The Best Waffle Makers Buying Guide of 2015 & 2016

What are the basic features to look for in a waffle maker?

1. An evenly-distributed cooking system

Rather than just pressing the waffle batter down to cook, many modern waffle makers use a rotate-and-cook system where you flip the griddle 180-degree using a handle. This way, the battery is more evenly-distributed and cooks more evenly. You also don’t end up with holes in your waffle. Some waffle makers have beefed-up cooking systems like an Opti-Heat system (exclusive to Calphalon) that further ensures even cooking. The rotating type of waffle maker has several names, including flip-style, rotate-and-cook, rotary, or brand specific names like VillaWare’s Gravity-Flip.

2. The right pocket depth (classic vs Belgian)

The cooking plates on a waffle iron are very important since they determine the thickness of the waffle. You will notice that some makers are categorized as “traditional/classic” or “Belgian”. The difference is the thickness of the waffle that the waffle maker cooks; Belgian waffle makers have deeper cooking-plate pockets than traditional ones. Which one to choose depends on your personal preferences, if you like thick fluffy waffles go for a ‘Belgian’ one. Most waffle makers allow you to make at least two waffles at once, using dual cooking plates. Features like weighed lids help prevent waffles from rising too much, so this is definitely something to look for.

3. Temperature and control settings

For total control other waffle texture, color, and more, temperature and control settings are included on just about all waffle maker models in every price range. To control the browning level of your waffle, waffle makers have three to five settings ranging from light to dark, depending on your taste. With most makers, you also have the power to adjust the temperature, so you can make lighter, fluffier waffles or ones that are crispier. With control over temperature and coloring, you can make the perfect waffles every time, and they’ll be more versatile so you can make fluffy waffles for breakfast with fruit, or crispier ones that won’t get soggy when you add extras like ice cream.

4. Indicator lights and tones

Part of making the perfect waffle breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or midnight snack) is knowing when the waffle maker is ready for batter, and when the waffle is cooked through. All waffle makers have at least either an indicator light or audio beep that lets you know when the waffle is preheated enough, and when your waffle is ready. The addition of the audio beep is useful because you aren’t necessarily babysitting the waffle maker, waiting for the light to go off. You will hear the beep if you’re a few feet away in another room. If your waffle maker is set to a specific browning setting, the light and tone will go off when that setting is reached. Some irons also include a countdown timer, so you can prepare other parts of your meal (like cutting fruit and so on) when the waffle is nearly ready.

5. Easy clean-up

Cleaning up a waffle maker is the least fun part of waffle-maker ownership, so most brands make it as easy and painless as possible. A non-stick interior is the foundation for convenient cleaning, as the batter doesn’t stick and have to be scraped out later. Non-stick surfaces are also easy to wipe clean, since you typically can’t submerge your waffle maker in water to soak. Drip trays are also common, and ensure that extra batter doesn’t get all over the countertop when it’s still raw and cooking.

6. Convenient weight

Waffle makers are relatively lightweight kitchen appliances, and many fit into storage vertically, so they don’t take up much space. The lighter irons can be as little as 5 pounds, which is great for for when you move or when you want to take your waffle maker with you on vacation. The heavier ones, which can make two waffles at once or are made of heavier metal, can weigh as much as 9-10 pounds.

7. A durable construction

Waffle makers should be made of durable metal since the unit is exposed to high heat. Inadequate metal will wear or warp over time. Some good materials of choice include brushed stainless steel, chrome, or even high-performance bronze. Stainless steel is probably the most popular because it isn’t super expensive and distributes heat evenly, which is crucial when cooking a waffle. For safety, cool-touch handles are an important feature.

What are the best brands when buying a waffle iron?

1. Waring

The Waring brand is most famous for creating the first blender in the USA. It was actually the blender brand that Jonas Salk used in creating in the polio vaccine, which is surprising to many who only see a blender as a food appliance. After the success of the blender, Waring began to produce other kitchen tools like hand mixers, a citrus juice, and ice cream maker in the 1970’s. In 2003, they introduced their rotating Belgian waffle maker. Before 2013, they had sold over 1 million waffle makers. For over 75 years, Waring has been manufacturing food processors, griddles, toasters, deep fryers, waffle makers, and more for both the commercial and home sectors.

2. Oster

Oster was originally a hair clipper company back in the 1920’s before they started branching out. By 1960, they were owned by Sunbeam Products, which made electric toasters and coffee makers. This unity has helped boost the Oster image as a kitchen-appliance company and in addition to waffle makers, they produce blenders, electric knives, pizza ovens, and toasters.

3. Black & Decker

Black & Decker is a huge brand, and it is the Small Appliances section that is responsible for waffle makers. They have been around since 1917 and originally produced mostly drills and other power tools. In 1984, they bought a small appliance company from General Electric. Since then, they’ve expanded into coffee makers, toasters, juicers, and waffle makers.

4. Calphalon

Calphalon is famous for its beautiful, durable designs. In 1963, the Commercial Aluminum Cookware Company (which would become Calphalon) was founded. The vision was to give the country’s limited line of aluminum cookware a much-needed facelift. By 1968, Calphalon was well on its way and using a new technology to treat raw aluminum. Hard anodizing had been developed by the aerospace industry and produced the company’s Calphalon line. With a new name, Calphalon expanded into utensils, bakeware, and electronics like slow cookers, toasters, and waffle makers.

Which features are important when buying a commercial waffle maker?

1. Multipurpose

Some professional waffle makers are intended for more than just waffles. You can make dishes like pancakes, frittatas, eggs, grilled cheese, and more. This makes spending a bit more money worth it, because you have a lot of versatility with just one appliance.

2. Extra deep grids

With extra-deep grids, your waffles will be thicker and can better handle toppings like fruit, syrup, powdered sugar, and more. A waffle maker with deep pockets will be about 1-1.5 inches.

3. Fun shapes

Making waffles can be fun as well as delicious. Many waffle irons come in novelty shapes, like Mickey Mouse, which is released by Disney. Other shapes include hearts, which are great for Valentine’s Day or birthdays. These waffle makers aren’t necessarily more expensive, they just aren’t as common. There even exists a keyboard shaped waffle iron so you can keep typing while eating your meal.

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