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.
Table of Contents
- What is a Liege Waffle?
- Ingredients for Pearl Sugar Waffles
- Tips to making the best Liege Waffles
- How to make Sugar Waffles
- Our favorite ways to serve up Sugar Pearl Waffles
- How to store leftover Liege Waffle dough:
- More breakfast recipes you are going to love!
- More breakfast ideas from friends!
- 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.
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!”
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??
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:
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.
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 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!
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!
- Whole milk
- Active dry yeast
- Granulated sugar
- 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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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
Liege Pearl Sugar Waffles
- 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.
Source: adapted from Taste Cooking