The Best Waffle Maker

If it’s waffles you seek, you can’t do any better than the $70 Chef’s Choice WafflePro Express. After more than 20 hours of research, evaluating our top four picks with a tasting panel of 10 taste testers, plus a head-to-head challenge between the top two competitors, we found the WafflePro made delicious waffles (both traditional and Belgian) with minimal fuss. It’s fast, safe, small enough to store unobtrusively, and easy to operate and clean.

Last Updated: July 1, 2014
For bigger families we added the Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker, which can make four waffles at a time.

The WafflePro is versatile enough to handle both Belgian and traditional batters. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and small enough to store unobtrusively. And, of course, the waffles are delicious.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $68.
The WafflePro outdoes the competition thanks to its versatility (it handled both Belgian and traditional batters beautifully) and ease of use. In our head-to-head taste test, it won accolades in almost every category, making a large batch of waffles quickly and without fuss or mess, beating out waffle makers almost double its price.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $45.
The WafflePro Classic is a close second to the Express. It’s not as flexible and the waffles it makes are a bit smaller, but it makes comparably delicious square waffles, if you’re not a fan of the round style.
If you prefer a square waffle, or if our main pick sells out, we also like our main pick’s little sister, the WafflePro Classic. It’s not quite as flexible as the Express, and its waffles are a little smaller, but it was the winner of our initial taste test (which didn’t include the Express) and a close runner-up to the Express.

Also Great
The Proctor-Silex isn’t as fast or versatile as the Express, but it’s cheaper and excels at thicker Belgian waffles. If that’s a priority or if you’d like to spend less on a waffle maker, look no further.
Despite calling itself a Belgian waffle maker, most die-hards would insist the WafflePro Express’s waffles aren’t quite thick enough to call themselves “Belgian.” If you insist on traditional Belgian waffles, our budget pick, the Proctor-Silex Durable Belgian Waffle Maker, made great Belgian waffles, although it wasn’t as fast or versatile as the WafflePro Express.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $88.
The Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker quickly makes four waffles at a time.
If you’re regularly making waffles for a large family (or a party), we recommend the Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker. It costs $87, and makes four waffles at once, very quickly. If being able to produce a huge amount of waffles quickly is your number-one priority, this will do the job — but be warned, it’s a batter-hog and can be finicky.

Table of contents

Should I upgrade? | How we picked and tested | Our pick | Flaws but not dealbreakers | If our pick is sold out, go square | A great Belgian alternative | A step down | Best for big familiesCare and maintenance | Competition | Wrapping it up

Should I upgrade?

If you’ve already got a waffle maker you know and love, there’s no need to buy a new one. But if you’re frequently entertaining a crowd and find your old waffle maker slows you down, consider upgrading to the WafflePro.

How we picked and tested

A waffle maker is, by nature, a single-purpose item—and, for that matter, it’s one you might not use often if you don’t host waffle parties on the regular. The waffle maker you pick should be exceedingly good at its job and also completely unobtrusive when you don’t need it. But first, it needs to make delicious waffles.

That’s a tall task, considering how varied people’s idea of what a great waffle is. Some want them thin and crispy, like a traditional American waffle; others like the light fluffiness (and giant syrup traps) of the Belgian. Most waffle makers that make fantastic, tender-inside Belgian waffles will struggle with crisp-throughout traditional waffles, and vice versa. The best waffle makers will handle both batters well, creating crispy traditional waffles and fluffy Belgian ones depending on your mood.

…you can make dark waffles for Aunt Mary and super-light, barely-browned waffles for your weird cousin.
Browning controls are also important in creating the perfect waffle for you and your family. That way, you can make dark waffles for Aunt Mary and super-light, barely-browned waffles for your weird cousin. A machine should be able to switch between different browning levels easily, even from dark to light.

Chances are good you’re serving a crowd, so the ability to make a large batch of waffles quickly everyone can eat at the same time is paramount. Two factors play into cooking speed: first, how long it takes to cook a waffle; much longer than three minutes feels ridiculous. Second, how many waffles can it cook at a time? A waffle maker that takes a little longer per batch but produces more waffles at once is preferred to one that is faster but only makes one waffle.

Since it is a single-purpose kitchen item (sorry, Alton Brown), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, either, but don’t worry—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few and found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. The ideal waffle maker should be cheap, too, since there’s no use in paying a lot for a very specific item.

To find our winner, we evaluated top-rated waffle makers from America’s Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, and food blogs and websites like The Kitchn, in addition to the best sellers on Amazon. We eliminated anything that cost more than $100, as well as anything with a higher-than-average rate of complaints about failures or overheating. We also eliminated anything without an indicator (either light or sound) to tell you when the waffle is done.

Once we had our eight finalists in-hand, we first tested each with one round of standard waffle batter (made of Bisquick mix). That allowed us to discover any glaring flaws—like, for instance, that flip waffle makers are unwieldy for no added benefit. After the first round of testing, the field was narrowed down to five contenders: two traditional waffle makers, three Belgian.

Over the course of five hours, I made 62 waffles.
I then invited 10 of my closest friends and waffle enthusiasts over to eat waffles. Over the course of five hours, I made 62 waffles. First, I made eight waffles in quick succession in each machine, again using Bisquick mix, to help identify problems with consistency. In machines that offered browning controls, I also made a dark and light waffle to see how well it handled changing temperature. I then made four waffles in each machine with a Belgian recipe.

The waffle makers we tested created waffles of varying thickness. Our pick didn’t make the thickest waffles (see the second from the bottom), but they were both crisp and tender.

The waffle makers we tested created waffles of varying thickness. Our pick didn’t make the thickest waffles (see the second from the bottom), but they were both crisp and tender.

We found the WafflePro Express late in the game; we had initially eliminated it because Amazon reviewers complained that the waffles it produced weren’t thick enough to be considered true Belgians. But after seeing how well the Classic handled both traditional and Belgian batter, despite being a traditional waffle maker, we wanted to check out the Express, so we pitted it against the Classic in a head-to-head challenge that mimicked the previous testing conditions. We didn’t regret it; the Express turned out to be the winner.

Our pick

The WafflePro is versatile enough to handle both Belgian and traditional batters. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and small enough to store unobtrusively. And, of course, the waffles are delicious.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $68.
The WafflePro Express was our favorite waffle maker because the waffles it produced tasted delicious regardless of batter, and it made large batches of waffles quickly and easily with little supervision required. It has settings for both crisp and airy or tender and fluffy waffles, stores easily, and is safe and simple to use and clean.

Our taste testers rated the WafflePro Express’s waffles among the best-tasting for both traditional and Belgian batters.

“They’re a good compromise — substantial, but crunchy,” one tester said. Another called them “crispy but fluffy.” The waffles made with the traditional Bisquick batter tasted thin, but substantial and crispy—a little like an Eggo, if an Eggo were much more delicious. Chef’s Choice calls the Express a Belgian waffle maker, and even though it’s really not thick enough to hold that title, it handled Belgian batter beautifully, making a light, airy waffle that still maintained a bit of crunch and crispiness.

It wasn’t the fastest machine we tested—each batch took about two and a half minutes to cook on medium brownness—but it was well within an acceptable range. And even though its cooking time was a little longer, its loud audio beep means you can multitask instead of having to hover over the machine. Making eight waffles took about thirty minutes, but most of that time was spent watching Game of Thrones, only requiring me to pop up once in a while to take out the finished waffle and pour in batter for the next. Better yet, barring the first waffle (which, in all machines, was never perfect) the second waffle was as great as the sixth waffle (which was as great as the eighth).

At the waffle party, I spent most of the time hovering over various machines waiting for a light to turn green. When I tested the Express, I spent most of my time entertaining.
There was no downward trend in quality over time, and a slight upward trend in time it took to cook. None of the other machines (excluding the Calphalon, which has its own problems) had an audio beep, and I didn’t realize just how game-changing it was until I tested the WafflePro Express. At the waffle party, I spent most of the time hovering over various machines waiting for a light to turn green. When I tested the Express, I spent most of my time entertaining. It really is so much easier.

The WafflePro Express has six darkness settings and a switch which toggles in between a deep-bake mode—which produces consistently crispy waffles—and a “crispy outside, moist interior” setting which creates the soft inside of a true Belgian waffle. The crispy setting works great, producing uniformly crunchy, delicious waffles; we found the moist interior setting lacking, performing consistently only at high darkness settings. But regardless of whether you like your waffles crispy or melt-in-your-mouth, the Express can make what you want.

Unlike large flip machines, which were heavy and hard to store, the WafflePro is very small, taking up about one square foot of counter space and five inches of vertical space. It locks closed, so it can be stored horizontally or vertically. In contrast, the flip models fail completely on that front, with the tallest of them being more than a foot long and nearly a foot tall. Sure, that’s fine for hotels, who keep the model out at the continental breakfast daily, but for your home? Skip it.

None of the waffle makers we tested were particularly difficult to use, but the WafflePro Express was so easy, a kid could do it. Meanwhile, both the Cuisinart and the Proctor-Silex emit burning hot steam right next to the handle after a long cooking session, making it too easy for little hands (or, let’s be real, big hands) to get burnt. The WafflePro Express’s handle is separated from the main body, so steam can’t escape right next to it, and it’s made of heat-proof plastic. Yes, the top does get a little hot, but that goes for all the waffle makers we tested.

Some people complain about ease of cleaning on Amazon, but in our own testing, we didn’t experience issues. Like all of the waffle makers we tested, this has a nonstick coating for easy waffle release. I intentionally made one waffle messily and let the batter dry on the side of the machine instead of cleaning it off immediately. Cleaning was no problem — one swipe with a wet paper towel and it was back to new.

We aren’t the only ones who love it. Good Housekeeping rated it an “A” and named it their top pick for Belgian waffles: “Chef’s Choice WafflePro Express turns out one thick, deep-pocketed grid. While it’s priced on the high side, it comes with lots of special features like the ability to fine tune your waffle to your taste.” America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required) also awarded it the win, saying, “Thick heating coils extending beneath most of its cooking surface helped this iron efficiently turn out even, beautifully cooked waffles, no matter the temperature setting.” And if you have any problems, the WafflePro comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

First off, the obvious: no, the WafflePro Express is not a real Belgian waffle maker. Its waffles are about a half-inch thick; compare that to the Calphalon No-Peek, which creates waffles that are about 1 inch thick. Its waffles are thicker than its cousin’s, the WafflePro Classic, but Belgian-style? Nah. If you’re set on a properly tall Belgian waffle, we’ve got a better pick for you below.

It also can take a little long to preheat. Whereas most of the competitors went from zero to steaming in four minutes or less, the WafflePro Express took more than six minutes, which felt like an absurdly long time. But thanks to the nice audio ding, you can dawdle around the house while you wait. Yeah, we wish it were faster, but it’s a compromise we’re willing to make for picture-perfect waffles.

And it’s a little pricier than we’d prefer. At $70, it’s on the upper range of acceptable for one-use-only products, but it’s also much faster and efficient (not to mention more versatile and delicious) than the cheaper products we tested.

If our pick is sold out, go square

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $45.
The WafflePro Classic is a close second to the Express. It’s not as flexible and the waffles it makes are a bit smaller, but it makes comparably delicious square waffles, if you’re not a fan of the round style.
If you can’t find the WafflePro Express, we recommend turning instead to the WafflePro Classic, which makes two smaller, square waffles at a time. In our initial waffle party test, it was the winner, with tasters praising its consistency and crunch. Like the Express, it handled both Belgian and traditional waffles admirably, although the nod definitely went to the Express in our head-to-head trial. It’s also considerably cheaper at $47.

The Wafflepro Classic makes square waffles.

The WafflePro Classic makes square waffles.

Considering the fact that we almost chose it as winner, it will come as no surprise that we think it’s a great, versatile waffle maker. It does, however, have a few flaws that dropped it to our #2 slot.

…it lacks the audio signal that lets you know when the waffles are done…
First, the body of the machine certainly gets a lot hotter than the Express’s. It’s not apparent when cooking, but if you want to move it off the counter while it cools, you risk burnt fingers. Second, it lacks the audio signal that lets you know when the waffles are done—something I shrugged off at first, only realizing its usefulness when I tested the Express. And last, its crispy waffles just aren’t quite as crispy, and its soft waffles are just a little too soft: very small distinctions, but important.

But if you’re a big fan of square waffles or can’t find the WafflePro Express, the Classic is an excellent and versatile choice.

A great Belgian alternative

Also Great
The Proctor-Silex isn’t as fast or versatile as the Express, but it’s cheaper and excels at thicker Belgian waffles. If that’s a priority or if you’d like to spend less on a waffle maker, look no further.
If you’re looking for true Belgian waffles—thick, with deep pockets—or you make waffles so rarely that spending $70 would be illogical, we recommend the Proctor-Silex Durable Belgian Waffle Maker, which costs only $25. It’s missing a few features we think are really essential, most notably browning controls, but it made consistently great, fluffy Belgian waffles.

The Proctor-Silex makes 1” thick waffles, much thicker than the WafflePro’s, which are only about half that. Because they’re taller, the waffle feels more cake-like versus the crispier but thinner waffles the WafflePro makes, and the deep pockets make great syrup catchers. One of our testers said, “Although it’s not as crispy as the other waffles, it offers more substantial fluffiness and mass, making it well-balanced.” It also has a smaller footprint than the WafflePro Express, taking up 11.25” by 8.2” of counter space, so it’s easier to store.

Thick, deep-pocketed traditional Belgian waffles from the Proctor-Silex.

Thick, deep-pocketed traditional Belgian waffles from the Proctor-Silex.

The waffle feels more cake-like, versus the crispier but thinner waffles the WafflePro makes, and the deep pockets make great syrup catchers.
While it doesn’t have darkness settings, that’s to be expected at this price range; it’s easy to peek at your waffle for doneness (once the green light turns on). Since there’s no audio signal, the Proctor-Silex requires more hovering than we’d like, but considering how thick and tasty the Belgian waffles it makes at its low price, we’re okay with it. And the Proctor-Silex is really easy to use: just pour in the batter, close the lid and wait. Amazon reviewers agree, rating it 4.5 stars over 851 reviews.

Do warn kids to steer clear, though: Like I mentioned earlier, after making a few waffles, steam can pour out through the front, so opening the machine can be a risky proposition. The steam tends to dissipate if you wait a while between waffles, but it still is enough to keep the Proctor-Silex from being our top pick.

A step down

If you prefer a crunchy traditional waffle but are looking for something a little cheaper than the WafflePro Express, pick up the $27 Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker. Like the WafflePro Express (but unlike the Proctor-Silex) it has a five-setting browning control, which makes it easier to manipulate the waffle to your liking. But it still lacks an audio signal, so you’ve gotta hover.

One of our taste testers described it as having “excellent crunch, but light on the inside,” and another said it reminded her of an Eggo. But another said it was “thin with minimal substance,” so if you don’t like your waffles ultra-crispy, this is not the machine for you. But when it comes to the super-crispy traditional style, it really does excel, creating consistently thin, crunchy waffles.

It’s also crazy fast, the quickest machine we tested, taking only 56 seconds to completely cook a waffle and only 2:36 to warm up—a time bested only by the Calphalon, which warmed up in a mere 2:22. If you’re looking to bang out a bunch of waffles, the Cuisinart will get it done the fastest. But it still suffers from the same steam ventilation problem as the Proctor-Silex, where the steam accumulates on the handles: they become tremendously, painfully hot to the touch.

Best for big families

For large parties or families, the best waffle maker is the $87 Calphalon No Peek Waffle Maker. It makes four thick Belgian waffles in under two minutes, making it one of the quickest machines we tested.

Of course, that speed comes at a price: When we first tested it, one of our tasters found the results “Fluffy, spongy, and a little soggy. I wish it were crispier.” For the best results, we found that you have to let the machine reheat after each batch, which takes between 45 seconds and a minute and a half, depending on how dark you like your waffles. It can also be a little finicky, especially if every member of your family likes their waffles a different color. We found some problems switching from darker waffles to lighter, with the lighter waffles ending up a lumpy mess of half-cooked dough. Even with the extra reheat time, though, it’s still faster than the Cuisinart if you’re cranking a large volume of waffles out.

We also wish the machine didn’t require so much batter. It takes two cups to make four waffles, or 1/2 cup per waffle. That’s a lot, especially when most machines require 1/4-1/3 cup batter per waffle, and especially when you’ve only got the option to make four waffles at once. Betty Crocker’s Bisquick waffles recipe makes a little less than 4 cups of batter, meaning your second batch will be a little sparse. It’s certainly annoying, but not a dealbreaker.

Ultimately, though, the Calphalon is the best machine for many people. It’s not as consistent as the Chef’s Choice, but it will produce a lot of waffles very quickly if that’s your goal.

Care and maintenance

Before the first use, Chef’s Choice recommends oiling the machine with a paper towel or spray bottle (like Pam). Be sure to discard the first batch, which can absorb some unpleasant oiliness, but after that, you shouldn’t need to oil the plates again.

The WafflePro Express is super easy to clean; just wipe it down with a wet towel once the machine has cooled, and any leftover batter should come up easily.

Competition

The Waring Pro WMK600 Double Waffle Maker has great reviews on Amazon, but in real life, I found it hogged space and power. It’s incredibly bulky, made the lights in my kitchen flicker, and its waffles aren’t anything spectacular.

While the VillaWare Belgian Flip Waffle Maker was a more successful flip model than the Waring Pro, it just wasn’t good enough. Even when we filled the machine with more batter than requested, our waffles still had holes. Add that to the bulky design and it’s a pass.

The West Bend 6201 Rotary Waffle Maker is a slimmer model, but still (like all flip styles) quite bulky. In our tests, we had issues with the nonstick surface being super-sticky. Like the VillaWare, waffles came out with giant holes.

I can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It costs $33, and it’s worth maybe half that.
I can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It costs $33, and it’s worth maybe half that. My notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting its placement in the kitchen, but it took quite a bit of effort to force the machine to flip over. The resulting waffle was terrible: the batter slid around in the machine, pooling up on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.

Black & Decker’s Belgian Waffle Maker is a little too simple, lacking any brownness control, and reviewers complain about the poor quality and how quickly it breaks.

The Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker has a lot of fans, but we just can’t get behind the space-hogging design, especially considering how poorly other flip models performed. Reviewers complain about uneven cooking, and the timer is battery-powered separately, so it doesn’t always indicate if your waffle is actually done.

Hamilton Beach’s non-flip Belgian-Style Waffle Maker has okay reviews, but reviewers indicate it has the same steam problems as the cheap Cuisinart and Proctor-Silex, not to mention the lack of even an indicator light, which means you need to carefully monitor your waffle maker at all times.

We considered looking at dual-purpose waffle makers with interchangeable plates like the T-Fal EZ Clean but ultimately passed. Things that try to do two disparate things well often fail at one, and from reading the reviews, it seems clear that the T-Fal might make great sandwiches but fails to make excellent waffles.

The All-Clad Classic Waffle Maker has earned its fair share of accolades, but we think it’s too expensive at $125. At that price point, you’re paying more for the label and the stainless steel looks than for actual waffle-making ability.

The same goes for the KitchenAid Pro Line Waffle Baker, which costs $200 and makes two waffles at once. Sure, it’s fancy, but it’s a space hog and really, really expensive.

The Nesco WM-1300 Everyday Waffle Maker has good reviews, but heart-shaped waffles really are a niche product. If you’re dying for a special Valentine’s treat, then maybe consider it. Otherwise, stick to a classic shape.

NordicWare’s Stovetop Belgian Waffler is a truly traditional design, but complaints about the stickiness of the waffler kept us away. Plus, we’re more fond of the easy, hands-off design of electronic machines.

Wrapping it up

The WafflePro Express is dead simple to use, easy to clean, and much less likely to burn you than cheaper models. It’s a great hybrid between traditional and Belgian waffles, handling all batters beautifully and quickly. But if you’re dreaming of a picture-perfect Belgian waffle, we recommend the Proctor-Silex Durable Belgian Waffle Maker, which offers fewer features in a trade for that true, deep-pocketed Belgian waffle shape. We also like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker for a budget traditional waffle maker. For most people, the WafflePro Express will make them precisely the waffle they want, quickly and easily.

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Sources

  1. Waffle Irons, America's Test Kitchen (subscription required)
  2. Waffle Maker Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  3. Emma Christensen, Waffling Over Waffle Makers: Should You Buy One?, The Kitchn, April 7, 2011
  4. Good Housekeeping Research Institute, Chef's Choice WafflePro Express 840 B, Good Housekeeping, January 2012
  • chris

    this looks wonderful. can you please perhaps recommend one that doesn’t have a non-stick coating? and/or do you know if non-stick coatings are toxic? thanks!

  • http://hpka.net/ Henry Armitage

    Great article as always. I would like to see a stovetop section since that’s my idea. However, that’s not necessarily to say it has to be a stovetop waffle maker specifically like the NordicWare – it can be a “what would we do if our power outlets were filled with venomous snakes” section.

  • LauranGraziano

    How to make a best waffle ?
    http://musclebuildingadvise.com/

  • samdchuck

    Waffles are supposed to be rectangular, not square or quadrant shaped. I was looking forward to the waffle maker article but his one is truly disappointing. What kind of monster makes waffles using a mix? – A Belgian.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Actually, some of the first waffle irons were round, and per ‘The Nibble’ – “the Belgian waffle culture probably originated in the Mediterranean, as a primitive flat cake cooked on a hot rock in a campfire.” As for the usage of homemade vs mix, I think that’s up to persons individual opinion or choice.

      http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cereals/waffle-history.asp

  • Ryan Jones

    Have you looked at the Breville Smart Waffle? I know it’s absurdly priced, but it looks to make an utterly ridiculous waffle.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      $300 for a waffle maker is quite steep!

  • Niko Gunadi

    Do you have option for the 200v version? The Chef’s choice doesn’t have the 220v version.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      I don’t understand what you mean. Can you clarify?

      • Niko Gunadi

        From list of pick you have, they are all 110v voltage option. So for me who is not staying in US, those options are not valid. It’s good if you can have a pick which supports 220v voltage option.

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          Oh. I understand. Unfortunately I don’t believe we tested any 220v waffle makers. Sorry!

  • tarun

    You were wrong to skip testing the Presto. Plus the presto stores vertically so it takes up very little space. Works great for us and is about half the price of your rec.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Storage woes aside – “Reviewers complain about uneven cooking, and the timer is battery-powered separately, so it doesn’t always indicate if your waffle is actually done.”

      • tarun

        Except that neither has been a real issue in practice. The timing always works out and we haven’t had uneven cooking. The thing has 4.5 stars and a billion reviews on Amazon. So my suggestion was it should have been in the tested mix versus the ruled out mix.

    • Kevin Thoman

      Agree completely. I have had a Presto for a few years now, and it makes great waffles every time, in 3 minutes flat.

  • Janice

    Most of the waffle makers you can buy these days are Belgian, but as you say some people still like their waffles thin and crispy. For that I recommend this thin waffle maker by Cuisinart. I call it the “Eggo” waffle maker for home!