Kardea Brown’s Benne Wafers Recipe

published Feb 7, 2023
Benne Wafers Recipe
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Credit: Sully Sullivan

Upon first glance, Benne Wafers might look like your average golden-brown cookie, but they contain a special ingredient. Benne Wafers get their name from what many people call sesame seeds. In the Sea Islands, however, sesame seeds are known as benne seeds. These seeds were cultivated in the Sea Islands by enslaved people and have become a valuable part of Gullah cuisine. These cookies from Brown are filled with flavor not only because benne seeds themselves have a lot of taste, but when they’re toasted they also become even more delicious.

Benne Wafers Recipe

Makes 24 wafers

Nutritional Info


  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    toasted sesame seeds

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for your hands


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter for 30 seconds, until soft. Add the sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and egg and beat until just combined. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds.

  3. Drop the dough, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, onto the baking sheets, making sure to leave at least 1 inch between the wafers to allow for spreading. Spray your hands or a spatula with the nonstick spray and press the cookies down to keep them from doming.

  4. Bake until golden brown and starting to crisp on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the wafers to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from THE WAY HOME by Kardea Brown. Copyright 2022. Amistad/HarperCollins