Benne Wafers

Benne wafers, ethereally light, snapping-crisp sesame cookies, are native to the "low country" of South Carolina. Sesame, a plant with a long history of cultivation, was probably first grown in Africa; West Africans, brought to this country as slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries, called sesame "benne" and legend had it that eating sesame seeds brought good luck. Interestingly, Middle Easterners also called sesame seeds "benne;" there must have been trade routes that brought together buyers from the Middle East with African sellers. Food, as usual, seems to have been a key component in bringing cultures together.

These rich brown cookies, sweet and nutty, have a unique texture: solid and crisp on the bottom, crunchy-light on top.

20 mins
8 to 9 mins
30 mins
3 dozen 3" wafers
Benne Wafers


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

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and egg.

  3. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds.

  4. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls (our tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) onto the baking sheets.

  5. Bake the wafers for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

  6. Remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for 1 minute on the pan, then transfer the wafers to a wire rack to cool completely.

  7. Store in a closed container for up to a week. Freeze for up to a month.