Authentic homemade Belgian Liège Waffles featuring a rich brioche dough accented with pearl sugar. They are delightfully crispy and caramelized on the outside, while the inside remains perfectly soft and chewy. Eat them for breakfast, brunch, or as a decadent dessert.
Belgian Liège Waffles
I wish I had eaten more waffles on our trip to Belgium. Would you believe we only went to a waffle cafe once the whole time we were there? Talk about life regrets.
It’s been nine years and I haven’t stopped thinking about those perfectly caramelized works of art. So, I did some research and developed this recipe for Liège Waffles to make at home. This waffle recipe is as close you can get to the real deal. I highly recommend you use a regular waffle iron with a temperature control, just like an authentic Belgian waffle iron would have.
These waffles are a sweet tooth’s dream and their crispy caramelized golden exterior chewy dough is just the beginning. Next, we have a chewy, yet fluffy interior accented with bits of pearl sugar and vanilla. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, we have the toppings.
You can eat these sweet treats on their own but they are EVEN BETTER with a light dusting of powdered, or confectioners’ sugar. Pretend you’re in Belgium and top the waffles with a rich chocolate sauce and maybe some fruit; just to be healthy.
What are Liège Waffles?
Belgian Liège Waffles are traditional treats served in homes and cafés throughout Belgium. They are made with a rich yeast dough instead of a batter leavened by baking powder and baking soda. These thick waffles with deep pockets have a round, yet irregular shape due to the way they are pressed, not poured into the waffle iron.
While the first known waffle recipe originated in France (c. 14th C), the more more deeply gridded irons became all the rage for Belgians in the late 15th, early 16th C. Most Belgians today will insist that Belgium is the home of waffles.
There, they have over a dozen regional varieties of waffles, including the rectangular Brussels waffle (soft with large pockets), the circular Flemish waffle (crispy and buttery with almost no pockets), and the Liège Waffle.
One of the greatest difference between Liège Waffles and regular waffles (American style) is while both recipes contain eggs, the leavening, or lift is created by yeast rather than baking powder or baking soda. There are no chemical leavening agents in Liège Waffles.
- Active Dry Yeast
- Vanilla Extract
- Pearl Sugar
As you can see, all the ingredients are basic pantry ingredients used for baking. Note that unsalted butter and large eggs work best in this recipe.
Active dry yeast has larger, coarser grains and must be activated before use. That is why it is combined with warm milk and a bit of sugar before being added to the flour mixture. Active, well fed yeast is happy yeast!
What is Belgian Pearl Sugar?
Aside from the rich, brioche-like dough, the other hallmark ingredient of Liège Waffles is the crunchy pearl sugar. These jagged opaque white pearls, or nibs, are created when large blocks of sugar are crushed and sifted to a specific size. The hard fragments that remain are used as accents in baking as they do not dissolve in liquid or melt at high temperatures.
You may have a bit of trouble sourcing the most essential, iconic ingredient in this Liège Waffle recipe. Note: To get that perfect outside caramelization, you must use Belgian Pearl Sugar, not Swedish Pearl Sugar.
I couldn’t find it for years until I saw it at a local European market. Luckily, these days you can easily find Belgian pearl sugar and order it online (Amazon affiliate link). Sometimes even have it shipped to you the next day!
How to Make Belgian Liège Waffles
The first step is to activate the dry yeast. To do this, warm milk to a lukewarm temperature (around 110 F). The yeast loves this temperature but will start to die off if it is any hotter. Place it in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir in the 1 Tbsp of granulated sugar and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get foamy and doubles in size.
When the yeast is happy, mix in the eggs, salt, and vanilla. Sprinkle in the flour, a little at a time with the motor on low. Next, start adding in the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. You will need to switch to the dough hook at this point.
Mix the dough for 3-5 minutes more, until the it does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
Fold in the pearl sugar (you may use a dough hook for this step) then cover the mixer bowl and let it sit in a draft free space for an hour. Punch it down and refrigerate overnight, if you like.
Remove the dough from the bowl (allow it to come to room temperature first, if refrigerated) and divide into 12 even balls. Put them on a silicone bake tray or parchment paper to prevent sticking. Loosely cover the balls with a damp tea towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes or even 40 minutes.
Warm your waffle maker and spray it well with a non-stick butter spray. If you have a temperature control option, use medium heat or adjust it according to how caramelized you want the outside of the waffles.
Cook each dough ball in for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
How to Serve Liège Waffles
These sweet treats really don’t need any toppings. You can do like the Belgian street food vendors do and simply serve them warm with confectioners’ or powdered sugar.
Or, you can top them with fruit (bananas, strawberries, raspberries, etc), whipped cream, and/or with a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Still, there are some fancy waffle houses that will dip them in tempered chocolate. They add toppings before the chocolate hardens and serve them cold.
Make Ahead and Storage of Leftovers
This Belgian Liège Waffle recipe makes 12 small-ish waffles. I generally count two as a serving so there are always plenty leftover. Store them in the fridge for up to a week.
Luckily, they also freeze and reheat really well so they are also a great make ahead breakfast or brunch option.
To reheat waffles from thawed or frozen, preheat your oven to 300 F. Place the waffles in a single layer on a wire rack over a baking sheet and warm for ten minutes (thawed) or fifteen minutes (from frozen).
If you make these Belgian Liège Waffles, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup pearl sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
- 1/4 cup warm milk (around 110 F)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons active yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Warm the milk to a lukewarm temperature (around 110 F).
- Pour the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir the 1 Tbsp sugar and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get foamy and doubles in size.
- To the foamy yeast mixture, add the eggs, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in small increments.
- Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Switch paddle attachment to dough hook.
- Let the mixer run on low speed for 3-5 minutes, until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Fold in the pearl sugar.
- Cover the mixer bowl and let it sit in a draft free space for an hour. Punch down and either divide (see next step) or cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the dough from the mixer bowl (allow refrigerated dough to come to room temperature) and divide in 12 even balls. Put them on a silicone bake tray or parchment paper to prevent sticking.
- Loosely cover with a damp tea towel and let them rise for another 40 minutes.
- Warm your waffle maker and spray with non-stick butter spray. Use medium heat or adjust according to how caramelized you want the waffle to be.
- Cook each dough ball in for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm with confectioners’ sugar, fruit, and/or chocolate syrup.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 302Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 61mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 5g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.