These beignets are made from a yeast dough enriched with butter and sugar, then fried to golden perfection. They’re pillowy soft and will melt in your mouth!
The inspiration for these beignets comes from the famous Café Du Monde in New Orleans. Every time I visit, I stop by this beloved café at least once and indulge in their freshly-fried beignets. What is the experience like? The café is crowded with loyal customers, the air is filled with sweet aromas, and there is a never-ending amount of powdered sugar everywhere. You are guaranteed to get messy, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Beignets also have a soft spot in my heart because they remind me of my mom’s ponchiki. These Slavic donut holes were one of my favorite childhood treats, and beignets evoke the fond memories associated with them. The same crispy outside, delicate texture, sweet fried flavor … I’m in love!
What Are Beignets?
Beignets (pronounced “ben-yays”) are deep-fried doughnuts with a square shape and an impressive puff. Beignets have a crisp outside and soft inside, and they’re usually dusted with powdered sugar. These pastries originated in France, but they gained massive popularity in New Orleans, Louisiana, when French settlers brought them over. Today, beignets are one of the most beloved sweets in New Orleans — sold in bakeries, supermarkets, and even fresh on the streets.
How To Make Beignets
These pastries may sound daunting, but if you have time and proper technique, you’re golden. Start by mixing up the dough, then let it rise and get to frying!
- Bloom the yeast: Pour warm water into a large bowl, then whisk in the yeast and sugar. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes until the yeast begins to foam.
- Add the rest of the ingredients: Add the eggs, salt, and milk to the yeast mixture and whisk until well combined. Gradually mix in the flour using a spatula, or use a stand mixer on low speed. Once the flour is all mixed in, add the softened butter.
- Knead the dough: Knead the dough until it is elastic, which takes at least 10 minutes.
- Let the dough rise: Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in size.
- Cut the beignets: Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and roll it out to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
- Fry the beignets: Preheat a deep frying pan with about four inches of oil until it reaches 350°F. Working in batches, fry the beignets on each side for 4-5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let them rest on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
- Serve the beignets: For more sweetness, coat the beignets with powdered sugar while they’re still hot. Serve and enjoy!
Hot tip: If you’re using a stand mixer, bloom the yeast directly in the bowl of the mixer. That’s one less dish to wash!
Tips for the Best Beignets
Are you intimidated by yeast doughs and deep frying? Put your mind at ease with these tips for a stress-free beignet experience.
- Make sure the water and milk are lukewarm. To prevent the yeast from dying or not activating well, keep the initial temperature of the liquids between 100°F and 110°F.
- Adjust the flour. Depending on the type of flour used, you may need to adjust the amount of flour to achieve the proper dough consistency. We like this flour.
- Use the windowpane test. This is a great way to test if your dough has developed enough strength. After kneading for at least 10 minutes, take a small piece of dough and stretch it into a square. If the light filters through without any tearing, the dough is ready to proof.
- Rely on observation more than time. The time intervals are suggestions based on specific variables like room temperature, humidity, etc. Use visual cues to determine when the dough is done rising and frying rather than watching the clock.
- Test the oil temperature. Proper oil temperature is key to achieving perfectly golden and cooked beignets. Use a deep-frying or candy thermometer like this one to make sure the oil temperature stays at around 350°F.
- Coat the beignets with powdered sugar. To make the most classic and delicious beignets, dust them generously with powdered sugar as soon as they’re out of the fryer.
Storage & Reheating
There’s nothing like fresh and hot beignets, but who’s complaining about leftover donuts? Follow these storage and reheating tips to get the most out of your extra beignets.
- Room temperature: To store for up to three days, transfer the cooled beignets to an airtight container and leave them at room temperature.
- Freezer: To store for up to two months, place the leftover fried beignets in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze. Fully thaw the frozen beignets before reheating.
- Reheating: Restore the most flavor and texture to leftover beignets by reheating them in a 350°F oven for about 3-5 minutes. For a quicker option, pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
More Pastry Recipes
- Apple Fritters — Indulgent fried donuts loaded with tender apples and a sweet glaze
- Cheese Turnovers — Sweet cream cheese nestled inside pockets of puff pastry
- Pear Tartlets — Flaky puff pastry squares with a juicy pear filling
- Poppy Seed Rolls — Sweet rolls with poppy seeds swirled throughout
- Pour the warm water into a large bowl, then whisk in the yeast and sugar. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes until it begins to foam.
- Add in the eggs, salt, and milk. Whisk until well combined.
- Mix in the flour gradually with a spatula or on low speed with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Once the flour is all mixed in, add the softened butter.
- Knead the dough until it is elastic, for at least 10 minutes. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in size.
- Roll out the dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into small squares, about two inches by two inches in size.
- Preheat a deep frying pan with about four inches of oil until it reaches 350°F.
- Working in batches, fry the beignets on each side for 4-5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let them rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Coat with powdered sugar (if desired) and enjoy!