After researching more than 30 of the best waffle makers of 2020, we bought the 7 top contenders and took them into our testing kitchen for some hands-on, side-by-side evaluation. Hundreds of 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 will lead you to breakfast paradise.
The Best Waffle Makers of 2020
The Breville No-Mess made some near perfectly cooked, delicious, classic waffles that we can say with confidence are the best overall. 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 of a goopy mess that you want nothing to do with. The second is its very accurate and consistent shade settings. With 7 different options, this machine can do amber and fluffy all the way to dark and crispy, and pretty much anything in between. It is also consistent, giving us the confidence that we could reproduce 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 similar makers. However, this extra cost and bulk certainly translate into better performance and quality construction. If you are willing to make an investment in 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 increase 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 isn't all strawberries and syrup. While the unit packs up nice and small for storage, it also requires a lot 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 is 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 drawbacks. We found this machine's construction to be notably lower-quality. For example, the unit itself feels poorly balanced, making us nervous that it could tip over, and the control has dial lots of extra play, which means it's not 100% accurate. 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 need a machine for just 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 are looking to make 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 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 gets around 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.
The one thing we really feel is lacking in the Cuisinart Double Belgian is removable griddles. Because this machine is so much larger and heavier than most (a whopping 13 pounds), 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 for quickly making fluffy Belgian waffles.
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 of 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
Authors Steven Tata and Max Mutter have been leading TechGearLab's breakfast brigade since 2016. In that time, they have tested over 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. 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 makers are fairly simple devices but don't let impulsiveness make you snag just any model off of the shelf. If you pay attention to a few minor details you can end up with a maker that will churn out just what you are looking for.
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 crispier. They are still much fluffier and more luxurious than frozen waffles made in a toaster, but also much thinner than Belgian style fare.
To Flip or Not to Flip
One of the differentiating features you can find in a consumer waffle maker is the ability to flip the waffle in the middle of cooking (think those large contraptions often seen at hotel breakfasts). Rotating the waffle halfway through the cooking process promotes better batter distribution, which leads to more even cooking, and a more satisfying final result. Models like the Cuisinart Double Belgian offer this feature, but generally take up much more 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.
A good waffle maker will take out the guesswork. We look for models that have 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 has 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.
The two main sources of messes when cooking with a waffle maker are overflowing batter and excess condensation (luckily most non-stick grates work well enough to avoid any stuck-on and burnt batter catastrophes). Usually, you can solve the overflowing batter problem with a little trial and error to find the exact right amount of batter for your maker/batter combo, 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 one that is particularly annoyed by excess condensation, the Oster Flip offers a removable drip tray to prevent countertop puddles. 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 quicker and easier.
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 waffles 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