There is something oddly satisfying about a fresh, homemade waffle. Maybe it’s the perfect balance between the crispy outside and the cake-like inside, or maybe it’s the nooks and crannies soaked in butter syrup. Perhaps you only have a healthy appreciation for Dutch culture or for comfort foods that come in different forms.
Perhaps you are like me, and homemade waffles from a popular family waffle maker made breakfast on Sunday morning something very special as a child. Or hey, maybe you are Leslie Knope.
Whatever waffles you like, you need a beloved waffle maker to cook them at home. I will confess that I never got hold of one, and – as my mother recently informed me about a dark text exchange – the trustworthy Toastmaster I grew up with released a few years ago after decades of use.
All of this brought me to the search for the perfect waffle maker – for me, for my mother and for you, readers of waffle iron lists. I found the following after testing some of the top rated options available from major retailers:
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Most flippable waffle irons hang the iron in the air. With this approach, you can turn the thing upside down for a more even cook – but it also makes it bulky. Give that Presto FlipSideWith a clever hinge design, you can turn the entire iron over like turning the page of a book. This requires a little extra counter-width when you use the thing, but it’s a lot more compact when it’s time to keep it. Even better, you can lock the iron in an upright, vertical position.
There are no removable plates, but the Presto was still one of the easiest-to-clean waffle irons, which thanks to the attractive ceramic surface in the iron could be cleaned by all models I tested. And, perhaps most importantly, the waffles it produced were the fluffiest and most satisfying bites I’ve tasted. Thanks to the integrated minute timer, it is easy for you to repeat these results. Only look elsewhere if you like your waffles thin, as the Presto produces waffles that are about an inch thick.
Amazon Rating Average: 4.6 out of 5 (7,792 reviews)
Average of the target rating: 4.7 out of 5 (113 ratings)
Walmart Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (555 Ratings)
Ry Crist / CNET
Some waffle irons may cook a little more evenly than others, and the thickness of your waffle varies from model to model, but for the most part, these things all make a pretty similar product. The real difference is in the design – especially how easy they are to use and how easy they are to clean.
If the latter is important to you and your dough, that’s it Hamilton Beach Belgian waffle maker belongs at the top of your list. Above all, it has dishwasher-safe waffle plates that can be folded in and out at the push of a button. The real secret weapon, however, is the extra-large drip tray, which is located under the folding iron. At some point I accidentally poured too much dough into it, which led to it a massive overflow (Let’s call it a stress test). Fortunately, the drip tray caught everything that made cleaning up a breeze.
This king size drip tray makes for a bulkier build, but when I tested an almost identical Black + Decker waffle maker with a slightly smaller drip tray, I ran my own stress test for comparison purposes – and it couldn’t contain the overflow like Hamilton Beach did did. This, along with thick, fluffy, evenly cooked waffles, makes Hamilton Beach an intelligent, foolproof choice for messy home cooks.
Amazon Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (2,430 reviews)
Best Buy Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 (58 Ratings)
Average of the target rating: 4.7 out of 5 (48 ratings)
Ry Crist / CNET
The Dash Mini Waffle Maker is about the size of a Big Mac and lives up to its name by quickly processing small waffles. Available in various colors and shapes for just $ 10. It’s the smallest and cheapest waffle maker I’ve tested. With a solid, non-stick surface, corners deep enough to prevent overflows, and even heat distribution throughout the building iron.
You don’t get a Doneness watch face or timer, so you have to decide when your waffle is ready, but that’s a small problem at this price. The grip is even more worrying – it’s just an extension of the lid that gets hot enough to burn your fingers. So you have to open and close the thing carefully.
Still, it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and waffles are cooked evenly. The best thing is that these small waffles are the perfect size for desserts and breakfast rolls, making the Dash a particularly good choice for creative home cooks.
Amazon Rating Average: 4.7 out of 5 (25,924 ratings)
Average of the target rating: 4.8 out of 5 (1,033 reviews)
We tested others
Black and Decker Belgian Flip Waffle Maker ($ 35)
This foldable waffle maker is available for $ 35 or less and is almost identical to the Hamilton Beach model listed above. However, it does not contain a dial, no removable, dishwasher-safe plates and the drip tray is not that big (or so effective). I’d rather spend a little more on the superior Hamilton Beach model, but this is passable if you just want a decent waffle maker for less than $ 50 – though I’ll find the non-stick surface doesn’t hold up very well to mine Tests continued, even though I applied vegetable oil again to keep it flavored.
: 4.6 out of 5 (2,027 reviews)
: 3.9 out of 5 (29 reviews)
: 4.4 out of 5 (181 reviews)
Breville BWM520XL Round Waffle Maker ($ 130)
At $ 130, Breville’s waffle maker was by far the most expensive I’ve tested, and it feels like a piece with robust, high-end workmanship. But the design is far from perfect, which prevents me from recommending it as an upgrade choice. For example, while the overflow ditch did a good job of collecting excess dough, it gets as hot as the plates inside, and nothing prevents you from getting your fingers burned. And despite a non-stick coated interior, the concave design of the interior, which cooks thin, crispy waffles a bit like pan pizzas, makes it too difficult to take out once they’re done.
: 4.5 out of 5 (200 reviews)
Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker ($ 27)
Cuisinart’s inexpensive waffle maker is a popular choice, with strong averages across several large retailers. It did a good job in my tests for cooking satisfactory waffles about half an inch thick, but with flat corners and angles and no drip tray or overflow ditch, your dough pouring skills must be very precise. Too much and you get overflow and make a mess. Too little, and you get a strangely shaped waffle with thin, burned spots that stick to the iron. There isn’t much room for maneuver between these two results, and that’s too picky for my liking.
: 4.5 out of 5 (6.533 reviews)
: 4.6 out of 5 (614 reviews)
: 4.6 out of 5 (858 reviews)
Easter Belgian waffle maker ($ 18)
Unfortunately, a shipping delay prevented me from testing this product along with the others, but with decent averages at Amazon and Walmart and a price below $ 20, it might make sense as a budget pick. As soon as I have the opportunity to try it out, I will publish an update.
: 4.4 out of 5 (5,299 reviews)
: 4.2 out of 5 (444 reviews)
How we rated it
I admit to testing waffle irons at homeis a strange performance, but it has proven to be a welcome distraction from world events. My motto lately has been “one day at a time”, but for the purposes of my day job it soon became “one waffle after another”.
And so I mostly tested them – by cooking wafer by wafer by wafer (luckily, homemade waffles can be frozen and reheated later). With six waffle irons and several cooking settings to be tested, this resulted in dozens of waffles over the course of about two weeks of testing. I used Bisquick baking mix for everyone, making sure to follow the waffle recipe on the back of the box, which requires milk, eggs, and vegetable oil.
While I was cooking, I also paid close attention to how easy it was to use each waffle maker. Most people don’t refer to the manual every time they want to make a waffle, let alone the thing. That’s why I thought about how intuitive each waffle iron was to use. A good waffle maker should make the process foolproof as much as possible.
To do this, you want to look for a combination of two things: some degree of cooking level or cooking time control and an audible alarm when your waffle is ready. The Breville BWM520XL does this with a dial and beeps at the end of the cooking process. I prefer that to a waffle maker that just turns a pilot light on and off.
My top choice, the Presto FlipSide, also fits. It doesn’t contain a Doneness dial, but a small minute timer that beeps when it reaches zero. After a few test waffles of your own, you know exactly how long you have enjoyed cooking them and you can reach this sweet spot every time.
Waffle irons obviously get pretty hot when you use them, so I broke out the thermal tape and thermocouples to see which ones were the hottest.
Here too, foolproof design is the key. For example, you could clean up after breakfast and grab your waffle maker without thinking about how hot it could be. At that moment, would it be more or less likely that one of them would burn you than the others?
I think the answer is yes. All three flippable waffle irons have done a good job here, with handles that were kept completely separate from the heat-generating waffle plates, and a nice visual distinction between the scorching hot stainless steel and the touch-proof black plastic.
In the meantime, I was a little worried about the stainless steel handle of the Breville waffle maker, but it’s far enough from the irons to stay cool while cooking. The real problem is the cast iron overflow ditch that runs around the edge of the iron. It does a great job of catching excess dough that is squeezed out while cooking, but it gets as hot as 300 degrees Fahrenheit and is exposed to completely faulty fingers. I could only imagine someone trying to lift the waffle iron by the sides and put his thumbs in the moat, which would result in some nasty burns if the thing had been used recently.
Another notable hot spot was the Dash Mini Waffle Maker handle. It’s just an extension of the plastic that covers the top waffle plate – and it gets hot enough to burn you in use. The front half of the handle remains touch-proof while cooking, but the rear half, where the handle hits the lid, gets hot up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to burn you in less than a second. I want to open and close the thing carefully.
to clean up
Another important consideration with waffle irons is whether they are easy to clean or not. Most are not bad as long as you maintain the non-stick surface by brushing vegetable oil over them from time to time. However, some of these non-stick surfaces are less effective than others.
For example, the non-stick waffle plates of the Black + Decker seemed to lose some of their elasticity after only a few uses, which does not inspire much confidence in their durability. In the meantime, the Breville waffle iron has a great non-stick surface, but the walled-in cavity where your waffles are cooked a bit like pan pizzas made it difficult and sometimes messy to get the waffles out.
As for the inevitable overflows, your best defense is a good drip tray or dough trench around the edge of the iron. Concave ditches with plenty of room for excess dough are the best (the Breville’s are a good example, despite the heat), but beware of shallow, thin ditches, as they won’t give you a big fight to pour out too much.
The worst offender here was the Cuisinart. It’s a thin waffle maker with flat corners so it doesn’t cost much to pour a little too much and overflow it (as I did more than once during my tests). Once this happens, the moat has little chance of saving you and you will have a sticky batter on your entire countertop.
In the meantime, the Top-Pick Presto FlipSide checks all the boxes – deep corners, a great non-stick surface and a concave dough trench around the edge. The thing never dripped or overflowed during all my tests. Hamilton Beach’s waffle maker was even better thanks to its king size drip tray and removable, dishwasher-safe waffle plates. Only give them a light brush with vegetable oil when they come out of the dishwasher to maintain the non-stick surface.
If you can believe it, I’m not tired of waffles yet. If we decide to test other waffle irons, I will definitely update this post and let you know about them.
Do me a favor for this purpose and let me know what you want to see in the comments. Do you have a waffle maker that you would like to test? Do you think this is an incomplete overview without a good choice for square wafers or novel waffles? Would you like us to try and report on some of the most popular waffle hacks? Tell us what you think – no waffles.