'll love our pick in
this category, the Presto FlipSide 3510 Belgian Waffle Maker (Est. $50). It draws
an unqualified recommendation and Best Buy designation from one of the toughest
test kitchens in the country, along with top scores in categories including
waffle texture, consistency and easy cleanup. Thousands of happy owners agree
with the experts, saying the Presto 3510 cranks out consistently wonderful
Belgian waffles that are a lofty inch-and-a-half thick. We saw quite a few pictures posted by
users of the beautiful waffles it makes,. Its name comes from the fact that, after
you pour the batter, you flip it like a book to help the batter spread evenly.
the PrestoFlipSide's durability, too, with quite a few owners saying it's
lasted them for many years. In
fact, one contributor to a poll on waffle makers at Lifehacker.com, where the
Presto FlipSide took almost 10 percent of the vote, says their waffle iron is still
making perfect waffles after almost a decade of use.
In addition to
good performance and durability, the Presto FlipSide boasts some pretty
impressive features. It's small enough to store easily in most cabinets and
even locks upright so you can store it vertically. The ceramic nonstick interior helps to release
the waffles easily, even if you don't use oil or cooking spray. The ceramic
grids also clean off easily with a damp cloth.
We do see some
complaints about the Presto FlipSide, but they're few and far between. Testers
at YourBestDigs.com pan it for the lack of a built-in temperature adjustment. However,
it does have a built-in timer to help you gauge the doneness of the waffles,
and users say that it's easy to get the hang of within just a few attempts. One
of the expert test kitchens we used as a source also loves that the timer goes
off twice: Not just when the waffle is done but also a minute before, giving
you time to get back to the appliance before the waffle overcooks.
Even though the
Presto FlipSide 3510 is known for its easy wipe-off cleanup, some cooks prefer
the convenience of a waffle iron with removable grids that can be scrubbed out
in the sink or even tossed in the dishwasher for cleaning. If this sounds like
you, you might prefer the Hamilton Beach 26030 Belgian Waffle Maker (Est. $50),
which has removable, dishwasher-safe nonstick grids and a removable,
dishwasher-safe drip tray. It's ranked third out of six top waffle makers in a
thorough, hands-on test from YourBestDigs.com, who say that it seems to be
well-made and is simple to clean; their only real criticism is that it longer than
the Presto to heat up and then cook the waffles, about 9 and a half minutes,
total, compared to the Presto's 7 and a half.
Like the Presto, the Hamilton Beach 26030
allows you to "flip" the waffle, but, rather than back and forth the
26030's design rotates in place. Users say the removable plates are truly
nonstick, and they love the convenience of being able to remove them for
washing. The indicator lights are handy too; one tells you when the unit is on,
the other when to add the batter. There's also an adjustable browning control
that users say works well.
There is no timer to let you know when your
waffle is done on the Hamilton Beach 26030, so it may take a bit of trial and
error before you figure out how much time you need to cook a waffle to your
liking. However, most say they use a kitchen timer and find that it's pretty
straightforward and takes 3 to 5 minutes. Otherwise, we saw very few complaints
about this waffle iron, other than the occasional durability quibble and some
who said it takes too long to cook at heat up.
If you make
waffles all the time and want to invest in a larger, sturdier waffle maker with
removable/washable cooking plates, the Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker (Est. $75) is worth a look. Experts and users alike love
its interchangeable pancake plates and waffle plates, both of which are
dishwasher safe, although hand-washing will help preserve the non-stick
coating. The manufacturer
recommends lightly brushing the plates with oil before each use.
waffle maker is pricier than most, it's also much more versatile than most. It
includes four interchangeable plates for making pancakes, eggs, breakfast
meats, and, of course, waffles -- making four at a time. It also has a shade
control and indicator lights for when the unit is preheated and when the waffle
experts alike say that the Cuisinart WAF-300 never disappoints, turning out
reliable results at both high and low heat settings. It also stores upright to
save cabinet space. But that can still be more waffle power (and appliance
size) than small families, singles or occasional users need. If you want
something really versatile that can cook for a crowd, this might be a great
choice for your family, though.
to beat our top pick's combination of reliability, results and value. But if
price is your ultimate concern, we think you'll appreciate the Oster DuraCeramic Flip Waffle Maker (Est. $30). (This makes Belgian
waffles, although it isn't always labeled as such at online sites; if you're
having trouble finding the right unit, look for model number CKSTWFBF10W-ECO.)
maker was the top pick after in-depth testing from YourBestDigs.com, edging out
the competition due to its speed and consistent results -- although they did
note that the "Ready for Batter" light sometimes jumps the gun by
about 30 seconds, so you should wait before you actually add the batter.
As you'd expect
of any dedicated budget model, the Oster DuraCeramic Flip Waffle Maker is
relatively no-frills. It has that "Ready to Cook" light, an
adjustable temperature control, a rotating mechanism that lets you flip the
waffle for even cooking, and a removable drip tray to catch overflow. It also
stores in the vertical position to help save space. Other than that, you're on
your own -- but users say the ceramic nonstick grids are a real high point that
make this waffle iron well worth its bargain cost, as long as you don't mind
wiping them in the appliance (they're not removable).