March 7, 2023
A few months ago, and honestly not for the first or realistically the last time, my family betrayed me. It started, almost predictably, with the youngest. I made waffles one morning, so proud of myself for remembering to start the yeasted waffle batter, my favorite, the night before — and my daughter told me that she prefers the waffles at grandma’s house. “What kind does grandma make?” I asked. “They’re in the freezer,” she told me. “I think they say ‘egg’ on them?”
I think we all know where this was going. I was traveling a wee bit over the last few months and decided before a trip to surprise her with a giant box of Eggos in the freezer. When I got home at the end of the week, the whole box was gone. It turns out that it isn’t just my daughter who prefers them, it’s my son too, and even my husband. The treachery!
A normal person who cooks might shrug and be at peace with having one less thing that needs to be made from scratch. I’m perfectly comfortable, for example, simply never making croissants at home. But waffles? I love homemade weekend morning waffles. So I did the less rational but very me thing and got very obsessed with cracking the code of homemade freezer waffles. I learned a few things along the way:
- The goal: Forgive me if you’re an absolute Eggo die-hard, but after trying my share, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it may not be the unique or nuanced flavor that makes these waffles special. It’s the fact that they’re perfect texture straight out of the toaster: crisp on the outside, tender inside. This is a tricky feat to pull off in almost any waffle iron. They’re largely nonstick and trap steam. Homemade recipes go to tremendous lengths to create crisp exteriors — yeast, whipped egg whites, cornstarch, and more — but none have the ease or reliability of, you know, popping a frozen waffle in the toaster. I get it, I really do.
- The trick: But making a waffle, freezing it, and toasting it is not quite right, either. They dry out, and seem more like toast. The trick I’ve found is to undercook the waffle in the iron. The moment my waffle holds its shape — as little as 30 to 60 seconds in a tiny waffle iron — I’ll gently yank it out and drop it on a cooling rack. When the rack is full, I’ll freeze the waffles, suspended in their semi-cooked state. When toasted, they cook through and crisp beautifully.
- The eggs, the milk: I found that using a bit more egg that I might normally put in a pancake or waffle batter leads to a less cakey texture inside and protects the interiors from drying out even if you leave the waffles in the toaster a little long. An equal proportion of yogurt and milk is the ideal liquid, and I tried everything from buttermilk to water, in every proportion possible. It’s not very sweet, as we at Casa Smitten are going to drown them in syrup. And this recipe is one-bowl, not that you even have to ask.
- About the waffle iron: I have a favorite waffle iron of all time, with deep pockets and removable, dishwasher-safe plates. I told you about it almost eight years ago; it’s still perfect. I’ve just been cheating on it. I bought my sister one of these tiny, adorable waffle irons I kept seeing all over TikTok for Hanukkah but when I realized it wasn’t going to arrive in time, ordered one from a different store, with plans to return the first one when it arrived. But it was so cute, I could not part with it. It was only $13 (or two for $16?). I am only human. And when you’re trying to convince a suspicious 7 year-old to try “Deb-Os” [“no, they’re Mommy-Os!”] waffles, it helped that they also looked the part.
Easy Freezer Waffles
- 4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (225 grams) plain, non-Greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (235 grams) milk, any variety
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
- Nonstick spray for coating waffle iron
Make batter: Combine melted butter, sugar, and yogurt in a large bowl. Add eggs and whisk until evenly combined, then milk and vanilla. Sprinkle surface of batter with baking powder and salt and whisk to thoroughly disperse into the batter. Add flour and mix until it disappears.
Par-cook waffles: Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions and coat with nonstick spray. [I’m using this one.] Cook your first waffle until it’s just beginning to color on top and the shape just sets but is not fully cooked through; in my tiny iron this takes 30 to 60 seconds. I find it easiest to remove these very soft waffles by first poking into the side of the waffle with a knife point, just to lift the edge. Then, use tongs (which you can now slide under and over the waffle) to yank it out. Transfer/plop waffle quickly on a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.
Freeze waffles: Freeze waffles right on this rack until completely solid, an hour or two, or overnight. Once solid, transfer to an airtight bag or container.
Toast and serve: Place frozen waffles directly in toaster and cook until crisp and lightly browned outside. You can also toast them in an oven heated to 400°F, either on an oven-safe rack for 8 minutes, or on a baking sheet, flipping waffles over midway for even toasting.
Serve hot with a pat of salted butter and drizzle of maple syrup and lots of fresh berries, if you’re me, or however you like your waffles best.
Do ahead: Frozen waffles will keep in an airtight bag or container for months, or for as long as you freezer allows it without imparting them with a freezery taste.