Liege waffles are a delicious and indulgent treat from Belgium. Unlike anything you’ve ever had before, these waffles are made with pearl sugar and yeast to create a sweet and crunchy crust, and taste more like dessert than breakfast. They are perfect to enjoy any time of day!
Is there anything more iconic than waffles from Belgium?
Let me answer that for you… there’s not. Belgian waffles are everything I dream of in life. If I lived in an NBC sitcom about the parks and recreation division of a fictional town in Indiana called Pawnee (ahem…. Parks and Rec), my name would be Leslie Knope, because I, too, believe that there is no better treat in the world than a good waffle. Especially one with strawberries and syrup… mmmmm… sorry, I think I just drooled a little. Okay, back to the blog post.
So in America, we eat waffles. We call them Belgium waffles, but truthfully, they’re not real. They’re not true, real, wonderful Belgian waffles.
Waffles here in America are the bombdiggity, don’t get me wrong. But the Liege waffles in Belgium are on a whole other level. Nothing can compare. Seriously, nothing. Just try them for yourself and you’ll be a believer.
Brussels Waffles VS. Liege Waffles
There are two types of waffles in Belgium. The first is a Brussels waffle, and this is more comparable to what we eat in America. Brussels waffles are a perfect square and they’re a little lighter in texture. You can find these waffles in every other storefront window in all of Belgium. Normally they’re topped with more goodies than your brain can imagine: Nutella, strawberries, speculoos, cookie butter, peanut butter, Oreos… you name it, and it’s makin’ you drool.
The second option are liege waffles. Now the liege waffles are a little different from the Brussels waffles. They’re made with yeast, are a lot denser than the Brussels waffle, and the shape of them is very irregular. The main difference, though, is the secret ingredient of Liege waffles: Belgian Pearl Sugar.
Belgian pearl sugar is little chunks of sugar that look a little bit like pebbles. This Pearl Sugar mixes into the waffle batter towards the very end of the dough’s rising phase. When you put the batter on the waffle maker, this sugar will caramelize and form a spectacularly sweet and crunchy crust around the waffle. This crust, I swear, makes all the difference in the world.
What Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Liege Waffles
- All-purpose flour
- Large eggs – beaten individually to create the fluffiest waffles
- Active dry yeast
- Butter – melted
- Full fat milk – lukewarm
- Vanilla extract
- Belgian pearl sugar – you can use crushed sugar cubes as a substitute
So What Toppings Can I Put on My Waffles?
Well, it’s a free country, so technically, you can put whatever toppings you want on your waffle. Is this what I would recommend for you, though? Absolutely not.
Listen, I’m a toppings kinda gal. The more cookie dough and peanut butter sauce my ice cream has, the better. When I got to Belgium, I had the same mindset. I wanted every ounce of delicious toppings that my poor liege waffle could support. Every day that I had a Liege waffle (which was every day that I was in Belgium) I tried a different combination of spectacular toppings.
But then I read a blog article from a girl who had studied in Belgium. She said that her very favorite waffles to eat in Belgium were the… plain ones? What?!??! What blasphemy was this??? Not even SYRUP!? Well, I decided to listen to crazy chick, and… she was right. The plain liege waffle really is the best that the world has to offer. Eating the waffle plain means that I can really taste the buttery, sugary goodness in every bite.
Either plain or loaded with fresh fruit, sweet sauces, nut butter, Nutella, chocolate chips or any other delight your mind can come up with, I’m convinced there are no wrong ways to enjoy these waffles.
Tips for Making the Perfect Liege Waffles
I have a few pieces of advice for you on this front…
- Make sure to rise the dough in a glass bowl. I didn’t really think that this made a difference until I tried to rise my dough in a plastic bowl one time and it didn’t rise a centimeter in two hours…. glass bowls all the way.
- If you can’t find/don’t want to buy Belgian Pearl Sugar, you can also use crushed up sugar cubes in your waffles instead.
- Keep your waffle iron between about 400 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Any less and the pearl sugar won’t caramelize around the waffle. Any more and the sugar will burn before you can get it off the iron.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs beaten individually
- 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 sticks unsalted butter melted
- 1/3 cup lukewarm full fat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tbsp refined sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup Belgian pearl sugar you can also used crushed sugar cubes if you do not have pearl sugar
- Heat milk in the microwave until lukewarm but not hot. Add the yeast in, and then add 1 ½ tbsp sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine remaining 2.5 tbsp sugar with flour and salt.
- Use your fingers to make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix lightly for about a minute and a half.
- Add each beaten egg into the dough and mix for about one minute each before adding the next one.
- Add the vanilla and the butter, and mix until fully combined, about 3-4 minutes. The dough will seem too buttery, but it’s alright!
- Spray a separate bowl (preferably glass) with nonstick spray and transfer the dough. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and leave to rise for two hours.
- When the dough is done rising, punch it down and knead in the Belgian Pearl Sugar. Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes before cooking it.
- Heat a waffle iron up to 350 degrees. Spray with nonstick spray between each waffle. Cook each waffle for about five minutes or until browned to your liking. Top with peanut butter, Nutella, fruit, whipped cream, or crumbled cookies. Or enjoy your liege waffle plain (that way is my favorite!)
- Leftover waffles can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, or the freezer for up to 4 months, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or put in an airtight container.
Don’t forget to come back each week for more recipes from around the world!