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Exploring Waffles: A History and Recipes

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.


In the Beginning

Water, rock, grain, fire—anthropologists tell us that, in the Neolithic Age (8,000 years ago, plus or minus a few centuries), these four simple components were used to make waffles. (Insert eye-roll here.) Let’s get real! Those primitive cakes were a far cry from the honeycomb-patterned breads we recognize today as waffles. And I’m not saying that because they didn't use whipped cream or maple syrup. There were no plates or griddles. Coarse slurries of grain and water were “baked” on hot rocks.

From Wafers to Waffles

With the Iron Age (800 B.C.), tools and flat griddle-like plates came into being. Centuries later (about 1,100 B.C.), the ancient but innovative Greeks were cooking grain wafers (which they called obleios) between two hot metal plates. By the Middle Ages (400 to 1,000 A.D.), those obleios had become so popular that smart salespeople (they called themselves obloyeurs) were selling them from street vending carts (I will take the high road and refrain from saying that these wafers were selling like hot cakes).

However, wafers (or obleios) were not simply the food of the Greeks; what happens in Greece doesn’t stay in Greece. The rise of the Roman Empire, the increase of merchant trade routes, and probably even the spread of Christianity were all part of expanding the popularity of wafers throughout the Middle East and Europe.


In Medieval Europe, communion wafers (eucharist) were commonly manufactured by nuns; they were used not only for the celebration of Mass but also as a “fasting food” since they contain no animal products (eggs, lard, milk, butter). However, members of the nobility had the ability to supplement the tastes and texture of these “humble” wafers with the inclusion of expensive flavorings such as sugar, spices, and orange blossom water (pleasure in self denial?). By the 13th century, wafers were a common part of royal cuisine.

But, these still were not “waffles.”

Finally, in the 13th century, someone had the brilliant idea of embellishing the wafers by cooking them on patterned iron plates. This might have begun with the inscription of communion wafers (eucharist) with the cross of Christ. The most common secular pattern was the honeycomb of course. And guess what? The Dutch word for honeycomb is “wafel.” Finally, the waffle is born.


A Work of Art

Today we laden our waffles with a myriad of toppings, but in mid-millennium Europe, they were eaten out of hand. Waffles were easy, inexpensive, and portable; probably a ubiquitous part of every meal, the daily bread. So common were waffles, they even appeared in the paintings of some of the Dutch masters. Look closely at the painting by Joachim Beuckelaer and Pieter Aertsen.

Dutch Kitchen Scene, Joachim Bueckelaer

Dutch Kitchen Scene, Joachim Bueckelaer

The Pancake Bakery by Pieter Aertsen,1560

The Pancake Bakery by Pieter Aertsen,1560

The Waffle Traveled Westward

Of course when Europeans began to cross the Atlantic, they took their waffle recipes and waffle irons with them. Here's a brief timeline of what happened next.

Timeline of the Waffle in America

  • 1725 – The word waffle (two f’s) appears in print in Robert Smith’s cookbook Court Cookery
  • 1740 – Colonists in New Jersey and New York are having parties which they named “wafel frolics.”
  • 1789 – While on a trip to Europe, Thomas Jefferson (who was at that time our ambassador to France) purchased a waffle iron in Amsterdam; waffles became a common treat at his home at Monticello.
  • 1869 – Cornelius Swartwout of New York obtained a patent for the first stove-top waffle iron.
  • 1889 – Aunt Jemima pancake and waffle mix was sold for home use.
  • 1911 – General Electric obtained a patent for the electric waffle iron.

And Then Someone Had a Great Idea!

In 1932, brothers Frank, Anthony, and Samuel Dorsa began a food-manufacturing company in their parents’ basement. Their first success was a fresh ranch egg mayonnaise which they named “Eggo Mayonnaise.” They also developed a waffle batter which they sold to restaurants, and later a dry waffle mix (just add milk). Soon they were able to move production from the family basement to an abandoned potato chip factory.

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Read More From Delishably

In the 1950s, the life (and financial success) of the Dorsa brothers took a dramatic turn. Frank invented a device that would create hundreds of waffles quickly and effortlessly; they were then packaged, frozen, and distributed to grocery stores. Waffles could now be enjoyed in the same amount of time it takes to simply toast a slice of bread. The brothers named their creation “Froffles” (a portmanteau of frozen and waffle). But eventually the name was changed to, you guessed it, “Eggos.”

Are You Hungry?

All of this talk about waffles is making me hungry. And I have good news—waffles are not just for breakfast. Innovation, inspiration, and imagination have us using our waffle irons not only at the start of the day, but for lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert.


Recipes in this article:

  • Basic waffle recipe
  • Best Belgium waffles
  • Chocolate brownie waffles
  • Cinnamon roll waffles
  • Cornbread waffles with chili
  • Leftover stuffing waffles
  • Peanut butter waffles with peanut butter syrup
  • Waffle omelet

Basic Waffle Recipe


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil


  1. Lightly grease and preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. In a separate container (l like to use a large glass measuring cup) beat the egg yolks, milk, and oil until well combined.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture; add the egg mixture all at once and stir just until dry and wet ingredients are combined. Don't overbeat; a few lumps are OK. If you overwork the batter your waffles will not be light and fluffy.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a small mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter in the large bowl. Stir just until blended; don't worry if a few streaks of egg white remain.
  5. Follow the directions for your specific waffle iron for the amount of batter and time needed to bake your waffles.

Best Belgium Waffles

The people of New York boast that Belgium waffles were introduced to America at the 1964 New York State Fair. I have another story—and mine is true! According to

On April 21, 1962, Belgian waffles make their American debut at the Seattle World's Fair. The waffles, which are fluffier and lighter than regular waffles, are served up with strawberries and cream by chef Walter Cleyman at two stands, one of which resembles a small chalet. The tasty treat becomes a huge hit at the fair.

Unlike the basic waffle recipe, Belgium waffles contain yeast, but don't let that scare you away from making them. I'll be right here to help you.


  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast (not rapid-rise or bread-machine yeast)
  • 3 cups cup warm milk, divided (zap in the microwave)
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let stand until the mixture is light and bubbly, about, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, melted butter, the yeast/milk mixture, sugar, salt, vanilla, and another 1/4 cup of warm milk.
  3. Stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups milk alternately with the flour, ending with the flour.
  4. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks; fold into the batter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  5. Lightly grease and preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
  6. Follow the directions for your specific waffle iron for the amount of batter and time needed to bake your waffles.

Chocolate Brownie Waffles

This recipe relies on packaged pancake mix instead of making waffles from scratch. Why? Because I have a craving for chocolate and I want these right now! (And a scoop of vanilla ice cream would make these absolutely perfect.)


  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-flavored syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 cups pancake mix


  1. Lightly grease and preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. Beat together egg, milk, chocolate syrup, and oil.
  3. Place pancake mix in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center of the mix and pour in the eggs/chocolate mixture all at once. Stir just until blended.
  4. Follow the directions for your specific waffle iron for the amount of batter and time needed to bake your waffles.

(Adapted from recipe by Better Homes and Gardens.)

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Rose blogs about faith, family, finances, and food; she created this easy-peasy cinnamon waffle using Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Can't you just smell the warm cinnamon?

Cornbread Waffles With Chili

Brandie is a Navy brat, wife, mom, blogger, and the genius behind these cornbread waffles. And if that isn't enough, she tops them with chili and "all the fixin's". Yum.

Leftover Stuffing Waffles

I never cook my stuffing in the turkey (because my daughter is a vegetarian and I roast my turkey low and slow). A casserole dish in the oven is the way to go in my kitchen. And to me, the best part of the stuffing is that edges—those crispy bites on the top and in the corners.

There is always stuffing left over after the Thanksgiving meal, and (of course) it is the soggy inside part. This recipe for leftover stuffing waffles by Kelly turns your sad, cold, leftover stuffing into an entire serving of amazing crispy stuffing!

Peanut Butter Waffles With Peanut Butter Syrup

My children LOVE peanut butter—PBJ sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter cupcakes or cheesecake or pie for birthday celebrations. Why not peanut butter waffles? And syrup too? Kara shares DIY tutorials, crafts, decorating ideas, and recipes.

Waffle Omelet

This dish is everything you want at breakfast. It's a waffle and it is gluten free. Camille's recipe does include a product promotion, but I'm not promoting her blog for the product. I just happen to think that her idea of cooking an omelet (and goodies) in a waffle iron is genius!

© 2017 Linda Lum

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