What Turns a Regular Waffle Into an Authentic Belgian Waffle
Rumor has it that an authentic Belgian waffle is different from any other waffle (spoiler alert: the rumor is true!).
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love a waffle, especially a Belgian waffle. Topped with syrup and butter, fruit and whipped cream, or even savory ingredients like bacon and cheddar, waffles are delicious whether they’re thick or thin, mini or gigantic, a weekend ritual or an every-once-in-a-while indulgence.
Rumor has it that an authentic Belgian waffle is different from any other waffle (spoiler alert: the rumor is true!). Here’s what makes this class treat so good, so popular, and so widely craved:
Belgian waffles are beloved for their extra-deep pockets—the better for filling with butter, jam, or maple syrup. They are often thicker than their American counterparts, and made with a yeasted batter and crunchy pearl sugar. There’s nothing quite like a classic Belgian waffle.
Food historians trace the birth of the waffle back to ancient Greece, when two metal plates attached to a long wooden handle were used to roast flat cakes. In Medieval Europe, oublies, derived from the Greek term for wafers, were made as a companion to the communion wafer in Catholic Church. Cooked using grain flour and water, they often were shaped to illustrate Biblical scenes, crosses, and other religious motifs. They were served after meals as a symbolic blessing.
Throughout generations, the recipe continued to evolve. Creative cooks added honey and spices to give their proto-waffles more flavor and yeast to make them thicker. As crusaders and explorers brought back finds like cinnamon and ginger, the flavor possibilities grew. The dish took on the name wafel. (It was until the 1900s that the English added a second “f,” for the name waffle as we now know it.)
Around the 15th century, Dutch wafel makers began to use the famous grid pattern that’s now a waffle fundamental. Some say it was a way for cooks to use less batter to cover a greater surface—although we don’t know for sure, this was the start of waffles that we would recognize today, with their delicious little grooves.
European countries developed their own unique waffle recipes and styles. Germans served coffee waffles, and French artisans cooked up gaufres, fragrant with cloves, wine, and lemon zest.
In Belgium, legend says the Prince of Liege’s chef presented the Prince with a thick waffle coated with caramelized sugar, a real hit. This was the very first Liege waffle, one of Belgium’s most popular waffle varieties. Belgium has a few different types of waffles, primarily Liege and Brussels waffles.
Brussels waffles are made with a thin, yeast-leavened batter which makes them lighter and airier. They are usually rectangular-shaped, with deep grooves and smooth edges. The batter for Liege waffles is thicker and stickier, almost resembling a bread dough. The dough contains chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelize and form a crisp golden coating, which yields to a soft interior.
"Brussels Waffles: A Bel-Gem Product,” advertised a quaint hut at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York. $1 could buy visitors a light, sweet waffle either plain, or topped with strawberries and fluffy whipped cream. The waffles were such a hit that the Vermerschs, who ran the operation, had 24 waffle machines working nonstop, and 10 people devoted just the task of slicing strawberries.
Used to much heavier, denser American waffles, these Belgian delicacies fast became one of the fair’s biggest hits. People didn’t quite understand the distinction of Brussels Waffles, so they rebranded them Belgian waffles. Americans never looked back, and their hunger for all things Belgian waffle has grown and grown.
Ahh, good question! While regular old waffles are made from a typical pancake-like batter, Belgian waffles are made from a brioche dough. The secret ingredient in Belgian waffles is the pearl sugar, which gives the waffles a unique texture and slight, satisfying crunch. Belgian waffles are also fantastically light, which adds to their perfection.
Fun bonus fact: traditional Belgian waffles are usually eaten with your hands, not a fork and knife. We think it’s more fun that way, too.
If you love Belgian waffles and chocolate, try Belgian Boys’ Chocolate Coated Belgian Waffles, made of a brioche dough with pearl sugar mixed in and coated with a layer of rich Belgian chocolate. You can eat them on the go or top them with a scoop of vanilla gelato.
With the world beginning to open up, this option may be more than just a pipedream. Many Brussels streets boast multiple waffle shops. Looking for waffles in Brussels is like looking for pizza in New York City or gelato in Rome. Many Belgians are waffle purists, enjoying them with nothing but a dusting of powdered sugar. We recommend trying a waffle or two this way to have the experience in its unadulterated form…but don’t skip chocolate, caramel, Nutella, all sorts of fresh fruits, and whipped cream if that’s your thing.
Have a waffle iron and a lazy Sunday morning? Try your hand at whipping up some from-scratch waffles. You won’t get a 100% legit Belgian waffle since Belgian waffles require their very own waffle iron, but you can come close. If you want to meet halfway, you can use a waffle mix and get that warm waffle iron satisfaction without all the mess and mixing.
Introducing the zero work, full deliciousness solution: Belgian Boys’ Original Belgian Waffles. Made in the traditional style from the city of Liege in Belgium with brioche dough and pearl sugar, they’re individually wrapped for the perfect easy breakfast, snack, or dessert.Serve Belgian Boys Original Belgian Waffles heated for breakfast, or eat straight out of the package for an anytime snack. Top with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream, and sprinkles for the ultimate waffle sundae. Or if you’re feeling inspired, check out our handy guide to setting up the DIP waffle bar of your breakfast dreams. We can’t wait to hear about you living your best Belgian waffle life.