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Looking to up your breakfast game or do something different with these store cupboard staples? A waffle maker could become your new best friend. Perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, waffles are splendidly versatile.
Serve them up sweet or savoury, for breakfast, brunch, dinner or dessert or even as a cheeky snack whenever you fancy. The birth of the waffle dates back to the middle ages when they were cooked over a fire using two metal plates. Most people associate them with Belgium. The famous Brussels Waffle is a popular street food served dusted with icing sugar. Travel around Europe and the ingredients and toppings vary.
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The American-style waffle is generally denser and thinner and is usually served for breakfast piled high with bacon and lashings of maple syrup. Yes, please! But which waffle maker is best? It depends how many people you’re planning to feed at once and how much you want to spend. Consider how quickly they turn your batter into golden brown goodness and also how many added features you want.
We’ve tested out waffle makers ranging from £19.99 to £169.95. Read our reviews below to find out how we got on.
How much do I need to spend on a waffle maker?
For only £19.99 you can bag yourself a basic waffle maker. This may not have removable plates or many added features, but it’ll cook you up some very decent waffles. After only a few uses, it will have paid for itself. If you are more of a serious foodie you may want a waffle maker you can use regularly. Spend more and get a waffle maker that is not only reliable but also looks good, too.
You can secure a trustworthy and robust machine from as little as £39. If you really want the hassle taken out of waffle making altogether, you can spend up to £170 on the Heston Blumenthal Smart Waffle Pro.
Best waffle makers 2020
1. The Smart Waffle Pro by Sage – best double waffle maker
If you want perfect waffles every time, Heston has thought of everything to ensure that this Sage machine achieves that. With an LCD display, there are 4 pre-programmed waffle types to choose from. These include Classic (for a crispier crust), Belgium (for a fluffier centre), Buttermilk or Chocolate and a custom setting. You can also choose how brown you like them with 12 settings ranging from 1 (lightest) to 12 (darkest).
On testing, I opted for the 6 bar ‘golden brown’ colour setting and using a basic waffle mix I chose ‘Classic’. Once the lid is closed the machine started a countdown of 5 minutes. There is an audible alert once time is up. The waffles were easy to pop out (thanks to the non-stick plates that don’t need any pre-greasing). They were perfectly square and deep with a super crisp crust. I found them a little too dark so on my second attempt I chose a lighter setting.
The USP with this machine is its Waffle IQ which knows the exact state the machine is in when you add the batter. If you don’t wait for the machine to heat up between cooking cycles it will automatically adjust the cooking time accordingly. This gives super consistent results. If there is any overflow it will get caught in the wraparound moat. This also cooks the batter at the same time, giving you something to nibble on and making clean up a doddle.
Although this is a smart machine, it still takes a bit of practice to create your perfect waffle. However, don’t let this put you off, the vast array of features are there to help you out. Which, for the price tag, you will be grateful for.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Dualit Waffle Iron – best professional waffle maker for feeding a crowd
This is a serious bit of kit for the dedicated waffle maker. In appearance, it actually looks like a mini Aga with its 2 flat-domed lids side by side. These two hot plates operate individually with separate switches. Each switch has a power light but there is no temperature gauge or indicator light to let you know when the waffle maker is heated, instead the instructions say to wait 8 minutes before cooking – you can use that time to prep your toppings.
After lightly greasing the plates (I would recommend using a pastry brush) pour a large tablespoon of batter into the centre of the plate and let the machine do the work for you.
This powerful, Ferrari of a machine operates at 1,600 watts and can churn out two flat, round waffles every two minutes. That’s 0-60 waffles in 1 hour! Zoom!
There is an overflow channel to catch any surplus batter but it is quite narrow – if you stick to a generous tablespoon each time though you can keep things fairly neat and tidy. The plates are also coated in a double layer of non-stick but they cannot be removed before cleaning so wipe over with a damp cloth; the plates get very hot so make sure you have disconnected from the plug and allowed the machine to cool down first.
This waffle iron is large and is designed for commercial use as well as domestic. If your budget allows, it is ideal for a large family or a weekend brunch with friends. Producing two waffles at a time is a stand out feature and will cut down on the waiting time for hungry kids and guests.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Waffle iron, £238.80, Dualit
3. Vonshef Rotary – best waffle maker for thick, fluffy waffles
If you want top notch waffles but you don’t want to spend too much on a machine then you really do get more bang for your buck with this rotating model that produces beautifully caramelised and impressively thick, fluffy waffles.
Once heated you will need to brush or spritz some fat on the trays before adding your batter. The manual doesn’t advise on quantity but I found two cups to be enough. If you do overfill, the handy drip tray will save you from messing up your work top.
The rotating function is a unique addition and ensures an even and consistently cooked waffle. This is operated manually which means you can’t really walk away but the process is actually quite therapeutic and forces you to not forget about them.
There is a variable temperature gauge which allows you to cook them how you like – if you like crisp and crunch then crank up the dial to max or if you favour a lighter texture just lower the heat. A few trial runs and you will know what works best for you.
To guarantee the mix was cooked in the middle, I found these waffles took almost 8-10 minutes to cook properly – a little longer than some machines but it actually gave me enough time to fry up some bacon, grab the maple syrup and blueberries to create my brunch of dreams.
The only complaint is that the plates aren’t removable so clean-up is a bit more of a fiddle and because of the rotating function, the machine isn’t as compact as others but for the price this is an impressive waffle maker that you can rely on for an indulgent weekend breakfast.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Rotary waffle maker, £37.99, Vonshef
4. Breville, VST072 Duraceramic Deep Fill Waffle Maker – best waffle maker for perfect-looking waffles
This machine is very user friendly with an intuitive design. When you plug in, a green light will come on which indicates the machine is heating up. This only took about 3-4 minutes. Once the machine is up to temperature an amber ready-to-cook light will come on. It recommends about 75ml of batter. I found that it could take closer to 90ml to properly fill the squares. This achieves a fatter waffle. Don’t panic, mess is easy to avoid with the overflow channel that will catch any excess batter.
When you close the lid, be careful not to clip the latch shut. This machine needs to give the waffle a little wiggle room to rise and somewhere for the steam to escape. You might notice the lid lifts slightly as the waffle cooks. The waffles only took about 2-3 minutes to cook and I’d say they were near-perfect. They had the right amount of crispiness on the outside and fluffiness in the middle. I was also very impressed with how neat they looked.
The waffle plates have a natural ceramic coating which is designed to transfer heat quicker than standard non-stick coatings. The plates are also scratch resistant and they easily pop-off to clean. The chunky design means it can be stored away on it’s side. One slight quibble is the cable. This can be wrapped around the machine but there is no way of securing it so it can easily unravel.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
5. Cuisinart 1000W– best waffle maker for consistent results
Made from stainless steel, this is a good looking, sturdy machine. It’s smart enough to keep out on your worktop without taking up too much room. With an easy set-up, you simply plug in and turn the dial to ‘ON’. One drawback is the switch, which feels a bit lose. Initially, I thought it was faulty as there is no obvious switch action or click. However, the red indicator light came on which reassured me it was working and heating up.
The two waffle plates are generous in size and the instruction manual recommends that each plate takes 90ml of batter. This is handy to know and prevents mess and overspill, though there is a channel around the outside to catch any excess batter. The plates are non-stick but I brushed a little oil on as advised. You don’t need much and I think you could even get away without any as the non-stick is that good.
It doesn’t light up to tell you when your waffle is done so you will have to guess on your first go (it’s usually when it stops steaming). This only took about 2-3 minutes. Given the price, you would expect a few more features such as a timer and a measuring cup, It would be helpful to have a bit more communication from the machine, too. However, this waffle maker will give you good-sized and almost restaurant-style, quality waffles in only a few minutes.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Cuisinart Waffle Maker, £59, Amazon
6. Tefal Snack Collection – Best multi-purpose waffle maker
This machine may appear pricey but you do get more bang for your buck as it’s designed to make so much more than waffles. You’re looking at an all-in-one snack workhorse that comes with a choice or 16 interchangeable grill plates. Not only can you create waffles (square and heart shaped). You can also make toasted sandwiches, bagels, paninis, croque monsieur’s, pancakes, doughnuts, cookies and more.
The plates are removable, non-stick and dishwasher safe so switching them around is a doddle. For the price listed, the machine comes with the waffle and sandwich plates only. However, you can collect the others for £14.99 each. It is lacking in fancy settings and usage is fairly basic but the results seem reliable.
Once plugged in it makes use of a red/green light indicator that tells you when the machine is hot enough. Making two waffles at a time, mine were ready in under 5 minutes. I was happy with their consistent golden appearance.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Tefal Snack Collection, £69.99
7. Vonchef Dual Round – best waffle maker for families
If you’re not convinced a waffle maker is your thing, start small with something affordable. And opt for one that can feed your whole family at once. Vonchef is a British online kitchenware brand with a popular range of waffle makers. This dual round waffle maker their best-seller. It is pretty basic in terms of features. It has a red power light and a green ready light that will go out once the machine is up to temperature. Heat-up time was quick though – about 3 minutes.
With a large cooking surface, it makes two 6 inch circular waffles at a time. The plates aren’t particularly deep so take care not to add too much batter. There is no advised quantity in the manual but I found 90 ml per circular waffle enough. After 4 minutes it was still steaming but I lifted the cool-touch handle anyway. Not looking quite ready, I left my waffle for a further 3 minutes – not the speediest.
However, for a budget model, I was really impressed with the finished result. My waffles were light and fluffy and with a nice crisp edge.
Clean up is a bit more awkward as the non-stick plates don’t pop-off. But if you don’t overfill there won’t be much mess anyway so it will be fairly easy to wipe clean.
Ideal Home’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
8. Nutri Snack Waffle Stick Maker NS004 – Best mini waffle maker
Small and compact, this simple machine makes six individual waffle fingers which is ideal for healthy eating and snacks for little kids. You don’t need to wait long for it to heat up. A green ready-to-cook light comes on after about 2-3 minutes. There is no overflow moat and the trays aren’t very deep. This means you do have to be careful not to add too much batter. You will want to take your time here – it requires a little trial and error.
On testing, I added a bit too much and the lid kept popping open whilst the waffles cooked so I didn’t feel like I could walk away. The plates are non-stick so it’s very easy to wipe clean afterwards. Alas, they cannot be removed so you can’t get the dishwasher involved which is a bit awkward in a busy family home.
On testing I added grated cheese and fresh herbs to the batter as a savoury snack for my one-year old. These went down a treat. There is also a recipe booklet included with inventive sweet and savoury ideas. For the price, this machine makes a very nice, neat waffle snack. However, clean-up is a bit fiddly and it doesn’t feel as robust as other models.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
9. Amazon Basics Non-Stick Waffle Maker – best waffle maker for compact kitchens
This machine makes flatter, Scandi-style waffles with pretty, scalloped edges. Simply plug in, brush a little oil on the bottom tray and wait a few minutes for it to get up to temperature. The plates are not as deep, so the first thing I learnt was that you won’t need as much batter, a third of a cup was plenty – anymore and the mix oozes out and there isn’t a drip tray to catch any mess.
There is a temperature dial which allows you full control of the heat, it might take a couple of trial runs to work out what temperature works best for your mix, I found the waffles took a while to cook, so decided to keep the dial on maximum.
The lid will easily lift up and separate from the waffle when it is done – the manual said after only 2-3 minutes but I found it took a little longer, if you try lifting the lid before it is cooked the mixture will split so expect a bit of trial and error. The finished result? Nice looking and evenly cooked crispy waffles, a little on the thin side but they tasted very nice.
Cleaning was a bit of a faff; you can’t remove the plates and although they were non-stick, I did find some waffle mix was firmly baked on – I recommend wiping clean with a microfiber cloth.
The clue is in the name, this is a basic waffle maker with limited features but it is compact (the machine stands on end for easy storage), cheap and really quite cheerful and it would probably yield better waffles with a bit of patience and practice.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
10. American Originals flip over waffle maker – best for flipping waffles
Sleek and narrow, this waffle iron is designed to be flipped 180 degrees during the cooking process for a super consistent bake. In fact, most chefs opt for a flipping waffle maker so let’s trust their advice on this one. Once plugged in it takes about 4 minutes to heat up. A green light will come on to let you know it’s ready for your batter. Making two waffles at a time, pour your mix into the centre of the trays and close the lid.
The total baking time is a bit longer than the other models tested – approx. 5 -10 minutes and it was hard to ascertain when to flip. The instruction manual suggests part-way through so it will take a few practice runs to get the timing just right. You will need to peek at your waffle from time to time to see what is going on (but make sure you leave them alone for the first few minutes).
The finished result? After a few trial runs, I had evenly baked waffles that were perfectly golden. Overall, this is a good waffle maker if you don’t need to feed a crowd in a hurry. It’s also good if you don’t want to spend too much or mind the lack of features. Helpfully, this waffle maker is slim enough to slot into a gap in your kitchen cupboards.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
How to buy the best waffle maker for you
On your search, keep the following features in mind:
1. Good heat distribution
The most important factor when it comes to selecting a waffle maker is that it cooks your waffle evenly. Some might be plagued by hot spots – the perfect waffle has a consistently light and airy centre with a crisp and golden edge all over.
A good waffle needs to cook quickly. If it is too slow or not hot enough the centre will overcook before the outside has had time to crisp up and brown. The best models can cook a waffle in around two minutes.
3. Non-stick plates
If the plates are non-stick they will help your waffles to slide out in one piece. It helps with your clean-up job to go for removable plates, if your budget allows.
4. Shape, size and quantity
Shape is a matter of preference. Traditionally, Belgium waffles are rectangular whereas in Nordic countries they tend to be heart-shaped. American waffles can be round, square or rectangular. Another factor to consider is how many people you are feeding. Typically, they can make between one and four at a time. Some makers cook one large waffle that can be cut into quarters and shared which is great for families or dinner party puddings.
5. Indicator lights or sound
Choose a waffle maker with an audible or visible alert to help you know what is going on. Most will light up or chime when its preheated enough, ready to cook another batch or when your waffles are done. A sound is preferable to light as it allows you to step away and get on with other things instead of hovering nervously over the machine.
6. Ease of storage
Choose a model that will suit your storage space and needs. Some can be tucked away vertically and many come with cord winders or built-in cord storage to avoid annoying tangles.
7. Easy to clean
If it’s a faff to clean you are less likely to want to use it regularly. Non-stick is a must and most can be simply wiped clean with a damp cloth once the machine has cooled. Or simply choose a model with removable, dishwasher-safe plates to make life easier. Some come with spill over channels to deal with any overflow of batter. To avoid this happening in the first place opt for one with a specific measuring cup for the batter to eliminate the likelihood of any overflow.
How easy are waffles to make?
Much like pancakes, the basic ingredients for waffle mix couldn’t be more humble – flour, eggs and milk. But despite this, don’t expect to make perfect waffles on your first go. You will need to get to know your machine and perfect your batter mix before hosting a waffle party. However, once you have whipped up a few, you will feel like a pro. Jamie Oliver’s Brilliant Breakfast Waffles is a good throw-it-all-together starter recipe. You can easily modify this with sweet or savoury ingredients and pimp with delicious toppings.
How to make perfect waffles
- For an extra light and fluffy waffle, separate your egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites until they form soft peaks and then folding them into the rest of the mix.
- Waffles can be flavoured with just about anything but adding a little sugar to the mix will help to crisp them up.
- If your waffles keep sticking, try increasing the amount of fat in your batter.
- Don’t lift the lid too early. Wait for the indicator light to come on for the machine to stop steaming before taking a peek. If you lift the lid before they are done you may cause your waffle to rip.
- If you want to make a large batch and eat together with friends or family, then you can keep cooked waffles warm in the oven. A few minutes in the oven can actually improve their crispiness. Don’t wrap them in foil as they may go a bit limp and soft.
- For evenly filled waffles, pour the batter onto the centre of each grid and gently spread out to the edges.
- For best results, allow the waffle mixture to0. rest for five minutes before pouring into the machine. This is to enable the chemical reaction of the raising agent to begin. It will help the waffles to rise.
Can I do anything else with a waffle maker?
Waffle makers are a lot more versatile and nifty than you might think. A waffle maker is really a mini grill, panini press and sandwich toaster rolled into one. There are plenty of other delicious things you can make. Think grilled cheese sandwiches, French toast sticks, pizza slices and quesadillas. After a quick browse on Pinterest you will have a cookery book filled with waffle maker hacks.