You know, there's just something strangely satisfying about a fresh, home-cooked waffle. Perhaps it's that perfect balance between the crispy exterior and the cakey interior, or maybe it's the nooks and crannies oozing with buttery syrup. Maybe you just have a healthy appreciation for Dutch culture, or for comfort foods that come in distinctive shapes. Maybe you enjoy the fact that waffle makers are surprisingly versatile, and .
Maybe you're like me, and home-cooked waffles from the trusty family waffle iron made Sunday-morning breakfasts feel extra-special. Or hey, maybe you're Leslie Knope.
Whatever you like about waffles, you'll need a waffle maker of your own in order to make them at home (frozen waffles just don't cut it). I'll confess that I'd never gotten around to getting one for myself, and -- as my mom recently informed me over a somber text exchange -- the trusty Toastmaster I grew up with gave out a few years ago after decades of use.
All of that put me in pursuit of the perfect waffle maker -- for me, for my mom and for you, reader of waffle maker lists. Here's what I found after testing several of the top-rated commercial waffle maker options available at major retailers. I'll update this post as I test more of them out, but you've got lots of decent options available right now, starting with:
Most flippable waffle makers suspend the iron in midair. That approach lets you twist the thing to turn it upside down for a more even cook -- but it also makes for a bulky build. Enter the Presto FlipSide, which uses a clever hinged design to let you flip the entire iron like you're turning the page of a book. Doing so requires a little bit of extra counter width when you use it, but it's much more compact when it's time to store it away. Better yet, you can lock the iron in an upright, vertical position.
It doesn't feature removable plates, but the Presto was still one of the easiest waffle makers to clean out of all the models I tested, thanks to the attractive ceramic finish inside the iron. Perhaps most importantly, the waffles produced by this waffle machine were the fluffiest and most satisfying bites I taste-tested. You'll have an easy time repeating those results thanks to the built-in minute timer. Just be sure to look elsewhere if you like your waffles thin, as the Presto produces waffles that are roughly an inch thick.
Presto's waffle maker retails for about $50, but as of writing this on Aug. 20, you can score it on sale for $40. That's a Belgian-style bargain, right there.
Some waffle makers might cook a little more evenly than others and your waffle's thickness will vary from model to model, but for the most part, these things will all produce a pretty similar product. The real difference comes in design -- primarily, how easy they are to use, and how easy they are to clean.
If the latter is what matters for you and your batter, then the Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker belongs right at the top of your list. Available for about $50, it features dishwasher-safe waffle plates that pop in and out of place at the touch of a button, but its real secret weapon is the extra-large drip tray that sits below the flippable iron. At one point, I accidentally poured way, way too much batter into it, causing a massive overflow (let's call it a stress test). Fortunately, the drip tray caught everything, making cleanup a total breeze.
That king-size drip tray makes for a bulkier build, but when I tested a nearly identical waffle maker from Black + Decker with a slightly smaller drip tray, I made sure to give it a stress test of its own for comparison's sake -- and it failed to contain the overflow like the Hamilton Beach did. That, coupled with thick, fluffy, evenly-cooked waffles, makes the Hamilton Beach a smart, idiot-proof pick for mess-minded home cooks.
Roughly the size of a Big Mac, the Dash Mini Waffle Maker lives up to the name by making quick work of small waffles. Available in multiple colors and shapes for as little as $10, it's the smallest and cheapest waffle maker I tested. It gets the basics right with a solid nonstick surface, nooks that are deep enough to help prevent overflows and even heat distribution throughout the irons.
You don't get a doneness dial or a timer, so you'll need to decide for yourself when your waffle is done, but that's a small quibble at this price. More concerning is the handle -- it's just an extension of the lid, which gets hot enough to burn fingers, so you'll need to open and close it with some care.
Still, it's easy to use, it's easy to clean and it cooks waffles evenly. Best of all, those small-shaped waffles are the perfect size for things like desserts and breakfast sandwiches, which makes the Dash an especially good pick for creative home cooks.
Others we tested
Black and Decker Belgian Flip Waffle Maker ($35)
Available for $35 or less, this flippable waffle maker is nearly identical to the Hamilton Beach model listed above, but it doesn't include a doneness dial, it doesn't include removable, dishwasher-safe plates and the drip tray isn't as large (or as effective). I'd rather spend a little extra for the superior Hamilton Beach model, but this one is passable if you just want a decent flippable waffle maker for less than $50. I'll note that the nonstick surface didn't hold up very well as my tests progressed, even as I reapplied vegetable oil to keep it seasoned.
: 4.6 out of 5 (2,778 ratings)
: 4.1 out of 5 (46 ratings)
: 4.4 out of 5 (267 ratings)
Breville BWM520XL Round Waffle Maker ($130)
At $130, Breville's waffle maker was the most expensive I tested by far and it feels the part with a sturdy, high-end build. But the design is far from perfect, which stops me short of recommending it as an upgrade pick. For instance, while the overflow moat did a nice job of catching excess batter, it gets just as hot as the plates inside and there's nothing to stop you from burning your fingers on it. In spite of a nonstick interior, the interior's concave design, which cooks thin, crispy waffles a little like pan pizzas, makes it too tough to get them out once they're ready.
: 4.5 out of 5 (268 ratings)
Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker ($27)
Cuisinart's low-cost waffle maker is a popular pick, with strong review averages at multiple major retailers. It did a good job in my tests of cooking satisfying waffles about half an inch thick, but with shallow nooks and crannies and no drip tray or overflow moat, your batter-pouring skills will need to be very precise. Too much, and you'll get overflow and make a mess. Too little, and you'll get an oddly shaped waffle with thin burnt patches that stick to the iron. There isn't very much wiggle room between those two outcomes and that's too finicky for my tastes.
: 4.5 out of 5 (8,710 ratings)
: 4.6 out of 5 (717 ratings)
: 4.6 out of 5 (1,279 ratings)
Oster Belgian Waffle Maker ($18)
Unfortunately, a shipping delay prevented me from testing this one out alongside the others, but with decent review averages on Amazon and Walmart and a price tag below $20, it might make sense as a budget pick. I've since received the one I bought and used it to test out-- it's similar in design to the Cuisinart, but thicker and less prone to overflowing when you're pouring the batter in.
I'll have a full recommendation with my next update once I've finished my full spate of tests, but there's a good chance this one ends up as a top bargain pick.
: 4.4 out of 5 (10,902 ratings)
: 4.2 out of 5 (620 ratings)
How we evaluated them
I'll admit, testing waffle makers at homeis a strange gig, but it proved 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, that soon became "one waffle at a time."
That's largely how I tested them out -- by cooking waffle after waffle after waffle (fortunately, homemade waffles can be frozen and reheated at a later date). With six waffle makers and multiple doneness settings to test out, that added up to dozens of waffles over the course of about two weeks of tests. For all of them, I used Bisquick baking mix, making sure to hold strict to the waffle recipe on the back of the box, which requires milk, eggs and vegetable oil.
Ease of use
As I cooked, I also paid close attention to how easy it was to use each waffle maker. Most people won't refer to the instruction manual each time they want to make a waffle, let alone hang onto them, so I also put some thought into how intuitive each waffle maker was to use. A good waffle maker should idiot-proof the process as much as possible.
To that end, I think you want to look for a combination of two things: Some level of doneness or cook-time control and an audible alarm when your waffle is ready. The Breville BWM520XL gets it done with a doneness dial and with beeps at the end of the cook. I prefer that to a waffle maker that just cycles a pilot light on and off.
My top pick, the Presto FlipSide, fits the bill, as well. It doesn't include a doneness dial, but rather, a little minute timer that beeps when it hits zero. After a few test waffles of your own, you'll know exactly how long you like them cooked for and you'll be able to hit that sweet spot each and every time.
Waffle makers will obviously get quite hot as you use them, so I broke out the heat tape and thermocouples in order to see which ones got the hottest.
Again, idiot-proof design is the key here. For instance, you might be cleaning up after breakfast and grab hold of your waffle maker without thinking about how hot it might still be. In a moment like that, would any of them be more or less likely than the others to burn you?
I think the answer is yes. All three of the flippable waffle makers did a nice job here, with handles kept totally separate from the heat-generating waffle plates and a nice visual delineation between the scorching hot stainless steel and the safe-to-touch black plastic.
Meanwhile, I was a little worried about the stainless steel handle on the Breville waffle maker, but it's far enough from the irons to stay cool while you cook. The real problem is the cast-iron overflow moat that runs around the rim of the irons. It does a great job of catching excess batter that squeezes out as you cook, but it gets as hot as 300 degrees F and sits completely exposed to errant fingers. I could just picture someone trying to pick the waffle maker up by the sides and gripping their thumbs into the moat, which would lead to a couple of nasty burns if the iron had been used recently.
Another noteworthy hot spot was the handle on the Dash Mini Waffle Maker. It's just an extension of the plastic that covers the top waffle plate -- and it gets hot enough to burn you while in use. The front half of the handle stays safe to touch as you cook, but the back half, where the handle meets the lid, gets as hot as 170 degrees F. That's hot enough to burn you in less than a second, so you'll want to open and close the thing with care.
Another key consideration when it comes to waffle makers is whether or not they're easy to clean. Most aren't bad, so long as you maintain the nonstick surface by brushing vegetable oil across it from time to time. However, some of those nonstick surfaces are less effective than others.
For instance, the Black + Decker's nonstick waffle plates seemed to lose some of their resiliency after just a few uses, which doesn't inspire much confidence in their longevity. Meanwhile, the Breville waffle maker has a great nonstick surface, but the walled cavity, which cooks your waffles a bit like pan pizzas, made it difficult and sometimes a bit messy to get the waffles out.
As for the inevitable overflows, your best defense is a good drip tray or a batter moat around the rim of the iron. Concave moats with lots of room for excess batter are the best (the Breville's is a good example, in spite of how hot it gets), but beware of flat, skinny moats, because they won't put up much of a fight when you pour a little too much.
The worst offender here was the Cuisinart. It's a thin-style waffle maker with shallow nooks, so it doesn't take very much to pour a little too much and overflow it (as I did more than once during my tests). Once that happens, the moat stands little chance of saving you, and you'll end up with gooey batter all over your countertop.
Meanwhile, the top pick Presto FlipSide checks all of the boxes -- deep nooks, a great nonstick surface and a concave batter moat around the rim. It didn't drip or overflow once throughout all of my tests. The Hamilton Beach waffle maker was even better thanks to its king-sized, catch-all drip tray and its removable, dishwasher-safe waffle plates -- just make sure to give them a light brush with vegetable oil whenever they come out of the dishwasher to help maintain the nonstick surface.
If you can believe it, I'm actually not sick of waffles yet. If we decide to test any other waffle makers out I'll be sure to update this post and let you know all about them.
To that end, do me a favor and let me know what you'd like to see in the comments. Got a waffle maker you'd like to see us put to the test? Think this is an incomplete rundown without a good pick for square-shaped waffles, or novelty-shaped waffles? I've already tested out some of the internet's most popular waffle maker hacks -- got any other recipes you think I need to try? Tell us what you think -- no waffling.