These homemade beignets bring the fluffiness and flavors of the famous New Orleans dessert to your home! Made with a fuss-free dough and dusted with powdered sugar, this is a perfectly puffed and pillowy deep-fried dessert you won’t be able to get enough of.
Treat your taste buds to the sinfully sweet flavors of the French Quarter with this homemade beignets recipe.
Beignets (pronounced “ben-yay”) have been a staple of the historic New Orleans coffee shop, Café du Monde, since the late 1800s. They’re a pillowy soft fritter-like dessert made from yeast dough that’s cut into small rectangles, then deep fried until the outside is crisp and golden and the inside is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Toss them in powdered sugar to finish and enjoy with a cafe au lait!
My beignet recipe walks you through the simple steps to make a homemade version that’s just as delectable as the classic. Ultimately, you’ll have a decadent deep-fried dessert that captures the essence of powdered donuts and funnel cake all in one bite!
Why this recipe works
- Café du Monde copycat. These are the best beignets because they recreate the beloved taste and texture of the classic dessert you would find at Café du Monde.
- Hot and fresh. Nothing beats the taste of a warm and fluffy beignet straight from the fryer.
- Easy to make. Making a successful batch of homemade beignets is simple, even if you’re new to working with dough or deep frying.
- Great for special occasions. Bring a fresh batch of these pastries to the birthday party, holiday, or any celebration! They’ll surely be a hit with your guests and make the event even more memorable.
Here’s everything you need to whip up a batch of irresistible homemade beignets:
- Dried yeast. This helps the dough rise and achieve its light and airy texture. Make sure your yeast is active and hasn’t expired.
- Sugar and water. Combining dried yeast with sugar and lukewarm water activates the yeast and creates the bubbles that make the dough rise.
- Egg. Adds moisture and a rich flavor to the dough. It also binds all of the ingredients together so the pastry squares hold their shape while frying.
- Condensed milk. Adds a creamy sweetness and slightly caramelized taste.
- Vanilla extract. For flavor.
- Bread flour. Bread flour has more protein than all purpose flour, which helps the dough develop more gluten and gives the beignets a more authentic flavor and texture.
- Salt. Enhances flavor, balances sweetness, and helps control the fermentation process.
- Butter. This gives the dough a rich flavor while encouraging browning.
- Vegetable oil. Or any neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point, like peanut, safflower, or grapeseed oil.
- Icing sugar. Also known as powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar. It’s used to coat the fried beignets, just like powdered donuts.
How to make beignets
Follow these step-by-step instructions to make a batch of beignets that will transport you straight to the streets of New Orleans:
Step 1 – Proof the yeast
Stir the dried yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside until the mixture is foamy.
Step 2 – Mix the wet ingredients
Add the egg, condensed milk, and vanilla to the bowl with the yeast mixture.
Step 3 – Mix the dry ingredients
Add the flour and salt, then mix until combined.
Step 4 – Knead in the butter
To finish, add the butter and knead it into the dough using the dough hook attachment. Keep mixing until you have a smooth and firm ball of dough.
Step 5 – Rest the dough
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover it with a sheet of plastic and let it rest until it doubles in size.
Step 6 – Roll and cut the dough
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 1 cm thick rectangle. Then, cut the rectangle into 10 x 10cm squares.
Step 7 – Deep fry the beignets
Heat the oil in a deep pot. Once it’s hot, fry the beignets until they puff up and turn golden brown.
Step 8 – Drain, garnish, and serve
Transfer the beignets to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle each one with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Tips for success
- Don’t overmix the dough! As soon as the ingredients are incorporated, stop mixing. Working the dough too much will result in tough beignets.
- Roll the dough to an even 1 cm thickness. This will ensure that the dough fries up evenly with a consistent texture.
- Heat the oil to 350°F/175°C. If it’s hotter than that, the outside of the fritters will burn while the inside remains raw. Too cool, and they will absorb too much oil and become greasy.
- Fry in small batches to give the beignets enough space to expand.
What to serve with this dessert
Pair these pastries with a cafe au lait to stay true to tradition. Hot chocolate is the perfect companion if you’re not a coffee drinker.
These homemade beignets also offer endless topping possibilities. In addition to powdered sugar, try decorating or serving them with chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, a simple vanilla or chocolate glaze, fresh fruit or fruit compote, whipped cream, bananas foster, or even ice cream!
To store: Keep the cooled leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
To freeze: Place the leftover beignets in a single layer on a large plate, then freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen beignets to a freezer-safe container and freeze them for 2 to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
To reheat: Warm them in a 350°F/175°C oven for a few minutes or until they are warmed through.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. To mix and knead the dough.
- Rolling pin. To roll the dough into a thin sheet.
- Large pot. To fry the beignets.
- Candy thermometer. To check that the frying oil is heated to the right temperature.
- Slotted spoon or tongs. To remove the cooked beignets from the hot oil.
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Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make the dough up to 1 day in advance. To do so, make the dough as normal, then let it rest until it doubles in size. From there, punch it down to release excess air and shape it into a ball.
Transfer it to a lightly greased bowl covered with plastic or a damp kitchen towel. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before rolling and frying.
Both of these popular desserts are sweet, fluffy, and delectable, but are made with different ingredients. The two also have different shapes. Beignets are usually square, whereas donuts are typically round with a hole in the middle.
Beignets tend to have a milder, fluffy bite and a simple sweetness. Donuts, on the other hand, can have a wider array of flavors and textures, depending on the recipe.
Beignets technically originated in France but made their way to Louisiana when the French settled in the region. Today, they are considered a staple of New Orleans’ culinary heritage.
Beignets (New Orleans-Style!)
- Combine yeast, lukewarm water, and sugar and leave to rise in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes.
- Add egg, milk, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and mix well.
- To the mixing bowl, add flour and salt and mix all the ingredients. Add butter and knead until the dough starts forming into a ball.
- Let the dough rest in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel for 1-2 hours.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Cut into small squares 4 x 4 inches.
- Heat an inch of oil in a pot and fry the beignets in batches until they puff up and turn golden brown.
- Leave the beignets on a paper towel to drain excess oil before dusting with confectioners sugar.
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