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Stovetop Waffle Irons

Published November 2009
Update, January 2019
Though it's been a few years since our original testing, the Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum Stovetop Belgian Waffler is still a test kitchen favorite, yielding crisp waffles and proving easy to clean and simple to store.

How we tested

Material made a big difference in performance. Waffle irons made of light-colored, shiny metal yielded pale, dry waffles that stuck to even the most well greased grids. Cast iron produced crisp, golden waffles, but even after rounds of seasoning and oiling the surface, they stuck. Dark, nonstick metal was king, requiring no seasoning and producing evenly crisp, golden brown waffles that released easily.

We liked waffle irons with reservoirs to catch overflowing batter and long stay-cool handles that kept our hands safe. But thin handles were key for success on electric stovetops, allowing the waffler to lie flat on the burner—bulky handles lifted one edge away from the heat, making cooking uneven. (Handle design was less of an issue on gas burners.)

Only two waffle irons performed well in every test and on both gas and electric ranges. Both were made of dark, nonstick metal with thin, flat handles and each yielded crisp waffles that could rival those from an electric waffle maker.

Compared to electric wafflers (which preheat automatically and cook waffles to a preset degree of doneness, with no monitoring needed), hand-held models are less of a no-brainer (the cook has to gauge when the waffler is preheated, manually flip the waffles, then judge when they’re done). Still, they have their advantages: Manual wafflers tend to be smaller, for easier storage, and our winner cleans up with a quick rinse.

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The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.