stack of stroopwafels

Unless you completely shun sugar, you probably enjoy a sweet treat every now and again. While large amounts of sugar pose their own issues, moderation is key to a healthy diet. An automatic way to impose moderation over your sweet inclinations is to watch your portion sizes. It’s just as easy to slice a large piece of cake as it is a sliver, whereas cookies already come pre-portioned. Many people have a favorite type of cookie and the wide range of options leaves something for everyone. Whether you enjoy your cookies chewy and stuffed with chocolate chips or thin and crispy like a ginger snap, there is an option for you.

Once you try a stroopwafel, chances are it will find its way to the top of your list of favorites. The Dutch treat combines all the best elements of a cookie. A chewier exterior leads way to a sticky sweet interior, while the whole is balanced out by warming spices and a hint of vanilla.

Are you salivating yet? Although stroopwafels (syrup waffles in Dutch) come from the Netherlands, the rest of the world has been let in on the delicious secret. If you haven’t tried one yet, run don’t walk for what you should consider as your next food mission. This is the untold truth of stroopwafels.

Stroopwafels share an origin with a famous cheese

cheese shop in Gouda

Although you might not be familiar with Dutch cuisine, the country is home to some gourmet products that have made their way around the world. Any cheese lover is surely fond of Gouda made in the Dutch town by the same name. In fact, the Dutch Waffle Company reports that stroopwafels were also created there at the end of the 18th century.

Originally, the cookie was named ‘Goudsewafel’ after the town, but it was eventually changed to reference the sticky syrup found within. Even if you don’t speak Dutch, the word ‘wafel’ at the end of the name gives some indication as to the sweet treat that awaits. According to Dutch Waffle Company, in the late 1800s, Gouda counted around 100 stroopwafel bakers, four of which still exist today. Thankfully, the cookie traveled beyond Gouda to other Dutch cities to spread its delightfully sweet flavors.

It was once called the "poor man’s cookie"

stroopwafel split in two

When you try a stroopwafel, you might find yourself ready to spend as much as it takes to have another right away. However, these delicate syrupy treats were once considered to be the "poor man’s cookie" due to the resourceful way in which they were created. The first stroopwafels weren’t baked with high-quality but carefully measured ingredients, right? Not at all. Dutch Review reports that the first stroopwafels were made from crumbs and discarded bits left behind in the bakery.

The story goes that since the crumbs lacked moisture, they wouldn’t stick together to make a cookie. What better way to use syrup than as glue for combining those tasty bits? Consequently, stroopwafels were a cheap treat that didn’t require much extra production time or additional resources. Eventually, a recipe with the usual cookie ingredients, such as flour, butter, and sugar was created so that the cookies could be made for their own sake.

The Dutch once had a dedicated waffle bakers guild

vintage waffle maker

Although stroopwafels were first made in the 18th century, evidence shows that the Dutch and many other Europeans were devouring waffles far before this time. And who can blame them? According to Holland Travel Marketing, the Netherlands was even already home to a waffle bakers guild in the 13th century. Artisans would come together to hone their craft and make some darn good treats, a sure indication of their product’s perceived value. At the time, women baked the waffles, while the men participated as members of the guild.

Gender inequalities aside, the very existence of a waffle bakers guild highlights the importance of the pastry long before it became a ubiquitous treat sold all over Europe and the rest of the globe. While the guild members were not yet making stroopwafels that we know of, mastering lightly spiced and sweetened cookies was undoubtedly the first step in perfecting these syrupy treats.

The recipe is actually fairly straightforward

spatula spreading syrup on cookie

Unlike some complicated pastry specialties, stroopwafels don’t require much to make. Eventually, a recipe that didn’t rely on leftover crumbs was developed, requiring basic baking ingredients and a type of waffle iron called a pizzelle. 196 Flavors notes that a pizzelle iron isn’t as deep as a standard one, resulting in a thinner waffle.

Science Meets Food reports that flour, butter, sugar, yeast, milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon are the usual ingredients for the waffle portion. The batter is pressed in a pizzelle iron, creating a thin cookie that’s sliced into two discs while still warm. A syrupy caramel concoction is then spread across the surface of the waffle, gluing the two pieces together. Finally, the stroopwafel is pressed once more in the iron.

Of course, there’s always a market for experimentation. Stroopwafels can be dipped in chocolate, filled with ice cream, or stuffed with additional ingredients for a less traditional take. Holland Travel Marketing explains that the syrup is sometimes flavored, too. And, although large volumes of the cookies are produced with machines, there are still plenty of bakers who make them by hand.

It’s perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth

hand holding stroopwafel

If you hadn’t figured it out yet, stroopwafels are the ideal treat to delight anyone looking for a hint of sweetness. The buttery spiced waffles balance out the caramel syrup center, offering plenty of flavor in each bite. Although the sugary middle is undoubtedly sweet, it is nicely complemented by the cookies. A hint of cinnamon or vanilla also provides warm flavors, alluding to sweetness without all of the extra sugar.

The texture is equally pleasant and combines crispy, chewy, and gooey goodness all within one cookie that makes an excellent pairing for a warm cup of coffee or tea — you won’t even need to add sugar. If you could use assistance with portion sizes, they often come packaged by the unit to guide you towards controlled indulgence. Be careful, though, because these delicious sweets can easily take over your life.

There’s one extra popular way to enjoy the sweet treat

stroopwafel on coffee mug

Some people have some pretty strong feelings about how to enjoy a stroopwafel. Dutch Review argues that the cookie’s circular shape suits one purpose: to sit on top of a mug of steaming coffee or tea. While a stroopwafel freshly baked from a market stand will still be warm when you bite into it, individually packaged cookies from the supermarket are not. To counter this fact, Daelmans recommends attempting to "wake the waffle".

To do so, prepare a warm beverage, place your stroopwafel on top, and let the steam warm up the cookie while lightly melting the caramel syrup inside. Within a minute or two, you can go ahead and enjoy your treat. Dutch Review adds that you will even get some flavor overlap from your warm drink — caramel coffee sounds perfect here! Alternatively, Daelmans suggests a quick 10-second zap in the microwave to approximate the gooey result.

You probably shouldn’t eat stroopwafels every day

stroopwafel with caramel drizzle

As with most treats rich in sugar, moderation is key. Nonetheless, if you are consuming a balanced diet in general, you should have room for a bit of decadence especially when portion control is kept in mind. A classic stroopwafel from Daelmans contains about 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar, and 3% of your recommended daily intake of sodium. Minute amounts of cholesterol and a single gram of protein sum up the rest of one cookie’s nutritional profile.

While there are countless cookies that look worse on paper, there aren’t many redeeming attributes from a purely nutritional standpoint. However, savoring the occasional stroopwafel will certainly enhance your quality of life. If you have the choice, opt for hand-made stroopwafels which are made fresh with wholesome ingredients. In comparison, factory production often entails additives, glucose syrup, and various oils (via Daelmans). All the same, many producers are developing dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan options to share the amazing taste of stroopwafels with all.

But they can make a great energetic snack

line of cyclists

While sugary snacks enjoyed just for the sake of eating something sweet should be kept in check, there are some situations that call for immediate fuel. Livestrong explains that glucose — this is, sugar and carbohydrates in their simplest form — provides your body with energy. As a result, some high-performance athletes have taken a particular liking to stroopwafels.

Bicycling notes that the snack is easy to carry, high in simple carbohydrates, and undeniably delicious. The source adds that cyclists enjoy stroopwafels with coffee — just the thing to warm them up and boost their stamina until the next break. Dutch Tour de France cyclist Laurens ten Dam agreed, telling Bicycling, "When I was a junior, I used to eat five or six stroopwafels before a four-hour ride and I’d be fine."

American cyclist Lance Armstrong even started his own stroopwafel company, Honey Stinger, specializing in unique flavors (via Bicycling). Multiple other companies have developed stroopwafels for athletic nutrition, to the point that a number of outdoor stores sell them along with other energy snacks (via Men’s Journal).

Even NBA players want stroopwafels

Closeup of Stroopwafel Cookies

In recent years, NBA players have been spotted munching on the syrupy cookies between plays, according to The Washington Post. Players across the country are enjoying stroopwafels as a tasty snack to provide them with an extra kick of energy to get through the physical demands of the high-intensity game. Some players admit to eating a handful a day or one per game, and The Knicks’ weight room apparently always keeps a supply.

Individually packed cookies high in simple carbohydrates make a pretty decent and quick source of fuel that allows players to keep up with their training. Honey Stinger has certainly zeroed in on this fact, marketing the cookies for athletes and selling them to over a dozen NBA teams. Unlike classic caramel syrup stroopwafels, Honey Stinger fills their stroopwafels with a layer of — you guessed it — honey, hopefully delaying the inevitable sugar crash.

They’re sold as street food in the Netherlands

stroopwafel at market stand

Stroopwafels have all the makings of great street food and indeed, Britannica indicates that they are regularly sold on the street in the Netherlands. Similarly, 196 Flavors notes that Belgian diners can often find the treats in kiosks and at fairs. One can only hope that North America hops on the trend!

For the vendor, stroopwafels are fairly straightforward to make. They require minimal equipment and can be prepared hot, fresh, and relatively fast. Also, the cinnamon caramel butter aroma is impossible for many buyers to resist.

As for the consumer, the syrupy waffle fits easily in your hand (or on top of your coffee) and is surprisingly neat to eat. They’re also just the right size for a tasty treat that won’t leave you feeling weighed down. If you have the chance to enjoy a stroopwafel in the Netherlands, it’s the perfect sweet counterpart to salty Dutch street snacks such as kibbeling (fried fish), raw herring, or croquettes (via Iamsterdam).

They’re also common in Belgium

close up stroopwafel

While inhabitants from either country would probably disagree, stroopwafels from both Belgium and the Netherlands have quite a few overlapping characteristics. All the same, the waffle iron used for Dutch stroopwafels is shallower which explains their thin disc shape, not quite like the pillowy and rather famous Belgian waffles. Still, don’t let a stylistic difference get in the way of things, at least not in Belgium. 196 Flavors remarks that stroopwafels make a regular appearance in Belgian street food and are often sold at outdoor events.

Belgium is divided into Flanders where Dutch is spoken and Wallonia where French is the language of choice (via Britannica). According to 196 Flavors, both areas love the syrupy waffles, which are sold at a fair every October in the city of Liège. In this area, the cookies are called lacquemant and consist of an orange blossom syrup.

The best stroopwafels are said to be found in Amsterdam

famous stroopwafel market stand

As with any iconic item of food, debates abound on just where to find the best stroopwafel possible. Of course, taste is subjective and there’s surely someone’s grandmother making a version of the best stroopwafel ever (please let us know if you’ve got an in with a generous stroopwafel master, of course).

But at least there is relative agreement as to one of the top spots to find the best version of this treat. It could well be Original Stroopwafels, founded by a man from Amsterdam called Ruud who saw a gap in the local market for these freshly baked treats. He decided to go to the source of production in Gouda and met a local baker, Nico, who was on the brink of retirement. Ruud perfected Nico’s recipe and began selling the stroopwafels from a food truck at Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp market. According to the Original Stroopwafels website, many have lauded Nico’s directions as the key for the most delicious stroopwafels in the Netherlands.

While self-praise is one thing, the applause comes from external sources as well. TV shows, YouTube videos, guide books, tourist forums, and food experts like Andrew Zimmern also vouch for the food truck’s delicious cookies (via Taste Atlas).

You don’t have to go to the Netherlands to try one

stroopwafel in American grocery store

Thankfully, the rest of the world has been clued to the irresistible cookie phenomenon known as stroopwafels. They’re now sold nearly all over the globe. Plenty of US-based companies now produce the cookie, using their very own stroopwafel recipes that allow you to enjoy the cookies at their freshest. Men’s Journal lists Honey Stinger, GU Energy Labs, and Rip Van Wafels among the top brands in the outdoor active lifestyle market.

Spoon University reports that having realized the popularity of their product, many Dutch producers such as Daelmans now also export their stroopwafels. US favorites such as Costco and Trader Joe’s regularly carry the syrupy treats and if you’re in a pinch, so do online retailers, too. Also, a number of stroopwafel-loving American bakers have opened their own businesses to spread the sweetness, like Delaware’s Joost Wafel Co.

You might get to enjoy them on a United Airlines flight

stroopwafel package on flight

If you have ever found yourself mindlessly snacking on a packet of pretzels on the airplane, then you would probably be elated at the prospect of biting into a chewy caramel-filled stroopwafel instead. Well, if you are flying United Airlines, you might be lucky enough to receive just that. In 2016, Daelmans paired up with the airline to provide the beloved cookies to customers (via Path to Purchase IQ).

However, all good things must eventually to an end. United abruptly stopped handing them out in 2018, reports 196 Flavors. Of course, once you’ve tasted a stroopwafel, salty pretzels will no longer suffice and so you can bet that airline customers were not pleased. They took to social media, begging United to bring back the dreamy cookies (via Thrillist). To their credit, United acquiesced the following year, announcing their decision with the caveat that stroopwafels would only be available on early morning flights (via TODAY).

McDonald’s has experimented with a stroopwafel McFlurry

stroopwafel McFlurry

Americans have pretty readily embraced the arrival of stroopwafels, including diners at fast-food giant McDonald’s. In 2019, USA Today reported that the chain included a stroopwafel McFlurry flavor among a series of international McDonald’s meal options. Business Insider reported that the frozen treat was first tested the year before in smaller markets in Florida. It quickly became popular and made the cut to be sold nationwide.

Food Network reports that the tasty dessert combines soft serve vanilla ice cream, caramel, and, of course, some toothsome pieces of Daelmans stroopwafels. Unfortunately, the delicious McFlurry and other international options were only available for a limited time, meaning that you can’t currently source a stroopwafel McFlurry. One can only hope that the popularity of the items will lead to the imminent return of this ice cream treat, because it sounds like a dessert that we need to taste!

A huge stroopwafel made it into the Guinness Book of World Records

stroopwafel background

In 2013, a group of stroopwafel lovers got together to make the biggest possible version of their favorite cookie. The syrupy treat weighed an impressive 110 pounds and measured over 8 feet in diameter, according to Guinness World Records. Not surprisingly, the mega stroopwafel was deemed the world’s largest waffle.

The Dutch bakery Markus Stroopwafels explains that seven people worked together to bake the giant confection, eager to show off their love for the irresistible cookie. If you’re wondering what goes into such a large baked good, in this case that meant 132 pounds of dough, 33 pounds of syrup, and a waffle iron that weighed more than 6,600 pounds. The cookie even has its own website, where you can watch the process of making it step by step. Once ready, Gouda’s mayor had the honor of enjoying the first bite before sharing the rest of the massive stroopwafel with the crowd. The project was no simple feat, taking about a year and a half to organize.