This Pumpkin Spice Waffles recipe embodies every element of absolutely perfect waffles: light and airy in texture, slightly crispy around the edges, insanely moist, and most importantly, packed with pumpkin spice flavor.
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Here in Southern California, it doesn’t always feel like fall even when I turn the calendar page to October. So while the rest of the country is enjoying colorful foliage and sweater weather, I celebrate fall in my own way: by enjoying pumpkin everything.
Breakfast carbs seem like the perfect place to showcase everyone’s favorite fall flavor. I’ve made Pumpkin Pie Pancakes, Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins, and Pumpkin French Toast Casserole, to name a few. So it seemed only a matter of time before I tried my hand at making a batch of pumpkin waffles.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Full of nutrients. Canned pumpkin is full of fiber, antioxidants and other goodies, so you can feel good serving this to your family.
- Crisp on the outside, tender inside. Using buttermilk in the batter not only gives a slightly tangy flavor but it also helps make the waffles airy and tender on the inside, and crisp on the edges.
- DIY pumpkin spice. Don’t worry if you don’t have pumpkin spice. You can easily make your own with three common spices from your pantry.
- On the table in 20 minutes. Even though these waffles are made from scratch, you’ll be able to feed your hungry breakfast crew in 20 minutes or less.
- Freezer-friendly. You can make a batch and freeze the extras for a quick and delicious breakfast or snack on busy mornings.
- Flour: All-purpose flour gives the batter structure.
- Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar for a subtle caramel flavor.
- Leaveners: Baking powder and baking soda work together to help make the waffles fluffy and light.
- Spices: Make your own pumpkin spice blend by combining plenty of cinnamon and ground ginger with a touch of cloves.
- Eggs: You’ll use four eggs in this recipe for structure and tenderness.
- Milk: A cup of whole milk provides just enough fat to enrich the batter.
- Buttermilk: Using buttermilk in this waffle recipe ensures that they’ll come out crisp on the edges and tender and light on the inside. The acidity in buttermilk also helps activate the baking soda for maximum height and fluffiness, especially if you’re using a waffle baker designed for Belgian waffles.
- Pumpkin: The recipe calls for a cup of canned pumpkin, which is about half of a 15-ounce can. Save the rest to make pumpkin banana bread or pumpkin cream cheese muffins. Make sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie mix, which contains sugar and spices.
- Butter: Melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter to mix into the batter. Be sure to cool the melted butter for a few minutes before adding it to the other wet ingredients.
- Pecans: Sprinkle a handful of chopped pecans on the waffles before serving for flavor and crunch.
- Maple syrup: Pass around real maple syrup at the table to drizzle on top.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
This recipe for pumpkin spice waffles is pretty versatile. Make it your own with these ideas.
- Serve it for dessert. These waffles make a great dessert when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of butterscotch sauce.
- Use different flours. This recipe works great with a variety of flours. Try substituting white whole wheat flour, almond flour or gluten-free baking mix for all or part of the all-purpose flour.
- Change up the toppings. I like chopped pecans on my waffles, but you can get creative with the toppings you serve. Try topping yours with a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips, a dollop of whipped cream, or a spoonful of fruit compote. Or mix chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are my favorites) into the batter before cooking. A dusting of powdered sugar is another option.
- Use pumpkin pie spice. If you have prepared pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can simplify this recipe by using 1 tablespoon of it in place of the cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Putting together these waffles doesn’t take much more time and effort than using a boxed mix.
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, including the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, salt and spices. Sifting breaks up clumps and distributes all the ingredients uniformly. If you don’t want to take the trouble to sift, use a whisk to combine everything.
- Combine the wet ingredients. Use a separate large bowl to whisk the eggs, milk, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and butter. Cool the melted butter for a few minutes first so it doesn’t clump up when it comes in contact with the cold milk and buttermilk.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and fold the mixture until just combined. A few lumps are fine!
- Prepare the waffle baker. Preheat the waffle baker and grease the cooking surface with a little vegetable oil or cooking spray.
- Bake the waffles. Add a spoonful of batter to the waffle baker, close it, and cook until the waffle is crisp on the outside and cooked through inside. Remove the waffle and repeat with the rest of the batter.
- Top the waffles and serve! Drizzle the cooked waffles with maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.
Kelly’s Note: I love to pour the maple syrup into a little glass or ceramic pitcher and zap it in the micorwave for 10 to 15 seconds to heat it up before serving.
- No Buttermilk?: Make your own. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Top the lemon juice with whole or skim milk until it reaches the 1 cup measurement. Let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Explore my guide on buttermilk substitutions guide for a variety of dairy and non-dairy alternatives.
- Don’t Overmix: When you add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, avoid overhandling the batter. Use a silicone spatula and as few strokes as possible to stir the ingredients together. Overmixing will yield a tough waffle.
- Mess-Free Melting: Use a small saucepan to melt the butter or put it in a microwave-safe bowl, loosely covered with an inverted plate, and microwave it in 30-second increments at half power, stirring occasionally. Cool it for a few minutes before adding it to the other wet ingredients — if you add hot butter to the cold milk and eggs, it could cause the egg to cook and the milk will cause the butter to solidify in chunks.
For a well-rounded and festive fall brunch, consider adding a variety of dishes to complement the seasonal flavors:
- Overnight Egg Casserole with Breakfast Sausage – provides a savory element to balance the sweetness of the waffles
- The Best Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing – grab a medley of seasonal fruits, such as apples, pears, cranberries and pomegranate seeds, for this refreshing dish
- Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins – this easy recipe uses a basic sour cream muffin batter for moist and delicious results
- Crispy Hash Browns – no brunch is complete without extra-crispy hash browns
- Pecan Sticky Buns – this foolproof recipe yields the lightest, most buttery rolls topped with the best maple-pecan topping
- Glazed Orange Cranberry Scones – they’re light, tender and feature the flavors of the season
If you have leftovers, they freeze great and reheat nicely for a quick weekday breakfast. Allow the waffles to cool completely on a wire rack, then transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet (if you have multiple waffles you can stack another layer between sheets of parchment). Freeze the waffles on the baking sheet for at least 6 hours. Once they’re completely frozen, transfer them to a sealable freezer bag and store for up to a month.
Reheat the waffles directly on the rack of an oven or toaster oven at 400˚F for 4 to 6 minutes until they’re warmed through — no defrosting necessary!
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t be intimidated by making waffles from scratch. The secret to good waffles is not overmixing the batter, making sure the cooking grid is well-oiled to prevent sticking and cooking them completely until the exteriors are crisp and browned.
Waffle batter is typically thicker and richer than pancake batter. Waffles typically include more eggs and fat (usually in the form of melted butter) which creates that tender, fluffy interior. Waffle batter also has a higher sugar content, which caramelizes the exterior for a crispy texture.
The fat and sugar content, combined with the high heat and the increased surface area, helps ensure that the exteriors of waffles are crispy. If you’re making a bunch of waffles at once, you can keep them crisp and warm in a low-temperature oven. Put the waffles on an oven-safe cooling rack set over a baking sheet, or even directly on the oven rack, allowing air to circulate around the waffles and preventing sogginess.
As with my recipe for Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting, you can substitute fresh pumpkin puree for canned pumpkin. Remove as much liquid as possible first by letting the puree drain in cheesecloth or a very fine mesh strainer for 10 minutes.
- Cinnamon Applesauce Pancakes
- Easy Caramel Apple Monkey Bread
- Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
- Apple Cinnamon Roll Bake
- Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
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- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 6 Tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Chopped pecans, for serving (optional)
- Maple syrup, for serving (optional)
- Waffle baker
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, buttermilk, pumpkin and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients, folding just until combined. (The batter will be slightly lumpy.)
- Preheat the waffle baker and lightly grease it with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Add a portion of the batter to the waffle baker, close the lid and cook until fully baked. Remove the waffle then repeat with the remaining waffle batter.
- Top the waffles with chopped pecans (optional) and maple syrup. Serve immediately.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, make your own: add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Top the lemon juice with whole or skim milk until it reaches the 1 cup measurement. Let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens slightly.
- When you add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, avoid overhandling the batter, which will yield a tough waffle. Use a silicone spatula and as few strokes as possible to stir the ingredients together.
- To melt the butter, put it in a microwave-safe bowl, loosely covered with an inverted plate, and microwave it in 30-second increments at half power, stirring occasionally. Cool it for a few minutes before adding it to the other wet ingredients.
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Recipe adapted from Epicurious.