Beignets – These New Orleans doughnuts are the best! Soft, pillowy and light just like the ones eat at Cafe du Monde but taste even better! You can’t beat homemade.
I grew up eating and adoring Puff Puff – a popular traditional West African deep fried dough. Eating them all day long would be easy peasy, if only my waist and thighs would allow it. But not to speak any lesser of it, my first experience with New Orleans Beignet is different – a good different.
It was during my first Mardi Gras experience in New Orleans that I got to have my first heavenly bite of this magical light as a feather fried dough generously covered in powdered sugar. Ooohh! I finished the entire beignet before I even spoke a word. From them on, Cafe du Monde’s Beignets (and beignets in general) will always have a special place in my heart.
What is a Beignet?
Beignets are sweet treats you’ll find almost every patisserie in New Orleans. Dubbed as the official state doughnut of Louisiana, these rectangular treats are deep-fried, pillowy, light and puffy doughnuts made with yeast dough with just the right touch of sweetness dusted with powdered sugar. They are also heavily tied with the Mardi Gras celebrations which is just a few weeks away.
Homemade Beignet Recipe
Guess what? You don’t have to travel to The South for this delicious experience. In fact, you can enjoy the warm, fluffy pastries in the comfort of your own home. And it’s absolutely going to be an experience to remember without the hefty price tag.
This recipe is fantastic and yields the lightest and fluffiest beignets minus the effort.
A combination of Paula Dean and Anne Burrell ‘s recipe. Paula Dean uses shortening, less yeast, and bread flour while Anne Burrell uses butter, all-purpose flour and doubles the amount of yeast. I think they both taste AH- mazing!! You just can’t go wrong with either.
For those unfamiliar with beignets, they’re in a league of their own but are a cross between a donut and fritter – just with a lot more to offer.
To achieve that light, airy result, the dough is everything. As you may have guessed, beignet dough requires some TLC. You must have your ingredients measured just right, pay attention to the consistency of the dough and we can’t forget the shortening or butter since every good pastry needs some fat. After cutting the dough, let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Furthermore, a well-made dough and a hot oil mean your beignets will puff up beautifully and develop a golden brown exterior. Yes, of course, they are delicious right out of the fryer but a beignet is not a true New Orleans beignet without a coating of confectioners’ sugar.
Upon taking that first bite, a soft cloud of powdered sugar escapes as you make your way through the pillowy pastry. You can’t help but make a mess and all the yummy flavors come soon after.
Can I Bake Beignets?
Although nothing compares to a perfectly deep-fried beignets, you can actually bake them in the oven if you’re trying to cut back with the oil. You can check out Serious Eats’ baked beignets recipe HERE.
The level of sweetness is just right, there is a nice toasty hint from the golden brown exterior, and a buttery note and you’ll keep going back for more. Be sure to enjoy with a café au lait!
Watch How To Make It
This post was first published in February 2017 and has been updated with new photos and content.
New Orleans Beignets
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes.
- Lightly whisk evaporated milk, sugar, salt, egg and vanilla extract. Add it to the yeast mixture.
- Mix in about 2 cups flour and continue mixing with hand or dough mixer. If using a stand mixer, mix for about a minute or 2.
- Finally add melted butter, mix until dough is sticky but smooth. Add in additional flour (if needed) to make soft dough.
- Turn dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours or until doubled.
- Punch the dough down- remove the dough from the bowl.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼ - 1/3 inch thick. Then cut out dough into 1 1/2 or 2″ squares, you can use a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before frying.
- Working in batches so as to not crowd the oil, fry the dough squares until they are puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oil, make a pit stop on the paper towels and immediately dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve hot with Café au lait!!!!!
Tips & Notes:
- You can substitute butter with vegetable shortening. But I prefer the texture and the buttery notes of my beignets.
- You can make the dough a day ahead and fry them in the morning. Just make sure you let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature before frying.
- Oil should be at 375 Degrees F when frying.
- Any regular milk would work fine if in case you wish to substitute the evaporated milk.
- Recipe would also yield about 35-40 pieces of 2-inch beignets.
- Corn oil or any flavorless oil are great for frying these beignets.
How to Make New Orleans Beignets
In a large bowl or stand mixer combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes. Lightly whisk eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and sugar. Add to the yeast mixture. Mix in about 2 cups flour and continue mixing by hand or dough mixer is using a stand mixer for about a minute or 2. Next, add melted butter.
Mix until dough is sticky but smooth. Add in enough additional flour (if needed) to make soft dough. Turn dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours or until doubled.
Punch the dough down- remove the dough from the bowl. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼ – 1/3 inch thick. Then cut out dough into 1 1/2 or 2″ squares, you can use a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before frying.
Working in batches so as to not crowd the oil, fry the dough squares until they are puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oil, make a pit stop on the paper towels and immediately dust with powdered sugar.