Homemade Nilla Wafers

Vanilla wafers

The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 80 tiny cookies (20 servings)

Vanilla wafers are some of the most nostalgic sweets out there, as they truly are the “OG” cookie. And if you've never made them from scratch, you are in for a real treat. These taste and look just like the original—possibly even better. They are incredibly crisp and perfect for dunking in coffee or tea or including in your favorite recipe like banana pudding. They aren't boring in the least, with a deep vanilla flavor and a bit of richness from the heavy cream.

These wafers come together super quickly with no long chilling or bake time. Yes, it is a tiny bit tedious scooping out teaspoonfuls of dough, but if you want your cookies to look like the original, then size matters. You can make jumbo wafers with a bigger scoop, though they’ll likely be a bit chewier than their crisp younger siblings. A quick 15-minute rest in the freezer pre-bake ensures your wafers stay small and uniform in size, but, again, if this is not important to you, by all means bake them off as soon as you’ve shaped them.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    vanilla wafer ingredients
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

    Whisked dry ingredients in a bowl
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

    Creamed butter and sugar in a bowl
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  4. Add the egg and cream and mix on low speed for one minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. The mixture will look curdled.

    Wet ingredients mixed in a bowl
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  5. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just to incorporate.

    Cookie dough in a bowl
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  6. Using a teaspoon-sized measuring spoon, portion the dough, roll into balls, and place on the prepared sheets. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Place the pans in the freezer for 15 minutes.

    Unbaked cookies on a baking sheet
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point, until golden brown.

  8. Place the pans on cooling racks and let the wafers come to room temperature before serving.

    Vanilla wafers
    The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan 

Tips

  • For the best texture, do not overmix the dough.
  • You may use the bottom of a one-cup measure to flatten the teaspoons of dough rather than the heel of your hand.
  • The cookies will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to a month in a zip-top plastic bag.

Recipe Variations

  • You may substitute whole milk for the heavy cream.
  • Add an extra teaspoon of extract to amp up the vanilla flavor even more.
  • Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the underside of one cookie and top it with another for the cutest little chocolate-vanilla sandwich cookie.