My homemade vanilla wafers are perfect for enjoying on their own or in banana pudding, can be made in less than 30 minutes with basic ingredients (and there’s no chilling required)! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Homemade ‘Nilla Wafers
If you follow me on Instagram, you got a sneak peek at these cookies a while ago, and you know that despite their overall simplicity, developing a good recipe for them was actually pretty complicated.
I used this vanilla wafer recipe as an example for how exactly I go through the process of developing a recipe (the stories are still available in my highlights) and I documented about 5 attempts in one day, though ultimately the recipe took me over 10 tries to totally perfect (who would’ve thought!).
Finally I’m ready to share this perfected sweet and simple recipe. It uses basic ingredients you probably already have on hand, meaning there’s no excuse to buy those yellow-box cookies! Let’s get to it.
What You Need
The main thing that I love about these cookies? They’re easy to make, fuss-free with very basic ingredients. Let’s go over a few of them:
- Butter. For perfect flavor (and for complete control over that flavor), I use unsalted butter and add salt. If you only have salted butter on hand just reduce the salt that the recipe calls for to ¼ teaspoon.
- Vanilla extract. You need quite a bit of vanilla for this recipe: 4 teaspoons. Fortunately, if you don’t feel inclined to dip into your stockpile of the “good stuff” (anyone else make homemade vanilla extract?) this recipe works well with imitation instead. In fact, it may even give you a flavor that’s closer to the vanilla cookies sold in a yellow box at the store…
- Egg. Just one! I tried this recipe with no eggs (too crumbly, dry, and all-around lacking), just the yolk (too tender, didn’t spread enough), just the white (not as good as using both the yolk and egg) and ultimately settled with one single egg.
- All-purpose flour. I tested this recipe with all-purpose and cake flour hoping for a finer crumb and a slightly more crumbly results with cake flour. To my surprise, the all-purpose flour won every time. Possibly also worth noting: I tried many versions using cornstarch (one of my favorite secret ingredients). I was sure it would help me get the consistency I was looking for, but ultimately that proved to not be the case!
- Milk. I recommend and personally use whole milk but I suppose 2% would work in a pinch.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Vanilla Wafers
- Beat together sugar and butter, then stir in eggs and vanilla extract.
- Separately, whisk together dry ingredients. Stir half into the wet ingredients, then stir in your milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. This just makes a more cohesive batter than if you were to add the milk with the butter mixture (where it tends to separate).
- Drop the dough by rounded spoonful onto a baking sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches (5cm) apart. This is a fairly soft dough.
- Lightly flatten the dough with dampened fingertips. This encourages them to spread jusssssttt enough and to cook evenly, otherwise they may end up too thick, meaning centers that are softer and chewier than they ought to be (vanilla wafers should be thinner and crisp!).
When they’re finished baking, the cookies will be pale golden in color with deeper golden edges. If you flip one over, the edge should be deep golden in color as well. If yours isn’t, it may just need more time in the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, they’re much better. The vanilla wafers you can buy in the store are overwhelmed by artificial flavors and some questionable ingredients (I’m clearly no health-food-fanatic, but high fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable ingredients are a turn off for me).
It’s those artificial flavors that overpower the store-bought cookies and gives them their distinct taste. This taste can’t be replicated by home bakers like us who are using commonly available (and… cough*so-much-better*cough) ingredients.
My vanilla wafers instead are richly flavored with real vanilla, perfectly sweetened with just the right amount of crunch, and accented with buttery undertones. It’s clear that they’re vanilla wafers, but they’re much better than anything you could buy at the store.
Yes, this recipe doubles well. However keep in mind that while it may not seem like very much dough, the cookies are small and this recipe makes quite a few!
Absolutely! I just did so with my own banana pudding recipe, which I’ll be sharing on Monday! One batch makes enough for banana pudding (my recipe, anyway).
The wafers can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days. If I’m going to be making banana pudding with them, sometimes I’ll leave them out uncovered overnight, just to make them a bit stale before I use them in the pudding.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together until creamy and well-combined.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, ⅔ cup (133 g) granulated sugar
- Add egg and vanilla extract and stir on medium/low speed until completely combined.1 large egg, 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.1 ½ cups (190 g) all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add about half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir on low-speed to combine.
- Add milk and stir again on low speed until combined.1 Tablespoon milk
- Finally, add remaining flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Scoop dough into two-teaspoon sized scoops and drop onto prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies at least 2” (5cm) apart. Lightly flatten with damp fingertips.
- Bake on 350F (175C) for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown around the edges.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.