Egg Whites Are Ree Drummond's Secret Weapon For Better Waffles

Waffles are delicious when piled with fresh berries, drizzled with chocolate sauce, or covered in maple syrup. However, if the batter itself is not up to snuff, your waffles could end up falling flat — literally. No amount of yummy toppings can compensate for a stodgy, dense, hard, and heartbreaking waffle. When making waffles from scratch, you want a method that is guaranteed to be worth the effort. Ree Drummond has cracked the code — her secret to fluffy-as-a-cloud waffles is separating the eggs, and whipping air into the whites.

This technique is a bit more involved than simply mixing the eggs into the batter without any special treatment. However, the payoff is significant when it comes to achieving a light and airy texture. The Pioneer Woman prefers her waffles cooked until deeply browned, so they have a slightly crunchy texture on the outside, but the whipped egg whites in the batter ensure the inside remains soft, fluffy, and tender.

How to make Ree Drummond's ideal waffles

Ree Drummond's waffle recipe follows a pretty standard procedure until you reach the eggs. First, the usual dry ingredients are sifted and whisked together. Then, the wet ingredients — egg yolks, milk, and vanilla extract — are mixed in a separate bowl. Drummond typically uses regular milk here, but she mentions that buttermilk can be a great substitute for those who prefer a hint of tanginess. If buttermilk isn't available, however, she endorses the vinegar trick that transforms milk into buttermilk with just one ingredient.

It's important to pay close attention to the order in which you combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks and milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix them partially, being careful to avoid overmixing, as this could cause gluten to develop, resulting in tough and chewy waffles.

In a separate bowl, Drummond beats the egg whites — using either a whisk or an electric mixer — into stiff peaks. You can check this by lifting the whisk or beater; the airy egg whites should hold their shape, appearing more bubbly than whipped cream, but still more fluffy than foamy. Gently fold these beaten egg whites into the batter. This is your airy secret weapon, so avoid knocking out all the bubbles by stirring too vigorously. Stop when you still see some faint streaks of white in the batter.

Tips for whipping egg whites for waffle batter

Separating eggs can be a bit of a hassle, but now is not the moment to opt for a carton of store-bought egg whites. Whipping those to stiff peaks can be challenging, and achieving maximum air incorporation is key here.

The most straightforward method for separating eggs is to crack one and then pass the yolk between the two shell halves, allowing the whites to fall into a bowl. If you have a specialized kitchen tool for separating yolks and whites, feel free to use it. Ensure that the vessel you're using for the whites is clean and dry, and be vigilant to avoid any yolk contamination — even a tiny amount can prevent the whites from setting up successfully.

During the whipping process, the whites will progress from soft peaks (where the tip curls over quickly) to firm peaks (which form a soft but upright point). Ree Drummond's recipe calls for stiff peaks, which maintain their shape even when the bowl is turned upside down. Overbeating leads to the water separating from the whites, diminishing the airy quality you're aiming for. It's preferable to underwhip than to overbeat — the waffles will still be significantly fluffier than if you had skipped this step altogether.