Benne Wafers

Benne WafersUnique to the Lowcountry since Colonial times, Benne (the Bantu word for sesame) was brought to America from East Africa in the 17th century during the slave trade era. Probably the oldest crop grown for its mild, nut-like taste, this versatile annual herb was planted extensively throughout the South. Nutritionally, sesame is high in protein, contains no cholesterol and is rich in calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B and E.

Southern Style Cooking

Benne wafers are still made by hand with the same care used in the plantation kitchens of the past, and you’ll find benne wafers in candy shops and stands throughout the Lowcountry. The Olde Colony Bakery in Charleston claims to own the most authentic Benne Wafers recipe.  “Our recipe dates back well over 100 years and is said to be the only existing original Benne Wafer recipe.” The bakery has been selling this Charleston favorite since 1919, and says these cookies “perfectly represent the fine taste and heritage of the Charleston, South Carolina area.”
The Bantu believe that eating these delicious thin, crisp cookies made with tasty toasted sesame seeds brings good luck, a wonderful benefit of great southern style cooking!


Traditional Preparation
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sesame (benne) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon onto a well-greased cookie pan, far enough apart to allow spreading while baking. Bake in a 325º F oven for 7-10 minutes.
Yield: 7 dozen.