Benne Seed Wafers

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min./batch + cooling


8 dozen

Updated: Dec. 06, 2022
Crisp, chewy, nutty and caramelized benne wafers (aka sesame seed cookies) are perfect for your holiday or Kwanzaa celebrations. For a more traditional type of cookie, leave them plain. If you feel like dressing them up, drizzle them with melted chocolate. Both ways are equally delicious. —April Wright, Whisk It Real Gud


  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 cups 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips
  • 2 teaspoons shortening or coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place sesame seeds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes; cool.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 300°. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually beat into sugar mixture. Add cooled sesame seeds and stir to combine.
  3. Roll level teaspoons into balls. Place 2 in. apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 275°; bake until set but still soft, 18-20 minutes. Cool on pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For optional chocolate drizzle, in a large microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate, uncovered, at 50% power until melted, stirring every 30 seconds, 1-1-1/2 minutes. Add shortening and stir until melted. Drizzle over cookies; let stand until set.
Benne Wafers Tips

Are benne seeds and sesame seeds interchangeable in this recipe?

Benne seeds are an heirloom version of sesame seeds. Either can be used in this recipe, although benne seeds are harder to find. Look online to order benne seeds if you want to try them. If you love recipes from South Carolina and other old-fashioned recipes for Southern food, you'll already know that these traditional sweets are part of the food heritage of the low country.

Do you have to toast the seeds before making benne wafers?

It's important to toast the sesame seeds before making benne wafers because it brings out their flavor and makes these sweets that much more delicious. It's not uncommon for seeds or nuts to be toasted before using to make them flavorful treats, like in many of these nutty dessert recipes.

How should you store benne wafers?

Store benne wafers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month. These crispy wafers are perfect for gifting in small bags or decorative containers.

Peggy Woodward, Taste of Home Senior Food Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 wafer: 32 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 4mg cholesterol, 9mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.