Best Waffle Maker of 2021
No doubt about it, the Breville No-Mess made some near-perfect, delicious, classic waffles. There were two features of this appliance that set it apart from the rest. First, it has a wraparound, non-stick moat to catch any spilled batter — and it turns this excess batter into a crispy amuse-bouche instead of a goopy mess. Second, we found its shade settings to be accurate and consistent. With seven different options from amber and fluffy to dark and crispy, the Breville No-Mess can make waffles any way you like 'em, and we were able to turn out the same results each time consistently, no matter our preference. Lights and beeps eliminate any guesswork and tell you when the iron is up to temperature and when the waffle is done.
However, this is one of the most expensive single-waffle makers on the market, which will be a barrier for some. It's also quite large and will take up a decent amount of real estate on your counter. However, we found the extra cost and bulk translated into better performance and quality construction in this case. If you are willing to make an investment to enjoy top-notch waffles at home, this is the best option we've found, and you should be able to enjoy it for years to come.
Read review: Breville No-Mess
If your large family or penchant for hosting large Sunday brunches has you feeling like an assembly line worker, take a look at the KRUPS GQ502D. This machine can churn out four fluffy waffles simultaneously, so nobody has to let their food get cold while waiting for everyone to be served. The indicator lights and beeps will tell you when the griddle is up to temperature and when the waffles are done. A shade knob enables you to adjust from a lovely pale gold to a dark, crunchy brown. The griddles are dishwasher safe, so they can be removed and tossed in the dishwasher when you're done cooking. The unit also locks shut for easy vertical storage, saving precious cabinet space.
Our biggest complaint about the KRUPS GQ502D is that it takes longer to heat up and cook than some other smaller machines. We typically found ourselves leaving the waffles on the griddle for an extra minute or two past when the beeps indicated the waffles were done. We also found that they don't cook as evenly as we would have liked them to, with the waffles' edges becoming much more done 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
Somehow early mornings in the office just seemed easier when we had the Presto FlipSide around. During 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 can flip over without all of the unwieldy storage issues. This model locks in an upright position and easily slides into a cupboard for storage. It features some nice touches like an indicator light to signify when the machine is up to temperature and a timer that notifies you when the waffle is done. Its 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 isn't all strawberries and syrup. Even though the unit packs up quite small for storage, it requires a fair amount of real estate on your counter when in use. Overall we'd call its waffles evenly cooked, but one side does come out a bit crispier than the other. However, we would say that these gripes are all very minor, and we don't think they should dissuade you from stepping up your breakfast game.
Read review: Presto FlipSide
If you're looking to make waffles at home that are easy on the wallet, the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic is hard to beat. In our testing, this machine produced waffles with a similar level of taste and texture to 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 five different shade settings, it reliably produced the same level of crispiness. We've found that this kind of consistency is generally associated with a much larger price tag.
Unfortunately, the Cuisinart Round Classic's low cost does come with some drawbacks. We felt that this machine's construction was notably lower-quality. For example, the unit itself feels poorly balanced, causing us to worry that it could tip over, and the control dials don't seem to be 100% accurate. It also lacks any type of indicator, so it will take some trial and error to figure out 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 need a machine for special occasions just a few times a year, the Cuisinart Round Classic is an inexpensive and effective way to have that option ready and waiting.
Read review: Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic
Sometimes you don't want waffles to be the centerpiece of your breakfast. You want them as a side dish for a large brunch spread, or you may just want to make one small waffle to adorn with a healthy scoop of ice cream. That's where the Dash Mini Maker Griddle shines. This small device makes four inch classic waffles with ease, expediency, and very little mess. Additionally, the small size and ease of cleaning make the Mini Maker Griddle more amenable to experimentation with different griddle recipes like cookies, hashbrowns, and chaffles (that's a cheese and egg waffle, and it's a gamechanger). Plus, it's cheap enough that you could buy two if you want to make a waffle sandwich bun in one go.
The streamlined simplicity of the Mini Maker Griddle leaves little room for bells and whistles. There are no controls — you just plug it in, and a light turns on when it reaches cooking temperature. There is also no timer to let you know when the waffle is done, so you have to keep track of that on your own. Luckily the griddle is quite forgiving and tends not to burn anything, even if it's left cooking for a few extra minutes. There is no better than the Dash Mini Maker Griddle.
Read review: Dash Mini Maker Griddle
If you're looking to make waffles a staple in your home, there's a good chance your waffle maker will become a permanent presence on the counter. If that's the case, you may appreciate the all stainless steel, rugged look of the All-Clad Stainless Steel Classic. This heavy-duty machine is built to last and can churn out delicious waffles in seven 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, the All-Clad still has some weak points compared to the similarly priced Breville No-Mess. First off, the Breville's design essentially eliminates overflowing batter spills, whereas the All-Clad simply minimizes 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 avoids that by stacking two round, flippable irons on top of one another, allowing you to make two delicious Belgian-style waffles at the same time. Plus, helpful lights and beeps let you know when the irons are ready to go and when the waffles are done.
We felt the one thing lacking in the Cuisinart Double Belgian was removable griddles. This machine weighs a whopping 13 pounds and is so much larger and heavier than most that trying to clean it after each use can be 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 to quickly make fluffy Belgian waffles.
Read review: Cuisinart Double Belgian
If you're looking to spice up your breakfast spread but have a pretty tight budget, 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.
As is often the case with budget products, you'll usually have to make some concessions, and the CKSTWF2000 is no exception. It is pretty easy to overload the unit with batter (we suggest starting below the manufacturer's recommendation). Even if you get the batter right, there tends to be a fair amount 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 product.
Read review: Oster CKSTWF2000
Why You Should Trust Us
Review authors Steven Tata and Max Mutter have been leading GearLab's breakfast brigade since 2016. In that time, they have tested more than 80 breakfast-related kitchen appliances. They have honed the craft of restaurant-quality breakfast prep into home kitchens over the years and bring that expertise to this review.
We researched over 70 models before buying the best of the best in every price range and then spent over 80 hours using those appliances, one right after the other, and taste-tested all of the resulting waffles. This allowed us to thoroughly examine each model's user-friendliness, construction quality, and of course, waffle-making ability.
Analysis and Test Results
Waffle makers are relatively simple devices — but don't let impulsiveness lead you to snag just any model off the shelf. If you pay attention to a few minor details, you can end up with a maker that can churn out exactly what you are looking for.
Waffle Type: Belgian vs. Traditional
The first thing to consider when choosing a waffle maker is what type of waffles you like. Belgian waffles are super thick and fluffy and are generally what you would expect when ordering a waffle in a restaurant. These things soak up butter and syrup like a sponge and bring a decadent pastry kind of feel to your breakfast. Our favorite Belgian-style machines are the Cuisinart Double Belgian and the Presto FlipSide.
Classic style waffles are much thinner than their Belgian counterparts and generally have crispier and crunchier faces. These waffles still have fluffy interiors and are much more decadent than store-bought frozen waffles but lack the pillowy volume of Belgian waffles. The Dash Mini Maker Griddle and the Breville No-Mess produced great classic style waffles in our testing.
Thick Belgian waffles compared to thinner and crispier classic waffles.
To Flip or Not to Flip
One of the differentiating features in consumer waffle makers is the ability to flip the waffle in the middle of cooking (think of those large contraptions often seen at hotel breakfasts). Halfway through the cooking process, rotating the waffle promotes better batter distribution, leading to more even cooking and a more satisfying final result. Models that offer this feature, like the Cuisinart Double Belgian, generally take up much more counter space than the average kitchen model. The Presto Flipside offers a unique hinged design that allows it to flip on your countertop and then pack up into a very slim profile for storage.
The best waffle makers should make it difficult to burn your waffles and should give you your desired results with ease. Features like temperature adjustment knobs can help you achieve the exact shade and texture you're looking for, and timers can ensure you don't leave the waffle on the griddle too long. Additionally, the ability to flip a maker over encourages more even batter distribution, garnering more consistent results and even cooking.
The Breville No-Mess is the most convenient and adjustable of all the models we tested. With seven shade settings, this model offers the most adjustability of any model we tested. It has both beeps and lights to let you know when the waffle is done. The Presto Flipside has only an auditory cook timer, but its ability to flip makes it easier to attain consistent results. The Dash Mini Griddle Maker lacks adjustability or timers, but we found its heating elements quite forgiving. It didn't burn our waffles even when we left them on for too long.
Ease of Cleaning
Thankfully most waffle makers have dependable non-stick coatings. Because of this, the cleaning process typically isn't too tedious — you can generally get away with just wiping the griddle with a damp cloth once it has cooled down, and you're good to go. The non-stick coatings vary from model to model, with some performing better than others. Even so, some of the stickier ones can generally be remedied with a bit of cooking spray. Some models even have removable griddles that are dishwasher-safe.
Overflowing batter and excess condensation are the two main sources of messes when cooking with a waffle maker. (Luckily, most non-stick grates work well enough to avoid any stuck-on and burnt batter catastrophes.) With some trial and error, you can usually solve the overflowing batter problem by finding the exact amount of batter for your maker, but some models still tend to spill no matter what you do. Similarly, some models create a lot of condensation that can leave a puddle on your counter, while others do not.
If you're really not a fan of excess condensation, the Oster Flip offers a removable drip tray to prevent puddles on your countertop. No machine deals better with overflowing batter than the Breville No-Mess. It has a non-stick reservoir that catches excess batter, making cleanup much easier and quicker.
Most waffle makers only make one waffle at a time, and it generally takes 4-5 minutes to make a waffle. That creates a bit of a timing issue if you're making brunch for a larger group. The Cuisinart Double Belgian can make two waffles at once while still offering a flippable design that promotes even batter distribution. However, it also takes up much more space than most models on the market. Square makers can often crank out four waffles at a time, but usually at the sacrifice of uneven cooking due to their shape. The KRUPS GQ502D is the best such model we've found.
It's an admirable goal to make waffles every morning, but as great as that may sound, it probably won't be the case. Thus, you're likely going to want a waffle maker that can easily be stored out of the way when you're not using it. The KRUPS GQ502D and the Presto FlipSide were two models that made storage quite efficient and easy. They can lock and stand up vertically; this can save a lot of precious cabinet space in many situations.
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 in the comfort of your own dining room. We hope our research has led you to the perfect breakfast companion.
— Max Mutter, Michelle Powell, and Steven Tata