Savory waffles: Think Beyond Sweet

Savory waffles: Does the phrase throw you off? Traditionally a sweet item on the breakfast table, we’re used to dousing our waffles with maple syrup. Even waffle recipes that don’t call for much sugar are paired with sweet toppings: drifts of whipped cream, heaps of fresh fruit, or a spoonful of chocolate hazelnut spread.

But you shouldn’t overlook the savory side of waffles. Consider them a blank canvas, like a crêpe or a bagel, and suddenly a world of flavor options is open to you. Savory waffles are ideal for any meal, from breakfast to lunch to dinner (or even a midnight snack!). They’re an excellent base for toppings, whether simple or substantial.

There are three ways to approach making savory waffles:

1. Create plain savory waffles by omitting or reducing the sugar in your favorite recipe

Our Classic Buttermilk Waffle is an excellent choice. Pile on the extras, like chipped beef or fried chicken.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

2. Add savory ingredients to the waffle batter itself.

Get creative! Fresh or dried herbs, vegetables, cheeses, spices, and more are all good choices.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

3. Waffle an already savory dish!

A waffle iron is basically a miniature oven or panini press, so anything from hash browns to falafel to cornbread is fair game. Just grease the waffle iron well; foods like cheesy quesadillas and grilled sandwiches are good contenders, since they benefit from all the crispy divots and edges your waffle iron creates. Read our blog post to find out more about all the things you can create in your waffle iron.

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy savory waffles, along with some ideas for flavor combinations to get you inspired!

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

Savory cornmeal waffles

Crisp, buttery cornbread is delicious in its classic form. Bake your cornbread batter in a waffle iron, and it gets even better. All those crunchy edges form an addictive snack.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

A cornbread waffle makes a wonderful breakfast dish: We played on the idea of a traditional lox and cream cheese bagel and topped ours with a whipped chive cream cheese and delicate slices of smoked salmon. Breakfast is served!

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

Chicken and waffles

Famous throughout the South, fried chicken served atop waffles is a seriously decadent meal. Any fried chicken connoisseur will wax poetic about the contrasting texture of crunchy chicken and tender, light-as-a-feather buttermilk waffles.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

A drizzle of spicy maple syrup or spicy honey adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance all that salt and butter.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

Zucchini waffles

Here’s a clever way to eat your vegetables. Start with a simple waffle recipe (omitting the sugar) and add grated zucchini. Be sure to squeeze as much water as you can out of the zucchini before adding it to the batter, or it can get too liquid-y. Depending on what ratio you want, you can add as much as equal parts zucchini to waffle batter.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

This technique works nicely with other vegetables too, and is a smart way to get pickier eaters to happily devour their five servings a day. Grated potato, chopped fresh baby spinach or kale, chopped roasted cauliflower or broccoli, or even diced bell pepper would all work nicely.

For an even more wholesome meal, top your zucchini waffles with fresh tomato and avocado.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

Breakfast waffles

Everything’s better with bacon. To up the breakfast ante, whip up a stack of simple savory waffles (try our Classic Sourdough Waffle recipe). Cook a pan of crisp bacon (or bake it for less mess!), fry a couple eggs, and layer it all together. As the yolks break, they run down the waffles, coating them in a deliciously savory sauce. Hot sauce optional!

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

Cheesy herbed waffles

We saved the best (and simplest) for last. Cheese and herbs are the best place to start when you’re experimenting with savory waffles. Simply add a handful or two of grated cheese to your batter (omit the sugar, if it’s called for), and stir in any herbs and spices you like.

Savory waffles via @kingarthurflour

I like a combination of grated cheddar with dried oregano, dried basil, and dried thyme. Parmesan cheese, paprika, and fresh parsley would be delicious. Try Fontina cheese with fresh rosemary, or mozzarella cheese with our pizza seasoning blend.

Are you ready to take waffles to the next level? Try your hand at a savory variation, and let us know in the comments which dishes you dream up.

About

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...

comments

  1. ElleBella

    MaryAnn, thanks for accurate information. This is my issue with KA. They make up stories to suit their need. They are often inaccurate. Accuracy is important to baking. #FlourMatters.

    Reply
  2. MaryAnn

    Contrary to popular opinion and the media, chicken and waffles are not southern food, and has never been historically considered a typical southern meal. Chicken and waffles is African-American soul food that originated in Maryland. In the south, chicken and biscuits is common. It’s common now to find this meal in trendy southern restaurants (even in the South) because certain chefs and the media have portrayed it as southern, but it’s not correct.

    Reply
    1. M

      I’ve heard it told chicken and waffles came from Wells’ in Harlem in the late 30s, when the jazz cats would roll up after gigs too late for dinner, just as early risers were getting ready for breakfast.

  3. Paul

    Made the cornbread batter version omitting the sugar and substituting gluten free flour. Came out excellent—topped with Gouda and Raclette and put them in the oven for a few to melt. Guests loved them, will make again.

    Reply
  4. sandy

    My Mom often made savory waffles for Sunday night supper. She served them topped with creamed chipped beef gravy or chicken a la king. They were a nice easy meal for her to fix at the end of a busy day and everyone looked forward to them.

    Reply
  5. Sharon Karpinski

    I regularly make yam waffles from an old recipe from the Joy of Cooking that’s moist and delicious. I also make a New Mexico classic—-blue cornmeal waffles with pinon nuts and green chile—a savory and sweet all in one that’s really good with maple syrup.

    Reply
  6. Margy

    I just made cornmeal waffles with chiles and fresh corn to serve with chili con carne.. Delicious! And I didn’t have to heat up the kitchen to make cornbread or muffins in
    90+ degree weather.

    Reply
  7. Kat H.

    Cornmeal waffles are a favorite. I actually had a recipe that was meant for the waffle iron at some point… or maybe my roommate had it.
    We often topped ours with leftover Indian food such as dal, aloo gobi, or chana masala. I think we had waffles for dinner more often and we did for breakfast.

    Reply
  8. Kay

    We have a local restaurant that makes waffled mac n’ cheese. It gives it a crunchy exterior and a soft, gooey interior that is amazing! I bet a stuffing waffle would go great with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

    There is a recipe book called “Will it Waffle” which has a lot of great recipes for things to cook with a waffle press. It’s one of my favorites!

    Reply

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