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 Waffle Tips to follow.
While I have seen many no-oil waffle recipes, the “no-oil” usually applies to the batter, not the waffle iron. Most cooks still spray or rub their waffle iron with a little cooking oil. But I don’t want oil in my batter or on the surface of my waffles. The addition of a few nuts (cashews) or almond butter in this recipe helps to keep the waffles from sticking, but also consider the below tips for greater success.
2 cups nondairy milk (plus more to thin batter as it sits)
1 ounce dates, pitted and quartered (about 2 Medjool or 4 Deglet Noor)
1 ounce raw, unsalted cashews (about ¼ cup), or 2 tablespoons almond butter
1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats, ground into flour in a blender
½ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Sliced fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, and/or blueberries, to top waffles
1 recipe Strawberry-Date Syrup (optional)
Extra cashews to grind on top of waffles (optional; see Notes)
1. Place the milk, dates, and cashews or almond butter into a small bowl, and set aside at least 15 minutes (so the dates can soften).
2. Place the oat flour into a medium bowl, along with the cornmeal, baking powder, and cinnamon, and mix with a fork. Plug in your waffle iron and set on medium.
3. Blend the milk, dates, and cashews or almond butter in a blender until smooth. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Allow the batter to rest for one minute. (Add a little nondairy milk as needed between cooking the waffles, as the batter will thicken).
4. Pour ½ to ¾ cup of batter into the center of your heated waffle iron for classic waffles, or ¾ 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).
5. Serve immediately, topped with sliced fruit and Strawberry-Date Syrup.
• Using a rotary cheese grater, grate some cashews (or any type of nut) on top of your cooked waffles, for a little extra richness without going overboard on fat.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 3 to 5 minutes per waffle (depending on type/size)
Serves: 2 to 4 (makes: 6 six-inch classic waffles or 3 Belgian waffles)
Tips for Successful No-Oil Waffles
• 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; they’re pretty inexpensive. But beware: new nonstick waffle iron instructions state to oil the surface the first time, so disregard that.
• Read your waffle iron’s manufacturer’s instructions to get a more accurate estimate of how long waffles in that unit should take to cook. 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 your iron. Mine has 5 heat settings (5 is hottest), and I find that setting it to 4 works well.
• To promote easier removal, pour in just enough batter so that the edges of the waffle come just to edges of the iron without spilling over (otherwise it becomes tricky to remove, as it wants 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 yet, 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 ones (which can result in a gooey, sticking mess).
• Always be prepared with a fork to gently help release the waffle from the irons. 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 your oven set to 250°F.
• Have patience and find the amount of batter and the heat setting that works best for your taste and your waffle iron, and make a note for next time.
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