There’s nothing quite like a fresh, warm waffle. There’s nothing like cooking them the old fashioned way, either, but that isn’t as enjoyable.
Most people only enjoy fresh waffles when they’re staying at a hotel or visiting a restaurant for breakfast.
The giant machines these venues use for waffle making would take up far too much space in any kitchen to be practical. Fortunately, there is a variety of waffle makers you can use at home. Many of them even store vertically to save space.
The American waffle doesn’t taste much like its European ancestors anymore. Even Americans’ Belgian waffles are unlike the kind of sweet treat delivered by street vendors in the actual country of Belgium.
So, really, it’s fitting that Americans are pursuing the art of making mastering their own versions of the waffle. Waffles in America are breakfast food, not street food, for one thing.
They don’t have the brioche-like crunch of European waffles, either. American waffles are different, but they’re just as tasty and there’s an art to making them well.
Waffle makers allow anyone with a kitchen to master that art quickly. They also cut down on mess, something everyone who has ever cooked will appreciate. Shopping for these appliances isn’t easy.
The only way to know if you’ve found a good waffle maker is to try the waffles it makes.
We’ve done the legwork for you to gather the most popular waffle makers on the market into a single article. We’ve included a variety of styles with features bound to suit any waffle lover.
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Although this is hardly an exhaustive list of every waffle maker on the market, these items represent the top brands and styles available to consumers. We’ve provided snapshot summaries for easy browsing along with pros and cons lists.
If you’re interested, you can check out our detailed list and description of each waffle maker’s features.
In the end, it all boils down to value. We weigh the price against the true worth of each appliance at the end of every review.
If you want to know how we judged these machines, check out the full Criteria for Evaluation section after the product reviews. Below that, you’ll find some FAQs you might want to consider before making a purchase.
Criteria for Evaluation
Every waffle maker follows the same basic design principles, but manufacturing, materials, and additional features make a huge difference in how well a product performs. In order to judge between this varied products, we used a set of criteria for every evaluation.
You’ll find the short list immediately below this paragraph, and we’ll go into more depth in the sections below. If you have other questions about waffle makers, check out the FAQ section at the end of the article. Our criteria for evaluation are as follows:
- Quality of Materials and Construction
- Ease of Use
- Core Performance
Quality of Materials and Construction
Some products perform better when they’re made from light materials like plastic. Unfortunately, waffle makers aren’t among those items. Because of the extreme heat waffle makers use to quickly cook and crisp batter, they work best when they’re made from predominantly heat-proof materials. Steel, particularly stainless steel, is a favorite for obvious reasons.
A good way to estimate how much steel is in a product is to evaluate the weight and size. If two products of similar size have vastly different weights, the heavier one features more steel and sturdy metals. The lighter product, even if it advertises steel components, includes a lot of hidden plastic.
Since waffle makers get so hot, cheap materials can actually become a fire hazard. There are plenty of stories about kitchen appliances literally melting hinges, locks, and lids. If the wrong item happens to be sitting next to your appliance, like a discarded paper towel, you could have a kitchen fire on your hands. Because of this, quality of materials and construction is one of the most important considerations when we evaluate waffle makers.
Ease of Use
Waffle makers are all about an easy, tasty meal. Poorly designed appliances, however, can make a huge mess.
Since many of the waffle makers on our list are flip style waffle makers, the risk of a tremendous mess is high. After all, if the latch comes loose when you turn over your waffle, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.
That surprise could seriously burn you as well. To determine ease of use, we examined helpful features like grips, locks, and bases. If the handle gets too hot, it’s difficult and dangerous to free your finished waffle.
Even if the handle is made from heat-proof materials, you could still get burned if the grip is situated too close to the hot parts of the waffle maker. Locks, as we mentioned, keep your food intact and your skin free of burns. Waffles are delicious, but they aren’t worth a trip to the emergency room.
Rubber feet or a heavy base ensure the appliance doesn’t move when you open or close the lid and doesn’t scoot away when you flip your waffle.
Last but not least, ease of use requires indicators to remind users about the temperature of their waffle maker. Essentially all of these conveniences are paired with safety, which is a serious concern when you’re dealing with an appliance that puts out so much heat.
How well does the waffle maker make waffles? Ultimately, a waffle maker is judged on the food it creates. The biggest sin a waffle maker can be accused of is uneven cooking. No one wants a half-baked waffle. Features like steaming, which aid crust development without over-baking the center, improve core performance ratings.
Like toast, waffles come in many shades, and different buyers prefer their waffles to be different shades of brown. Some may be barely cooked and fluffy while others crunch when you stick a fork in them.
The best way to cook different waffles to suit different tastes is to use a temperature and/or time control. These are usually called browning settings. The more settings, the better. Numbered dials are also better than blank browning spectrums. It’s hard to get the dial back to the exact place you had it before if there are no marks.
Most people don’t have time to clean much after breakfast, so maintenance concerns are a big deal for waffle makers. Unfortunately, extremely few waffle makers have removable cooking plates. The only one on our list that sported this feature did not design the removal system well, which annulled the feature’s value.
Still, if a product received a lot of notes concerning sticky plates that are supposed to be non-stick and other concerns, they impact its maintenance score.
Since even most nonstick appliances encourage the use of oil in some capacity, we didn’t count light oiling before cooking against the machines. If products got sticky despite the oil, however, they received some critiques.
Also, while deep pockets in the waffle iron make for luscious Belgian waffles, if they are too narrow, they make cleaning a chore.
The best waffle makers should be easy to wipe clean, and that goes for both the interior and exterior. One product featured non-stick handles, and that definitely improved its maintenance score.
The Best Syrups Flavors for Waffles
There are many different types of syrup you can use to spice up your waffles! Instead of using the same old maple syrup, you can try various kinds of syrups that provide a more delicious, creative, and interesting taste for your breakfast.
Thai Iced Tea Maple Syrup
This kind of syrup comes straight from a very flavorful drink that will fill your kitchen with a warm aroma.
The main ingredients found in this syrup are cinnamon, star anise, and a pinch of black pepper. This variation of maple syrup is great to use on waffles as well as a roasted chicken.
To make this delicious syrup yourself, you will need one cup of pure maple syrup, three pieces of star anise, one cinnamon stick, and half a teaspoon of black peppercorns.
First, you will need to mix all of your ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring your mixture to a simmer and allow to cook for approximately five minutes.
Take the pan away from the heat and allow the spices to soak for approximately ten minutes. Lastly, you will need to strain the spices. Now you are ready to enjoy this new syrup warm or at room temperature!
Spicy Ginger Maple Syrup
This syrup is a sweet and spicy mixture that instills sliced ginger as well as a pinch of cayenne. The spicy ginger maple syrup is perfect for waffles, pancakes and as a glaze for your salmon dinner!
To make this delicious variation of maple syrup, you will need one cup of pure maple syrup, a one inch peeled and sliced piece of fresh ginger, and approximately a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. First, you will need to add all of your ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat.
Bring your mixture to a simmer and cook for approximately five minutes. Take the pan away from the heat and allow your spices to soak for approximately ten minutes. Lastly, you will need to strain the ginger. Now your spicy ginger maple syrup is ready to enjoy at room temperature or warm!
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
This is kind of syrup is simple to make and unites the best tastes of pumpkin pie into a syrup wonderful for pancakes and waffles alike!
To make this syrup you will need one cup of light corn syrup, one cup of water, ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of butter, 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree, one teaspoon of ground ginger, one teaspoon of ground nutmeg, one teaspoon of ground allspice, and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
First, you will need to add your water, corn syrup, and butter into a pot and bring to a boil. Next, you will need to whisk all of your spices, the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg into your corn syrup mixture. Allow to cook for approximately five to ten minutes, until all of the flavors combine making sure that you are stirring frequently. This syrup is best served hot.
Cinnamon Apple Syrup
This syrup is a perfect topping for your waffles and pancakes as well as over vanilla ice cream! It consists of apples that are simmered with cinnamon and sugar. You can also adjust the amount of sugar and cinnamon to your personal preference.
To make this delicious syrup, you will need two tart apples that are cored, peeled, and sliced, ½ cup of sugar, one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and two tablespoons of water. Mix your apples, cinnamon, sugar, and water into a saucepan. Next, you will need to stir your mixture until the sugar is dissolved and bring it to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, and allow to simmer for approximately ten minutes, or until the apples are soft and the syrup has thickened.
An easy and delightful coconut syrup that your entire family will love! Perfect with mango or banana waffles or pancakes that will bring a tropical taste to your breakfast.
To make this coconut syrup, you will need one 14oz can of coconut milk, one cup of flaked coconut, and ¾ cup of brown sugar. Mix your flaked coconut, brown sugar, and coconut cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Once your mixture is boiling, reduce the heat and bring your mixture to a simmer. Allow it to cook for approximately twenty minutes, making sure to occasionally stir. Lastly, place your mixture into a blender and puree it until it is smooth.
Cinnamon syrup is a deliciously sweet topping that is perfect for pancakes and waffles, as well as apple slices or strawberries.
To make this syrup you will need a ½ cup of white sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one cup of water. First, you will need to combine your brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and flour into a small saucepan.
Next, combine the water and vanilla extract into your mixture. Stirring often, bring your concoction to a boil. Continue to boil and stir your mixture until it thickens. Take the saucepan away from the heat and allow to cool before serving.
Citrus Wild Blueberry Sauce
This syrup is made using blueberries, orange juice, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It is perfect for waffles as well as pancakes.
To make this syrup you will need two cups of frozen wild blueberries, a ½ cup of orange juice, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, one teaspoon of lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ cup of water, four teaspoons of cornstarch, and two tablespoons of dark brown sugar. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the blueberries, lemon juice, and orange juice to a boil.
Then stir in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Next, lower the heat setting and whisk in the cornstarch and water until the mixture contains no lumps. Stir the mixture and add brown sugar until it has thickened. Lastly, allow the mixture to cool before using.
Can I use my waffle maker to make other kinds of foods?
Yes and no. A recent fad has a lot of people turning to their waffle makers with all kinds of interesting, non-waffle foods in mind.
One of the most popular trends is to use the waffle maker to cook perfectly crunch hash browns. You are free to use your waffle maker however you’d like. Be sure, however, that you do not put too much inside the machine. This could put additional stress on the hinge and lock. Over time, that pressure will lead to permanent damage.
That said, one of the official recipe books included with a product we reviewed features things like pepperoni pizza you can make in your waffle iron. The joy of cooking at home is the freedom to experiment. Keep in mind that things like sugar and cheese are much stickier than waffle batter, though, so you may need to apply extra oil. You’ll probably have to spend significantly more time cleaning up afterwards as well.
How long should I expect my waffle maker to work?
This is a question of price vs. value. We go into this question at the end of each article, but if you’re asking this question, then we should probably explain our reasoning further. Every purchase is an investment, but it’s also a gamble. We can’t safely promise how long a waffle maker will continue to work.
This is the advantage of manufacturer warranties. With a few notable exceptions, the more a machine costs, the longer it will last. The quality of materials involved is also a reasonably good indication of lifespan.
Plastic will not last. Steel will. Novelty items are cute, but they don’t last long, either. The more you spend on a waffle maker, the longer it should last. Like we said, though, there are exceptions, so be sure to read our Price/Value summary at the end of each product review before making a final purchase.
Is it safe to add things into my waffle mix?
This depends on two things. First of all, examine the type of hinge on your waffle maker. A regular hinge will have trouble handling much beside liquids. Better hinges allow the top to effectively settle flat on top of the lower cooking plate. This design is better for waffles, and it gives you more room to experiment.
Second, be careful about what you put in, and be prepared for some errors with your trials. Chunks of fruit may be too moist and prevent the batter around them from setting. Melted chocolate may stick to the non-stick plates. If allowed to burn, chocolate could potentially ruin the non-stick coating.
Nontraditional waffle batters also include stickier ingredients that you will probably have to counter with extra oil or a very specific cooking time and temperature. That’s no reason not to try, though. Simply use caution and begin experimenting with recipes someone else has already tried in their own waffle maker.
Is a waffle maker worth the investment?
How often do you make waffles? Your lifestyle will determine how much use you get out of a waffle maker, so consider your habits realistically when you’re looking at potential purchase. Do you have time for a nice breakfast at least once a week? Do you really like waffles enough to eat them at least once or twice a month?
Can you cook enough waffles to satisfy your entire family, or will the process take too long? Not everyone eats waffles for breakfast. Maybe you’re looking to improve your family’s weekly breakfast for dinner menu.
If you’re one of the ambitious souls wondering what kinds of things you can safely cook in a waffle maker, then you have a higher chance of getting your money’s worth.
However, you have to understand that experimentation comes with risk, so don’t buy an expensive machine for your first waffle maker if you plan to get creative. Make your mistakes with something cheap and protect your money until you’re ready for a more expensive option. When you’re ready, the pricier options will still be there. You may have even gained the experience needed to tell the best waffle makers from the duds. Until then, we’re happy to help you pick.