Any waffle lover can attest to the intoxicating aroma of waffles hot off the iron. This pandan waffle recipe takes it up a notch (and in a Vietnamese / southeast Asian direction) with its sweet aroma of pandan, rich coconutty taste, chewy mochi center, and a crispy outer texture.
If you can source pandan leaves, either frozen or fresh, the aroma will be amazing. Plus the batter keeps for up to a week in the fridge so you can enjoy fresh baked waffles throughout the week!
What to expect with these waffles
Not to be confused with recipes like my thinner, bánh kẹp lá dứa (crispy pandan pizzelles), this pandan waffle recipe features a thicker waffle and extra chewy center. This recipe started off as an adaptation from my mom’s friend’s recipe (Bac Vieng) and developed over my innumerable recipe attempts to get the same chewy and crispy consistency as Bambu’s pandan waffle.
Crispy on the outside, a bit chewy on the inside, and that amazing aroma of pandan leaves. If you are vegan, I also have a vegan pandan waffle recipe. Alternatively, if you LOVE ube, you should try my ube waffle version of this with a similar texture too!
What is pandan?
Pandan leaves are long, narrow, and bright green leaves with an aromatic and sweet smell. You can find it at different Asian grocery stores in the form of fresh leaves, frozen leaves, and extracts. Read more about pandan leaves here.
Every time I see fresh pandan leaves at the store (or anywhere), I take in as much as I can to enjoy the sweet and ambrosial smell of these leaves–I just love it!
Putting my love for this aromatic leaf aside, it’s also one of the most popular flavors in Asia due to its versatility–think of it similar to how America uses vanilla in many desserts.
Its sweet and fragrant smell pairs well with coconut, mango, and many other tropical fruits. I’ve used pandan in many different desserts like che bap and pandan sticky rice (xoi lá dứa). But pandan isn’t just reserved for sweets because you can also use the leaves in various savory dishes to wrap meat or rice.
Where are pandan waffles available?
Pandan waffles are available widely in Vietnam, something that I saw frequently during our previous trip in 2020, but the hard part is finding the perfect waffle with a balance of extra chewiness on the inside and crunch on the outside while giving you ample flavors of pandan and coconut.
I am lucky that we have restaurants like Lee’s Sandwiches or Bambu (the latter is my favorite waffle) nearby, but I wanted to figure out a homemade recipe that I can make at home. Being a quality control freak, I also like that I can make the waffle to my exact specifications.
I went through so many iterations of this recipe and learned a lot of how to perfect this balance between a nice crispy outer layer and a chewy and fluffy center. Here are some of my lessons learned.
- Using glutinous rice flour instead of regular rice flour made the batter very gooey in the center like mochi cake. Which can be good in its own right, but not the texture I was going for.
- Not using tapioca starch at all in the recipe made it super crispy, but not gooey enough. To achieve a better balance, I use a combination of tapioca starch, rice flour (not glutinous rice flour), and all-purpose wheat flour.
- An important note about the flours we use. I’m seeing many people being confused about the mention of “all-purpose wheat flour” in the recipe so I reworded it. All-purpose flour is the normal, white, bleached flour you can buy at just about every grocery store. It’s not whole wheat flour, or any kind of hard to find product.
- I label it ‘wheat’ flour on this post to differentiate it from the rice flours used, but I think it may be throwing some people off because the fact that all-purpose flour is made from wheat is not highlighted on most brands’ packaging.
Waffle cooking tips
Sift the dry ingredients into the wet batter because this makes a smoother batter without over-mixing. Resting your batter for one hour is necessary in order to get that fluffy texture–I know it’s tempting to skip this step, but trust the process!
Use real pandan leaves instead of pre-made extract. It’s gives a much fresher flavor you just can’t get from the artificial extract. You can see in the recipe below, and also on my bánh kẹp recipe where we extract flavor from pandan leaves. If you can’t find fresh leaves, you can also buy artificial pandan extract online.
Storage & freshness
Saving the batter: The beauty of this batter is that you can make it ahead of time, since it stores for about one week in the fridge covered in an airtight container. That is, if you can restrain yourself from eating it all.
In the fridge, the batter will solidify a bit from the coconut fat, but it’s still good. Just make sure you stir it up before cooking every single waffle so the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Freezing cooked waffles: If you want to make the batter and just cook waffles each day throughout the week, these will taste amazing. However, if you just want to make and freeze these before the batter goes bad, you can do that too.
The waffles keep pretty well in the freezer in an air-tight container. Just toast or bake them a bit to warm up before serving. They won’t be as good as waffles hot off the iron, but it’s [arguably] better than no waffles at all!
Serving: After baking the waffles on the waffle iron, let it rest for 30-60 seconds as it will still crisp up a bit, and so you don’t burn yourself. Then serve the waffle as soon as possible to get the best texture and flavor. For an easy hot & cold dessert treat, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is killer, but really you can serve these with all sorts of waffle toppings. For a dessert beverage pairing I like serving the pandan waffles with icy coconut Vietnamese coffee or even boba milk tea.
If you love the chewy and crispy texture of this waffle, you’re bound to love my mochi donut recipe too. It uses similar ingredients and gives you a donut hack to making fast bubble ring shapes.
Pandan Waffle Recipe (Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa)
Pandan Option 1 – Fresh Extract (recommended)
- 35 g (8 leaves) pandan leaves fresh or frozen, cut into 3" sections
- ½ c water
Pandan Option 2 – Artificial Extract
- 2 drops artificial pandan extract
- 1/2 c water
- personal blender
- disher / cookie scoop
Pandan Option 1 – Fresh Extract (recommended)
- Defrost pandan leaves (if frozen) and clean leaves under running water.
- Cut your pandan leaves into three inch sections, add to the blender.
- Add half a cup of water to the blender, and blend until you no longer see large chunks.
- Strain the pulp, reserve the remaining liquid, and squeeze out any liquid inside the pulp too.
Pandan Option 2 – Artificial Extract
- Add the artificial extract drops to the water and mix. Set aside for later.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the tapioca starch, rice flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs together. Then, add the coconut cream, pandan extract, and oil.
- Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients mixing bowl and fold carefully to prevent from over mixing the batter. Your batter should be slightly thick and have lumps left over. If you're using artificial pandan extract, and want the batter to be more green at this point you can add 1-2 more drops and mix the batter again.
- Let the batter rest for at least one hour, this improves the dough texture. If you're only resting one hour, leaving on the counter is fine, but you can rest it in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to a week and the batter will still be good.
- When ready to cook, mix the batter a little bit and heat up your waffle iron. Do this before making EACH waffle since the batter can separate and settle. I use an Oster belgian waffle iron and found that the setting for medium-high works best.
- Using a disher or ladle, drop three to four scoops onto the waffle and cook. When your waffle iron is finished cooking, your waffle should be nice and golden brown with specks of green on the outside.
- Remove your waffle and serve. If you find your waffle is on the softer side, let it rest for about one minute and it should get crispier.
For this original recipe of 35 g of pandan leaves to 1/2 c of water, you should produce at least 1/2 c of pandan extract (if not slightly more).