Beignets are the quintessential Big Easy breakfast bite, perfect for celebrating Mardi Gras or any time you crave authentic Creole cooking. We’ll show you how to make New Orleans-style beignets from scratch and bring the flavors of the French Quarter home.
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Did you know that beignet (pronounced ben-yay) means “fritter” in French? The pastry came to the Crescent City by way of French colonists centuries ago, and has become as much a part of the pantheon of cajun cuisine as king cake, jambalaya, and po boy sandwiches. These light and pillowy pockets of yeasted dough — fried until golden brown, then dusted with a cloud of powdered sugar — are such perfection, it’s no wonder Louisiana made them its official state doughnut.
Enjoy yours the way that iconic New Orleans landmark Cafe Du Monde serves their famous beignets: fresh and hot, with a cup of chicory-spiced café au lait.
New Orleans Beignets
Makes 3 dozen small beignets
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
- 3 cups (14 oz) flour
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package instant yeast or active dry yeast (if using active dry yeast, see Chef’s Tip below)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Oil for frying
- Powdered sugar, to taste
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and instant yeast (if using active dry yeast, see Chef’s Tip below).
- Heat the milk until scalding. It should just begin to steam, but not boil (about 180°F/82°C).
- Combine the sugar butter and butter in a large mixing bowl. Pour the steaming milk over the top and stir so that the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool until it’s lukewarm; the temperature needs to be lower than 115°F/46°C to avoid killing any yeast.
- Add the egg to the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the vanilla extract to the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine. (Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until combined.)
- Place the dough on a floured counter and knead it until it’s soft and pliable, about 3-5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook on medium speed until a smooth and sticky dough forms.)
- Place your kneaded dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Place the dough onto a floured surface, and flour a rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough into triangles or squares using a regular knife, dough knife, or a pizza cutter.
- Place the dough pieces on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap that has also been lightly oiled. Allow the dough pieces to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until they have almost doubled in size.
- Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
- Carefully add the dough pieces in small batches to the oil, using a slotted spoon or a fry basket. Cook the beignets for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown, and then flip them and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown on the second side. Remove the beignets and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
- Once they have cooled slightly, coat the beignets with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
- If you’re using active dry yeast rather than instant yeast, add it after step 3 to the cooled milk mixture. At this point, stir in the yeast to combine, and allow it to sit in milk mixture for 5 minutes so the yeast has time to hydrate.
We hope these beignets get a “Yay!” We think you should earn some Mardi Gras beads for making them.
Recipe adapted from Bombshell Bling.