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Waffles are a breakfast staple and often the indulgent treat to look forward to during a hotel stay—they have become ubiquitous on continental breakfast bars. From thick, fluffy Belgian-style waffles to thinner, crispier American-style, there is a waffle maker for every palate. With a waffle maker, you can have homemade warm, golden waffles stippled with butter and drenched in real maple syrup every day of the week in minutes.
There are a few considerations to take into account, like real estate on your kitchen counter, how many waffles you will make at a time, ease of clean-up, and the biggest decision: thick or thin, round or square waffles. To help you choose, we put a few of our top choices to the test. We sent them home to put them through their paces. That included testing how fast they warmed up, how brown our waffles were when cooked on medium, and how well the machines clean up after.
Backed by our testing, the Breville Smart 4-Slice Waffle Maker is the clear winner.
From a space-saving, mini machine that makes various shapes to a four-slice version with a robust range of settings, here are the best waffle makers.
Best Overall: Breville Smart 4-Slice Waffle Maker
The Breville Smart 4-Slice Waffle Maker has all the bells and whistles. Yes, the price is steep, but the consistency, capacity, and speed make it worth it, especially if you're feeding a hungry family in the morning. With five different cooking presets (Belgian, classic, chocolate, buttermilk, or custom), 12 browning settings, and “Waffle IQ” technology that calculates cooking time based on your desired waffle style and level of crispiness, it would be hard to not make perfect waffles. And, if they are not quite right, the ingenious “A Bit More” button allows you to keep cooking your waffles without restarting the process.
This model is a sturdy beast, as our Editor-in-Chief Emma Christensen can attest; at almost 17 pounds, it takes up 15.8 x 8.8 x 18.5 inches of the kitchen counter. But, if you are looking for a machine to make multiple waffles at once with ease, this is it. There are built-in readiness indicators to walk you through the process. The display flashes “heating” as it warms up, a gentle alarm signals when it is ready, and the display lights up orange. Pour your batter in, and watch as a timer counts down to let you know when your four square waffles are done. And, don’t worry if you walk away; a loud beep will go off every 30 seconds until you remove your waffles.
Of course, we had to see for ourselves if this lived up to Emma's hype. Even though this is larger than most machines, it took less than 5 minutes to heat up. Waffles turned out perfectly golden when set to medium, and the design was easy to understand. During testing, there was a bit of a learning curve for the right amount of batter to put in, but that's an issue with all waffle makers (the first one's always the test). Even if you end up with some spillage, all our tester had to do was wipe it down once fully cooled.
The Breville Smart 4-Slice makes perfect golden waffles, but it is also intuitively designed with a built-in overflow moat to keep counters clear of excess batter, a locking lid to aid in storage, and a gorgeous low profile stainless steel exterior.
"To me, the perfect waffle is golden in color, slightly crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. This waffle maker exceeded my expectations, allowing me to quickly turn out a big batch of beautiful waffles that are extra thick thanks to the deep cooking plates." — Taysha Murtaugh, Editorial Director
Best Budget: Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker
This Cuisinart waffle maker is the classic workhorse of 0.5-inch thick, American-style waffles. It is compact, easy to clean, and produces consistent waffles quickly. The five browning settings give some control over doneness, and the weighted lid provides enough pressure to ensure even cooking on both sides, without the added step of flipping them.
We sent this home for testing with one of our small apartment dwellers. While this machine is small, it proved to be mighty when it comes to making waffles on the fly. The nonstick plates heat up quickly, clocking in at 1.5 minutes tops. When set to medium, pancakes came out fully cooked with light browning after only a minute or two.
Since this is on the small side, you can tell where the heating coil is with heat radiating from the center and some uneven browning. Another downside is that waffles are not crispy, even when placed on a rack to avoid steaming each other. They do come out fairly cleanly though, with no bits left behind during any of our tests. Once cooled, any spillage is easy enough to wipe down with a damp cloth.
Stability is not an issue with this model—the rubber feet keep it from slipping around while baking. Dual indicator lights will let you know when it’s time for the batter and when waffles are done. Another great feature of the Cuisinart Classic, though, is how the cord wraps around the bottom of the unit for neat storage.
"I really like it. Even though I have to make waffles one by one, a batch is done in about 15 minutes, and clean-up is minimal. I still need to perfect my batter twirl, but the waffles that come out are a decent size and satisfying. And it's perfect for my small apartment with limited storage space." — Siobhan Wallace, Commerce Editor
Best for Belgian Waffles: Cuisinart WAF-F20 Double Belgian Maker Waffle Iron
It cannot be denied that flip models provide even distribution of batter ensuring uniformity in waffle size. The Cuisinart Double Belgian goes one step further with its two-waffles-at-a-time capacity. No waiting for the first one to finish to start the next one. And the deep-pocketed grids produce fluffy, golden, 1-inch waffles.
The 6-setting browning knob allows some personalization with your waffle-making, and the oversized handle makes for easy flipping. Indicator lights and audible beeps alert you to machine readiness and waffle doneness. It also comes with a measuring cup to ensure the correct amount of batter every time.
At 9 x 9.75 x 15 inches, it is bulky, but the wide base provides extra stability, and nonstick plates make for easy food release and cleanup.
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Best Mini: Dash Mini Waffle Maker
Getting your kids involved in the kitchen has never been easier or more fun than with the Dash Mini. This waffle maker is also a great option if you are tight on space, living the van-life, or equipping a dorm room. At a compact 1 pound with a 4-inch cooking surface, it makes waffles that even fit in a toaster for reheating—hello, breakfast prep. And, it comes in a variety of fun shapes and colors.
"The Dash Mini Waffle Maker is budget-friendly and doesn't take up a lot of space in your kitchen, which is important for those with limited kitchen space seeking to make healthy meals from scratch on a budget," says Imashi Fernando, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Seattle.
The design is straightforward with an indicator light when it is ready for the batter and nonstick plates that wipe clean. It also has non-slip feet to keep it secure on the counter. The Dash Mini comes with an illustrated owner’s manual and access to a recipe database to show you all the magical ways you can use your waffle maker even beyond waffles—think paninis, chaffles, and potato latkes.
Best Rotating: Presto 03510 Ceramic FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker
This model is unique in design—it flips side-to-side instead of rotating. The flip design allows the batter to distribute evenly, making uniform 1-inch thick, 7-inch round waffles. It does take a little more real estate on the counter when unhinged, but it can be locked, and stored vertically when cooled.
Another feature of the Presto Flipside is the digital countdown timer. The manufacturer recommends four minutes of cook time, but this can be adjusted based on personal preference. Cleanup is a breeze as well. The grill plates are coated with nonstick ceramic, so a quick wipe-down post-cool yields pristine results. It's a great tool for making chicken and waffles at home—the waffles are evenly cooked, and it is super easy to clean. It also makes an attractive addition to your counter with its stainless steel exterior.
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Best for Crispy Waffles: All-Clad Classic Round Waffle Maker
If 6.5-inch round, 0.5-inch thick, American-style waffles are what you are looking for, the All-Clad Waffle Maker yields evenly-cooked, crispy, four-sectioned breakfast staples. This option has seven browning levels to control crispiness, and the steam-release system keeps moisture at bay, so your waffles are crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.
This model walks you through the waffle-making experience. There is an audible beep when the waffle maker is ready for the batter and another when it is finished cooking, and just to be sure, there are red and green indicator lights that come on with each alarm. The nonstick plates make simple clean-up, and the stainless steel body offers an elegant look for your kitchen counter.
Best with Removable Plates: Hamilton Beach 26030 Flip Belgian Waffle Maker
The most important feature of this Hamilton Beach Waffle Maker is removable grill plates. It is a game-changer when it comes to cleaning. They are dishwasher-safe and pop in and out with a simple press of a button. And, on the cleaning superpowers of this model, there is an extra-large drip tray to catch errant batter.
Not only do you get stress-free clean-up, but it has an adjustable browning control dial to personalize your waffle-making experience. There are indicator lights to remind you when the machine is on and to let you know when it is ready for the batter. The deep pockets on the grill plates produce thick, Belgian-style, golden waffles with ease. And the ergonomically designed handle facilitates flipping with the flick of a wrist.
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If you want to take the guesswork out of waffle making, but also keep your counters mess-free, we recommend the Breville Smart 4-Slice (view at Amazon) with its overflow moat and “Waffle IQ” technology. If you want a compact, portable waffle maker that offers a variety of shapes and colors, choose the Dash Mini (view at Amazon).
What Are the Other Options?
Our former best overall pick, Cuisinart WAF-V100 Vertical Waffle Maker (view at Amazon), didn't stand up to the at-home tests. Though it worked well when it came to browning waffles, and everyone enjoyed theirs, our tester found that batter needed to be thin in order to pour correctly into the spout. You couldn't easily determine how much batter needed to be placed into the waffle iron, and some tests came out with pour-spout-shaped edges. The outside also got too hot, causing a safety concern, especially when little ones are around. Ultimately, after testing, we decided to remove it from our list.
What to Look for in a Waffle Maker
Belgian-Style vs. American-Style Waffle Makers
If you prefer light and fluffy waffles with deep pockets perfect for syrup and butter, a Belgian waffle maker is right up your alley. Or perhaps you prefer thin, crispy waffles, in which case, go for an American-style waffle maker. Belgian waffles tend to produce larger, rectangular waffles while American-style is more likely to be round and smaller. Because of this, Belgian waffle makers might be larger and require more storage space.
Do you prefer round, rectangular, or maybe heart-shaped waffles? Do you want large Belgian waffles or something smaller for batches of frozen waffles? Will you be leaving your waffle maker out on the counter to use for weekend breakfast, or do you need to easily store it away in the cupboard? These are all considerations to account.
"When choosing the best waffle maker for you, two important considerations are size and nonstick materials," says Fernando. "As a registered dietitian, the Dash Mini Waffle Maker appeals to me because the miniature size allows you to make smaller waffles. This can help with controlling your portion sizes when eating waffles, which are a more indulgent food. Indulging is part of a balanced lifestyle so long as it is done in moderation. Smaller waffles are also convenient for a grab-and-go breakfast or as a snack option when paired with fruit and nut butter."
Making a waffle seems straightforward: Mix the batter, pour it onto the waffle maker, close the lid, and wait for your perfectly browned waffles to cook. While this is the case with simpler waffle makers, some have more settings than others to accommodate a variety of preferences.
Like toast, waffles turn golden brown when cooked. You may prefer your waffles to cook to a certain level of browning, and that’s where having multiple settings comes in handy. While not a necessity, this is a nice feature for people who like their waffles cooked to a certain degree and want more control over doneness and crispiness.
Can you make waffle cones with a waffle maker?
Waffle cones usually require a special waffle cone maker. However, you can get creative in the kitchen and make waffle cones with a regular waffle maker. You’ll need waffle cone batter, a waffle maker, and a funnel. Pour a small amount of waffle cone batter onto the middle of the waffle maker and close the lid. When the waffle is done, lift it and place it around a funnel to form the cone shape. Let it cool on the funnel, and then slide it off when it’s done.
How do you clean a waffle maker’s plates?
Nonstick waffle maker plates are easy to clean and are often removable. Wash them with a bit of soapy water and use a sponge to remove any food particles stuck in the plates. Let them dry completely before putting them back into the machine. If the waffle plates aren’t removable, carefully clean them with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel.
Can you use pancake mix as waffle batter?
Pancake and waffle batter are similar but not the same. The main difference comes down to the amount of fat—waffles require more fat than pancakes. Waffles may also contain a higher amount of sugar. For best results, use waffle batter to make waffles. If you have pancake batter, you may be able to use it with some adjustments to the amount of oil, eggs, and sugar.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who has enjoyed the pleasures of waffles at home. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she appreciates the convenience of a machine that makes breakfast prep clean and stress-free. She loves her Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker for its even cooking and vertical storage option. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
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