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Hamilton Beach 26031 Belgian Waffle Maker In-depth Review

The Hamilton Beach 26031 is one of the best-performing models on our list. We also don’t have much to complain about in terms of design or ease of use, either. For a mid-range Belgian waffle maker, the Hamilton Beach 26031 is a superb buy.

By , , , and ·Updated
Tested Using Methodology v1.1
Hamilton Beach 26031 waffle maker with its drip tray filled with freshly-baked waffles against a blurry blue and red background.

Overall Verdict

For over a week, we tested the Hamilton Beach 26031 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 has a premium, solid design on the same par as pricey models like the Bella 13991 flippable waffle maker. 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

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 Belgian-style waffle cooker doesn’t live up to its reputation in a real kitchen.

So, we bought one and put it through its paces in the lab to see how it fares compared to other models on the market. Here are the full test results!

Key Specs

Features
Rotating baking chamber, removable ceramic waffle plates, indicator lights
Adjustable Settings
None
Dimensions
L16.5 x W8 x H8.7 inches
Material
Stainless steel/plastic housing; ceramic nonstick baking plates
Weight
3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)
Waffle diameter
7 inches

Where to Buy Price at publication $57.79

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Compared to Other Waffle Makers

Ranking by
Showing: 8/16 Items

Analysis and Test Results

7.0 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.

6.8 Self-Mixed Recipe

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.
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.

7.1 Birch Benders Mix

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.
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.

9.7 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.

In the Box

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

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.

9.5 Build Quality

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.

10 Waffle Plates

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 inch
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.

It’s one of the only two waffle makers in our database with removable plates, the other being the DASH No-Drip waffle maker.

10 Control Panel

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.

Power Cord

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.

Drip Tray

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.

9.7 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.

9.5 Handling

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.

10 Safety

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.

9.5 Cleanability

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.

9.0 Indicator Light Visibility

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.

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