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Test Drive: Waffle Makers

Our favorite models deliver crisp, golden waffles that will be a hit at any breakfast table

by Maryellen Driscoll

fromFine Cooking
Issue 115

Everyone loves homemade waffles topped with butter and warm maple syrup, so it’s good to have a waffle maker on hand, especially when you’re hosting hungry house-guests. Not all waffle makers are created equal, though, with some being more user-friendly and yielding better results than others. We tested a variety of models and found two standouts;both are Belgian-style, but each offers different benefits. Whichever model you opt for, just make sure to stock up on butter and maple syrup—you’re going to need them.

What Is a Belgian-waffle maker?

A Belgian-waffle maker yields thick waffles with deep pockets that are perfect for trapping melted butter and syrup. Traditional waffle makers produce thinner waffles with smaller pockets, which look more like the frozen waffles you might buy from the grocery story. Although you can cook any type of waffle in a Belgian-waffle maker, an authentic Belgian waffle recipe calls for yeast as a leavener, while traditional waffles use baking soda or baking powder.

 

Chef’s Choice M840B
Waffle Pro Express
Belgian-Waffle Maker
$69.95 at cutleryandbeyond.com

This waffle maker lets you call the shots. One dial allows you to control how light or dark your waffle comes out, and another gives you the option to be choosy about its texture. Love a blond-hued waffle that’s crackly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside? No problem. Prefer a crunchier, drier waffle? This model can do that, too. No matter the style, waffles (which are approximately 7-inches wide and 2/3-inch thick) come out evenly cooked in about 3 minutes.

A combination of easy-to-see lights and beeps indicates when the waffle maker is heating up, has come to temperature, and is finished cooking. When you’re ready to remove the waffle, the nonstick surface performs beautifully: With just one application of cooking spray, we were able to make four waffles. A high-grade plastic base with a channel around the lower waffle grid captures overflowing batter and makes for easy clean up. The lid locks when not in use, for compact, upright storage. This model has a one-year warranty.

 

Waring Pro WMK600
Double Belgian-Waffle Maker
$99.95 at chefscatalog.com

If you’re a serious waffle lover, this model’s for you. Not only does it make two at once, but the texture of its deep-pocketed-waffles is beyond compare. Batch after batch, waffles come out with a delicately crisp crust and an almost cloud-like interior. The secret to those exceptional results is all in the design: A flip mechanism lets you rotate the waffles 180 degrees as they cook. This means that the batter doesn’t settle as it would in a conventional model; instead, it forms large air pockets, which make for light and airy waffles. These waffles are 7-inches wide and 1-inch thick; they cook in 3 to 3-1/2 minutes, and come out perfectly golden every time (a dial lets you control just how golden).

Even with its unique design, this model is easy to use. Each griddle emits its own series of lights and beeps to let you know that it’s heating, ready for use, and finished cooking. An accompanying measuring cup pours just the right amount of batter, though channels around both griddles catch any accidental overflow. The nonstick cooking surfaces perform well, especially with a spritz of cooking spray between waffles. On the downside, both lids can’t be left open at once, so cooling takes time, and even with its lids locked shut, this model is bulkier than most, so it may be hard to store. It comes with a one-year warranty.

What to Consider

Control dials If you want to choose exactly how brown and crisp your waffles will come out, look for models with dials that allow you to control the color and texture.
 
Alerts Easy-to-see visual alerts, like lights, and audible alerts, like beepers, indicate when the waffle maker is turned on, has come to temperature, and is finished cooking. Audible alerts are particularly helpful if you want to turn away from the waffle maker to wash dishes or eat a waffle.

Spill-proof design Models with specially designed channels to catch overflow will keep batter from dripping onto cords or sticking to the sides of the waffle maker.

Lid locks A locked lid will stay in place so you can store the waffle maker upright. But the lid should not lock during cooking, or it will compress the waffle as it rises.

How we tested

We tested seven Belgian-waffle makers and three traditional waffle makers with a basic batter. We made eight waffles in each model to determine cook time, to test for consistent browning and texture, and to see how well the finish on the griddle performed. We evaluated any visual and audible alerts, the effectiveness of any control dials, and the overall construction of each model.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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