Liege waffles are made with a brioche yeast dough and are studded with pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is basically a small chunk of sugar that holds its shape as the waffles cooks, leaving you with gloriously crunchy bites of sugar. You can buy these on the street in Belgium and Norway. They make regular waffles look like amateurs. Originally published November 6, 2013.

liege waffle on a plate with nutella.
Table of Contents
  1. What is a Liege Waffle?
  2. Ingredients for Pearl Sugar Waffles
  3. Tips to making the best Liege Waffles
  4. How to make Sugar Waffles
  5. Our favorite ways to serve up Sugar Pearl Waffles
  6. How to store leftover Liege Waffle dough:
  7. More breakfast recipes you are going to love!
  8. More breakfast ideas from friends!
  9. Liege Pearl Sugar Waffles Recipe

My kids are in the kitchen making lunch by themselves, like they have most days this summer. Truman, 6, just came in and told me that he really loves honey, so he covered his entire sandwich in it. I didn’t even get up to investigate what exactly this means. I’m gonna let Future Karen deal with that situation.

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liege waffle on a plate with pearl sugar and powdered sugar.

Which basically sums up our summer over here. We’ve got a week left before school and we are all craving a schedule I think. Turns out when you’re 6, being bored results in mountains of honey. When you’re 2, it results in a full-on potty training regression, because WHY NOT? I can tell she’s thinking, “Even Mom looks bored. Let’s shake things up around here! FREEDOMMMM!”

liege waffles on a cooling rack.

I am ready for school to start and for the mountains of honey to stop, but I’m not actually ready. Meaning my kids need new clothes (seriously we got all the highwaters over here), we need to make a plan for lunches, buy pencils and…stuff. Back to school shopping has always been so intimidating for me, even when my first started kindergarten. And now my kids have somehow multiplied and I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.

My kid’s soccer team was gathering supplies for a raffle basket we were in charge of. For some reason someone picked the theme “Back to School Survival Kit for Parents.” I’m sorry but WTH? What does that even mean??

a stack of liege waffles with powdered sugar and pearl sugar.

They kept bugging us for donations and no one came up with anything (because seriously, what?) Finally someone said they were donating hydration sticks. After that they said they were cancelling the raffle basket, so no donations necessary. What in the heck are hydration sticks?? Probably that’s the exact question the powers-that-be asked themselves, so we really have crazy hydration lady to thank for getting the raffle basket cancelled. Bless you.

What is a Liege Waffle?

I feel like Liege waffles would be a good thing to put into an survival kit of any kind. Have any of you been to Belgium? I haven’t, but it has made one flying leap to the top of my “places I want to go in Europe” list. Here’s why:

a liege waffle on a plate with nutella melting on top and pearl sugar nearby.

I honestly don’t know much else about Belgium, but I don’t need to. These waffles are alllllll I need to know.

I’ve always been more of a pancake girl. (Try The Best Pancakes I’ve Ever Made! So good.) But this Liege Waffle recipe has changed everything. Everything! No other waffle stands a chance now. Because no other waffles have giant chunks of crunchy, delicious sugar in them.

close up shots of torn liege waffles.

On the left, you can see the soft yeasty center of the brioche dough used for these waffles. On the right, you can see the big chunk of sugar in the center, just waiting for you to bite into it. It’s THE.BEST.

pearl sugar, in a bag and in a measuring cup.

Pearl sugar is the secret to this magical crunchy delight. Each sugar is a little smaller than a pea, and instead of melting into the waffle, they stay crunchy, so when you bite in, you get these delicious little nuggets of awesomeness. Like I said, every other waffle is now ruined. Pearl sugar Belgian waffles ftw!

liege waffle cooking in a Belgian waffle iron.

They sell these famous little pastries on the street corners over in Belgium. My brother vacationed there once and wanted to recreate them at home. The first time we made them he had people over so he made a triple batch. One recipe calls for a cup of butter, so that means he used 6 sticks of butter. 6 sticks of butter. Can you tell why I love these waffles yet?

But guys, it’s not just the pearl sugar or the butter. It’s the waffle batter itself. It’s not really waffle batter, it’s waffle DOUGH. A yeast dough that you have to let rise. Yes, it’s a bit more of a time investment, but it’s SO worth it. Believe me.

Ingredients for Pearl Sugar Waffles

Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!

  • Flour
  • Cinnamon
  • Whole milk
  • Active dry yeast
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salted butter
  • Pearl sugar
  • Powdered sugar

Liege Waffle Recipe Substitutions

Liege waffles are a very specific type of waffle. The dough base needs to remain unchanged, and if you don’t use pearl sugar, you’re not making liege waffles anymore. However, if you want to play with flavors, you could definitely try a different extract (like almond, coconut, or rum) or add citrus zest (like lemon or orange). 

Tips to making the best Liege Waffles

Liege waffles aren’t your typical waffles. They’re made with yeast, so all the typical yeast bread rules apply. Here are a few ways to make sure your waffles are perfect:

  • Keep your yeast alive. Add water that is lukewarm, not hot. Killing your yeast at the beginning is a surefire recipe for disaster.
  • Let your dough rise. I know. It’s morning. You’re in a hurry. Save these for the weekend when you’ll have time.
  • Use a Belgian waffle maker. Liege waffles are traditionally thicker, as Belgian waffles are. The recipe will still work in a regular waffle maker, but they won’t be quite the same.
  • Spring for the pearl sugar. I know, your store might not carry it, you might have to order it from Amazon or something. But Liege waffles and their famous sweet crunch deserve the best. You won’t regret it!

How to make Sugar Waffles

mixing waffle batter in a stand mixer bowl.

Have you heard of brioche dough? Brioche has a gloriously soft and tender dough that has a lot of eggs and milk, and bakes (or in this case, waffles) with gorgeous golden dark edges. The magic is in the butter: instead of melting the butter or adding a bit in the beginning of the process (as with most yeast doughs), we’re saving it til the very end, after adding the flour in, and we’re adding a FULL CUP of the stuff.

balls of liege waffle dough with pearl sugar in them.
rolling liege waffle dough in powdered sugar and then placing a ball of the dough in a hot waffle iron.

Add softened butter a tablespoon at a time until the dough is, sticky and stretchy, making it completely unworkable if you were going to be rolling it out (but we’re not.) Check out my Homemade Cinnamon Rolls and Caramel Pecan Rolls for more breakfast treats using brioche dough. It’s unreal my friends.

pearl sugar Belgian waffles shot from close up.

After the dough is done resting, you dunk it in powdered sugar before waffling, giving you the most delicious caramelized edges of all time, like you see in the above photo. Just be careful to let your iron cool in between waffles, or the sugar ends up burning. You can also forego the powdered sugar altogether if you’re having issues, the waffles are still going to be amazing.

Our favorite ways to serve up Sugar Pearl Waffles

Liege waffles are delicious all by themselves. Don’t put maple syrup on them! It’s just totally unnecessary when you’ve already got all those delicious crunchy pearl sugar bits throughout.

If you do want to serve them with something, I recommend spreading or drizzling on a little Nutella or serving them with fresh fruit, like sliced strawberries or peaches, and whipped cream. If you really want to go over the top you could add ice cream, but I promise–they’re really perfect all by themselves.

How to store leftover Liege Waffle dough:

balls of liege waffle dough in plastic bags.

Can Liege Waffle Dough Be Frozen?

Technically yes, the dough can be frozen. I give detailed instructions on the notes in my recipe. But as the dough thaws, the pearl sugar will melt into the dough, meaning the resultant waffle will have all the flavor but not the signature sugary crunch. It might be a better option to cook up all the waffles and then freeze them to pull out and reheat whenever you want.

liege waffles on a plate with nutella melting on top and pearl and powdered sugars nearby.

These waffles would be a perfect Christmas morning breakfast…or dessert. Top with strawberries and whipped cream, or Nutella, or ice cream. I actually prefer them without maple syrup, I feel like it competes with the flavor of the waffle too much.

For old time’s sake, here’s the old photo I posted of these waffles back in 2013! Good times!

cooking a liege waffle in a waffle iron.

More breakfast recipes you are going to love!

Classic Waffle Recipe << I know I’m talking crap about waffles that aren’t Liege waffles in this post, but there is still a special place in my heart for regular waffles doused in maple syrup. This is my favorite recipe! It’s from my mother-in-law Kris.

Dark Chocolate Waffles with Ganache and Strawberries << I.LOVE.THESE.

Cheesy Overnight Bacon and Egg Casserole << so satisfying!

The Best Pancakes I’ve Ever Made << No lie.

Banana Macadamia Pancakes << If your mouth needs a trip to Hawaii…

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes << this is an oldie but a goodie

Cheesy Overnight Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole << I could eat this for breakfast lunch and dinner!

Soft and Sticky Caramel Pecan Rolls << these are perfect for Christmas morning!

More breakfast ideas from friends!

Double Berry Puff Pancake from Recipe Girl

Caramel and Sea Salt Pear Pancakes from Cookin Canuck

Sheet Pan Pancakes from Belly Full

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Liege Pearl Sugar Waffles

4.91 from 10 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Total: 24 minutes
Servings: 7 waffles (6 inch)
Liege waffles are made with a brioche-like yeast dough and are studded with pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is basically a small chunk of sugar that holds its shape as the waffles cooks, leaving you with gloriously crunchy bites of sugar. They make regular waffles look like amateurs. 


  • 4 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warm but not hot
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), very very soft
  • 1 & 3/4 cup pearl sugar*
  • powdered sugar, for rolling dough


  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 4 cups of flour, spooned and leveled.
  • Stir in 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour.
  • In a glass measuring cup, add 1 cup whole milk. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds and stir. It should be nice and warm, but not hot. Heat for another few seconds or stick in the fridge for a minute if it doesn’t feel nice and lukewarm.
  • Add the warm milk to the well in the center of the flour. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir the liquid with a small spoon. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  • When you come back, the yeast should look nice and frothy. (If it doesn’t, wait another 5 minutes, and if you still don’t see any growth from the yeast, toss it all and start over because it’s dead, YOU KILLED IT. But it’s okay. Don’t cry over spilled milk OR dead yeast, just try again.)
  • Once you’re sure your yeast is alive and well, crack 2 eggs into the milk. Break up the eggs with a fork and whisk them into the milk lightly with a fork.
  • Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the liquid.
  • Use a spoon or beaters to stir the flour and the liquid together. (I actually hold my dough hook in my hand and stir a couple times, but only because I hate extra dishes.)
  • Switch to the dough hook (or start kneading with your hands.) Knead with the dough hook until the dough has come together completely.
  • With the mixer running on low or medium low, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next tablespoon. Yes, add the full cup of butter. It’s what makes this dough so thick and brioche like, with a stretchy soft center that is unlike any waffle you’ve ever had! The process of adding the butter should take at least 5 minutes.
  • Once all the butter is incorporated, continue kneading with the dough hook for about 3 minutes.
  • Scrape the dough down and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let rest for 30 minutes. (I like to turn my oven on to 350 for about 1 minute and then turn it off, then let the dough rest inside. Make sure the oven is not hot. You should be able to touch the rack with your fingers.)
  • Prepare a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (I love my Silpat) or spray the pan generously with nonstick spray.
  • Once the dough has rested 30 minutes, use your hands to divide the dough into about 7 sections. Each section should be about 7 ounces, give or take. You don't need to roll it into a ball or anything special.
  • Place each section of dough on the prepared baking sheet, with plenty of space in between each one.
  • Spray some plastic wrap with nonstick spray. Cover the dough loosely with the plastic.
  • Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, divide the 1 and 3/4 cup pearl sugar into 7 equal portions and gently incorporate it into each section.
  • Preheat your waffle iron. I love my Presto Flip Side waffle maker. You could even make these waffles in a non-Belgian waffle iron, but I do think it’s better when the waffles are thicker for this recipe.
  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F (the keep warm setting). Place a wire cooling rack in the oven.
  • In a medium bowl, add some powdered sugar. Roll one section of dough generously in the powdered sugar.** There is no need to grease the iron. Place it directly in the center of your waffle iron and press the top down firmly. Leave it in the waffle iron for 2-5 minutes, depending on how hot your waffle iron is. The waffle is done when the edges are a deep golden brown.
  • Remove the waffle with a fork and transfer to the wire rack in the oven. Be careful!! The edges of these waffles are caramelized and they are HOT.
  • Dust with powdered sugar and serve. It’s great with strawberries or Nutella. I prefer minimal toppings for Liege waffles, and say no to maple syrup. I mean you can, I just feel like it takes away from the yeasty caramely flavor that is what makes Liege waffles so glorious. Make sure you serve these warm. The outer edges are caramelized and will crisp up quite a bit if they are not warm. Reheating in the microwave is fine. 
  • There is going to be a lot of sugar on your waffle iron when you're done. Adding water to your hot waffle iron, while it's still on, is your best option for dissolving the burned on sugar! You can also use an old toothbrush or disposable chopstick for dislodging burned-on chunks. You can then unplug your waffle iron and gently pour the water into your sink, being careful not to burn yourself.


*If you can’t find pearl sugar, I’ve heard that chopped sugar cubes are a decent substitute, but I’ve never tried it.
**The powdered sugar is optional. If you do it for every waffle, eventually the sugar will caramelize and it may burn the edges of your waffles. I compromised by unplugging my iron to let it cool down a bit in between waffles. These waffles are still great without the powdered sugar, it just enhances the caramelization on the edges, which I love. 
Make ahead freezer instructions: Once you’ve adding the pearl sugar in step 15, you can separate the dough as described, store in individual ziplock bags, and freeze for up to 2 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw on the counter for about 2 hours, then let the dough rest for about an hour. You don’t need to take it out of the bag. Then cook as described. The waffles will still be delicious, but the pearl sugar won’t be quite as crunchy. You can also freeze any completed leftover waffles you have for 2 months. Serve warm!
Make ahead overnight instructions: Make the dough through step 12 (don’t add the pearl sugar). Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, pick up with step 14: stir in the pearl sugar, section out the dough, and let rest for 1 hour. This would be perfect for Christmas morning! Let them rest while you do stockings!
Source: adapted from Taste Cooking


Serving: 1waffle | Calories: 781kcal | Carbohydrates: 120g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 1015mg | Potassium: 176mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 65g | Vitamin A: 935IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Belgian
Calories: 781
Keyword: Leige, Pearl Sugar, Waffles
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 4 stars
    This is the most promising of all the specific legs waffle recipes I have seen.

    I lived in Brussels decades ago, and down near the Grand Place, there was at least one hole-in-the-wall waffle maker. I remember that they were served with waxed paper excuse the outsides were somewhat gooey with caramelized sugar. The centres were soft and stretchy.

    4 years ago we were back in Belgium, but the waffles were just not the same texture.

    So we made these this afternoon. The flavour was perfect, although could have a little more prominence of the yeast flavour. The exterior had a nice crunch from the caramelized icing sugar. Who could ever go back to ordinary waffles after this?

    However, the interiors were not stretchy. We tried several temperatures, but could not quite get to that long-remembered texture. I’m going to stick with this recipe, because it has all the right components for success, including that last bath in icing sugar.

    Do you have any tips? Should we mix longer to stretch the gluten, allow more rise time, add more egg, yeast, etc.? Thanks

    PS: after research and not wanting to pay $1000 for a heavier iron, we settled on
    the Krups Stainless Steel Waffle Maker with with deep pockets, 5 browning levels and removable plates. Hot enough to melt the interior sugar pearls.

    1. I’m so happy we’ve found each other Dave! Sounds like you are on a serious quest to recreate this Liege waffle memory! Respect. I’ve been here so many times for so many different recipes. Like I said, I’ve never actually been to Belgium and haven’t tried official Liege waffles, BUT I hear what you’re saying about the special chew factor. unfortunately, and I hate to break this to you, I think it likely comes down to the actual ingredients you are using. European flour is quite different from American flour, with higher protein levels (meaning more gluten is formed when kneading) and it is more finely ground. The main ingredient in these waffles is flour, so the fact that our flour is so different from what they are likely using in Belgium, is probably the reason the texture is different. For your next test, I would try using double zero flour (you can read a little more about “00 flour” on my Pizza Dough post). This is the type of flour used in artisanal pizzas, and if the chew-factor of those crusts is the kind of chew you are looking for in these waffles, this might be the solution. This is just a guess and i can’t be sure of anything without testing. Would LOVE a report back on this if you try it!!

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this morning. Used oatmilk and my food processor….so easy! I got 9 balls out of my batch and I think they are plenty big. I did the yeast part separate and then added to my flour, didn’t want to waste flour if my yeast was no good. Cooked one to try on my stovetop waffle iron….delicious! It’s fluffier than the recipe I used to use, I think I used a different flour that makes the waffles more grainy? But, totally happy with this and it doesn’t take 2 days and a bunch of rise/kneading. Winner.

  3. We love this recipe! I’m going to try the overnight method to have them Christmas morning. Have you ever refrigerated them overnight AFTER breaking them into their 7oz sections? Do you think that would work? I was thinking I could pop the pan directly into the “proof” setting of my oven while gift-opening and then all we would have to do is add the sugar and bake them up. Mostly, I’m trying to be as lazy as possible Christmas morning and not even have to worry about weighing them out in the morning. ;)

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been making Liege waffles with the same recipe for 13 years…but it takes two days and there are like five different rises for the dough. I thought I’d search for one that was far less complicated and gave this one a try today. We loved it! And for how much less work it is than the original, I think this will become our new staple. I used bread flour because that is what we are used to for liege waffles and we like the texture of the waffles with the high protein flour. These were perfectly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with no shortage of pearl sugar caramelization. Thanks for a great recipe! After today’s test run, I’ll be making them for friends this weekend with creme fraiche and lots of fresh strawberries.

    1. Creme fraiche and fresh strawberries?? Can I be your friend too? Sarah that sounds amazing. Thanks for taking the time to comment and tell us how much you loved the waffles!

    2. Hi Sarah, would you share your recipe that you used for years? I had one that also took 2days and now I have lost it and can’t find another. Thanks!

  5. Hiiii, excited to try this for tomorrow! Is it possible to change the milk for oat milk? and if not, could I use Lactaid?

  6. Could someone send me an amazon link to a waffle maker that would be suitable to make those waffles? Please? Anyone? Thaaaaaank you!

  7. Technical question: instructions for refrigerating overnight say to prepare through step #12 and pick up at step 14 in the AM. Should the dough not have the initial rise??

    1. Hi Carrie! A refrigerated rest in the fridge overnight is all it needs! If you want to, you could wait til your dough is room temp and then move forward, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Enjoy!!

      1. Thank you!! Almost had to abort the whole mission. Couldn’t get my yeast to activate. Twice. Finally got it on the third try. Looking forward to yummy waffles tomorrow. Thanks again for getting back to me so quickly!!

  8. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I am excited to have found it. I have been to Belgium (save your $$–it is worth the trip). I was in Bruges where I stopped and had my first experience with this waffle–warm from the iron, slathered in fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was transformative!

    1. Oh man! I hope I make it over to Belgium someday! I bet it is transformative! I hope this recipe is just what you remember! Let me know how it goes :)

  9. hello! im from Mexico, i havent found
    the pearl sugar, do you have any idea how can
    i make it at home? or an subtitute?

    1. Hey Karen! There are lots of recipes online for how to make it at home! My friend Erika has a great tutorial here

  10. These waffles look AMAZING! Totally want breakfast for dinner now :) We make waffles in our George Foreman grill. works really well. I am so not adjusted to the time change. I feel like all of my non working ours are housed in darkness :(

    1. WHAT. How come no one ever tells me these genius ideas? Do you like, write Pinterest?
      And yes, it is such a bummer to come home from work to a dark house. How do you take pictures Laura? Do you do everything on the weekends?

  11. I’ve been the Waffle Luv!! It was awesome! That’s where the biscoff idea came from. That was actually my first introduction to Biscoff.

    1. Okay now I am double jealous. Especially if they have biscoff waffles. Was it in the waffle itself Alicia or just the topping?

      1. It was topped with Biscoff, strawberries, and whipped cream. Mmmm. And by the way, crunchy Biscoff is the only way to go as far as I’m concerned.

  12. Yay! We’ll have to try this recipe. My sis-in-law Tammy was working on creating these a few months ago, but said the ones she made were too much like a cookie. Still good, but a little overkill. I’m gonna send this over to her so she can put her pearl sugar to good use (and hence, I win too, since she will share!).

    So, did you ever go visit the Waffle Love truck while you were still here in Utah? I keep meaning to, but that would require getting ready to be acceptable looking in the “real” world. Now I won’t ever have to. Yes!

    1. Waffle Love Truck??? You’re kidding me. How did I never hear about this? I’m so jealous we can’t go together now! And of course, tell Tammy to hop on over!

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