Our recommendations are made independently through research and testing. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links. Learn more.

Oster Belgian vs Hamilton Beach 26031 Side-by-Side Comparison

Matthew Lee
Matthew Lee
Reviewer
Nguyen Ntk
Nguyen Ntk
Visual Specialist
Reviewed
Tested Using Methodology v1.1
Updated Jan 13, 2023
Tested Using Methodology v1.1
Updated Jan 13, 2023
The Oster waffle maker, with its metal lid and black plastic base, sits amidst its shipping box (left) and manual (right).
The silver Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian waffle maker presented on a table alongside the user manual and its shipping box.

Our Verdict

5.7
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    6.0/10
  • Design (20%)
    6.2/10
  • Ease of Use (30%)
    5.0/10
8.3
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    6.9/10
  • Design (20%)
    9.7/10
  • Ease of Use (30%)
    9.7/10

The Hamilton Beach 26031 is an easy pick between the two. With its flippable design, the 26031 can cook a waffle more evenly than the Oster.

Being a mid-range waffle maker, the Hamilton Beach designers have been more liberal with materials and the manufacturers more meticulous in production. The 26031 is built from premium stainless steel, and the waffle plates are made from ceramic. These materials give the waffle maker an expensive-looking shine.

The Oster didn’t do so well in this area. While the top lid is indeed made from metal, the build quality is poor. Many parts have visible cracks and dents right out of the box.

Aside from being cheaper, there’s no other reason for picking the Oster over the Hamilton Beach 26031.

Often Disappoint More than It Please

Oster Belgian Waffle Maker’s Performance

Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Maker’s Performance: Almost Excellent
6.0
Performance Scores
  • Self-Mixed Recipe (50%)5.2/10
  • Birch Benders Mix (50%)6.8/10
6.9
Performance Scores
  • Self-Mixed Recipe (50%)6.8/10
  • Birch Benders Mix (50%)7.1/10
5.2

Self-Mixed Recipe

6.8
Oster Belgian Self-Mixed Recipe
The very dark brown-dark gold top crust of a waffle baked for 5 minutes using our self-mixed recipe.
The very dark brown-dark gold bottom crust of a waffle baked for 5 minutes using our self-mixed recipe.
A cross-section of a waffle baked for 5 minutes using our self-mixed recipe. The interior is dense with few air bubbles.
A waffle, baked for 5 minutes, is torn by hands to test for its consistency. The interior of the waffle is revealed.
Color: 5
35% * 5 = 1.8
Texture: 5
25% * 5 = 1.3
Taste: 5.5
40% * 5.5 = 2.2
  • Heat Level: Max
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes

The Oster didn’t do well in our performance test. The coloration of the waffle—with its blotchy, charred crust—was disappointing. Cutting it open, the waffle had a dense and under-developed interior. It translated to an underwhelming mouthfeel in the taste test. And because the batter was only half-cooked, the waffle still tasted like raw batter.

Color (35%) — 5/10

  • Color result: Very dark brown - Dark gold (Both sides)
  • Color distribution: Even

The waffle’s crust was darkly colored, especially within the wells of the waffle, which had dark brown to very dark brown coloring. Fortunately, while they may look charred, we didn’t see any carbonization when we closely looked at each well.

Outside the wells, the waffle was a rather beautiful dark gold. But it’s still not enough for us to give the waffle a higher score than a five.

Both sides have roughly the same color gradient.

Texture (25%) — 5/10

  • Texture: Wet, mushy
  • Aeration level: Low

Despite the burnt-looking crust, the interior of the waffle wasn’t as well-developed as we had hoped. Air bubbles were visible, but they were small and few. Furthermore, the waffle’s core was dense and slightly mushy.

Taste (50%) — 5.5/10

  • Taste: Bland, bitter at charred spots.
  • Mouthfeel: Dry on the outside, mushy on the inside

The contrast between the overcooked outside and the undercooked inside makes for a disappointing tasting experience. There was a hint of the batter’s sweetness and buttery taste. However, the tastiness was ruined by the bitterness of the burnt crust and the egg-like taste of the undercooked core.

Ultimately, our chef rated the Oster waffle maker 5 out of 10.

Hamilton Beach 26031 Self-Made Recipe Video
The dark brown top of a waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker in 5 minutes.
The mottled, dark brown bottom of a waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker in 5 minutes.
The interior of the 5-minute waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 is shown, revealing large air cavities.
The waffle made by the Hamilton Beach 26031 in 5-minute is torn up by hands to test for consistency and texture.
Color: 6.3
35% * 6.3 = 2.2
Texture: 7
25% * 7 = 1.8
Taste: 7
40% * 7 = 2.8
  • Heat Level: Between 1 and 2
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Right away, we assessed the color of the waffle to be fairly disappointing. The color distribution was uneven, with light and dark spots mingling randomly on the crust. Texturally, the waffle was also unremarkable. The aeration rate was minimal, resulting in a rather dense waffle. But scoring picked up slightly in the taste department. Our chef rated the Hamilton Beach’s waffle sufficiently tasty for breakfasts and other light meals.

Color (35%) —6.3/10

  • Color result: Dark brown (Both)
  • Color distribution: Even

Both sides have roughly the same color shading. However, as a whole, both sides have uneven coloration. We noticed one side of the waffle tends to be more cooked than the rest of the waffle to the point of having a dark brown tone. Fortunately, this discolored patch wasn’t so cooked that it’s charred.

Dark spots tend to concentrate inside the wells of the waffle, too, giving the waffle a mottled appearance.

Texture (25%) — 7/10

  • Texture: Excellent
  • Aeration level: High, the interior was filled with large air cavities

The waffle’s interior doesn’t aerate well. Cutting it open, we observed the core to have a very dense structure with few air bubbles. The result is a sub-par waffle with a mushy texture rather than a soft, fluffy consistency like we hoped.

Taste (40%) — 7/10

  • Flavor: Sweet with hints of bitterness at charred spots
  • Mouthfeel: Soft, dry at charred spots

The taste was great, according to our chef. The Hamilton Beach 26031 was able to bring out the full flavor profile of the recipe. The waffle was buttery and sweet, with a hint of saltiness. Unfortunately, our chef assessed that it hadn't reached the point of being "restaurant-quality". Still, it will suffice for people wanting to cook quick breakfasts with this waffle maker.

6.8

Birch Benders Mix

7.1
Oster Belgian Birch Benders Mix Video
The very light gold-dark brown top crust of a waffle baked for 3 minutes using a batter made from the Birch Benders mix.
The very light gold-dark brown bottom crust of a waffle baked for 3 minutes using a batter made from the Birch Benders mix.
The interior of a waffle baked for 3 minutes using a Birch Benders batter mix. Small air cavities can be seen within.
A waffle, baked for 3 minutes using our Birch Benders batter mix, is torn down the middle by hands. The interior can be seen.
Color: 6.3
35% * 6.3 = 2.2
Texture: 6.5
25% * 6.5 = 1.6
Taste: 7.5
40% * 7.5 = 3.0
  • Heat Level: Max
  • Cooking Time: 3 minutes

Although color distribution is uneven, the brighter and more palatable color tones are a big step up. The interior has developed this time, resulting in a soft and fluffy waffle. Our chef also rated the waffle’s taste highly, appreciating its sweetness and velvety texture.

Color (35%) — 6.3/10

  • Color result: Very light gold and dark brown (Both)
  • Color distribution: Uneven

Coloration is slightly better this time around with the pre-made mix. Unfortunately, the difference between this one and the earlier sample made from our self-mixed batter isn’t drastic enough to give it a significant score boost.

The color tone is better with a nice golden brown shade at the center of the waffle. Surrounding the center is a noticeable “ring” of burnt batter that ruins the aesthetic of the waffle. Out along the edges, the crust there has a light gold of undercooked batter.

It’s because of this unequal distribution of colors is the reason why it doesn’t get a higher score in this segment.

Texture (25%) — 6.5/10

  • Texture: Mediocre
  • Aeration level: Medium; air bubbles were beginning to form, but their sizes were still small

Texture is acceptable. Despite the unattractive coloring, the inside of the waffle has nicely developed. The aeration process has formed a lot of tiny air bubbles on the inside, creating a soft, fluffy texture. Although it is not excellent, the texture of this one is at least acceptable.

Taste (50%) — 7.5/10

  • Flavor: Sweet
  • Mouthfeel: Soft, no excessively dry spots

Taste is the best part of this test. Compared to the earlier test done with self-mixed batter, the sample produced with the pre-made mix tastes better, according to our chef. Because there’s very minimal burnt spots, the flavor is sweet without any hint of bitterness. This, combined with the fluffy texture, creates a decently-tasting waffle that comes closer to the “restaurant-quality waffle” slogan that Oster has placed in its advertisements.

Hamilton Beach 26031 Birch Benders Mix Video
The light gold top of a waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker in 6 minutes using the Birch Benders mix.
The light gold bottom of a waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker in 6 minutes using the Birch Benders mix.
A close-up of the interior of the waffle cooked by the Hamilton Beach 26031 in 6 minutes, filled with air bubbles and small cavities.
The 6-minute waffle of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is torn in half by hands to test for the consistency and texture.
Color: 6.5
35% * 6.5 = 2.3
Texture: 6.5
25% * 6.5 = 1.6
Taste: 8
40% * 8 = 3.2
  • Heat Level: Between 1 and 2
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes

The coloration of the waffle made using the Birch Benders mix was a very light gold tone, giving it an undercooked-looking appearance. And indeed, the interior wasn’t as developed as the last waffle made in the test with the self-made recipe. However, our chef rated this waffle to be tastier overall.

Color (35%) — 6.5/10

  • Color result: Very light gold (Both)
  • Color distribution: Uneven

At these optimal conditions, the pre-made mix gave us a more attractively colored waffle than did our self-made recipe. It had a nicer blonde tone that looked much more inviting. However, the color uniformity isn’t as good as we had hoped. The waffle maker was unable to maintain an even color throughout — one half looked lighter than the other.

Texture (25%) — 6.5/10

  • Texture: Mediocre
  • Aeration level: Medium, air bubbles could be seen, but haven’t fully bloomed to their full sizes

Texture was significantly improved compared to the waffle produced using our self-made batter. The inside of the waffle appeared well-developed, with air bubbles filling out the waffle’s structure. That resulted in a very soft and pliable waffle. However, it wasn’t aerated enough to hide the slight mushy texture.

Taste (40%) — 8/10

  • Flavor: Sweet, no hint of bitterness
  • Mouthfeel: Soft and pliant, slightly mushy

Our chef awarded the Hamilton Beach 26031 a good score for this category. The aesthetically-pleasing coloring and the soft texture made for a pleasant tasting experience. In terms of flavor, the waffle was sweet. Since it didn’t have any charred patches, that flavor profile was consistent and never bitter. Unfortunately, the slight mushiness of the waffle negatively impacted its scoring a little.

Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian Waffle Maker’s Design

Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker’s Design
6.2
design Scores
  • Build Quality (60%)4.5/10
  • Waffle Plates (30%)8.5/10
  • Control Panel (10%)9.0/10
9.7
design Scores
  • Build Quality (60%)9.5/10
  • Waffle Plates (30%)10/10
  • Control Panel (10%)10/10

What’s In the Box of the Oster Belgian Stainless Steel Waffle Maker?

What’s In the Box of the Hamilton Beach Waffle Maker?
The Oster waffle maker, with its stainless steel top lid and black plastic detailing, is placed next to its manual.
  • Oster waffle maker
  • User manual

In the box, you get the waffle maker and a simple user manual. There are no extra accessories. This is not surprising considering the budget price point of this waffle maker.

The Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian waffle maker (26031) is on a table next to the included drip tray and the user manual.
  • Waffle maker’s body
  • Two (2) Belgian-style grid plates
  • One (1) removable drip tray
  • User manual

Within the shipping box, you get the waffle maker itself, two (2) removable Belgian-style waffle plates, a drip tray, and the manual.

The waffle maker comes wrapped in a protective plastic bag with some thick foam blocks as padding. Other accessories are only wrapped in plastic without extra padding.

While simple plastic wrap is okay for the plastic drip tray and manual, we felt some concern for the waffle plates. Since they’re made from brittle ceramic, we would appreciate a little padding for them too.

Dimensions

Dimensions of Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker
The physical dimensions of the Oster Belgian waffle maker. The length is 10 inches, height 4 inches, and width 8 inches.
  • Length:
    10.0" (25.4 cm)
  • Width:
    8.0" (20.3 cm)
  • Height:
    4.0" (10.2 cm)
  • Weight:
    3.2 lbs (1.5 kg)

The Oster waffle maker is quite compact. Thanks to its size, it won’t take up much space on the countertop, and storage is easy. Notably, you can also store the waffle maker standing upright (vertical).

The Hamilton Beach 26031 on a table with measured dimensions marked next to it, the length is displayed as 16.5 inches, width is 8 inches, and height is 8.7 inches.
The Hamilton Beach 26031 on a table with measured dimensions marked next to it, the length is displayed as 16.5 inches, width is 8 inches, and height is 8.7 inches.
Hamilton Beach 26031 Dimension Video
  • Length:
    16.5" (41.9 cm)
  • Width:
    8.0" (20.3 cm)
  • Height:
    8.7" (22.1 cm)
  • Weight:
    3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)

Because the Hamilton Beach 26031 is a flip-style waffle maker, it is taller than your average non-flip model. At just over 9 inches tall, there’s ample clearance for the plates to smoothly turn.

The machine weighs 3.06 pounds, which is about average for a waffle maker.

For easier storage, it comes with a foldable handle.

4.5

Build Quality

9.5
The side profile of the Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian waffle maker. The stainless steel lid is blemished from daily use.
The side profile of the Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian waffle maker. The stainless steel lid is blemished from daily use.
Oster Waffle Maker  Build Quality Video
The back side of the Oster Belgian waffle maker. The power cables can be in-between the gaps created by the plastic hinges.

The stainless steel housing gives the Oster waffle maker a sharper, pricier look. However, the waffle maker’s rough edges are clearly revealed when you scrutinize it up close. Fingerprints can easily smudge the stainless steel surface. Even when you lightly scrape the surface with your fingernails, ugly scratches can appear on the metal.

After a couple of days in the lab, the top surface of the waffle maker lost its original shine. We couldn’t restore it even after several attempts at wiping it down and polishing it.

Like most affordable waffle makers, detailing like the handle, base, and control panel section are made from plastic. They look and feel cheap.

Build quality is poor on the review unit we received. The lid’s hinges are loose and rattle even when lightly tugged. On the backside, we found poorly tooled parts with rough edges, scrapes, and dents. Worse still, the backside of the waffle maker has gaps that reveal its guts, exposing its internal wiring and circuits.

For these reasons, we assess the Oster’s construction quality as mediocre at best and sub-par at worst.

A close-up shot of the Hamilton Beach Belgian waffle maker (26031) control panel section made from black plastic, with the browning control knob and the indicator lights in focus.

The housing of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is made from brushed stainless steel. All other parts, including the control panel, handle, and raised base, are black plastic. There are rubber feet at the bottom to keep the waffle maker from slipping.

The numerous plastic parts in the 26031’s design are a drawback in terms of durability. The important components like the handle lock, spin lock, and waffle plate latches are made of simple molded plastic. They may not last as long as metal or metal-reinforced parts and are more prone to breakage or cracking.

8.5

Waffle Plates

10
An overview of the waffle plates of the Oster waffle maker. It’s made from cast aluminum and has Belgian-style patterning.
An overview of the waffle plates of the Oster waffle maker. It’s made from cast aluminum and has Belgian-style patterning.
A close-up of the black, cast aluminum waffle plate of the Oster waffle maker.
  • Number of Plates:
    2
  • Grid Pattern:
    Belgian-style
  • Plate Area:
    7.8 inch2
  • Plate Length:
    7.1" (18.0 cm)
  • Plate Width:
    7.1" (18.0 cm)
  • Material:
    Die-cast aluminum
  • Non Stick Coating:
    Yes
  • Removable:
    No
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    No

The waffle plates are made from die-cast aluminum. It is imprinted with the classic Belgian-style grid pattern. The total diameter of the waffle plate (with the outer anti-spill moat included) is 7.8 inches. It is able to produce a 7-inch waffle.

According to Oster, the non-stick coating is food-grade polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE — also known as Teflon), and has been approved by the USDA.

The inclusion of PTFE can be a deal-breaker for many. However, note that, unlike PFOA, PTFE is inert and relatively harmless at temperatures under 400°F. Only when the temperature exceeds 400°F can the PTFE coating become a problem by releasing toxic gasses. During normal operation, the waffle maker isn’t going to come even close to this threshold. Thus, the waffle plates are still classed as safe for use.

The waffle plates are not removable.

An overview of the bronze-colored, Belgian-style waffle plates of the Hamilton Beach Flip waffle maker 26031.
An overview of the bronze-colored, Belgian-style waffle plates of the Hamilton Beach Flip waffle maker 26031.
A close-up of the bronze-color, Belgian-style waffle plate of the Hamilton Beach flip Belgian waffle maker 26031.
A close-up of the yellow waffle plate release latch on the top handle of the Hamilton Beach waffle maker with removable plates 26031.
The gray, metallic heating elements of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is revealed after the ceramic, bronze-colored waffle plates are taken off.
  • Number of Plates:
    2
  • Grid Pattern:
    Belgian-style
  • Plate Area:
    50.27 inch2
  • Plate Length:
    8.0" (20.3 cm)
  • Plate Width:
    8.0" (20.3 cm)
  • Material:
    Cast aluminum
  • Non Stick Coating:
    Yes
  • Removable:
    Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    Yes

The set of waffle plates is made from cast aluminum and is coated in a layer of ceramic non-stick (Durathon®). The non-stick layer works excellently. We’ve never had to deal with a stick in all of our tests. Even the batch that came out undercooked and was still semi-liquid didn’t stick to the plates.

With the 26031 model, the two plates are copper-colored. If you get the 26030 model, the plates will be black. The difference between them is purely aesthetic. Both have the same design and identical performance.

Both plates are removable and are dishwasher-safe. You can remove the plates by working the yellow latches at the front of the waffle maker.

9.0

Control Panel

10
The control panel of the Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian waffle maker. There’s the browning control knob and the indicator lights.
  • Indicator Lights:
    Yes
  • Audible Alarm:
    No
  • Timer:
    No
  • Browning Control:
    Yes

Though the control interface is barebones, that is to be expected for such an affordable waffle maker. There are two indicator lights. One will glow red when you plug it in (POWER light), and the other green light will light up when the waffle maker is heated to the correct temperature.

Above the indicator lights is a temperature control knob. The knob takes some force to turn and makes a distinct clicking sound as it does so.

Close-up of Hamilton Beach 26031 control panel: browning dial and indicator lights with clear white markings on the side to inform you of their functions.
Close-up of Hamilton Beach 26031 control panel: browning dial and indicator lights with clear white markings on the side to inform you of their functions.
Hamilton Beach 26031 Control Panel video
  • Indicator Lights:
    Yes
  • Audible Alarm:
    No
  • Timer:
    No
  • Browning Control:
    Yes

For such a nice waffle maker, the control panel is very simplistic.

There are two indicator lights: a red POWER light and a green READY light. The POWER indicator turns on when the waffle maker is plugged in. Once it reaches the optimal cooking temperature, the READY light will illuminate. The latter will continuously cycle on and off during cooking as temperature fluctuates.

A second READY button can be found on the underside of the housing. It’s there for when you flip the waffle maker.

Underneath the indicator lights is the browning control dial. There are four settings: MIN, 1, 2, and 3. Each corresponds to a browning level, with MIN being the lightest and 3 being the darkest.

Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian Waffle Maker’s Power Cord

Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian Waffle Maker’s Power Cord
The power cord of the Oster Belgian waffle maker.
The power cord of the Oster Belgian waffle maker.
The Type A plug attachment of the Oster Belgian waffle maker’s power cord.
  • Plug Style:
    Type A (Flat Blade Attachment Plug)
  • Length:
    2.3 ft (0.7 m)
  • Cable Management:
    Yes

The unit’s power cord is short. You will either have to move the waffle maker very close to a power outlet or use an extension cord.

The back foot of the waffle maker has a grommet. You can wrap the power cord around it for easier management and storage. However, since there’s no lock or notch to hold the cord in place, it can unravel easily.

A close-up of the power cord of the Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker, focused on the prongs of the plug.
  • Plug Style:
    Type A (Flat Blade Attachment Plug)
  • Length:
    2.2 ft (0.7 m)
  • Cable Management:
    No

The power cord is quite short. It may be inconvenient if your kitchen doesn’t have many power outlets. In that case, an extension cord will prove useful.

N/A

Accessories

Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian's Drip Tray
  • Material:
    N/A
  • Removable:
    N/A
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    N/A

The Oster waffle maker doesn’t come with any extra accessories. Once again, at this price point, that’s what we expected.

The removable black plastic drip tray of the Hamilton Beach 26031.
  • Material:
    Plastic
  • Removable:
    Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    Yes

The drip tray is removable and goes into a slot directly under the waffle maker’s body. It is made from a lightweight, heat-resistant plastic. The tray is dishwasher-safe.

Ease of Use

Oster Belgian Waffle Maker Review

Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker Review: Ease of Use
5.0
usability Scores
  • Handling (25%)6.5/10
  • Safety (40%)1.7/10
  • Cleanability (25%)9.0/10
  • Indicator Light Visibility (10%)4.5/10
9.7
usability Scores
  • Handling (25%)9.5/10
  • Safety (40%)10/10
  • Cleanability (25%)9.5/10
  • Indicator Light Visibility (10%)9.0/10
6.5

Handling

9.5

Generally speaking, the Oster waffle maker is easy to handle. Even when it’s heated up, the large plastic handle at the front remains cool to the touch. However, the lid’s hinges are shaky. They make the closing and opening motion a bit awkward.

The Hamilton Beach 26031 handles well. Opening the waffle maker is simple, and the baking chamber's turning motion is smooth.

The only problem we encountered while testing this model was the lid-locking mechanism. When you flip the waffle maker back and forth, there’s a lock to prevent you from opening the lid during the turn or while it’s upside-down. Sometimes, the lid would remain locked in place even when we flipped the waffle maker upright and returned it to its original position.

Luckily, it’s not a difficult problem to solve. Just jiggle the lid a little, and the lock will disengage.

1.7

Safety

10
The temperature of the base of the Oster waffle maker is measured with a thermometer. The screen reads 143.4°F.
The temperature of the base of the Oster waffle maker is measured with a thermometer. The screen reads 143.4°F.
The temperature of the front handle of the Oster waffle maker is measured with a thermometer. The screen reads 189°F.
The temperature of the control panel of the Oster waffle maker is measured with a thermometer. The screen reads 176.9°F.
  • Top Side Temperature:
    176°F
  • Bottom Side Temperature:
    143°F
  • Handle Temperature:
    189°F

Using a thermometer, we checked the temperature of the waffle maker’s various parts.

The handle was dangerously hot, with a temperature of 189°F. After several cooking sessions, the heat from the heating element and the hot steam raised the handle’s temperature to the point that it could easily cause a burn injury. This is the most serious safety problem of the Oster.

Not just the handle, the control panel area was also piping hot at 176°F.

On the underside of the waffle maker, the front plastic “leg” got quite toasty at 143°F.

So, be careful if you pick up the waffle maker by grabbing the bottom legs. The front part may be quite hot.

The exposed electronics and wiring on the backside could turn the machine into an electrical hazard. A point was further deducted from the overall score.

The temperature on the control panel of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is being measured using a thermometer during a thermal safety test. The display reads 142.3°F.
The temperature on the control panel of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is being measured using a thermometer during a thermal safety test. The display reads 142.3°F.
The temperature on the cool-touch handle of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is being measured using a thermometer during a thermal safety test. The display reads 90.3°F.
The temperature on the Hamilton Beach 26031’s base is being measured using a thermometer during a thermal safety test. The display reads 88.3°F.
  • Top Side Temperature:
     142°F
  • Bottom Side Temperature:
    90°F
  • Handle Temperature:
     88°F

We assessed the safety level of this waffle maker to be high. The top side doesn’t get too hot during or after cooking. Thanks to the elongated handle, you can open and close the lid without heat from the waffle plates radiating onto your hand the way many other models do.

After a few cooking sessions, we recorded a temperature of 152.2°F in the control panel section. It’s merely warm, not hot.

The other parts, like the base and the handle, remained at room temperature. They were perfectly safe to touch.

9.0

Cleanability

9.5
Excess batter spilling out from the waffle plates of the Oster waffle maker.

The Oster receives a good score in cleanability. Although it doesn't have a drip tray for spilled batter, it can be dealt with fairly easily when a batter spill does happen. Even when the batter dries out and settles on the waffle maker’s body, all surfaces can be scrubbed down easily with a dash of mild detergent.

Hamilton Beach 26031 Cleanability

In terms of cleanability, the Hamilton Beach 26031 gets a rare near-perfect score.

The included drip tray does a great job at catching spilled waffle batter. Since it is made from smooth plastic, dried batter doesn’t stick to the tray. It can be washed off easily with water alone — no soap required.

You can remove the waffle plates and put them into a dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, just rinse them with tap water. The non-stick layer should prevent dried batter and debris from collecting, so a cursory wash is usually all that’s needed to get them spick and span again.

We were able to clean the waffle maker’s body and most of its parts with only tissues and a dry cloth. The only section that was a challenge to clean was the space around the waffle-plate latches. Dried batter can infiltrate deep into the tiny details surrounding the latches, making it very hard to clean thoroughly.

4.5

Indicator Light Visibility

9.0
The indicator lights of the Oster waffle maker. To the left is the red POWER light, and the right is the green READY light.

The unit we received has very dim indicator lights. Under normal lighting conditions, the two lights are hardly visible.

It’s only when we cupped our hands above the lights to shade them from the ceiling lights that the indicators became clear. The lights aren't visible in harsh daylight and studio lights.

A close-up of the lit-up indicator lights of the Hamilton Beach 26031. Both the green READY light and the red POWER light are on.
A close-up of the lit-up indicator lights of the Hamilton Beach 26031. Both the green READY light and the red POWER light are on.
A view of the green READY light at the back of the Hamilton Beach 26031 when it’s flipped over.

All three indicator lights (two on top and one on the bottom) are bright. In low-light or normal lighting conditions, the bulbs can be seen clearly. Even under harsh studio lighting, we still didn’t have any issue with them.