Chicken and waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Soul food style chicken and waffles, served with peaches and cream as dessert
Place of origin United States
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Chicken, waffles
Variations Fried chicken with butter and syrup
Stewed chicken with gravy
Cookbook: Chicken and Waffles  Media: Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles refers to either of two American dishes - one from soul food, the other Pennsylvania Dutch - that combine chicken with waffles. It is served in certain specialty restaurants in the United States.[1]


Soul food version

The best known chicken and waffle pairing comes from the American soul food tradition and uses fried chicken. The waffle is served as it would be at breakfast time, with condiments such as butter and syrup. This unusual combination of foods is beloved by many people who are influenced by traditions of soul food passed down from past generations of their families. This version of the dish is highly popular in Baltimore, Maryland, enough to become a well-known local custom.[1]

Pennsylvania Dutch version

The traditional Pennsylvania Dutch version consists of a plain waffle with pulled, stewed chicken on top, covered in gravy.[2] It is generally found in the Northeastern United States.


Chicken and waffles

The exact origins of this dish are unknown, although several theories about its origin exist. Waffles entered American cuisine in the 1600s with European colonists. The food's popularity saw a notable boost after 1789 with Thomas Jefferson's purchase of a waffle iron in France.[1][3]

In the early 1800s, hotels and resorts outside Philadelphia served waffles with fried catfish. Such establishments also served other dishes like fried chicken, which gradually became the meat of choice due to catfish's limited, seasonal availability.[4] Waffles served with chicken and gravy were noted as a common Sunday dish among the Pennsylvania Dutch by the 1860s.[4] By the end of the 19th century, the dish was a symbol of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, brought on in part by its association with tourism.[4]

In 1909, a Griswold's waffle iron advertisement promised, "You can attend a chicken and waffle supper right at home any time you have the notion if you are the owner of a Griswold's American Waffle Iron."[4]

The traditional origin of the dish states that because African Americans in the South rarely had the opportunity to eat chicken and were more familiar with flapjacks or pancakes than with waffles, they considered the dish a delicacy. For decades, it remained "a special-occasion meal in African American families."[5] However, other historians cite a scarcity of actual early-era evidence of the dish's existence in the South, and place the origin later, after the post-Civil War migration of Southern African-Americans to the North during the Reconstruction Era. The combination of chicken and waffles does not appear in early Southern cookbooks such as Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cookery Book, published in 1871 or in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, published in 1881 by former slave Abby Fisher.[6] Fisher's cookbook is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African American.[5] The lack of a recipe for the combination of chicken and waffles in Southern cookbooks from the era may suggest a later origin for the dish.

Whatever the case, many modern variants of the dish owe their origins to the meal as it was served in the African-American community in early 20th-century Harlem, New York. The dish was served as early as the 1930s in such Harlem locations as Tillie's Chicken Shack, Dickie Wells' jazz nightclub, and particularly the Wells Supper Club.[7] Harlem-style chicken and waffles have been popular in Los Angeles since the 1970s due to the fame of former Harlem resident Herb Hudson's restaurant Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, which has become known as a favorite of some Hollywood celebrities and been referenced in several movies.[7]

The 1917 novel Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber mentions a "lying" sign in a Chicago restaurant that advertises "Southern chicken dinner with waffles and real maple syrup, 35 cents each."[8]

In 1935 Bunny Berigan composed a jazz instrumental titled "Chicken and Waffles".[9][10]

The 1941 novel Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain concerns a woman who finds success running a chicken and waffles restaurant.[11]

In the 2005 film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Deuce (Rob Schneider) finds T.J. (Eddie Griffin) in, in Deuce's words, "the only chicken and waffles place in all Holland". T. J. says that it is "racist" for a Black man to have to be in a chicken and waffles place; when Deuce counters that T. J. is, in fact, there, T. J. responds "Yeah, but figuring it out is racist."

The 2009 blaxploitation parody film Black Dynamite includes a scene in which the character "Roscoe" is inspired to create a restaurant based around the dish after losing interest in his previous venture, a chili and donut restaurant.


  1. 1 2 3 Edge, John T. (2004). Fried Chicken: An American Story. Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-15183-4.
  2. Tori Amey (18 January 2013). "Discover History of Chicken and Waffles". PBS Food. "PBS". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  3. Kimberly Lord Stewart (31 January 2013). "Waffles". In Andrew Smith. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. OUP USA. p. 554. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2.
  4. 1 2 3 4 William Woys Weaver (June 4, 2013). "The Dutch Country Waffle Dinner". Table Matters. The Center for Cultural Outreach, Pennoni Honors College, Drexel University.
  5. 1 2 "Serving up chicken & waffles". Los Angeles Business Journal. September 22, 1997. p. 1.
  6. Fisher, Abby (1881). What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking. San Francisco: Women's Cooperative Printing Office.
  7. 1 2 "Breakfast or Dinner". East Bay Express. August 4, 2004.
  8. Ferber, Edna (18 June 2015). Fanny Herself. Booklassic. p. 143. ISBN 978-963-524-010-4.
  9. Hagel, Ken (November 28, 2014). ""Chicken And Waffles " – Bunny Berigan And His Blue Boys (1935)". Jazz Between the Wars.
  10. "Bunny Berigan And His Blue Boys – You Took Advantage Of Me / Chicken And Waffles". Discogs. Zink Media, Inc. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  11. Perry, Charles (March 2, 2005). "'Mildred Pierce' still one hot plate". Los Angeles Times.
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