The Bella 13991 outperformed many expensive Belgian-style waffle models in our performance tests. While the coloration of the waffles wasn’t too great, the texture and taste were quite good.
It has a stately, compact design and is very easy to use and handle. Cleaning the waffle maker is painless, thanks to an included drip tray.
It’s a shame that the waffle maker has fairly poor build quality (despite the beautiful design). It also has a few concerning safety issues. These can be deal-breakers for some people.
Wants to see some alternatives? You can see our listing of the top Belgian models through this link.
Things We Like
- Did a good job in both of our performance tests
- Overall design looks very premium
- The non-stick coating functions well
Things We Don’t Like
- Poor build quality
- The lid is dangerously loose
For an entry-level waffle maker, the Bella 13991 offers a decent bang for your buck. It has an attractive, durable stainless steel body arranged in a rotating design. Based on looks alone, it's easy to see why it's become such a hit with over 15,000 users.
But whether it lives up to expectations is a different matter. That’s why we’ve bought a review unit for our lab and put it through its paces to see if it would live up to the top-performing waffle makers.
Here are our test results!
Where to Buy Price at publication $39.99
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Compared to Other Waffle Makers
7.0 Performance: Not Great, Not Terrible
Although our first impression of the waffle maker wasn’t great due to some glaring design issues, the Bella waffle maker did fairly well across both waffle test recipes. The texture and flavor of its waffles were great — they’re not restaurant-level, but they aren’t bad for family breakfasts and light meals.
6.9 Self-Mixed Recipe
The coloration was decent despite the waffle’s wells looking slightly burnt, and some spots on the crust looked undercooked. It received only a passable grade due to having a low aeration rate. Fortunately, it picked up the slack with its tastiness.
Color (6.25) — 35%
- Color tone: Very dark brown - Light brown (both)
- Color distribution: Even
The crust was a bit dark, but there were no signs of charring. Dark spots mostly focused within the wells of the waffle. Outside the wells, the waffle mostly had a pretty light brown color.
But since it was darker than ideal, we couldn’t give it a higher score than a “good” 6.25.
Texture (6) — 25%
- Texture: Mediocre
- Aeration level: Medium; air bubbles have begun filling the interior of the waffle. However, their sizes were small, and their numbers were few.
Air bubbles have begun to fill the interior of the waffle. Unfortunately, they haven’t developed to their full sizes just yet. All the bubbles we saw were small, concentrating mostly near the crust, while the core of the waffle was dense.
Taste (8) — 40%
- Flavor: Sweet with a buttery aftertaste
- Mouthfeel: Slightly mushy
Our chef rated the waffle highly, citing its sweet flavor and buttery aftertaste. And though the mouthfeel was a bit underwhelming, it didn’t seriously affect the waffle’s quality.
7.2 Birch Benders Mix
In this test, the Bella waffle maker did a slightly better job, but not by a lot.
Coloration is visibly improved with a more even, prettier coloration. Unfortunately, because the waffle is peppered with air pockets, it has several discolored spots. The texture is decent, but its aeration level is still low, resulting in a mushy texture. The mushy texture is one of the reasons why our chef didn't give the waffle a high score on the taste test.
Color (8/10) — 35%
- Color tone: Light gold (Both)
- Color distribution: Even
The crust on both sides of the waffle maker had a beautiful golden-brown color. On the crust were large formations of air bubbles, which had a pale yellow color of undercooked batter. Besides ruining the overall look of the waffle, they also messed with the color palette.
Texture (7.8/10) — 25%
- Texture: Good
- Aeration level: Medium; air bubbles have begun to develop, but they haven’t reached their maximum sizes
The waffle has filled out well with a thick, soft interior. It has a medium aeration rate, evidenced by the many tiny air bubbles within its core. The bubbles were in the process of forming and expanding, but the aeration process was cut short before it could reach completion. Thus, while the waffle was soft and spongy, it was still too moist on the inside to receive a higher score.
Taste (6/10) — 40%
- Flavor: Sweet and slightly savory, cloying in undercooked parts
- Mouthfeel: Soft and spongy for the most parts, mushy in certain spots
As a whole, the waffle’s flavor profile was decent. It had the signature sweet and slightly savory taste of the Birch Benders mix. However, certain parts of the waffle were undercooked and gave it an off-putting cloying taste, which negatively impacted its scoring on this test.
With its glossy stainless steel exterior similar to pricier models like the Cuisinart WAF-F20P1 or the Hamilton Beach 26031, the Bella 13991 has all the hallmarks of a premium machine. But upon closer inspection, we found that the build quality isn’t very high, mainly due to the dangerously wobbly lid.
Apart from this glitch, other components of the Bella 13991, like the waffle plates, control panel, and power cord, are all up-to-par.
In the Box
- Bella Classic Rotating Waffle Maker (13991)
- User manual
- Drip tray
The box includes the waffle maker, a user manual, and a drip tray.
The Bella 13991 is more difficult to store due to its rotating design, which brings its height to 7.3 inches. Fortunately, Bella makes storage less annoying by making the handle foldable. The waffle maker's footprint can be reduced with the handle folded and the body rotated vertically.
7.0 Build Quality
The Bella 13991's body is made from stainless steel with a mirror finish, which gives it a somewhat premium look. However, we noticed that the mirror finish could be smudged easily and is highly susceptible to scratches. However, a much more serious issue was the extremely loose lid hinge. Whenever it's opened or adjusted, the lid wobbles dangerously.
9.0 Waffle Plates
The waffle plates are cast aluminum coated with a layer of PFOA-free Teflon. In all of our tests, the non-stick coating worked perfectly. The waffles slid cleanly off the plates without leaving messy residue behind.
A small anti-spill moat runs around the perimeter of each plate. The moat is too small to catch big spills, which isn’t particularly helpful.
8.5 Control Panel
The temperature dial turns smoothly but doesn’t have any specific temperature notches or settings. Instead, there are only “Min” and a “Max” labels on either side. The user can tune the dial to any arbitrary point in between.
You will find a red POWER button under the dial, which shines when you plug in the waffle maker. The blue READY button beside it will light up when the plates are thoroughly heated and ready for use.
The power cord is relatively short, so you may have to use an extension cord. There is no cable management feature on the Bella 13991.
Accessories: Drip Tray
A drip tray accompanies the waffle maker in the shipping box. It slides in underneath the waffle maker’s body. The tray does a great job of catching spilled batter. It is removable and dishwasher-safe.
6.8 Ease of Use
The Bella 13991’s flimsy construction didn’t do very well in both our handling and safety tests, but it scored points for being very easy to clean. Overall, the waffle maker only squeaked past the test by a hair.
It failed the handling test due to the dangerously loose lid. Whenever we started a new waffle, we had to hold the lid with one hand while pouring with the other. If we dared remove that stabilizing hand, the lid had a good chance of snapping shut unexpectedly.
Except for this critical issue, the Bella 13991 is easy to use. The control panel is simple, and the waffle maker turns smoothly. A lock is built into the handle and keeps the lid securely shut when the waffle maker is flipped.
The unsteady lid is a serious safety issue. Fortunately, aside from the lid, we didn’t find any other significant safety problems.
The top of the lid got warm — but not dangerously so — at 147°F.
Both the handle and the base remained cool to the touch. The measured temperatures in these areas were respectively 90° and 85° after several rounds of testings.
The Bella 13991 is very easy to clean. Though it’s prone to fingerprint smudges and scratches, the metal surfaces can be cleaned and polished with mild detergent. The waffle plates only need to be wiped down with paper towels every once in a while to get rid of waffle debris. We also don't find it difficult to scrub dried batter off the plastic parts of the waffle maker.
When a spill happens, the large drip tray can catch every droplet. The tray can be washed by hand or loaded into a dishwasher.
5.0 Indicator Light Visibility
The lights are very dim. It’s almost impossible to see them from afar under harsh lighting. Even with some ambient lights turned off, the indicator lights are still faint.
Behind the review
Matthew Lee is a writer and editor for HealthyKitchen101. With over 8 years working for various outlets and agencies, specializing in tech review and other subjects of note, such as current affairs.
Lap is Head of the Research, Testing, and Review Team (RTR Team) at HealthyKitchen101.com, where he directs and supervises the testing of kitchen gadgets and appliances.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef passionate about delicious and healthful foods. At HealthyKitchen101, she develops recipes and collaborates with our Research, Testing, and Review lab to evaluate the performance of cooking appliances. Her assessments add a strong authoritative voice to our product scoring process.
Nguyen Ntk is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer whose philosophy centers around respecting and celebrating the beauty of reality. Through his lenses, Nguyen strives to capture the true essence of objects and events, showcasing and highlighting authentic features without distortion or exaggeration.