: 7 inch diameter | Style
Small storage footprint
Takes up a lot of space when in use
Somehow early mornings in the office got a little easier when we had the Presto FlipSide around. In our testing it served up fluffy, evenly cooked waffles that sopped up syrup like a sponge. The unique hinged design means you get all the benefits of a waffle maker that actually flips over, without all of the unwieldy storage issues. In fact, it can lock in the upright position so you can easily slide into a cupboard. Nice touches like an indicator light that lets you know when the machine is up to temperature and a timer that lets you know when the waffle is done add a degree of user friendliness. Finally, we found that the non-stick surface worked quite well and didn't leave any caked-on messes that required extra cleanup.
On the flip side (sorry, we couldn't resist) this waffle maker does have a couple of downsides. While the unit packs up nice and small for storage, the design does require quite a bit of counter real estate when in use. Also, while overall we'd call its waffles evenly cooked, one side does come out a bit crispier than the other. These, however, are very minor gripes, and we don't think they should dissuade you from upping your breakfast game.
: 8 inch diameter | Style
Can adjust temperature (and thus crispiness)
Waffles on the thin side
Drips lots of condensation
If you're looking to spice up your breakfast spread but don't want to part with more than a $20 bill, the Oster CKSTWF2000 is your best bet. In our testing it was able to make some great waffles with a nice crunch and a bit of fluff. The temperature control knob lets you find your desired point on the fluffy to crunchy spectrum, and a helpful ready light lets you know when everything is up to temperature.
Like all budget products, you do have to make some sacrifices with the CKSTWF2000. It is pretty easy to overload the unit with batter (we would suggest starting below the manufacturer's recommendation). Even if you get the batter right, there tends to be a good bit of condensation that drips off the front of the machine, requiring some wiping. The waffles also fall just a bit short of the fluffiness most people would require to truly call them Belgian. They're probably somewhere between a frozen waffle and a super fluffy restaurant waffle.
: 7 inch diameter | Style
Easy to clean
Uses lots of storage space
The Oster Flip makes very thick and fluffy waffles that are evenly cooked thanks to its flipping ability. The Flip really differentiates itself with its removable drip tray. Most makers drip some amount of condensation or even batter during the cooking process. The Flip catches all of that mess in a drip tray that is easy to remove and clean. Plus, its controls clearly let you know when the griddle is up to temperature and when it's time to flip.
The Flip's major downside is the storage space it takes up. The unit is fairly large when compared to something like the Presto FlipSide that can be stored vertically to save space. However, the Flipside also needs a lot more counter space when in use, so it's a tradeoff.
: 4.5 inch square | Style
Dishwasher safe, removable griddles
Can take long to heat up/cook
Corners more cooked than centers
If you don't want to feel like an assembly line worker while making Sunday breakfast for your family, the KRUPS GQ502D is your best bet. This machine can churn out four fluffy waffles in one go, so nobody has to let their food get cold waiting for everyone to be served. Indicator lights and beeps let you know when the griddle is up to temperature and when the waffles are done. A shade knob also lets you adjust from a ncie pale gold to a dark, crunchy brown. And when you're all done the griddles can be removed and tossed in the dishwasher. The unit also locks shut for easy vertical storage that saves precious cabinet space.
The biggest complaint about the KRUPS GQ502D is that it takes longer to heat up and cook than other, smaller machines. In fact, many users find that they have to cook the waffles for another two minutes past when the done beeper goes off. Like most square waffles, the corners also tend to come out a bit more done than the middles.
: 4 inch square | Style
3 cooking functions
Items can stick to griddles
If your breakfast ambitions are loftier than just waffles, the BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 is your new best friend. Not only can this Swiss Army knife make four thin and crispy traditional waffles in one go, the griddles can be flipped over to expose two flat surfaces. This lets the 3-in-1 be used as a panini press or opened flat to fry eggs and cook bacon. The griddles can also be completely removed for easy cleaning. A simple heat control knob lets you find the right temperature for all of these cooking functions.
Unfortunately, this versatility does come with some drawbacks. The non-stick coating on the griddles isn't as effective as other models, so you'll probably have to stock up on cooking spray. Also, many users complain about the durability of its hinges, so you'll want to be careful when opening and closing it.
: 7 inch diameter | Style
Indicator light lets you know when it's up to temperature
It's a Death star…for breakfast!
Easy to overfill
Takes a long time to cook
If you wake up every morning hoping to see the twin rising suns of Tatooine, the ThinkGeek Star Wars Death Star can go a long way towards quelling your disappointment. After destroying a few Death Stars with a well timed syrup and cutlery ambush you're sure to have a good day, even if your dreams of being a real Jedi knight didn't come to fruition. Plus it has an indicator light that know when the irons are up to temperature, so you don't need an astromech droid to do the calculations for you.
As we all know, the Death Star had some fatal flaws, and its waffle maker brethren is no different. We found that you have to be very careful about the amount of batter you put in or it will overflow like Finn's bacta suit. And just as the Death Star inexplicably had to wait 15 minutes to get in range of the rebel base on Yavin 4, this machine takes much longer to cook a waffle than other models that we've tested. Those waffles are also quite thin. Still slightly fluffier than the average frozen fare, but much thinner than a true Belgian waffle.
Waffle Maker Buying Advice
Waffle makers are fairly simple devices, but don't let dreams of syrup drenched deliciousness cause you to snag just any one off the shelf. If you pay attention to a few minor details you can end up with a maker that is great rather than one that is just ok.
Waffle Type: Belgian vs. Traditional
The most important thing to consider in a waffle maker is what type of waffles it actually makes. Belgian waffles are the super thick and fluffy style that you likely associate with restaurants. Most people that want a waffle maker are likely looking for those fluffy cakes with deep pockets for syrup and fruit.
On the other end of the spectrum is the traditional waffle. These pastries are much thinner and are more crispy. Overall they're more like the frozen waffles you'd make in a toaster. However, traditional waffles made with batter in a waffle press will be a bit fluffier than their frozen counterparts. Most waffle makers that make a more traditional style are either multi-function devices (the BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1) or are novelty products (the ThinkGeek Star Wars Death Star).
Above you can see the thick Belgian waffles of the Presto FlipSide
(left) and the thinner, tradtitional waffles of the ThinkGeek Death Star
To Flip or Not to Flip
Possibly the most salient feature of a waffle maker, apart from the type of waffles it makes, is whether it flips or not. Flipping allows for more even batter distribution (and thus more even cooking) and can make it easier to get the waffle off of the griddle cleanly. The downside with models that flip is that they tend to be larger and harder to store, and they generally only allow you to make one waffle at a time. The Presto Flipside solves the former problem with a unique hinged design, though it does require a lot of counter space when it is actually in use.
Models that can flip, like the Presto FlipSide, make for more even cooking.
The last thing you want to deal with when making breakfast is guesswork, so you'll want a waffle maker that has at least a few indicators. At the very least you want something that alerts you when the iron is up to temperature. Many makers also have a built in timer that lets you know when the waffles should be done. These timers are not always accurate, cooking time can vary based on the specific batter you use, but they at least give you a consistent reference point without having to remember to set a timer yourself. It can also be nice to have a shade knob that adjusts the temperature, so you dial in your preferred crispiness.
Shade knobs and ready lights, like those on the Oster CKSTWF2000, can make breakfast prep a little easier.
Ease of Cleaning
Luckily most waffle makers have dependable non-stick coatings, so you can generally get away with just wiping the griddle itself with a damp cloth once it's cooled down, and you should be good to go. The non-stickiness does perform better on some models than others, but even the bad ones can generally be remedied with some cooking spray. Some models even have removable griddles that can be placed in a dishwasher.
Most of the mess created when using a waffle maker comes from overflowing batter and dripping condensation. The overflowing batter problem can largely be rectified by dialing in the right amount of batter to pour into the maker, but even so some models are just more finicky and easier to accidentally overfill than others. Likewise, some create more condensation than others. Both of these messes aren't too difficult to clean, but if you want to streamline cleanup the removable drip tray of the Oster Flip makes things easier.
It can be easy to get a little overzealous with the batter.
Capacity: Round vs. Square
Most waffle makers that make one waffle at a time are round, while those that make multiple waffles in one go are square. Overall, round waffles tend to cook better. Batter and heat are able to disperse more evenly in a circular environment, resulting in a more evenly cooked waffle. However, having round waffles means you can only make one waffle at a time. This is probably not ideal for a hungry family of four. Square waffles tend to have corners that are a bit more done than the middles, but the shape lets you make four square waffles at once in some machines. So you'll have to decide whether you want more even cooking or a higher capacity.
A waffle maker most likely won't get use everyday, so you probably don't want it to be a permanent resident on your countertop. You also don't want it to take up an entire cabinet. The Presto FlipSide is the easiest to store of the single-waffle makers we researched, as it can stand upright to present a slim storage profile. The KRUPS GQ502D, which can make four waffles at a time, also locks shut and can easily be stored vertically.
The FlipSide locks in an upright position for easy storage.
Having, fluffy, cafe style waffles at home is both easier and less expensive than you may think. For less than $50 and some elbow grease for mixing up batter, you can have a delicious brunch right in your own dining room. We hope our research has led you to the perfect breakfast companion.