I searched everywhere. I unsuccessfully raided the kitchen cupboards with the hope I’d find the recipe scribbled on an index card splattered in batter. After months of searching, I finally found it in the turquoise journal I filled with recipe notes from when I wrote the book. Somewhere between cacao percentages and the perfect crumb-to-apple ratio on a crumble was a nonchalantly scribbled list of ingredients for this gilt-edged Belgian waffles recipe.
The Belgian waffles I’m referring to aren’t the classic kind leavened with yeast. Rather, they’re the kind that is a phenomenon in hotel chains and diners all across North America— sweet smelling, deeply welled, golden-kissed, and crisp with a lighter-than-air center.
A Sunday morning spent in a sunny kitchen, surrounded by fairytale-like wisps of steam slowly fluttering from the Belgian waffle iron, is oddly reassuring— no matter what time of the year. You don’t need earsplitting machinery or a workout to mix up delectable waffles, which is one of the many reasons why you’ll adore this recipe. Everything practically comes together in a few stirs. That’s it. Oh, happy day!
As it is, not every recipe for American-style Belgian waffles is made the same. Some require folding voluptuous clouds of firmly whipped egg whites into the batter. Others also require that egg yolks and sugar be ribboned together until thick and a stunning pale primrose. These methods and tips are acceptable, of course— everyone has a technique that works for them.
I’m an impatient cook, I can’t be bothered to transform egg whites into shaving cream foam at 9am on a Sunday. Caffeine and a quick meditation sesh must be had before the cacophonous sounds of roaring kitchen engines. It’s just how I am. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love mornings— just ones with minimal amounts of noise. The point is… If you’re anything like me and want quick, silent, effortless satisfaction, these are for you.
What’s more reassuring is when you sit down to tuck-in and the waffles are still crisp and warm. In my experience, a moderately warm oven can be helpful in maintaining ultimate crispness, but only in small batches. Large batches can end up unappetizingly rock-hard because they can overcook from the heat of the oven. A better approach to all of this is to toss the freshly made waffles— one at a time— back and forth between your hands. This essentially helps release any steam and allows for divine crispness. However, for another approach to this, I’ve some more tips.
I’m not one to preach about rules when it comes to cooking or baking. I find it patronizing and that’s just not my style. However, deliciously crisp waffles require that a little bit of care be taken, so here are some notes. You’ll want to keep these 8 things in mind to ensure your waffles always come out great every time:
1. Use whole milk or buttermilk.
Despite the honeyed yogurt and granola on some of the waffles pictured, please don’t be fooled. When it comes to milk, you’ll need to use full-fat (whole) milk in this recipe; this ensures there is less water content in the waffles, which means the waffles will steam less and remain crisp on the outside. More steam means you’ll end up with limp waffles. We don’t do limp and soggy anything around here, pun unintended. For flavor that is found in most classic American-style Belgian waffle recipes, feel free to use buttermilk if you have it on hand. It imparts a lovely tang to the waffles. If you don’t have buttermilk, I wouldn’t bother using the vinegar / lemon juice and milk substitute here. Buttermilk adds a nice tart flavor to the waffles that cannot be recreated with a quick substitute like that. This would work in a pinch, however. Even Bon Appetit agrees.
2. Don’t skimp on the fat.
Butter is another thing to keep in mind when it comes to fat. Don’t use it; well, don’t use it as it is for making the waffles. As much as I love butter, it doesn’t create a crisp enough waffle in its truest form. There are options, however. A somewhat obvious option is, of course, any neutral-tasting oil. The other option, which might seem unusual, is clarified butter. If you have the time to make clarified butter feel free to use it here. But, as I’ll probably write many times, please don’t feel obliged to do so— oil works marvelously in this recipe. If you’re worried about imparting flavor, coconut oil is a fantastic option.
3. You don’t need an expensive Iron.
Use whatever decent quality Belgian waffle iron you can afford. This is the one I have (I’ve had it for 4 years and it’s still running strong), but I’ve read many good things about this, this, and this.
4. Preheat your waffle iron & use room temperature ingredients.
I often let my waffle iron go through a couple cooking cycles while I make the batter. This means the iron will be as hot as necessary, which helps ensure you get crisp Belgian waffles every time.
Whilst a cold waffle iron means you’ll end up with soggy waffles, having ingredients that aren’t at room temperature means you’ll likely end up with undercooked waffles. To combat this, you can quickly bring your eggs to room temperature and heat your milk up either in the microwave or on the stove just enough to get the chill off.
5. Grease your iron.
Despite most waffle irons having nonstick coatings, you’ll need to liberally grease both the top and bottom of the waffle iron with oil. If you’ve ever had the problem of a waffle sticking, it’s likely that you’ve been too stingy with the oil. Worry not; so long as your waffle iron is hot, your waffles will not be greasy. If you’re like me and have forgotten to grease the waffle iron before pouring your batter in, all is not wasted (I promise— you can see how I rectified the problem here). Using a pastry brush, grease around the sides of each waffle, and let the oil settle between the waffle and the waffle iron for about 10 seconds. Then, carefully lift the waffles out of the iron and all should be well in the world!
6. Lumpy is normal.
Dear reader, when you mix all of the ingredients together for waffles, you’ll realize that things aren’t as smooth as silk. We’re not going for a cake batter here. The moment there’s no visible flour, you’re ready to go. Easy peasy! Mixing everything within an inch of its life to ensure a lump-free batter means you’ll likely end up with tough waffles.
7. Toss your waffles.
You’ll know your Belgian waffles are done when you see the steam stop billowing out from the sides of the waffle iron. They’ll also be golden and crispy-edged. One trick to ensuring this is by gently tossing each waffle, as they come out of the iron, between both hands several times. This allows the steam to escape before it hits the plate.
8. Use your oven with caution.
To ensure your Belgian waffles are crisp and warm, you can put them in a preheated 350ºF/180ºC oven on the rack once they come out of the waffle iron. This method can be flawed, however. With large batches, the waffles can become overcooked by the heat of the oven.
A different method of approach is to preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC and then switch it off once it’s reached that temperature. It’s a tiny bit of futzing around but it ensures your Belgian waffles aren’t overcooked and that they remain warm, crisp, and delicious.
A related side-note: I recently made the waffles (live!) on Nom, a new video platform that allows you to live broadcast your cooking adventures. The platform was started by one of the founders of YouTube, so you know it’s good! I’ll be sharing more recipes and having more chats on our channel starting every Sunday, so be sure to subscribe to the channel get notified about scheduling. If you have any recipe or chat requests, please let me know in the comments below!
Classic American-Style Belgian Waffles Recipe
Makes: 5 to 6 Waffles
Prep time: | Total time:
These come together in no time at all and they result in crisp, beautifully bronzed waffles that are the perfect base for any of your favorite waffle toppings. The batter for these, quite literally, comes together in a few stirs.
When it comes to the milk, use whole (full-fat) milk— it works best here. If you’ve buttermilk, feel free to use that instead. I’d steer clear of the lemon / vinegar and milk substitute; it’s okay to use this, however.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
If you’re making a double batch, and want to keep your waffles warm, preheat the oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC and switch it off once it’s preheated. After that, make the waffles as per the directions and put them in the warm oven on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet (avoid stacking them). I’ve also been known to put the cooked waffles straight onto the oven rack in the warm oven– whatever works best for you.
1 cup / 120g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon / 13g granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 scant (just barely) cup / 210ml whole milk, at room temperature (or buttermilk; refer to headnotes)
1/4 cup / 60ml sunflower oil, plus more for greasing (refer to headnotes)
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping ideas: Yogurt with a bit of honey stirred in, granola, sliced bananas, Nutella (gianduja), fresh or macerated berries, softened butter, maple syrup, golden syrup
Preparation:Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In a mixing bowl (I use one with a lip for easy pouring), whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, gently whisk together the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla until smooth and combine. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until just combined. The mixture will appear thick and lumpy, this is normal; don’t over-mix the batter.
Once the waffle iron has preheated, using a pastry brush, coat the inside (top and bottom) of the iron with oil. Pour enough batter into the waffle iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close the iron and cook the waffle as per the manufacturer’s instructions, about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. To prevent the waffles from getting soggy, toss them— one at a time— back and forth between your hands a few times to help release any steam. Continue on with the rest of the batter until done.
Serve right away with butter and maple syrup, berries, or any of your favorite toppings.