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Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian Waffle Maker In-depth Review
Hamilton Beach 26031 Specifications
For over a week, we tested the Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian Waffle Maker with many waffle recipes and handled everything reliably. The waffles it produced were well-browned as well as tasty. They weren’t perfect: some waffles were slightly mushy. But despite that, the Hamilton Beach 26031 is a good waffle maker for breakfasts.
The Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker has a premium, solid design. Better yet, the controls are simplistic and straightforward.
Thus, considering the quality of its performance and design, the Hamilton Beach 26031 is an excellent candidate if you’re looking for a flippable waffle maker.
Things We Like
- Luxurious aesthetic by incorporating premium materials (stainless steel and ceramic)
- Does a great job in all of our performance tests
- Removable and washable waffle plates
- Easy to clean thanks to the included drip tray
Things We Don’t Like
- The spin-lock mechanism at the handle is finicky
- Updated Sep 14, 2022:
Converted to Test Methodology v1.1
- Updated Jun 28, 2022:
Flippable waffle makers like the Hamilton Beach 26031 are a step above traditional designs. Mounted on top of a raised base, you can rotate the waffle maker 180° using the handle. The flipping motion helps the waffle maker produce more consistent and evenly-browned waffles than static versions.
The Hamilton Beach flip Belgian waffle maker (26031) is relatively affordable and has a high rating on the market. Still, none of that matters if the waffle maker doesn’t live up to its reputation in a real kitchen. We decided to buy one to put it through its paces. See for yourself if it’s worth adding to your kitchen.
Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Maker’s Performance: Almost Excellent
The Hamilton Beach 26031 did excellently in all of our cooking test sessions. The texture and taste of the waffles were impressive, according to our chef. However, the coloration of the waffles could still be improved. Most of the waffles we made had dark colorings, which wasn’t ideal.
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.
7.1Birch Benders Mix
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.
Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker’s Design
The Hamilton Beach 26031 boasts a sleek, luxurious design crafted from stainless steel. We’re quite impressed with the build quality of the ceramic waffle plates. The smooth coating and solid feel of the plates in hand leave no doubt that Hamilton Beach has paid close attention to its construction.
We also liked the control panel. It’s highly intuitive and easy to use, consisting of a single dial for controlling the browning level and two indicator lights.
What’s In the Box of the Hamilton Beach Waffle Maker?
- 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 of Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian Waffle Maker’s Power Cord
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.
Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian's Drip Tray
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.
Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker Review: Ease of Use
The Hamilton Beach 26031 has been given a high ease of use score thanks to the simple controls and effortless operation.
Our trials revealed that the lid and flipping mechanism worked wonders. Safety tests also showed that the Hamilton Beach 26031 is generally safe for most people to use — no excessive hot spots or structural flaws.
To make things even better, the waffle maker already included a drip tray and removable plates, making it a breeze to clean.
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.
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.
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.
9.0Indicator Light Visibility
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.
Compared to Other Waffle Makers
So far, the Hamilton Beach 26031 is only second to the Cuisinart WAF-F20P1 in cooking performance. But at half the price, the Hamilton Beach can be a better choice for some people than the pricey Cuisinart.
Alternatives include the Bella 13991 flippable waffle maker. This one doesn't perform as well, but it is more affordable and has the same essential functions. Another model you can consider is the BLACK+DECKER WMD200B. It has a double-sided design that's perfect for bulk cooking.
This model was picked as the runner-up, best-to-buy waffle maker in our listing!
If you’re searching for only the best Belgian-style waffle makers, see our best Belgian waffle makers listing here for the best models currently available.
About your guide
Matthew is one of the writers at Healthy Kitchen 101. Working as part of the Review Team, he directly contributes to the production of content for the site’s Product Review pages. Much like the other members of staff, he strives to bring you the most authentic and accurate reviews of kitchen appliances as possible.
Lap Vo is head of the Research, Testing, and Review Team (the RTR) at Healthy Kitchen 101. He is responsible for designing and overseeing the testing of kitchen tools and appliances.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.