After researching more than 30 of the best waffle makers of 2020, we brought the 7 best into our testing kitchen for some hands-on, side-by-side evaluation. More than 100 waffles later we have discovered every useful feature and annoying quirk of each one of these models, as well as how well they prepare their namesake Sunday breakfast staple. Whether you're looking for a small, space-efficient machine that can quickly spring to action when a waffle craving strikes, or need a large capacity device that can handle a large family's weekly waffle tradition, our testing results can lead you to the best breakfast machine.
The Best Waffle Makers of 2020
In our testing the Breville No-Mess made some near perfectly cooked, delicious, classic waffles that we've ever tasted. Two things really set the No-Mess apart from the competition. The first is its wraparound, non-stick moat, which catches any spilled batter and turns it into a crispy amuse bouche instead off a mess that needs to be cleaned up. The second is its very accurate and consistent shade settings. With 7 different settings, this machine can do amber and fluffy all the way to dark and crispy, and pretty much anything in between. And thanks to Breville's signature precision, you can be confident that each setting is going to yield the same results each and every time. Finally, both lights and beeps let you know when the iron is up to temperature, and when the waffle is done, eliminating any guesswork.
The major drawback to this machine is its price, as it is one of the most expensive single-waffle makers on the market. It is also one of the larger ones, taking up more counter space than most of the other makers of a similar cooking capacity. However, this extra cost and bulk certainly does translate into better performance and quality construction, so if you're willing to make an investment into having top-notch waffles at home for years to come, this is the best option around.
Read review: Breville No-Mess
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.
Read review: Presto FlipSide
If you're looking to make waffles at home on the cheap, it's hard to beat the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic. In our testing this machine was able to produce waffles with a similar level of taste and texture of the higher priced models, but for a fraction of the cost. We were especially impressed that every time we used one of the Round Classic's 5 different shade settings it reliably produced the same level of crispiness. Again, this kind of consistency is something we've generally found to carry a much larger price tag.
Unfortunately, the Cuisinart Round Classic's low price tag does come with some sacrifices, mainly in the realms of durability and user-friendliness. We found this machine's construction to be a bit on the shoddy side. For example, the unit itself feels poorly balanced and like it could tip over if given a chance, and the control has dial lots of extra play, requiring the wiggle it a bit to get it to the desired setting. It also lacks any sort of indicators, so you'll have to do some trial and error to get a feel for how long it takes to heat up and how long it takes to cook a waffle. If you're looking to make waffles an every weekend tradition, it's likely worth paying extra for a model that doesn't have these drawbacks. However, if you'll probably going to make waffles for a few special occasions a year, the Cuisinart Round Classic is an inexpensive and effective way to have that option at the ready.
Read review: Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic
If you don't want to feel like an assembly line worker while making Sunday breakfast for a large family, the KRUPS GQ502D is one of your best bets. 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 nice 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.
Our biggest complaint about the KRUPS GQ502D is that it takes longer to heat up and cook than other, smaller machines. We generally found ourselves leaving the waffles on the griddle for another minute or 2 past when the beeps indicated the waffles were done. We also found that the edges of the waffles cook much more than the centers. If you have a large family and need to churn out lots of waffles very quickly, these are small sacrifices to make, but in any other instance we'd suggest a smaller, round machine instead.
Read review: KRUPS GQ502D
Best Combo of Performance and Aesthetics
All-Clad Stainless Steel Classic
If you'd like to make homemade waffles a staple in your home, there's a good chance your waffle maker is going to become a permanent presence on the counter. In that case you may appreciate the all stainless steel, rugged look of the All-Clad Stainless Steel Classic. This heavy duty, built-to-last machine can churn out delicious waffles in 7 different shades from fluffy to crispy. It also has all of the pre-heating and fully-cooked indicators that one would expect from a top-notch appliance.
The biggest downside of the All-Clad is its relatively high price. Even if you are willing to spend extra on a more reliable and well-built machine, however, the All-Clad still has some weak points in relation to the comparatively priced Breville No-Mess. First off, the Breville's design essentially eliminates overflowing batter spills, whereas the All-Clad simply minizes them. Some surfaces of the All-Clad can also get quite hot to the touch, something we didn't experience with the Breville. Still, if the All-Clad is perfect with your kitchen decor, we don't think this machine is going to disappoint.
Read review: All-Clad Stainless Steel Classic
Most larger capacity waffle makers utilize a wide bed that can make for uneven batter distribution. The Cuisinart Double Belgian gets around that by stacking two round, flippable irons on top of one another, allowing for 2 delicious Belgian style to be made at once. Plus, helpful light and beeps let you know when the irons are ready to go, and when the waffles are done.
The one thing we really feel is lacking in the Cuisinart Double Belgian are removable griddles. Because this machine is so much larger and heavier than most (a whopping 13 pounds), trying to clean the girdles after use can be a bit of a hassle. Luckily the non-stick is usually pretty effective, so you shouldn't be stuck scrubbing too often. As long as you have storage space for this bulky device, it's the best way we've found for quickly making fluffy, belgian waffles quickly.
Read review: Cuisinart Double Belgian
If you're looking to spice up your breakfast spread but want to spend as little as possible, 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 certainly leaps and bounds better than frozen waffles, but you might be disappointed if you're expecting a super fluffy restaurant style waffle.
Read review: Oster CKSTWF2000
Why You Should Trust Us
Authors Steven Tata and Max Mutter have been leading TechGearLab's breakfast brigade since 2016, and in that time have personally tested over 80 breakfast-related kitchen appliances. In that time the duo have become experts in bringing restaurant quality breakfast prep into home kitchens.
We researched over 70 models for this review before buying the best of the best in every price range. We then spent more than 80 hours using those devices, one right after the other, and taste-tested all of the resulting waffles. This allowed us to thoroughly examines each model's user-friendliness, construction quality, and of course, waffle making ability.
Analysis and Test Results
Waffle mkers 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 one of these devices are probably looking for these fluffy cakes with deep pockets for syrup and fruit.
On the other end of the spectrum is the traditional or classic waffle. These pastries are much thinner and more crispy. They are still much fluffier and more luxurious than frozen waffles made in a toaster, but also much thinner than true Belgian style fare.
To Flip or Not to Flip
Possibly the most significant feature of a home waffle maker is whether or not it has the ability to flip. Being able to flip the iron 180 degrees not only allows for more even batter distribution (and thus more consistent cooking), it can also make getting the waffle off the iron without tearing it to shreds infinitely easier. The downside is that models that flip tend to be more expensive, larger, and can only make a single waffle at a time. The Presto Flipside solves most of these problems thanks to its hinged design that keeps it both on the smaller and the less expensive side of things while still offering a flipping function. The Cuisinart Double Belgian lets you make two waffles at once while still offering a flip function, but it takes up much more counter and general storage space than the Flipside.
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, and 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 can dial in your preferred crispiness.
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.
Overflowing batter and dripping condensation are the two most common sources of a messy kitchen when using a waffle maker. You can generally solve the former problem through some trial and error in finding the exact right amount of batter to put into your machine, but even so some models just tend to spill more batter than others. Similarly, some models tend to drip more condensation than others. Neither of these messes are very hard to clean, but if you want to streamline cleanup the removable drip tray of the Oster Flip makes things a lot easier. Easier. The overflow reservoir of the Breville No-Mess also catches any spilled batter. This makes the machine much more forgiving for those that tend to overload the batter, and in our experience can significantly reduce cleanup time following a big waffle making session.
Capacity: Round vs. Square
Round waffles generally cook more evenly than square waffles, as both batter and heat can disperse more evenly in a circle than in a square. However, most circular waffle makers can only make a single waffle at a time. The Cuisinart Double Belgian is a notable exception to this rule, but it is still limited to cooking just two waffels at a time. Even though square waffles tend to cook a bit unevenly towards the corners, larger families will likely appreciate that many square makers can prep four waffles at once. If you're looking for a high capacity machine, the KRUPS GQ502D is the best model we've come across in our testing.
As lofty and admirable of a goal as it is, you're probably not going to make waffles every morning. Thus you're likely going to ant a waffle maker that can easily be stored out of the way when not in use. Two models in particular, the Presto FlipSide and the KRUPS GQ502D, make storage quite efficient and easy and they can lock and stand up vertically. In many situations this can save a lot of precious cabinet space.
Having, fluffy, cafe style waffles at home is both easier and less expensive than you may think. For just a small investment and some elbow grease for mixing up the 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.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata