New Orleans Beignets
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.