After putting in a total of 63 hours on research, talking with four experts, and testing 21 models, we highly recommend the Krups GQ502D Belgian waffle maker for most people. It consistently delivers perfect-looking, crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside waffles, no matter what kind of batter you use. The nonstick grid releases waffles easily, and the dishwasher-safe plates pop out of the machine for effortless cleaning. A numbered dial allows you to control browning, and a loud beep with a green light tells you when your waffles are ready.
The versatile four-waffle size allows you to feed large or small crowds, but this sturdy machine is still relatively compact, and it can easily store vertically or horizontally. It’s pricier than our former top pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A (which is no longer being manufactured), but it also feels better quality, and it comes with more great features.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.
A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who has worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—since 2002. She is the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
Marguerite Preston, who conducted testing for the 2016 update, is a former professional baker and current food writer. She has written for Bon Appetit, Eater, Saveur, Serious Eats, and The Village Voice, among other publications. She also once had a job that often required making dozens and dozens of waffles in one go.
For this guide, we interviewed Daniel Shumski, author of the blog and cookbook Will It Waffle?; J. Kenji López-Alt, culinary director of Serious Eats; Tim Kemp, culinary manager of home cooking delivery service Blue Apron; and Matt Maichel, the ex-chef/owner of the catering company Waffle Which Way. Between them, they have made many thousands of waffles and other waffled items over the years and have used upward of a dozen waffle makers.
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.
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.”
Belgian and American waffles differ in size and thickness, which means you can’t use one waffle iron to make both kinds. Belgian waffles are taller—1 to 1½ inches thick—and have deeper wells than their thinner American cousins. Traditionally, they’re also made with a different batter. As Kathleen Purvis writes in the Seattle Times, “Most Belgian waffle recipes are yeast-based, to get that crispy texture.” But you can certainly put yeast-raised batter in a regular waffle maker (as we did in our tests). Likewise, you can put regular old Bisquick, baking-powder-leavened batter, or even pancake batter in a Belgian-style waffle maker. The resulting waffles will just have a different texture and flavor than those made with yeasted Belgian-waffle batter. Any kind can be crispy, depending, as Maichel told us, on the recipe you use and how hot the waffle maker gets: “The more oil [or fat] in your recipe, the higher the temperature you cook it at, the crispier your waffle will be.”
Nonstick plates are a common feature on waffle makers these days, and they make the baking process and cleanup much less painful—especially if they don’t require repeated greasing.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
Additional features might include an audible or visual indicator, which chimes or lights up when the appliance is ready to cook or when the waffle is done; cord storage; locking handles, especially for models that can store upright as well as flat; and a measuring cup for dispensing batter (though we didn’t find these very useful in our tests).
To determine our original winner, we evaluated top-rated waffle makers on America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required), Good Housekeeping, and food blogs and websites like The Kitchn, in addition to the best sellers on Amazon. For this update, we started with the available winners from our original guide and looked for new competitors. We eliminated anything that cost $100 or more, since there’s no use in paying a lot for such a single-purpose, occasional-use machine. We also passed on anything with a higher-than-average rate of complaints about failures or overheating.
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.
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.
For this 2016 update, we followed the same testing procedure, but we did not assemble a panel of tasters. Instead, tasting notes come from the tester (with some informal input from a couple of volunteers), taking into consideration people’s varying waffle preferences.
Whether you prefer paler, more tender waffles or browner, crunchier ones, even cooking is the most important consideration. Waffles that came out blotchy and limp or burned in spots and light in others were grounds for dismissal.
The Krups GQ502D, a brand-new model for 2016, is the best waffle maker we’ve found. Not only does it produce beautifully golden, crisp-on-the-outside, evenly browned waffles, but it also has a number of features that make it easier to use than most other machines out there—and make it worth the price. A numbered dial gives you careful control over waffle doneness, and a light paired with a loud beep tells you when your waffles are done. This machine makes four thick waffles per batch, so you can easily feed a crowd (or just one or two). The nonstick plates, which release waffles cleanly without the need for extra oiling, are removable, so cleanup is a breeze. And the compact design allows you to store the Krups either flat or upright, so it fits conveniently in most kitchens.
In our tests, waffles from this Krups model consistently came out beautiful and brown, with nice, tender interiors and a light, crisp crust. Browning was even more consistent than what we saw from our previous pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A (now discontinued), which sometimes produced light hot spots on the highest setting. In comparison, the Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker (our original pick for large groups) produced blotchy and limp waffles. The Oster DuraCeramic, a flip model, made waffles that were thicker but also unpleasantly dry inside, while the Black+Decker WM700R, another removable-plate model, trapped too much steam, creating bready waffles. The Krups machine’s waffles are a good 1 inch tall, and their thicker walls hold up better to syrup than the thinner waffles from our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, and one of our budget picks, the Cuisinart WMR-CA.
Out of all our picks, the Krups is the only one that can feed a large group efficiently, producing four 1-inch-thick, 4½-inch square waffles at a time. But its shape also works for feeding just one or two people. As Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski pointed out, “You can always make four at a time if you want, or you could make fewer, or you could make four, freeze two.” Neither our runner-up nor our budget picks offer that option, since they make waffles that are big enough to serve only one or two people at a time.
One of the most important attributes of a waffle maker is how well its nonstick coating works—there’s nothing worse than trying to clean stuck-on waffle from those narrow cracks. Luckily, waffles popped out easily from the Krups GQ502D with the aid of silicone tongs or chopsticks, even on the one or two occasions when opening the lid took a little prying. The manual recommends oiling the plates just once each time you use the machine, and we found that this step was more than enough to keep waffles from sticking, even through many rounds of batter. Best of all, the waffle plates detach from the machine, so once they’re cool you can pop them in the sink and wash them with soap and water, or, according to the manufacturer, even run them through the dishwasher. This is so much easier than cleaning most of the other machines we tried, including our former top pick, which requires you to wipe down the plates still in the machine with first a soapy cloth and then a damp one; inevitably, some soap seems to cling stubbornly in the cracks. But only two other machines we tested—the Nordic Ware stovetop model and Black+Decker’s brand-new (as of 2016) Removable Plate Waffle Maker, model WM700R—featured removable plates, and both fell far short of the Krups in ease of use and quality of waffles.
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.
Two lights on the Krups machine, one red and one green, indicate when it is preheating or cooking (red) and when the machine or the waffle is ready (green). These indicators are bright and easy enough to read (unlike some machines, where it’s hard to tell if the weak light is on or off). But unlike our previous pick, the Proctor Silex 26016A, the Krups GQ502D also beeps loudly when it’s ready, which means you can focus on frying bacon without worrying about overcooking your waffles. While some other models we tested were hard to hear when they beeped, this one was loud enough that we could easily hear it from the next room, even with a radio on, but the sound is neither persistent nor so unpleasant that you won’t want to hear it first thing in the morning.
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.
The Krups has a relatively small footprint for a machine that can produce four waffles at a time. It takes up just about a foot of counter space, and at just 4½ inches tall, it’s much easier to store than a bulky flip-style machine. A spool on the underside allows you to wrap up and secure the power cord easily, and because the lid locks in place, you can store this machine either upright or flat. Plus, the construction of this machine is nice and sturdy, as the hinge doesn’t wobble, and the dial turns smoothly and feels reliable. Krups also covers the GQ502D with a two-year limited warranty.
Because this model is so new (it appeared on Amazon only in September), we haven’t seen any editorial reviews of it yet. As of now the Krups GQ502D has a five-star rating on Amazon, but not many Amazon customers have posted reviews yet, and some of the impressions come from people who got the waffle maker at a discount in exchange for the review. Still, we think this is a genuinely great machine compared with the other models in its price range; it just hasn’t been around long enough to accumulate many reviews.
The Krups GQ502D took a little more time than some of the other models we tested to bake waffles. In our tests, waffles typically took about seven or eight minutes to cook, while the Presto FlipSide, for one, cooked a thicker waffle in about half the time. But the machines that cooked faster also tended to overcook, or to develop hot spots. A few extra minutes of waiting time is a small price to pay for golden, even-toned waffles, and the wait isn’t so bad when you can make four waffles at once.
The green “ready” light didn’t always turn off immediately after we filled the Krups with batter and closed the lid, which was confusing—a glance at the machine might make you think the waffle is done. But the light always did turn off in time, and it consistently turned on again with a resonating beep when the waffle was ready. By being patient and waiting for the beep, we were never led astray, and waffles always came out cooked to the right doneness.
At a suggested price around $80 at this writing, the Krups GQ502D is pricier than our previous pick, which ran around $50, but we think its extra features and overall quality more than make up for that. If you want something cheaper, consider one of our budget picks.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.
Unlike the Krups GQ502D, the Chef’sChoice 840B does not handle thin batter well—in fact, the manual explicitly states, “A thicker batter that pours slowly works best.” This model did a great job with Bisquick batter, turning out perfectly cooked waffles every time, but with our favorite yeasted batter it produced blotchy, limp, flat, and soggy waffles. So the Krups model is the winner in terms of versatility.
Like our top pick, the Chef’sChoice 840B will beep when it’s ready. The Chef’sChoice manual urges you to forget the conventional wisdom that a waffle is done when it stops steaming and to rely solely on the appliance’s alarm, and our testing bore out that claim: We didn’t have to check on this machine’s waffles at all.
One other nice, though not strictly necessary, feature is the toggle switch, which allows you to select either a “crisp exterior/moist interior” setting or an “evenly baked” setting. For the most part, these settings work as promised: The former produced waffles with a custardy interior, while the latter produced more evenly crisp waffles. The only caveat is that, on a lower browning setting, your crisp-exterior, moist-interior waffles may come out underdone.
The Chef’sChoice 840B comes with a one-year warranty. In 2012, Good Housekeeping named the 840B its top pick for Belgian waffle makers and gave it a score of 4½ out of five stars, noting, “While it’s priced on the high side, it comes with lots of special features like the ability to fine tune your waffle to your taste.”
*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.
If you prefer a crunchy traditional waffle but want something cheaper and smaller than the Krups GQ502D or the Chef’sChoice 840B, pick up the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (WMR-CA). Since it makes only a single 6½-inch-diameter, ½-inch-thick round waffle, it’s not great for feeding a crowd.
Like our runner-up, the Chef’sChoice 840B, this Cuisinart model has a slider for browning control with discrete settings (five in this case), which in theory makes manipulating the waffle to your liking easier. In practice, though, the dial had a lot of play, so we found it difficult to tell where the slider was exactly.
The Cuisinart WMR-CA also feels remarkably flimsy, especially compared with the sturdy Krups GQ502D and the Chef’sChoice 840B. In addition to the imprecise browning dial, the lid wiggles from side to side. We noted some flash—excess bits of plastic from leaks in injection molding—on the slider, an indication of lackluster quality control.
More than one of our tasters declared this model’s results to be “the perfect waffle.” And it truly excels at creating consistently thin, crunchy waffles. Those waffles were not quite as perfect looking as those made by the Krups GQ502D or the Chef’sChoice 840B, since the plate made a browner circle in the center of the waffle. But that was just an aesthetic issue: The waffles were just as crisp and delicious at the paler outer edge as in the center. If, however, you prefer a thick Belgian-style waffle over a thin, crisp one, you’ll want to go for our other budget pick (more on that below).
In our testing for the original version of this guide, we noted that the Cuisinart WMR-CA suffered from a ventilation problem wherein the steam accumulated on the handles, making them tremendously, painfully hot to the touch. We did not find that to be an issue in testing for our 2016 update (which we performed on a different unit).
While the Chef’sChoice 840B comes with a one-year warranty, and the Krups is covered for two years, the Cuisinart WMR-CA comes with a three-year warranty.
In 2012, Good Housekeeping gave the WMR-CA a mark of four of out five stars and said this model “proves you don’t have to pay a lot to get beautifully browned and tender, yet crispy waffles.” This Cuisinart waffle maker is also well-liked on Amazon, with a rating of 4.1 out of five stars across 1,758 reviews at the time we checked.
If you prefer a thick Belgian waffle over the thin American-style ones produced by the Cuisinart WMR-CA, but don’t have either the money or the space for our top pick from Krups, the compact Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009) is your best bet. In make, it actually looks similar to our previous top pick, the discontinued Proctor Silex 26016A, offering the same handle and locking system, as well as the same slider for browning control.
Waffles from the Hamilton Beach 26009 are also quite similar to those from the Proctor Silex 26016A and the Krups GQ502D: They’re 1 inch thick and a square shape, with an evenly browned exterior. Waffles consistently came out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, and though the browning control didn’t produce quite as much range as any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 never burned or undercooked a waffle. Batter didn’t always fill the top plate evenly, leaving waffles a little blotchy on top, but not in a way that significantly affected taste or texture. And, unlike our other budget pick, the Hamilton Beach 26009 handled thin, yeasted batter with ease.
But even though many features of the Hamilton Beach 26009 look almost identical to those of pricier models, some aspects feel more flimsily built. In particular, the slider that controls browning has a lot of play to it (just like the one on our other budget pick), which means figuring out what setting the machine is on is sometimes difficult.
The Hamilton Beach 26009 is also exactly half the size of the Krups GQ502D, capable of making two square waffles at a time instead of four. That means it isn’t ideal for feeding a crowd. But that may not matter if you don’t plan a lot of brunch parties, or if you don’t have a lot of kitchen space. It also stores easily either flat or upright.
As on many waffle makers, two indicator lights sit on this machine, one red and one green. But unlike any of our other picks, the Hamilton Beach 26009 does not indicate when your waffle is ready. The red light merely indicates preheating, while the green light tells you only that the machine is ready for baking. This means making waffles requires a little extra attention, but in our tests, watching for the machine to stop steaming was an accurate marker. You could also set a timer.
Like our runner-up, the Hamilton Beach 26009 comes with a one-year limited warranty.
We couldn’t find any editorial reviews of this Hamilton Beach model, but at the time of our research it had a good rating on Amazon, earning 4.3 stars out of five across 665 reviews. Some reviews complain of a flimsy locking mechanism, but for occasional use we still think this model is a great buy. At around $20, it’s about a quarter of the suggested price of our top pick, and cheaper, even, than our other budget pick.
The experts we spoke to offered some advice on how to get the best performance out of your waffle maker.
J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats said, “I always butter or oil [the plates] first. And just like when you’re using a regular pan, the most important thing is to make sure it’s preheated properly or else it’s going to stick.”
Even if a maker doesn’t have a light indicator or chime, you’ll usually know waffles are done when steam stops rising from the machine.
“For getting the waffles out,” Maichel said, “a wooden chopstick is good because you can get it under there. Don’t use any metal … if [the plate] gets scratched, it’ll turn into a sticky spot.” In testing, we found that chopsticks were also useful for scraping out burned bits that got stuck in the Presto FlipSide, and tongs with silicone or nylon heads worked well for removing waffles, too.
If you’re not serving the waffles as soon they come out, it pays to take a little extra care with them. As Maichel told us, when they cool down, the steam inside condenses and makes the waffles soggy—especially if you let them sit around on a plate at room temperature. “I’ll put it on paper towels on a cookie rack. Or I’ll put them in the oven,” Maichel said. If you need to make waffles in quantity and keep them warm, you can put them on a sheet tray in a low oven (200 °F) until you’re ready to serve them.
The Proctor Silex Large Belgian Waffle Maker (26016A) was our former top pick, but the manufacturer has since discontinued it. If you manage to find this model, it does make great waffles in big batches for a decent price, but it doesn’t have removable plates or an audible ready signal like our new top pick, the Krups GQ502D.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.
The four-waffle Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 854 made waffles that were evenly browned and attractive-looking. And in addition to browning controls, this model has a switch for fast baking (crisp exterior, moist interior) or slow baking (crunchy, uniform texture). However, the waffles it made did not distinguish themselves enough to warrant this machine’s much higher price tag—for about half the price, our pick can produce just as many excellent waffles.
The Cuisinart 4 Slice Belgian Waffle Maker (WAF-200) looks and feels high quality, but in our tests it cooked waffles unevenly, burning some parts and leaving others unappealingly pale. The same Bisquick batter that produced golden waffles in other models turned into mealy waffles inside this Cuisinart.
The Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker made blotchy and limp waffles. Although this model felt more high-end than many of the others we tested, it also cost twice as much as many of them at the time. Plus, it was a batter hog.
The only non-Teflon nonstick model we tried, the Oster DuraCeramic Stainless Steel Flip Waffle Maker (CKSTWFBF22-ECO), further confirmed our findings from the original version of this guide: Flip models do not make up for in performance what they take up in volume.
This Oster model made the most substantial waffles among the waffle makers we tested. About 1¼ inches thick, they looked like the kind you might get at a hotel brunch, puffy and evenly browned all over. Unfortunately, they were a bit dry and cakey, and none of our tasters liked them very much. The two sides cook quickly and then the waffle steams from the middle, creating a pronounced pale crevice where the waffle can be broken apart easily (good for sandwiches?).
We looked at one stovetop model, the nonstick-coated cast aluminum Nordic Ware Original Stovetop Belgian Waffle Maker (15040). We ultimately cut it because the iron depends too much on the cook’s attention and experience to yield consistently great results. Professional and seasoned home cooks may prefer the great degree of control this Nordic Ware model allows, and if you know your stove well, J. Kenji López-Alt pointed out, you can compensate for hot and cool spots. It’s also the easiest to clean, he said, since you can just throw it in the sink when you’re done. None of the other waffle makers can go in the sink or be sprayed.
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.
When we retested the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker (03510)—which is very well reviewed on Amazon—for this update, we didn’t run into the horrendous sticking problems we had the first time around. But it did cook waffles unevenly, and so quickly that they started to burn after just a few minutes. The other problem with this model is that it occupies a lot of counter space when in use. We did like the timer, though, and we wish other inexpensive models had one.
We also tested the following:
The Waring Pro Belgian Waffle Maker (WMK600) has great reviews on Amazon, but in real life we found that it hogged space and power. It’s incredibly bulky, it made the lights in the kitchen flicker, and its waffles aren’t anything spectacular.
While the VillaWare Belgian Flip Waffle Maker (NDVLWFBFS1-SHP) was a more successful flip model than the Waring Pro, it just wasn’t good enough. Even when we filled the machine with more batter than requested, our waffles still had holes. Add that to the bulky design, and it’s a pass.
The West Bend Waffle Maker (6201) is a slimmer model but still (like all flip styles) quite bulky. In our tests, we had issues with the nonstick surface being notably sticky. As with the VillaWare, waffles came out with giant holes.
Black+Decker’s Belgian Waffle Maker (WMB500) is a little too simple, lacking any browning control, and reviewers complain about the poor quality and how quickly it breaks.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $35 at the time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling up on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
The Chef’sChoice WafflePro 830B looks a lot like our runner-up, the 840B, and it’s a bit less expensive, but it did not perform nearly as well. Waffles came out unevenly cooked, and even with the dial on a medium setting, they were unpleasantly dark.
The Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R) is a new model for 2016. You can take the plates out for washing, which is a huge plus, but unfortunately this machine fell short in several other ways during our testing. The indicator lights don’t tell you when a waffle is done, and it has no browning control. Plus, our waffles came out bready rather than crisp, and after a few rounds of baking, the handle got uncomfortably hot.
The Hamilton Beach Durathon Mess-Free Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26043), new for 2016, has a unique shape that promises to prevent batter overflow. Unfortunately, it produces oddly concave waffles, with a wide ring of crisp batter around the edge. And when the lid is open, the appliance is top-heavy and unstable.
We considered and dismissed other models as follows:
Although the Proctor Silex Round Belgian Waffle Maker (26070) is the new version of a previous pick, we eliminated it because it lacked any kind of indicator and made just one waffle at a time.
The non-flip Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26020) has okay reviews, but reviewers indicate that it has the same steam problems as the cheap Cuisinart and Proctor Silex, not to mention the lack of an indicator light, which means you need to carefully monitor this waffle maker at all times.
The Krups F654 has mixed owner reviews, and it garnered only a 3½-star rating from Good Housekeeping. GH reports that the handle gets too hot, and that the machine has no doneness setting. Without that setting, you’ll have to peek to see if your waffles are ready, which is a dealbreaker for us.
We considered looking at dual-purpose waffle makers with interchangeable plates such as the T-fal EZ Clean Sandwich and Waffle Maker (SW6100) but ultimately passed. Appliances that try to excel at two disparate tasks often fail at one, and from reading the reviews, it seems clear that this T-fal model—which is now discontinued—might make great sandwiches but fails to make excellent waffles.
Although the Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates (WAF-300) has removable plates, we eliminated it before testing because at the time it was right on the edge of being too expensive, at $100.
The All-Clad Classic Round Waffle Maker (99012GT) has earned its fair share of accolades, but currently it’s too expensive, around $125. At that price, you’re paying more for the label and the stainless steel looks than for actual waffle-making ability.
The same goes for the KitchenAid Pro Line Waffle Baker (KPWB100OB), which costs nearly $200 at the moment and makes two waffles at once. Sure, it’s fancy, but it’s a space hog and a really, really expensive machine.
Along the same lines, we eliminated the Breville Smart Waffle Pro (BWM640XL) because it cost $200 at the time we checked.
The Nesco Everyday Waffle Maker (WM-1300) has good reviews, but heart-shaped waffles are a niche thing. If you’re dying for a special Valentine’s treat, maybe consider it. Otherwise, stick to a classic shape.
We eliminated the Oster Belgian Waffle Maker (CKSTWF2000), one of that company’s few non-flip models, because of complaints from Amazon reviewers concerning poor construction and an inaccurate indicator light.
We chose not to test the relatively new Toastmaster 4 Slice Waffle Maker (TM-291WMC) because most of the handful of Amazon reviewers complain of uneven baking.
The Cuisinart Vertical Waffle Maker (WAF-V100) seems clever at first: It stands upright, and you pour batter into a spout at the top. But Amazon customers complain that the spout clogs easily, and that it’s too small to allow add-ins such as blueberries or chocolate chips. Plus, this model won’t work at all if you want to waffle anything else, like grilled cheese or hash browns.
We ruled out the VonChef Quad Belgian Waffle Maker because it offers no way to control browning and is not particularly well reviewed on Amazon, with 3.8 stars out of five across just 20 reviews at the time we checked.
The Westinghouse Select Series Stainless Steel Waffle Maker (WWM1SSA) has decent reviews on Amazon, but many of those are by people who received it for free. This model is also an “Amazon Exclusive,” so it may not be available forever.
The Nostalgia Retro Series Round Belgian Waffle Maker (RWM400RNDRED) looks like it’s more about style than function. It has no browning control, and at the time of our research, its 10 Amazon reviewers gave it a poor rating of 3.6 out of five stars.