These Belgian Liège waffles are made from brioche-like yeast-leavened dough with the addition of pearl sugar to create a delicious treat with a crunchy, caramelized exterior. It's a perfect choice for a dessert, brunch, breakfast or even a party!
Look, I have to be honest and say that for years I thought that I didn't like waffles. Almost everywhere I looked there were only recipes that used a batter similar to pancakes to make waffles and I always found them too eggy and not at all what I imagined a true Belgian waffle to be.
It wasn't until a few years ago that I found this recipe on a popular Croatian recipe-sharing site that claimed to be an authentic one and it used yeast! Yesss! A win!
Since then, I played and adapted it to fit my preferences and came up with the Belgian Liège waffles recipe I'm sharing with you all today. It's a true gem that my family is obsessed with, so I'm pretty sure yours will be too! 🙂
The difference between Brussels waffles and Liège waffles
Both are obviously Belgian-style waffles because they come from Belgium, but a Brussels waffle is what you would typically imagine a "classic" waffle to look like.
However, neither is similar to American-style "Belgian" waffles because both are made with yeast as a leavening agent, instead of a simple batter made with baking powder.
Brussels waffles are made with yeast-leavened batter (runny) and Liege waffles with yeast-leavened dough (denser) enriched with pearl sugar. That's why you'll also see them called Belgian Sugar Waffles.
Personally, I'm always up for a rich, chewy Liège waffle, than the one made with batter. I'm just a dough-loving person and I can't resist the perfection pearl sugar brings to the recipe. 🤷🏻♀️ If you're anything like me, you'll absolutely adore these!
How to make Belgian Liège waffles (step-by-step)
Note: You have the fully written recipe with measurements and detailed instructions at the end of the post. However, I advise you to read all the helpful tips and FAQs.
- Start by activating the yeast in the water and some sugar. It takes a few minutes and it's done when it's frothy at the top like shown in the picture.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer combine all the wet ingredients: sugar, butter, salt, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and the yeast-water mixture and then add the flour.
- Knead on medium-low speed for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough starts pulling from the sides, but it's still a bit sticky. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave to rise for about 2 hours in a warm environment.
- When the dough has doubled in size, you have two options to choose from to proceed. Either punch the dough, cover it with plastic wrap again and leave to rise in the fridge (preferably over night) or punch the dough and go to the next step to make them immediately.
Allowing the dough to get a slow second rise will result in waffles with a richer flavor as well as a dough that is easier to work with. However, the waffles are still insanely delicious when made after just one rise. 🙂
Note: If making the waffles right away, the dough will be a little bit sticky and soft, no worries there! It's how it's supposed to be. Just use 2 regular spoons to scoop the dough in the waffle iron. Traditionally, you would use Belgian Waffle Iron which creates deeper pockets, but mine (pictured above) worked great as well.
- After you punched the dough (my favorite part) after proofing, add the pearl sugar to it and knead to combine it thoroughly, either with a wooden spoon, your hands or an electric mixer.
- Preheat the waffle iron and grease it with cooking spray or brush with some melted butter, so the dough doesn't stick. Scoop the dough and place it in the middle of each square.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Transfer the cooked waffles on a wire rack to slightly cool and continue with cooking the rest of the dough.
Belgian pearl sugar substitute
Unfortunately, Belgian pearl sugar is not easily available to everyone. In this case, I actually ended up using Swedish pearl sugar which is much smaller, but it did the job pretty well. Although it did melt and caramelized more than the bigger Belgian one would. It's mostly annoying only because of the cleaning of the waffle iron later. 😬
A very good substitute is to use sugar cubes. Just put them in a ziplock bag and smash with a rolling pin to get chunks similar to pearl sugar. It works like a charm!
💡Top tips for making Belgian Liege waffles
- after a couple of minutes of letting the waffles rest on the wire rack (to avoid condensation), transfer them to a plate and keep in an oven preheated at 100°C (212°F) to keep them warm while you complete the cooking
- don't skip adding the pearl sugar (be it storebought or homemade)! It's what really gives the amazing flavor to these Liege waffles
- if you don't have a stand mixer, don't worry! You can use an electric hand mixer with dough spiral attachments or a wooden spoon
- if you don't have brown sugar, you can use regular white granulated sugar as well
These Belgian Sugar Waffles are incredibly delicious on their own and actually, that is how they are served in Belgium. However, you can serve them with some macerated fresh fruit (fruit mixed with sugar and left to release juices) and vanilla whipped cream as I did in these pictures.
Some other topping ideas include:
- Nutella spread
- Chocolate sauce
- Caramelized bananas
- Ice cream
- Fruit compote
- Powdered sugar
Storing and freezing
Like most dough-based sweets, these Liege waffles are the best when freshly made. However, they will keep good for a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature.
You can reheat them using a microwave or an oven, but it's possible you'll lose some of their signature crunch. Still delicious though!
Do you want to freeze some for later? I hear ya! These waffles freeze great. When they're completely cold, double wrap them in plastic wrap individually (so it's easier to portion later) and place in the freezer. They will keep for 2-3 months.
When you crave some, just pop them in an oven preheated at 150°C (300°F) for a few minutes until they're warmed up.
It's super easy! Buy some white sugar cubes, put them in a ziplock bag and then bash with a rolling pin! I wouldn't recommend using a food processor because you can damage the blade, but also because it processes the sugar cubes too finely.
Yes! The waffles get even better if the second rise is slow in the fridge overnight, so if you want to have a great weekend breakfast/brunch, preparing the dough the day before is great!
Other recipes you might enjoy
Belgian Sugar Liège Waffles
- 1 envelope instant or active dry yeast
- 60 g water (lukewarm (40-50°C))
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 80 g whole milk (lukewarm)
- 60 g light soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 120 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 375 g all-purpose flour
- 150 g pearl sugar (approx.)
- Start by activating the yeast by combining it with warm water and a teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast. Leave for a few minutes until the top turns frothy.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer attached with a dough hook, combine together the milk, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, vanilla and yeast-water mixture. Give it a stir and then add the flour.
- Knead the mixture on medium-low speed for about 8-10 minutes, stopping to scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon to ensure everything is getting mixed properly.
- The dough is ready when it starts pulling from the sides but is still soft and sticky.
- Cover the bowl tightly with a plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size, in a warm environment.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and stir in the pearl sugar either with a stand mixer, a wooden spoon or hands. Alternatively, cover the dough with plastic wrap again (without adding the sugar) and allow a second rise in the fridge over night.
- Preheat the waffle iron and grease with some cooking spray or melted butter to avoid the dough sticking to it.
- Scoop the dough in the middle of each "square" leaving enough room so it can spread when you press it down.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized (or according to your waffle iron settings). Transfer to a wire rack to slightly cool before serving.
- You can keep the cooked waffles in a warm oven while continuing to cook the rest of the dough. Serve as is or with your favorite topping.
- Keep the waffles in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days, though they are the best freshly made. For freezing instructions check the post.
All the recipes are developed and tested using only metric measurements and a kitchen scale. The U.S. cup and spoon measurements are provided for your convenience, but I highly recommend getting a digital kitchen scale and measuring in metrics. It's easy and always guarantee the same results in baking!
The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.