Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Maker Review

Matthew Lee
Reviewer
Tuyet Pham
Culinary Consultant
Lap Vo
Test Lead
Nguyen Ntk
Visual Specialist
Updated
Tested Methodology v1.0
Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker 26031 Hands-on Review
Power: 800W

Overall Verdict

8.4
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    7.2/10
  • Usability (30%)
    9.7/10
  • Design (20%)
    9.7/10

For over a week, we tested the Hamilton Beach 26031 with many waffle recipes, and it was able to handle 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. 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 is a step up from the traditional design. Mounted on top of a raised base, you can rotate the waffle maker 180° by the handle. The flipping motion helps the waffle maker to produce more consistent and evenly-browned waffles compared to their static counterpart.

The Hamilton Beach flip Belgian waffle maker (26031) is relatively affordable and has a high rating on the market. Still, none of that would matter if the waffle maker doesn’t live up to its reputation in a real kitchen. So, we had a unit delivered to our lab and it got put through its paces. See the test results here.

Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Maker In-depth Review

Performance

How We Tested
7.2
Performance Scores
  • Self-Mixed Recipe (50%)
    7.4/10
  • Birch Benders Mix (50%)
    7.1/10

The Hamilton Beach 26031 did relatively well in both of our tests. The texture and taste of the waffles it made were all judged to be above-average by our chef. However, the coloration of the waffles tends to be on the darker side.

7.4

Self-Mixed Recipe

Hamilton Beach 26031 Self-Made Recipe Top
Hamilton Beach 26031 Self-Made Recipe Bottom
Hamilton Beach 26031 Self-Made Recipe Texture
Hamilton Beach 26031 Self-Made Recipe Taste
Color: 6.5
35% * 6.5 = 2.3
Texture: 8
25% * 8 = 2.0
Taste: 7.75
40% * 7.75 = 3.1
  • Heat Level: Between 1 and 2
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes

The color tone has a dark brown shade, which is unideal. Nonetheless, the soft, fluffy texture of the interior and the flavorful taste more than made up for the mediocre coloration.

Color (35%) —6.5/10

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

After spending 5 minutes on the waffle plates, the top side of the waffle was pretty decent looking. While it leaned toward the darker side, it wasn’t so dark as to appear burnt. The coloration was relatively even throughout the entire waffle, only appearing a little darker in the pockets. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to be charred — merely crispier and a bit drier than the surrounding lighter spots.

The bottom was where this waffle took a hit in terms of coloring. While it still managed to maintain the same shade of brown as the top, a few parts of the waffle’s bottom were burnt. These burnt sections were mostly concentrated inside the indents. They were tough to the touch and tasted dry and bitter.

Texture (25%) — 8/10

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

The waffle’s interior was fluffy and well aerated. However, our chef ruled that the batter was still a bit under-developed and had a slight mushiness to it.

Taste (40%) — 7.75/10

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

Lastly, in terms of the general flavor, the waffle gets a decent mark. Despite its flaws, the waffle produced by the Hamilton Beach 26031 still tasted sweet and soft. The burnt spots here and there negatively affected the mouthfeel and flavor with its dry texture and bitter tang. Nonetheless, these spots didn’t affect the tasting experience so much that the entire waffle would get a mediocre or sub-par score.

7.1

Birch Benders Mix

Hamilton Beach 26031 Birch Benders Mix Top
Hamilton Beach 26031 Birch Benders Mix Bottom
Hamilton Beach 26031 Birch Benders Mix Texture
Hamilton Beach 26031 Birch Benders Mix Taste
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. Overall, we think it could’ve been better, but on balance, it was still a good waffle.

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 Scores
  • Build Quality (60%)
    9.5/10
  • Waffle Plates (30%)
    10/10
  • Control Panel (10%)
    10/10

The overall quality of the waffle maker’s design can tell you a lot about its durability. Additionally, the information below will give you a better idea of what to expect when you finally unbox the waffle maker at home.

In The Box

Hamilton Beach 26031 In the Box
  • 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

Hamilton Beach 26031 Dimension
Play video
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

Hamilton Beach 26031 Build Quality

The housing of the Hamilton Beach 26031 is made from brushed stainless steel. All other parts, including the control panel, handle, and the raised base are made from 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. All of 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

Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Plates
Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Plates 2
Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Plates 3
Play video
Hamilton Beach 26031 Waffle Plates Video
  • Numberof Plates:
    2
  • Grid Pattern:
    Belgian-style
  • Plate Area:
    50.27 inch2
  • Plate Length:
    8 inches
  • Plate Width:
    8 inches
  • 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.

10

Control Panel

Hamilton Beach 26031 Control Panel
Play video
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 level of browning with MIN being the lightest and 3 being the darkest.

Power Cord

Hamilton Beach 26031 Power Cord
  • Plug Style:
    Type A (Flat Blade Attachment Plug)
  • Length:
    26 inches
  • 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.

Extra Accessory: Drip Tray

Hamilton Beach 26031 Drip Tray
  • 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

How We Rated
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

The Hamilton Beach 26031 received a high ease of use score on the merits of its simplistic controls and smooth operation. The lid and the flipping mechanism all work smoothly during our tests. We didn’t find any significant safety issues with the waffle maker. And lastly, thanks to the included drip tray and the removable waffle plates, the Hamilton Beach is easy to clean overall.

9.5

Handling

Play video
Hamilton Beach 26031 Handling Video

The Hamilton Beach 26031 handles well. Opening up the waffle maker is simple and the turning motion for the flippable body is smooth.

The only problem we ran into 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, even when we flipped the waffle maker upright and returned it to its original position, the lid would remain locked in place.

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

10

Safety

Hamilton Beach 26031 Safety
Hamilton Beach 26031 Safety 1
Hamilton Beach 26031 Safety 2
Hamilton Beach 26031 Safety 3
  • 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

not image

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

Hamilton Beach 26031 Indicator Light Visibility
Hamilton Beach 26031 Indicator Light Visibility 1

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.