This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about a South Carolina Benne Wafers Recipe!
I was introduced to Benne Wafers when I was researching foods from South Carolina. These wafers feature benne seeds (or sesame seeds) and are a historic snack from the South Carolina low country.
These sesame cookies are irresistible, with a crisp texture, and it's truly impossible to eat just one.
I'm super thrilled to share this easy and delicious South Carolina Benne Wafers recipe with you!
What Are Benne Wafers?
Benne wafers are thin, nutty, salty and sweet (but not overly) sesame seed cookies that originate from South Carolina.
The word "benne" is the Bantu word for sesame, and the Bantu believe that eating benne seeds brings good luck. Bantu is a group of Niger-Congo languages spoken in Central and Southern Africa.
The benne seeds were brought to South Carolina by slaves from these regions in the 17th century. These seeds were planted and the resulting benne plants were utilized at every stage of their growth process. Benne was also cultivated for cooking oil in South Carolina in the mid 1700's and farmed extensively in the Antebellum era.
The history of the benne wafer traces back to Antebellum times, and it's a Charleston favorite that you can pick up at many gift shops when visiting Charleston. It is said that good luck comes to those who receive these delicious cookies as a gift.
So if you can't make it to Charleston, good news is that you can easily create these delicious cookies in your home kitchen!
Now allow me show you what you will need to make this classic southern snack. 😃
Here are the simple ingredients (easily found at your grocery store) you will need for this most lovely of lowcountry recipes:
- Sesame seeds (or proper benne seeds available from AnsonMills.com)
- Butter - I used salted butter but unsalted butter can be subbed
- All purpose flour
- Light brown sugar - can sub dark brown sugar if preferred
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
Benne seeds are actually different from sesame seeds, but we'll be using sesame seeds in this recipe. If you'd like to use authentic benne seeds, you can purchase them from AnsonMills.com.
The star ingredient is definitely the sesame seeds, which impart a wonderfully nutty flavor to these wafers.
Now I'll show you how easy it is to make these benne wafers!
Preheat your oven to 350F. Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a skillet on a medium low to medium heat on your stove. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until the seeds have turned a light to medium brown. Toasting these seeds helps to bring out an intensely nutty flavor.
They may start to pop! If they do, simply remove from the heat for a bit.
Once toasted, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Now melt the butter and then allow it to cool. Then add all of the following ingredients in a large bowl: melted butter, cooled toasted sesame seeds, vanilla extract, brown sugar, flour, egg, salt and baking powder.
You won't need an electric mixer for this recipe. Simply mix well by hand until all of the ingredients are combined to make a dough. Then drop ½ teaspoonfuls of dough onto a silicone baking mat (which has been placed on a cookie sheet) roughly an inch apart.
You can use parchment paper instead of the silicone baking mat.
Bake for around 8-10 minutes until the edge of the wafers have browned and you have crispy edges. Keep an eye on them so that they don't burn. Rotate the try and mat halfway through the baking time.
Be sure to enjoy the delicious nutty aroma while baking your benne wafer cookies!
Remove from the oven and then allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then transfer the wafers to a cooling wire rack to allow them to cool completely.
Bake in batches until all the dough is used up. I usually make between 3 and 4 batches with this recipe. This makes around 60-70 cookies!
Enjoy Your Delicious Benne Wafers!
As mentioned earlier, these benne wafer cookies are a great gift. They are also perfect to accompany some coffee or a warm cup of tea.
Their delicious nutty, buttery, and salty, sweet flavors and crispy texture are completely crave worthy.
I hope you will enjoy these traditional southern Benne Wafers soon!
Store Benne Wafers in an airtight container on your counter for around a week. They can also be frozen!
These seeds are actually different, however recipes that call for benne seeds very often sub sesame seeds. From BonAppetit.com benne are: "essentially the heirloom ancestor of sesame seeds-sesame and benne are the same species, but sesames have been bred to maximize oil output, which unfortunately has cut down on flavor." You can purchase proper benne seeds from Anson Mills.
Benne seeds were brought to South Carolina by slaves from the Niger-Congo regions in sub-Saharan Africa.
1,000 Foods to Eat Project
In conclusion, Benne Wafers are listed in the book 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, by Mimi Sheraton. I am working my way through the foods listed in this book. This is called my 1,000 Foods to Eat Project. Benne Wafers is food #67 in my project!
Above all, please check out my 1,000 Foods to Eat Project page for some awesome food inspo!
Some Other Great Recipes You May Enjoy!
You may also enjoy the following recipes:
- Unique and Scrumptious Icelandic Rye Bread Ice Cream
- Wide Awake No Bake Brownies
- How To Make Scrumptious Banoffee Pie!
Join Me On A Fun Food Journey!
If you'd like to come along on this food journey with me, please sign up to get the latest recipes and inspiration for you to expand your food comfort zone! It's an incredible journey, please join me by signing up here.
DELISH South Carolina Benne Wafers Recipe
- 1 baking tray
- 1 silicone baking mat can use parchment paper but the silicone baking mat is preferred
- 5 tablespoon butter I used salted butter but you can sub unsalted if you prefer
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup brown sugar packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ ts baking powder
- ¼ ts salt
- ¼ ts vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a skillet on a medium low to medium heat on your stove. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until the seeds have turned a light to medium brown. They may start to pop!
- Melt the butter and then allow it to cool. Then add all of the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl: melted butter, toasted sesame seeds, vanilla extract, brown sugar, flour, egg, salt and baking powder.
- Mix well until all of the ingredients are combined to make a dough. Then drop ½ teaspoonfuls of dough onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (which has been placed on a cookie sheet) roughly an inch apart.
- Bake for around 8-10 minutes until the wafers are have browned and you have crispy edges. Keep an eye on them so that they don't burn. Rotate the cookie sheet and mat halfway through the baking time.
- Remove from the oven and then allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then transfer the wafers to a cooling rack to allow them to cool completely.
- Bake in batches until all the dough is used up. I usually make between 3 and 4 batches with this recipe. This makes around 60-70 cookies!