Skip to content

The Secret Waffle House Ordering Trick You Need to Try

Easily elevate your next meal at the popular diner chain with just two simple words.

In a world where things change fast enough to give you whiplash, there can be a very comforting nostalgia for things that remain the same. I'm looking at you, Waffle House. This iconic staple of road trips and late nights, at least in the South, is so entrenched in memories of my raucous college days that it's actually hard to know whether it's still good or whether it's just firing up some dopamine in my brain with the remembrance that it sparks.

I've asked some of my food-loving friends, and they all agree: yes, there may be some memory effect, but honestly? Waffle House actually is still good. Not good like a local and seasonal, chef-driven restaurant. I'm talking good like a no-pretensions, show up with your hair still wet (as I did most recently) or fading from a long drive (like the time before that), and dig into a dish cooked right in front of you on a hot griddle that's billowing the soul-satisfying scent of bacon, eggs, and hash browns. Scattered, smothered, covered, are you with me?

people eating at waffle house
Photo: Dana McMahan, Eat This, Not That!

What if I now tell you that there's a way to level up your Waffle House experience? Yes, you can take what's good and make it even better. Come back with me many years to college Dana sliding into a booth after too many Zimas, and in a trick whose origins are lost to time (or Zima), making one specific request. I give you: make it extra crispy.

 The Best & Worst Waffle House Orders, According to Dietitians

If cooked is good, extra cooked is better, with few exceptions. Maybe a culinary anthropologist could tell you the science behind this, but I'll brandish that psychology degree I earned while keeping my local Waffle House in business, and venture to suggest that there's something very primal happening when we eat food that's verging on singed. Fire plus meat in the earliest days of humanity literally kept people alive, and I believe that bit of char sets off all sorts of endorphins in our brains and our bodies.

Anyway, the why doesn't matter so much as the what. And the what is simply this: just about everything you love at Waffle House can be even more tasty when you ask for it extra crispy. We'll start with the pecan waffle, my go-to. The regular waffle is mildly pleasing, but when you add the nutty crunch, that bit of texture keeps you coming back.

pecan waffle at waffle house
A pecan waffle cooked extra crispy at Waffle House.Photo: Dana McMahan, Eat This, Not That!

A waffle is normally cooked for three minutes, I learned on my exploratory mission. But, when you ask for it extra crispyor "dark" or "well," in the Waffle House back-of-house lingothe staff will cook it for four. What happens in that extra minute? You go from a pale, golden blonde, creamy colored waffle, to a golden brown version with each tiny square crisped to a degree that lets you slather on the margarine and deposit some in each pocket, rather than just smooshing the underdone OG version. It holds up to the syrup product you pool into each square as well, so that each bite brings you the bliss that is toasted bread, crunchy pecan, faux butter, and sweet, sweet syrup.

half eaten waffle on a plate
A bite of the original pecan waffle (left) versus a bite of an extra crispy pecan waffle (right). Note how the squares hold the syrup.Photo: Dana McMahan, Eat This, Not That!

Somehow more than a decade had passed since I last ate at a Waffle House, but recently, my best friend and I pulled into one en route home from a road trip to Atlanta. I thought I'd show off my cool insider knowledge by ordering my special pecan waffle extra crispy, as if to say, "You know your best friend is a fancy food writer, right?" At that moment, the extremely cheerful and competent young waitress blew the lid off for me. "Do you want your hash browns and bacon extra crispy, too?" she asked.

Oh. My. God. Yes, yes, I very much do!

Here's the trouble with hash browns, as a rule. The crispy golden shreds are a joy. The pale, nearly raw pieces that don't make much contact with the griddle? Gross. Now, short of having someone individually turn every single shred of potato, you're never gonna get them all perfectly crisped. But even in a quick-turn situation like Waffle House, giving them a little more time on the grill gets you exponentially more of the yummy, crunchy, golden brown bits. And that, in turn, helps them hold up to the slice of American cheese that you must order them with (aka "covered").

 11 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Fried Chicken & Waffles

a meal at the waffle house
When Waffle House hash browns are cooked extra crispy, every bite is the perfect combo of crunchy outside and creamy inside.Photo: Dana McMahan, Eat This, Not That!

And do I even need to explain why crisp bacon is better than flaccid, limp, fatty bacon? I didn't think so.

Now, my chef friend was a little appalled, I think, that I'm making it harder for the line cooks with my special order, when I told her about this trick. And certainly I don't want to do that. But here's my thought on that: internet lore has it there are more than a million and a half possible iterations of how you can order your WaHo hash browns. If that's true, then any cook who can handle that can take what I'm throwing at them.

So, the next time you're waffling over smothered, covered, chunked, or capped, just remember the most important piece: get it extra crispy!

Dana McMahan
A freelance writer for a dozen-plus years, Dana is an award-winning journalist who's contributed to outlets including Food Network, Rachael Ray, Local Palate, and Real Simple magazines; Kitchn and Apartment Therapy,,,, NBC News Today, the Washington Post, London Telegraph, and lots more. Read more about Dana