The waffle started out looking and tasting quite different to the ones we know today. While the standard Belgian Waffle design actually originated in Brussels, the country can be credited for inventing the recipe as a whole.
Waffles can be a breakfast food, part of a main meal, or even served as a dessert. You can find them in supermarkets, cafés, bakeries, and even at some ice cream vendors.
The traditional, plain waffle consists of flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, butter and, if sweet, vanilla extract. Due to the eggs, milk and butter, contemporary waffles are not suitable for those who follow a vegan lifestyle. This means that a lot of the aforementioned vendors could not be used, unless they had specific vegan-friendly products.
Some waffle toppings can also contain ingredients that aren’t vegan friendly, so it is always important to double check the label to make sure.
Alternative Ingredients for Vegan Waffles
As with most recipes, it is possible to alter and substitute ingredients both in the waffle batter and toppings to make waffles that are vegan-friendly. The substitutions you use will depend on whether you are after a sweet or savory product.
Eggs are used to bind to waffle batter. You cannot make the batter simply by omitting them. If you want to create authentic tasting waffles, you will need to find something that will replace the work of the eggs.
There are several vegan substitutes that would work well.
Applesauce – For a sweeter waffle, you could try using applesauce in place of the eggs. The unsweetened variety is best, as it won’t affect the taste too much. Applesauce also contains great nutrients so it can be quite a healthy alternative compared to artificial substitutes.
Bananas – Whole foods are great, and we love including foods in baking that are vegan and good for you. Mashed banana can take the place of eggs, and are especially good for dessert waffles.
Water, Oil & Baking Powder – For a cheap alternative to egg replacements, you can use a combination of water, oil and baking powder. This will do the same job, but without the need to use any animal products.
Flax Seeds – Flax seeds are a traditional staple for egg replacement. By mixing and dispersing the flax seeds with water, you end up with the perfect egg replacement. This will alter the consistency of your finished product, leaving it denser, but that can be good when forming waffles. Flax seeds are ideal for both sweet and savory waffles.
The milk acts as the liquid in waffle batter. It combines all the ingredients together and helps to incorporate all their roles and flavors. It also adds its own taste so substituting it may change the flavor of your waffles, but you can always find dairy-free milk and other liquids with flavors that you love even more.
Water – If you want a crispier waffle without any added taste, water can be a great ingredient to use. This can also be especially beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant, or for people who want to reduce their caloric intake.
Soy Milk – For a simple milk replacement you can use standard soy milk. This will work well for both savory and sweet recipes. Make sure you choose the unsweetened variety, as otherwise this can make your batter taste sickly.
Almond Milk – Another staple in a vegan’s fridge is almond milk. This can easily replace cows’ milk and is extremely good if you want, or like, a nutty hint to your waffles.
The butter provides moisture and lightness within a waffle. You can omit most of it for a healthier product, but may end up with a very dry waffle. Instead, it can be useful to use a smaller amount just to make sure that moisture is still there.
Pumpkin Puree – Fruit is always a better choice than unhealthy fats, so pumpkin puree can be perfect. It will ensure your waffles are tender, while limiting the flavor change. It is also extremely healthy, so you can feel good about this change.
Avocado – For a savory waffle, you might opt to use mashed avocado instead. Avocados are full of healthy fats that you should be consuming, so this will be better for your body than regular butter and is vegan-friendly too.
Olive Oil – A small amount of oil can make up for a lot of butter, so you won’t need much. The oil will also aid in the cooking process, stopping your batter from sticking to the pan. You can also use oil as opposed to butter when cooking if you make your waffles in a frying pan rather than a waffle maker.
Savory Vegan Waffles
Green Waffles – Including spinach and avocado in your waffle batter is a foundation for a healthy and savory vegan waffle. You could then top your waffle with other vegetables or even some vegan cheese for a delicious brunch food.
Sweet Potato – Adding mashed sweet potatoes to your waffle batter will give it a great taste that goes well with tomatoes and chopped onion. Adding some paprika and cayenne pepper can also make the waffle slightly spicy, perfect for those who despise bland food.
Portobello Mushrooms – Using vegan yoghurt and mushrooms, you can add a creamy topping to your waffles. This also works very well if making miniature waffles, and can be brilliant as part of a main meal.
Potato Waffles – While not normally seen in the United States, this is a common food in the United Kingdom. Waffles made from potato products can generally be found in the freezer section. If you can’t find them in shops, it is quite easy to make your own.
Sweet Vegan Waffles
Vegan Ice Cream – This can be a great topping, particularly for people who love the contrast between the hot waffle and cold ice cream. You could also top these with vegan ice cream sauces, or even some grated vegan chocolate, but they are also perfect as they are.
Vegan Yogurt and Berries – For the health-conscious vegan, yogurt and berries are a less sinful topping. These can be particularly good for you and, if using other healthy substitutions, this can seriously reduce the calorie content of both the waffles and toppings overall.
Maple Syrup – While honey is outlawed on a vegan diet, there is no reason why you can’t swap this out for maple or golden syrup. These are great for people who love sickeningly sweet waffles, or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. You need to be mindful of how much you use, as syrups can contain both a high number of calories and carbohydrates (including unhealthy refined sugar), so a small amount, as opposed to drowning them, is plenty. This is also a good choice of topping for people who have nut and dairy allergies, where other toppings may contain off-limit ingredients.
Peanut Butter and Banana – Unless you have a peanut allergy, peanut butter can be a delicious spread on waffles. You could add some chopped up banana too for a difference in textures and flavors. This topping would be especially good if you used mashed bananas in place of eggs earlier on in the waffle batter itself.
Waffles can be a delicious treat, enjoyed in moderation. While the standard waffles in grocery stores and food chains may not be suitable for vegans, there is nothing stopping you from finding ones that are. Both specialty shops and designated vegan aisles will contain products that cater for different diets, and you also have the option of creating your own.
Remember to always make note of your ingredients so you can work out the nutritional content per waffle, or portion. While it is great that you are creating your own vegan foods, it is also important to monitor your intake and ensure that you are consuming a vegan and healthy diet.