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John F. Kennedy’s Buttermilk Waffles

Jackie and J.F.K’s waffle recipe. Now yours.

stack of waffles with blueberries and syrup

Everyone needs a good waffle recipe. So why not choose light, flavorful buttermilk waffles that just happened to be the favorite of an iconic American president and his family? Presenting Jackie and John Kennedy’s recipe for waffles — often requested by the president and the public alike.

You’ll also like: Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes and Homemade Breakfast Sausage

copy of Kennedy waffle recipe from National Archives
A copy of John Kennedy’s favorite waffle recipe. Courtesy National Archives/J.F.K. Presidential Papers.

J.F.K. Food History: John Kennedy’s Favorite Waffles. Allegedly.

Jackie and John Kennedy’s waffles recipe has circulated since he was a U.S. senator. Many people and publications wrote to the President and First Lady, asking for favorite family recipes. The family’s waffle recipe got shared most often.

Though the recipe comes from the Kennedy family, the origin and actual cook behind the waffles remains unclear. Was Jackie in the kitchen actually whipping egg whites and folding them into the  buttermilk batter? Unlikely. Jackie Kennedy was a wealthy debutante who married into one of America’s wealthiest families and became a leading society figure ad political spouse before becoming first lady at age 31.

The First Lady also held to an extremely strict diet, sometimes subsisting on little more each day than a baked potato, fruit, and cigarettes. So Jackie and John Kennedy probably did not cook these waffles themselves. But enough evidence shows that they were, in fact, an actual family recipe.

JFK and Jackie Kennedy Wedding Photo

John F. Kennedy’s Waffles: Recipe Notes

The Kennedy waffle recipe contains a full stick of butter, but manages to make a light and tender waffle. The light, crisp texture comes from whipped egg whites, baking powder, and cake flour. These waffles can be a bit delicate; take care when removing them from the waffle iron.

It is interesting that the baking powder does not get added until the very end, along with the egg whites. Normally, baking powder would be added to the flour. But let’s stick with the Kennedy method here.

These waffles have a simple flavor, with a slight tang from buttermilk. The waffle batter contains very little sugar, and no vanilla, so think of these as a well-made (and buttery) blank canvas for fruit, maple syrup, and other toppings.

waffle batter in bowl with egg whites
Folding egg whites into the waffle batter.

How to properly fold egg whites into a batter:

  • Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks that hold their own shape
  • Add the beaten egg whites in additions. Temper a large spoonful of egg whites into the batter and gently fold. When most of the egg whites seems absorbed, add the rest. Fold just until mostly mixed in. Do not overmix.

Did you make Jackie and John Kennedy’s recipe for waffles? Share below.

overhead shot of JFK favorite waffles with butter and syrup

stack of waffles with blueberries and syrup

John F. Kennedy's Buttermilk Waffles

The Kennedy family's favorite waffles, now yours.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Breakfast, brunch
Cuisine: American, belgian
Keywords:: breakfast, brunch, buttermilk, J.F.K., Jacqueline Kennedy, patriotic food, waffles
Servings: 10 to 12 waffles
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder (or 4 teaspoons)

Instructions

  • Preheat and grease a waffle iron according the directions.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined.
  • Alternately add the flour and buttermilk.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
    PRO TIP: For maximum stability and fluffiness, use room-temperature eggs and make sure there is not a trace of fat or egg yolk in the bowl.
  • When ready to make the waffles, fold in the egg whites and baking powder. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Bake in the waffle iron and serve with warm maple syrup and melted butter.

13 comments

  • Susannah

    5 stars
    So good and buttery. Will make again.

  • Do you have to use cake flour.? Can I use AP. I have a lot of AP, and really hate t buy more. TY!!! Love your recipes!!!
    Dee

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Dee! Thanks for writing and good question. Cake flour will make them a little extra tender, but you can also use AP flour. If you want to make “homemade” cake flour in a pinch, though, a good trick is this: for every cup of AP flour, remove 2 Tbsp of flour and replace with cornstarch 😉 Hope you enjoy!

  • 4 stars
    Just made these . Best tasting waffles I’ve made . Don’t know if it’s my waffle iron or that I added baking powder with flour , but the waffles were thin .

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Wiss! Thanks for making it. The batter is a little delicate because of the whipped egg whites, so that might account for some of it. But my other thought to make sure the egg whites really are at stiff peaks. If they aren’t the waffles will be thin and have less aeration. Either way, glad they tasted good!

  • Sue Bibee

    5 stars
    I just made these waffles. Exactly how described, very light and airy. I try to make different waffles on the weekends & these are the lightest waffles I have ever made. I sauteed peach slices & added a few strawberries at the end with maple syrup to top them off. Great Sunday morning breakfast.

    • Unpeeled

      So glad that you loved them. Those Kennedys knew a good waffle! The fruit sounds absolutely fabulous on top.

  • Jill D.

    5 stars
    Very fluffy and well received by all. Added a little vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon.

  • 5 stars
    This is now my family’s go-to waffle recipe. It is a little extra work to do the egg whites, but worth it because the waffles are light and fluffy.

  • 1/2 cup butter = 1 stick of butter.
    Recipe is listed at 2 sticks butter

    • Unpeeled

      Egads! Thanks so much!! Great catch. The recipe’s been updated 🙂

  • Jenn Young

    5 stars
    great waffle recipe. not sweet, but light and perfect to add syrup to.

  • 5 stars
    I am so glad to have this recipe because I love the JFK backstory AND they happen to taste great! A little extra work to whip the egg whites separately, but worth it. Thanks for the recipe.

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