Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now

Appetite for Knowledge

Waffling About Waffles?

Waffles are eaten throughout the world. A waffle is a leavened batter or dough cooked between two hot plates of a waffle iron, patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and grid-like surface impression. Waffles are cooked until they become golden-brown in color, with a crispy outer texture and a soft interior.


Over time, dozens of types of waffles have evolved. There are many variations based on the type of waffle iron and recipe used.

Brussels Waffles

Brussels waffles are prepared with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter; occasionally both types of leavening are used together. The taste is tangier from the fermentation. They are softer and lighter on the inside, crispier on the outside, and have deeper pockets compared to other European waffle varieties. In Brussels, the waffles are rectangular, much larger in size than American waffles, and usually about an inch thick. While waffles may be more of a breakfast dish in the United States, in Belgium they’re typically eaten as a snack or dessert.

Most waffles in Belgium are served warm by street vendors and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, though in tourist areas they might be topped with whipped cream, fruit, or chocolate spread. Variants of the Brussels waffles – with whipped and folded egg whites cooked in large rectangular forms – date from the 18th century. However, the oldest recognized reference to “Gaufres de Bruxelles” (Brussels waffles) by name is attributed from 1842/43 to Florian Dacher, a Swiss baker in Ghent, Belgium, who had previously worked under pastry chefs in central Brussels.

Liège Waffle

The Liège waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. They are an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked producing a sugary crust. It is an oval-shaped, thinner, and smaller waffle than the Brussels waffle. On the other hand, it’s also more substantial, based more on a dough than a batter. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla, and cinnamon varieties by street vendors to be eaten out of hand like a donut, hot or cold, wrapped in a piece of paper.

American Waffles

American waffles vary significantly, but are often made from a batter leavened with baking powder and may be round, square, rectangular, or in novelty shapes including hearts, roses, and cartoon characters. They are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and maple syrup, or other fruit syrups, honey, or powdered sugar. They are also found in many different savory dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles or topped with stew. They may also be served as desserts, topped with ice cream and various other toppings. They are generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle.

Belgian Waffles

Belgian waffles are a North American type of waffle identified by its larger size, lighter batter, and taller grid pattern which forms deep pockets and has larger squares than standard American waffles. Despite its name, the “Belgian waffle” does not exist in Belgium. It is somewhat similar to the Brussels waffle, but Brussels waffles are hard and crispy on the outside. As opposed to a traditional North American waffle, the Belgian waffle attributes its height to the use of yeast batter instead of a pancake batter. Toppings vary from whipped cream, powdered sugar, fruit, chocolate spread, to syrup and butter or margarine. Alternatively, they are served with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit as a dessert. The waffles were popularized in the United States during the 1964 New York World’s Fair by Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium, and was named the Bel-Gem Waffle. Largely based on a simplified recipe for the Brussels waffles, Vermersch decided to change the name upon observing the poor geographical skills of Americans.

The batter-based flat cake known as a waffle is a Belgian culinary specialty. The basic ingredients are the same (flour, milk, eggs, and a pinch of salt), but may include yeast, caramelized sugar, leavening’s, and toppings. The recipes are handed over from one generation to the next, as covetously as a great cake recipe!



Brussels’ Waffles

Course: Breakfast


  • 3 large eggs yolks and whites separated
  • 12 ounces warmed milk preferably whole
  • 1 packet dry active yeast or 3/4 oz. fresh yeast
  • 12 ounces sparkling water room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour sifted
  • 10 1/2 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar


  • Heat waffle iron until it’s piping hot!
  • Separate egg whites and yolks in two bowls, and set aside.
  • Warm the milk and combine with yeast and sugar. Allow to bloom for 10 min.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pan and beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.
  • Lightly beat yolks and add warmed milk mixture; beat until incorporated. Add the sparkling water and stir gently until well-combined.
  • Sift flour directly into the milk mixture and add a pinch of salt; beat with an electric mixer until all lumps are smoothed out.
  • Pour the melted butter into batter and gently fold in stiffened egg whites by hand. Set batter aside for 20-30 minutes, so yeast can work and batter has time to rise.
  • When the batter shows bubbles, you’re ready to start baking!
  • Butter or oil all sides of your waffle iron, even if it is non-stick. Pour ⅓ cup of batter per waffle, and allow waffle to brown completely.
  • Serve with powdered sugar, brown sugar or whipped cream for an authentic Belgian treat!
Waffles with berries and whipped cream

Contact Our Expert!


Extension Educator:
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming Extension

Feedback Form

Follow UW Nutrition and Food Safety

Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Rules of Use. Thank You.

For more information, contact a University of Wyoming Nutrition and Food Safety Educator at or Ask an Expert.

Have a Question?

Contact Our Expert!


Extension Educator:
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming Extension

Subscribe to UW Nutrition and Food Safety Newletters


Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

The University of Wyoming is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader