Belgian Waffles (Liège-Style) Recipe

I spent my childhood eating Liège waffles we bought at the grocery store. Those thick and cake-like grids studded with sugar crystals seemed to me infinitely superior to the thin waffles stuffed with vanilla cream that my sister prefered and I ignored disdainfully.

I hadn’t eaten such waffles since my teenaged days — I stopped buying supermarket pastries years ago — but they made a major comeback into my life earlier this year, when a tiny Comptoir Belge opened a stone’s throw from my house, at 58 rue des Martyrs.

This stand offers Belgian waffles in the style of Liège, cooked fresh while you watch and sending seductive, buttery wafts right up to the little carousel on Place Lino Ventura, a powerful marketing ploy indeed. And the first time I tried them, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

The artisanal and freshly cooked Liège waffle is a study in contrast between the crisp shell, the tender and yeasty insides, and the thick sugar crystals that melt and caramelize.

A far cry from its distant plastic-wrapped and palm-oiled grocery store cousin, the artisanal and freshly cooked Liège waffle is a study in contrast between the thinly crisp shell, the tender and brioche-y insides, and the thick sugar crystals that melt and caramelize in the waffle iron.

And since I recently received from Cuisinart (see note at the bottom of this post) a fabulous griddler with waffle plates, it wasn’t long until I tackled this monument of Belgian gastronomy.

In my research I found dozens of recipes, with such widely varying proportions my head spun, and my solution was, as it always is, to draw up a spreadsheet comparing the different ingredient amounts in proportion to the flour weight (you can take the cook out of the engineer, etc.). This led me to formulate a recipe that would be best suited to my taste, i.e. less sweet and less butter-heavy than average, while still retaining 100% of its deliciousness.

The resulting waffles are an absolute delight, the recipe is easy, and the dough freezes perfectly well, allowing you to invite your sister over for an impromptu snack one afternoon and, with hardly a finger lifted, have her discover in turn how a Belgian waffle really should be eaten: still warm, caramelized, chewy, irresistible.

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Transparency note : The griddler and waffle plates were sent to me to review by Cuisinart France through their PR agency. I will note that this was actually the model I had set my heart on and was about to get as a birthday gift from my parents when I had the opportunity to receive it for free. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Liège-Style Belgian Waffles

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Liège-Style Belgian Waffles Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Makes 15 waffles.

Liège-Style Belgian Waffles Recipe

Ingredients

  • 200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) lukewarm milk (you shouldn't feel a temperature difference when you dip your finger in)
  • 12 grams (1 scant tablespoon) active dry yeast (I use the SAF brand)
  • 500 grams (1.1 pounds) all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups, but I strongly recommend you use a scale to measure this amount)
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (I used Belgian cassonnade, the traditional unrefined beet sugar)
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 190 grams (1 1/4 cups) Belgian pearl sugar (available online from the Waffle Pantry, or homemade)
  • Cooking oil, for greasing the waffle iron

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the milk and yeast and let stand for 15 minutes, until the surface is foamy. (If that doesn't happen, your yeast is probably too old; start again with a freshly purchased packet.)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (see below about making the dough entirely by hand), combine by hand the flour, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Add in the milk mixture and the eggs, and stir by hand again (I detach the dough hook and use that) to moisten most of the flour so it won't fly off everywhere when you turn the mixer on.
  3. Turn the mixer on and knead at low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Waffle Dough 1
  5. Add in the butter.
  6. Waffle Dough 2
  7. Knead for another 2 minutes, until the butter is fully incorporated. The dough will be quite sticky.
  8. Waffle Dough 3
  9. (The kneading can also be done by hand. It's more of a workout, obviously, and the part when you have to work in the softened butter can be a bit messy. The key is to not lose hope -- the dough will eventually absorb the butter -- and take heart in the fact that you'll have the softest hands afterward.)
  10. Cover the bowl tightly with a kitchen towel and leave to rise at warm room temperature, away from drafts, until doubled in size. The exact time needed will vary depending on the temperature in your kitchen, but it should take about 2 hours.
  11. Waffle Dough 4
  12. Fold the pearl sugar into the dough -- this will deflate it and that's okay -- so it's evenly distributed.
  13. Waffle Dough 5
  14. Divide the dough into 15 pieces, each about 75 grams (2 2/3 ounces), and shape them (roughly) into balls. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking. (See note below on refrigerating or freezing the dough for later.)
  15. Preheat your waffle iron to medium-high; on my own griddler, the ideal temperature is 190°C (375°F).
  16. Brush the waffle plates with oil (this is unnecessary if they're non-stick) and place one ball of dough in the center of each waffle segment.
  17. Waffle Iron 1
  18. Close the waffle iron and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  19. Waffle Iron 2
  20. Lift the waffles from the iron (I use wooden tongs) and let cool 5 to 10 minutes on a rack before eating.

Notes

You can set aside some or all of the balls of dough to cook later: right after dividing the dough, arrange on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day. Remove from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking.

You can also arrange the extra pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until hard, then collect the pieces into an airtight freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature for 3 hours before cooking.

https://cnz.to/recipes/bread-brioche/belgian-waffles-liege-style-recipe/
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  • My goodness! These look incredible! The dough looks so smooth and rich! And I’ve never tried pearlized sugar in waffles. Do they remain crunchy on the inside?

    • Yes, you can feel the little grains of sugar when you eat the waffle, which is delicious.

      • Bumdadeebum Davina

        Is the Pearl Sugar you recommend the “Swedish”, or is it the “Belgian” Pearl Sugar? I notice on the Amazon site there is quite a difference in size between the two types of sugar pearls… the Swedish pearl-size is much smaller than the Belgian.

        • Thanks so much for pointing out that difference, which I hadn’t adressed. Although I am not a pearl sugar expert, my understanding is that Belgian waffles are made with Belgian pearl sugar (logical, right?), the larger grains that withhold moisture and heat the best.

          That said, the pearl sugar I own and use (which was not sold as either Belgian or Swedish I might note) seems closer to the Swedish one — smaller grains that do melt in contact with the hot waffle iron.

          Long answer short, both may be used, but for a result that most closely resembles the original Belgian version, use Belgian sugar. If you already have Swedish pearl sugar on hand though, go ahead and use that — for most people it wouldn’t make sense to keep the two kinds on hand!

          • Hudhaifah

            Hi so how is the dough kept soft wants cooked? It seems to get hard very fast.. Also because I see cafes premise them, how do they remain chewy?

          • I’m not sure what to say: when I make them, I find they remain chewy even after cooling. If I have extra, we put them in the toaster in the morning and like the texture then.

  • Annabel Smyth

    Those sound lovely, although I have no room in my kitchen or my life for a waffle maker – I’d still love to eat one of yours! And I bet a certain small boy loves them, too….

    • The small boy does! I love it though because he’s still so young and in tune with his appetite that he can scarf one down on a particular day, and on another occasion take only one bite and leave the rest because he’s just not hungry for it. Quite unimaginable for many of us!

  • oh yum. I love waffles with caramelised banana and maple syrup! way too dangerous to ever own a waffle maker… i’d become the size of a house :)

    • You know, I did evaluate the associated risks myself, and the fact that this appliance is not *just* a waffle maker helped me justify it. ;)

  • Yessssss, yes, yes! These look delicious!

  • Amy

    Ah… The waffles. The waffles!! Thank you for this recipe. Ever since Belgium have been trying to get it right. My sugar would always burn on the iron. My batter was too thin!!

    • I have also found that identifying the right temperature is key: I cooked my first batch at the iron’s highest temperature and the sugar burnt then. In my experience it’s best to use a slightly lower temp with a slightly longer cooking time.

  • VickiB

    I’m so grateful you carefully researched the recipe and posted it! At our local farmers market, a Volkswagen van has been converted into a charming mobile Liege waffle stand. The owner spent several minutes convincing us it was impossible to duplicate at home and the dough is sent frozen, by air from Belgian. Vive la France!

    • What a charming idea for a food truck! But having the sent by air from Europe sounds a bit extreme. Carbon footprint, people, carbon footprint! :)

  • Amanda Cueto-Moll

    Do you think I can use a Pizzelle maker instead of the waffle maker?

    • If that’s the appliance you already own, definitely use that. You’ll get a different kind of waffle because the crust-to-crumb ratio will be completely different, but it should taste delicious still! I would recommend making smaller balls of dough (maybe halve the size and give it a try?) to account for the thinness of the pizzelle. Do report back!

  • VickiB
  • Carol

    I couldn’t resist making these yesterday. They sure made the kitchen smell wonderful all afternoon and tasted as good as they smelled. They were so good that it was even worth the extra time needed to clean up the waffle maker afterwards!

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Carol! I’m curious about the cleaning comment, though: with the consistency of this being more of a dough than a batter, I find the waffles plates can be cleaned effortlessly. What was it that you found made the process messy?

  • LEE @ Modern Granola

    Yum! These look so fancy and amazing! I used to love waffles, but I’ve never tried this kind before. I’ll make these sometime soon!

  • TakakoY
  • Meghan Mathieson

    I made these for Sunday brunch last weekend. The dough came together well, and the waffles were delicious, but I found the texture to be a bit heavy. They’re just not the same kind of waffles I grew up with.

    • Thanks for reporting back, Meghan. Liege-style waffles are definitely their own sort of waffle — not sure what kind you grew up with!

  • Bob Parry

    Great recipe. Made them last weekend and eveyone loved them. Reminded me of the ones I enjoyed while living in Germany – ’77-86. Found a great source for Pearl Sugar (size P4) at wafflepantry.com. Love your site, enjoy your recipes, love the stories, photography…. and lest we forget – love your smile!

    • Thank you for reporting back on this recipe, Bob, I’m very pleased you enjoyed the waffles!

  • Heather

    Yummy! We used to have a Liege waffle shop in Los Angeles several years ago but it closed down quickly and I have been sorely missing it. Fortunately, at least two new places have opened in the last year and one is just a couple miles away from where I live. However, I am really looking forward to trying this recipe.

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