The top performers in our review are All-Clad Classic Round, the Gold Award winner; Chef's Choice WafflePro Express, the Silver Award winner; and Waring Pro Double Belgian, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 waffle irons.
Weekends and waffles go together for a lot of families. It may be the only way to get some family members out of bed on a Saturday morning. If you have a waffle tradition, you know that even the best waffle makers do not last forever. Whether you are in the market for a new waffle maker or your first one, there are plenty of choices.
Even the priciest waffle machines are pretty simple. You just have two hot cooking surfaces that come together to bake the batter. It is not exactly rocket science but there is some variation possible on that theme. That is what you will discover once you start looking. You get to make many small decisions along the way – round or square waffles, Belgian or American-style, and others. One of the bigger decisions is whether or not you are willing to pay for the extra features that make some units a little more convenient.
An even harder question to answer is which unit makes the best waffle? That was the crux of our research. We tested for cleaning convenience. We tested for speed. We considered efficiencies like compact design for a small countertop footprint. The thing we most wanted to know, though, was which waffle irons make the best waffles. Our definition of best is the generally accepted one – waffles should be crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Soggy and spongy waffles are still pretty tasty, but if you are buying an appliance that typically performs only one task, it had better do that task well. It should consistently produce waffles with the perfect composition. The thick, Belgian-style waffles are the most popular at the moment, but we found a few excellent ones that make thinner, traditional waffles, too, and included them in our waffle maker reviews.
Because these appliances are fairly simple we wanted to make sure they make their simple task as easy as possible and produce a wonderful waffle. We whipped up a traditional homemade batter and made multiple batches with each of our waffle irons to see if they could produce quality on a consistent basis.
We also wondered if the best waffle makers, so associated with the weekends, could stand up to the harsher conditions of a busy weekday morning. To find out, we tested each unit on the simplest instant mix we could find. We looked for the machine that could still produce a decent waffle, even with only the bargain waffle batter.
Most modern waffle machines come with a light or a buzzer, or both, to indicate when the surfaces are hot enough to cook and another light or alarm to indicate when the waffles are done. We observed whether these lights were an accurate indicator of when the appliance was actually ready to work and when the waffles were actually ready to eat. We also made note of how long it took to get to each light or alarm. If you are in a hurry you may be looking for the fastest waffle maker.
One reason waffle makers are generally only given countertop space on the weekend is their reputation for being difficult to clean. It can be hard to keep the batter from running over the sides during the cooking process and to clean everything up afterward. We timed how long it took us to get everything clean following the manufacturer's instructions.
We paid attention to how easy the waffle makers are to assemble, as well. Most come fully assembled, but when we found any that were difficult to get from box to waffle-making in any way, we noted that and docked scores accordingly.
We found the All-Clad Classic Round, our Gold Award winner; Chef's Choice WafflePro Express, our Silver Award winner; and Waring Pro Double Belgian, our Bronze Award winner, to be standouts as we compared waffle makers. Each of the top three were able to produce excellent quality waffles over and over again, with a nice homemade recipe, mix-ins of chocolate chips or blueberries, or with a cheaper just-add-water-and-oil mix.
Their ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat light alerts were accurate and took a reasonable amount of time so you do not have to spend the entire morning making a batch of waffles. They were easy to assemble and easy to clean. The best of the best waffle makers work consistently and offer feature sets that justify their price.
The right waffle maker is a minor investment but one that can last for years. It is worth investing a little time to find the right one for your needs. Narrowing it down to the ideal set of features for the ideal price can lead to a buyer's high that will resurface every time you plug in your new appliance to make warm waffles. Read our articles about waffle makers for even more information.