Homemade Nilla Wafers (whole wheat)

My daughters have been coming up with all sorts of good ideas lately for recipes. My youngest (who just turned 11!) made the amazing unicorn cake creation for her birthday, and I have to give credit to my 13-year-old for both the recent deep dish pizza idea and these homemade Nilla Wafers. Her friend has been bringing Nilla Wafers to lunch at school, and she came home and asked if I could try to make some from scratch, which I thought was a good idea! Especially considering the ingredients in the store-bought version… no, thank you!

Boxed Nilla Wafers contain: white flour (wheat flour without the word whole), soybean oil (likely GMO), high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), and artificial flavor.

Nilla Wafer Ingredients on 100 Days of Real Food

So it took a few tries, and let me tell you what my family hated eating all the test batches of homemade Nilla wafers until I got it right. Haha, kidding. We wanted the outcome to have both the taste and texture of the original. But what I did learn is the type of vanilla you use matters A LOT in this recipe. For one batch I used the end of a store-bought bottle of vanilla. It was very flavorful and very dark in color with little bits of vanilla bean in it. I only used two teaspoons and that batch tasted most similar to the boxed version. For the other batches, I used 1 tablespoon of either homemade vanilla or a brand new store bought (i.e. not as potent) bottle, and the flavor was not quite as strong. So I do think it’s worthwhile to taste your batter before baking (or just bake a few) to decide if you should add more vanilla before proceeding. We hope you like what we came up with for these homemade vanilla wafers!

photo of homemade Nilla Wafers on 100 Days of Real Food

Nilla Wafers on 100 Days of Real Food

Homemade Nilla Wafers (whole wheat)

These homemade Nilla Wafers come really close to the original in both taste and texture, without all the bad ingredients. Get the recipe & give them a try!
4.2 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 3 dozen 1 1/2" thin cookies

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt together using a stand mixer on medium speed (or by hand if you don't have one) until smooth. Slowly add in the flour until well combined. See recipe notes regarding vanilla extract.
  • Roll the dough into a log (I found my cookie press was a good "mold" for helping to do this). Slice thin - just under 1/4" inch thickness - and place onto ungreased baking sheets about 1" apart. 
    photo of Lisa cutting cookie dough for homemade Nilla Wafers on 100 Days of Real Food
  • Bake until edges are just beginning to turn golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. We found the less brown they are, the more they taste like store-bought Nilla Wafers. 

Notes

As mentioned in the blog post, the type of vanilla you use matters A LOT in this recipe. You may want to experiment with a little more or less than the listed 1 tablespoon.
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Nilla Wafers (whole wheat)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 499 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Fat 33g51%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Cholesterol 142mg47%
Sodium 464mg20%
Potassium 145mg4%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 17g19%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1015IU20%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 1.6mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

photo of homemade Nilla Wafers on 100 Days of Real Food

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21 thoughts on “Homemade Nilla Wafers (whole wheat)”

  1. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed these and they were so simple to make! We used them with homemade vanilla ice cream in the middle to make mini ice cream sandwiches.

  2. Sarah Dickison

    5 stars
    Used my dough blender with semi softened butter, refrigerated 1 hr. In a zip lock bag. Came out an easy to cut solid log. Tasted like shortbread. Will make again with more vanilla.

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for my kids (I can’t eat wheat or sugar) and all three liked them, the teens and my 6 year old. I did use about 3/4 c. whole wheat and 1/4 c. white flour. My teens are hardest to please when I try to make healthier versions of junk food and since both of them liked these, these are a big success in my house.

      1. I used whole wheat flour and white flour. No pastry flour. I put the dough in the freezer for a short time. They could have been in a bit longer because when I cut them, they squished a little. But we did not care.

  4. 1 star
    Made these for the first time tonight – huge disappointment!! I refrigerated the dough (even though it was not mentioned), just as if it was a sugar cookie. It started out okay at first, but trying to roll the dough was difficult – the dough just “melted” in my hands. I don’t have a cookie press, so that was not an option. I did the best I could and got them on the cookie sheet. After baking, I let them cool a bit and tried to remove them, using a spatula and about half broke. The texture was good, but they definitely need more sugar. And I used real vanilla extract, but it just wasn’t enough vanilla. I will definitely try making these again, but will make several changes next time.

    1. I wondered about refrigerating the dough too. Would you still do that for your next batch, or do you have another suggestion that you think might make the dough easier to handle? Thanks!

      1. I would still refrigerate the dough. It helped some, but not long enough to get the dough into a log form. It’s almost as if the recipe doesn’t have enough flour. I mean, it is 1 c. butter to 1 c. flour. I’ll probably try adding a bit more flour next time and perhaps try vanilla bean paste instead of extract. The texture of the final product was very good – more like a shortbread cookie than a vanilla wafer.

      2. Gracie the Baker

        I think 8 tbsp of butter is only a half cup of butter – maybe you used a full cup and that’s why you had so many issues?

  5. I have been making whole wheat vanilla wafers for years. I began making them for when I needed vanilla wafers to make a crumb crust for my favorite rhubarb dessert. What a coincidence, it is almost rhubarb season. I’ll have to give your recipe a try this year and see how whole wheat pastry flour compares to my white whole wheat cookies.

  6. I am so excited to try these! My kids beg for Nilla wafers which I only have given into a couple of times since the ingredients are so nasty. Thank you!

    1. That will change the texture significantly. And not in a good way.
      More sugar (applesauce) on top of flour and sugar is a heavy dose of carbs. I prefer to keep a balance of carbs and fat and just eat less to reduce calories.

      1. 5 stars
        I do not know the difference between pastry flour & unbleached flour. So, I did the 1cup minus maybe 1/8cup. They were more like short bread cookies, kind of dry.

  7. Good Morning,

    This is another case in point where Lisa has mentioned in the past. When eating real food, one sometimes discovers that the craving for quantity sometimes decreases. I hope it does for me someday, but I am still waiting on that new/unfound feeling.
    Let me add that I am way over 50, exercise several times a week,work at at full time deskbound job and attempt to eat healthy/whole food about 80/20. When eating ‘real food’, I must watch the caloric intake. A serving of processed wafers is 8 little cookies for 138 calories. If I eat the cookies from this recipe, which I am sure are better for me than the usual Nilla’s, I must cut the serving in half (or less) to substantiate this “treat” of 4 cookies which clocks in at 160 calories. I will still make these cookies, as these would be delicious with a cup of hot tea and good for you when it comes to treats. I enjoyed the recent posts on What I Eat in Day, but I don’t remember anyone including how much was eaten.

    Not being critical, but just keepin’ it real.

    Signed,
    Hungry in Texas :-)

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