Making waffles without oil is pretty unheard of, but oil-free waffles are indeed possible and completely delicious. This recipe works for both classic (small-well) and Belgian (large-well) waffle irons. Before you begin, review the recipe and the Waffle Tips.
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (plus more to thin batter as it sits)
- 1 ounce pitted dates (2 Medjool or 4 Deglet Noor), chopped
- 1 ounce raw, unsalted cashews (about ¼ cup) or 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Sliced fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, and/or blueberries, to top waffles (optional)
- 1 recipe Strawberry-Date Syrup (optional)
- Extra cashews to grate on top (optional, see Note)
- Place the nondairy milk, dates, and cashews or almond butter into a small bowl, and set aside for at least 15 minutes (so the dates and nuts can soften).
- Grind the rolled oats into flour with a blender. Transfer to a medium bowl, and whisk in the cornmeal, baking powder, and cinnamon. Plug in your waffle iron and set it to medium or medium-high (I use a 6 inch, round waffle iron with this recipe).
- Pour the soaking ingredients (milk, dates, and cashews or almond butter) into the blender, and blend until smooth.
- Add this mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Allow the batter to rest for one minute. (Add a little milk, as needed, between cooking the waffles, as the batter will thicken.)
- Pour ½ to ¾ cup of batter into the center of a heated waffle iron for classic waffles or ¼ to 1 cup for Belgian waffles; no oil is needed on the irons. Close the lid and cook until the indicator light shows that they have finished cooking (refer to your waffle iron's manual). All waffle irons will vary slightly, but generally classic waffles cook in 3 to 4 minutes and Belgian waffles in 4 to 5 minutes (see Waffle Tips below).
- Serve immediately, topped with sliced fruit, Strawberry-Date Syrup, and/or grated nuts.
While I have seen many no-oil waffle recipes, that description usually applies to the batter only, not the waffle iron. Some cooks still spray or rub their waffle iron with a little cooking oil, but if you’re trying to avoid all oil, that won’t do. The addition of cashews or almond butter in this recipe helps to keep the waffles from sticking, but you may want to consider these tips for greater success:
• Use a waffle iron with a nonstick coating, preferably an iron that has never been oiled before (since the oily residue may encourage sticking). If you have a nonstick waffle iron that is very old, consider buying a new one, as they’re pretty inexpensive (about $35). Waffle iron instructions usually say to oil the surface the first time, but disregard that.
• Read the manufacturer’s instructions to get a more accurate estimate of how long waffles should take to cook in your particular unit. Each waffle iron is a little bit different.
• Set the heat at medium. Each waffle iron is different, so experiment with the heat setting that works best for yours. Mine has five heat settings (5 is hottest), and I find that setting it to 4 works best.
• To promote easier removal, pour in just enough batter so that the edges of the waffle come to the edge of the iron without spilling over (otherwise the waffle becomes tricky to remove, and may want to split in half).
• When the “done” light comes on, lift the lid slowly (beware of escaping steam). If it just doesn’t want to open, give it another 30 to 60 seconds and then try again. Even when the waffles are done, sometimes the lid still requires a firm tug to get it to separate from the waffle since we are not using oil. Slightly overbaked waffles are preferable to underbaked waffles (which can result in a gooey, sticky mess).
• Always be prepared with a fork to help release the waffle from the iron. Your waffles may stick a little, and the halves may start to come apart. Gently pry the edge of the stuck side off the iron with a fork, and the two sides will fall back together and still taste great.
• To keep your waffles warm as you make them, transfer them to a baking rack in the oven, set to 250°F.
• Have patience and find the amount of batter and the heat setting that work best for your taste and your waffle iron, and make a note for next time.