This Is What Makes Waffle House Waffles So Delicious

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Waffles are one of the purest comfort foods known to exist. And Waffle House, a greasy spoon diner open 24 hours a day, knows a thing or two about making them to toasted, syrup-soaked perfection. With Waffle House fueling the sober and inebriated along major interstates since the 1970s, it's no coincidence the golden-brown griddle cake takes center stage on the chain's menu. Yet even as the patty melts and the notoriously loaded hash browns threaten to hone in on the namesake's popularity, the waffle remains virtually unscathed. 

Taking into account that practically 2,000 locations are peppered throughout the U.S. (via Scrape Hero), waffle maestros batter out a staggering 145 of them per minute, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The restaurant never breaks a sweat in mixing, pouring, and serving the breakfast staple in stunning procession, and as long as that happens, regulars flowing through the doors will never stop ordering them. 

When it comes to the mouthwatering taste of a fresh-baked waffle, there's not a lot to figure out. But we're not so jaded that we would doubt the magic Waffle House brings to the table. Let's explore the ingenious simplicity of Waffle House's flagship product and the way each element mixes into the griddle treat that diners have enjoyed for generations. 

They're made to order

The one thing you'll never get during your visit to Waffle House is a reheated waffle. "All our food is cooked up front and right in sight," co-founder Tom Forkner relayed to Atlanta Magazine in 2007, and the claim holds true for the griddle staple, which short-order cooks make fresh for every customer who stops by. 

Because of the restaurant's layout, it's possible to get a front-row seat to the griddle and watch the kitchen staff prepare your order in real time (per Houston Press). From employees scooping the batter to the noisy ding of the iron, customers get to witness each step of the process that leads to the browned, crispy breakfast treat delivered hot to your table. Not many dining establishments offer such a transparent, up-close view of the cooking process, but at Waffle House, it's just another day of business. 

Frozen waffles are a uniquely American invention (via The New York Times), but once you've hit up a Waffle House in the morning, it is difficult opting for the toaster version again. Sure, there's nothing a heavy hand of syrup won't fix, but it's hard to beat the comfort of a fluffy waffle cooked from scratch. And at the rate Waffle House churns out its signature dish, the fact that it can promise fresh waffles around the clock doesn't leave its greasy-spoon competitors with much of an excuse. 

Half-and-half gives a velvety texture

What's responsible for the crisp, yet pillowy finish found in a Waffle House waffle? The trick to achieving this dichotomy, a former Waffle House cook divulged on Quora, is an ingredient stashed in millions of kitchen refrigerators as we speak: half-and-half. That's right, the creamer you pour into your coffee is what Waffle House pours into its luscious batter for springy, chewy waffles. The creaminess is only compounded by throwing in a few eggs for peak textural goals. 

Now what exactly is this dairy product made out of, and what does it do? Essentially, it's composed of equal amounts of milk and heavy whipping cream (via WebMD). The full-bodied feel of cream, meshed with the thin consistency of milk, blends the best of both worlds — it's indulgent, but far lighter than add-ins like heavy cream. That makes it a fantastic binding agent for waffles. Most waffle recipes will call for milk as the primary wet ingredient, but half-and-half is often recommended as a solid substitution, too. 

Described as a "sweet cream batter" via The Atlantic, Waffle House's signature fluff is apparent just by ordering the dish in one of its restaurants. Back in April 2020 amid the pandemic, the restaurant chain started selling its waffle mix in 52-ounce bags (per USA Today). The mix is now available in 13-ounce boxes. Just add one egg and a half quart of half-and-half to make six waffles. 

Waffle batter is mixed in a bain marie

There's nothing flashy about whipping up waffles. You mix together the ingredients and pour the off-white goop into a hot iron. At least, that was our initial impression prior to learning what goes into the waffles at Waffle House. A former employee shared an elevated cooking method that the chain uses when making its batter (via Quora), and it goes by a little name of the bain marie. 

A French term that translates to "Mary's bath," according to MasterClass, the bain marie is a technique that filters hot, boiling water through a vessel in order to carefully simmer or melt ingredients. The actual contraption resembles a bucket, but this video from Jamie Oliver's YouTube channel demonstrates a makeshift version by placing a heat-proof bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water. Basically, the steam from the water will emanate through the bowl, creating a barrier for the ingredients to heat without curdling or burning them. This practice is used all the time in baking, such as when tempering chocolate or preparing a custard filling, but any dish requiring a little TLC can benefit from using the bain marie, which is also known as a double boiler (via WebstaurantStore). 

For all its blue-collar posturing, Waffle House deploys a level of craftsmanship in making its beloved menu offering, and it's an approach that's not obvious on its face. At any rate, it explains the delicious texture that accompanies its fresh taste. 

The batter is made every day

In addition to slinging piping-hot waffles around the clock, Waffle House takes a similar tack with the batter. Fresh batches of the creamy mix are prepared every day, and the chain is more than happy to let everybody know about it. In fact, it deserves to brag. Take it from a Waffle House waitress who took to confirming it on Quora: "The batter itself is always fresh and made daily at the actual store." No wonder the waffles are so mouthwatering!

Bon Appetit writer Andrew Knowlton got a top-down view of the beloved breakfast spot when he worked a 24-hour shift there in 2014, with a stint covering batter preparation. We'll start off by saying that the batter-making is done in an unconventional way. Instead of using the mixing bowls associated with childhood, these waffle experts put together the concoction in industrial-sized plastic tubs. And instead of the trusty wooden spoon, they use a power drill equipped with a whisk at the end of it (via YouTube). Power tools aside, the segment confirmed what other folks in the know said to be true, and that's the fact that the batter, the waffle's lifeblood, is always mixed daily. 

Although waffle batter can be assembled in advance — according to, it can be stored up to two days in the fridge — there's something to be said about a silky batter whisked together that very morning and on premises where you'll be eating, no less. 

Waffle House uses high-quality waffle irons

Think you can recreate these plate-sized Frisbees with just any old waffle iron? Waffle House doesn't fool around with cheaply made equipment, and in our eyes, it pays off with perfectly toasted waffles every time. The Southern chain uses the Wells WB-1E model to churn out its menu headliner (via Kitchen Acorns). These are notoriously expensive appliances to acquire — restaurant supplier Dubick Fixture & Supply Inc. shows a listing price of $1,348. 

It's certainly a far cry from the budget-friendly varieties typical in most home kitchens, but Waffle House is not operating that way. In a fast-paced kitchen environment, reliability is a must, and the Wells waffle iron provides that with high-quality features all across the board. It's constructed out of stainless steel, for one, and the appliance boasts some pretty nifty features, including an adjustable temperature setting and timer for consistent baking (per Wells). As a result, the process is less prone to error when line cooks can simply pour in the batter and let the waffle iron do the rest of the work. 

Waffle House is open 24 hours a day, every day. There's no doubt the restaurant needs dependable machinery to function, and high-quality appliances like the Wells iron allow Waffle House to crank out its signature product with ease. In return, you get the tastiest breakfast this side of the interstate, no contest. 

Cooking spray prevents the waffles from sticking

If you ever need a reminder to grease your cookware, look no further than the waffle iron. There's no bigger hassle than prying out a waffle that's glued to the griddle, especially when it leaves behind a crumbly mess you'll have to scrub away to fully clean. Waffle House prevents this mishap from occurring with nonstick cooking spray, and it's a small step that guarantees the franchise's signature offering looks and tastes its very best. 

In an Ask Me Anything (AMA) discussion on Reddit, an overnight grill operator for Waffle House answered some pressing questions on what goes on at the griddle, including the waffle-making process. The employee says that prior to pouring in the batter, they season the iron with a spray so the finished waffle doesn't stick once it's finished cooking. The commenter didn't provide a specific product name, but we gather it's a general-purpose cooking spray like what most commercial kitchens have on hand. 

Sloppy appearances don't necessarily affect the overall quality of Waffle House's waffles, but in the restaurant's case, greasing the appliance works two-fold: making its griddle pucks look presentable, and adding a hint of flavor to the browned, crispy exterior. Be warned that cooking spray does contain calories, but for a restaurant where breakfast gets smothered and covered, a spritz of PAM is probably the least of your worries.

Smaller grooves are an ideal shape for syrup

What separates a waffle from any ordinary griddle cake? The grooves. Row by row, these toasted pockets cradle optimal amounts of syrup and butter, making each forkful a sensory delight. Compared to the plush squares found in Belgian waffles, however, Waffle House's are noticeably smaller. This sounds like a bad thing, but if anything, that only makes them better for smothering in gallons of our favorite liquified toppings. 

Waffle House's particular composition is very much in line with American cooking trends. Contrary to the European version, U.S. waffles tend to be broad in shape and on the chewier side, with miniature-sized iron marks. In other words, they are the complete opposite of the generously portioned grids of the ever-popular Belgian waffle

In 2014, Waffle House went on record on Twitter to proclaim the superiority of the American-style waffle in the lead-up to the competition with Belgium during the U.S. World Cup. Naturally, this launched a kerfuffle, and a statement from spokesperson Patrick Warner went on to make clear distinctions between the two nation's offerings. One of the differences touched on? The griddle marks. "We serve American waffles. Belgian waffles are square. Ours are round. Belgian waffles have bigger grids. Ours are smaller, which is better for syrup distribution" (per The Atlantic). 

Wherever you stand in the great waffle divide, there's something to be said about the greatness that is the American-style mainstay. And honestly, no diner does it better than Waffle House. 

Don't forget the toppings

Waffles are a blank canvas for some pretty tasty toppings. Sugary syrup and a butter pat are the traditional template, of course, but Waffle House offers a few flourishes fit for shaking up your breakfast. According to the chain's menu, you can choose from three additional toppings, and predictably, they're heavy on the sugar: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pecans (per Waffle House). 

Because the garnishes are considered add-ons, visitors pay extra for them, but not much. For the chocolate or peanut butter chips, as an example, Fast Food Menu Prices lists them at 25 cents apiece. For a waffle already priced at around $3, that's essentially pocket change for a sweetened dose of flavor. Ordering any one topping, or heck, all of the above, takes a naked waffle and dresses it to its full flavor potential, which is the beauty of a Waffle House waffle. Because the base product is so delicious, it'll taste good no matter what's on it. 

In the future we'd welcome some savory options, but Waffle House's short-order format probably wouldn't stop you from going off the menu and asking for chopped bacon or ham, maybe even some jalapeños for a fiery kick? Hey, a foodie can dream! One customer interviewed by Houston Press had a sweet revelation involving transforming the morning staple into a solid sweet treat. They recommended that by "adding toppings like whipped cream and chocolate sauce, it's practically a sundae without the ice cream."

Waffle House serves Blackburn-Made Syrup

When Waffle House released its tight-lidded waffle mix to the masses in April 2020, it wasn't the only secret spilled that year. In a Twitter post, the restaurant also revealed the makers of its syrup, that golden elixir brimming with sweet comfort, to be Blackburn, a Southern brand hawked at Denny's as well as on the shelves of major grocery retailers (via The Marshall News Messenger). 

Blackburn-Made Syrup, unlike Mrs. Butterworth's or Hungry Jack, is composed of ribbon cane, a plant that LEAFtv reports produces an unrefined syrup that's dark in hue and sweet in taste. Sean Fuquay, Blackburn's vice president of sales, told The Marshall News Messenger that the syrup "has more of a bite, a real strong flavor that's very popular in the south." 

The plant has fallen out of favor over time, as a result of the industry's widespread preference for sugar cane (per Saveur), but Blackburn remains a devout user of the region's artisanal specialty. Naturally, it's a perfect match for the Southern waffle chain's flagship product. Dispensing it with a heavy hand is never a bad idea. And should your weekly outing to Waffle House not give you enough of its sickly sweet glory, you can even purchase bottles of it on Amazon. 

Skilled line cooks make waffle magic happen

Joke all you want about Waffle House's seedy reputation, but to insist the waffles are only edible after a hard night of partying would be an insult to the talented line cooks behind the counter. These individuals are not just cogs in the well-oiled machine at Waffle House; they make the magic happen with their undeniable skill and expertise. 

In fact, the chain has names for these positions, and employees can work their way up to three potential roles: grill operator, master grill operator, and rock star grill operator (via Waffle House). Just look to this Waffle House grill operator who told Reddit exactly what it takes to man the cooking station. Getting a glimpse into the process reveals just how high the standards are for employees responsible for preparing the food. 

Simply put, workers don't just stroll into the kitchen. The process, the anonymous poster notes, involves "having you cook a lot of food, then a written test, and an evaluation by three bigger managers" prior to landing the role. And as far as wages go, the amount will be dictated by the employee's ranking, according to the chain's website. In other words, work your way up, and the money will definitely follow. 

Certainly, there's no doubting the simplicity that goes into making a waffle. But the moment you enjoy one prepared by an experienced waffle chef, you'll taste the difference almost immediately.