This New Orleans style beignet recipe makes golden brown, sugar sprinkled bits of heaven. Whether you’ve been to the French Quarter and tried them there or just dream of it, it’s time you learned how to make beignets so you can enjoy their sweet deliciousness whenever you like!
These Greek loukoumades are similarly made with yeast dough. Try them, too!
What is a Beignet?
Wait, before we talk about what they are, let’s talk about how to pronounce beignet.
Say it with me: ben-yay. Of course, when I roll ben-yay out of my mouth it sounds nothing like how the folks from New Orleans say it, with that little bit of rich southern drawl. We’re trying, y’all. Bear with us!
Beignets are squares of dough deep fried until crispy and then generously — and I mean generously — sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are like a vehicle for powdered sugar. Beignets are best served right out of the fryer with a cup of cafe au lait.
Cafe du Monde in New Orleans is famous for their beignets. People line up down the street all day long to get a taste of these famous sugary sweet treats. French Quarter beignets are a must-try for visitors to New Orleans!
When we visited, we did our time in the line to secure some of these famous New Orleans style beignets, awed at the sheet number of people waiting to taste these delicious sugary nuggets. And they were delicious, I tell you. We took ours to go, munching on them as we passed horse-drawn carriages waiting for passengers and street artists peddling their wares.
Were the fronts of ourselves embarrassingly covered with powdered sugar? Yes they were. Was it totally worth it? Yes it was.
If you’ve traveled to New Orleans and had a taste of these famous doughnuts, you might want to try your hand at replicating them at home!
Bread flour — The protein content in bread flour is higher than all purpose flour. That higher protein means lots of gluten, which gives bread its stretch and elasticity.
Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.
Active Dry Yeast — This is the ingredient that gives the bread loft.
Evaporated milk – This unsweetened canned milk has had about 60% of the water content removed, leaving a more concentrated milk product.
Eggs — Fresh eggs, store bought, use what you have readily available.
Shortening — Made of hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening is a common ingredient in many baked goods. If you’d prefer a less-processed option, try butter or coconut oil.
Powdered sugar – Sometimes called confectioner’s sugar, this white powdery sweetener is often used as a sprinkled-on topping.
How to Make Beignets
This beignets recipe starts with a yeast dough. This means that you’ll need to allow time for the dough to rise before cutting the beignets. The dough can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Once the dough is ready, you’ll cut it into squares and then drop each square into hot oil for frying.
It only takes two to three minutes on each side to acquire the beautiful golden brown crispiness that French Quarter beignets are famous for.
Dust them with copious amounts of powdered sugar for the most enjoyment. It’s best to enjoy beignets fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
The dough itself is very similar. While doughnuts are round and usually have a hole in the center, beignets are cut into squares and do not have a hole.
Filling a beignet is totally optional, but if you’d like to add filling you can use your favorite jam or jelly or a custard. To do so, use a butter knife to make a small hole in the side of each. Spoon the filling into a piping bag and squeeze 1-2 tablespoons of filling into the hole. Do this before sprinkling with powdered sugar.
If the dough is wet or too sticky to handle, sprinkle more flour into the dough a little bit at a time. It should feel somewhat smooth.
★ Did you make these beignets? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2-1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 ½ cups warm water, 105° to 115°, divided
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 cups bread flour
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- Oil for frying (canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil)
- Sifted powdered sugar, for coating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook, stir together ½ cup water, sugar, and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes.
- Add the evaporated milk, eggs, and salt to the yeast mixture and beat just until combined.
- In a large measuring cup, stir vegetable shortening into the remaining warm water. Mix into yeast mixture.
- Add 4 cups bread flour to mixing bowl and blend until dough comes together. Slowly add remaining bread flour.
- Transfer dough to a large bowl, oiled to prevent sticking, and flip the dough to oil all sides.
- Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location until it doubles in size, about an hour. The dough can also be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before rising.
- Heat oil in a fryer or dutch oven to 360-370 °F. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a rectangle. Roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
- With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into about 40 rectangular pieces.
- Fry the beignets in small batches about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove and drain on paper toweling.
- Before serving, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar.
Feel free to substitute 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil for the shortening.
Can you use all-purpose flour? Yes, absolutely! The protein content in bread flour is higher than all-purpose flour. That higher protein means lots of gluten, which gives bread its stretch and elasticity, but if you only have all-purpose flour on hand, you won't be disappointed!
Makes about 40 beignets.
It's best to enjoy these beignet fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g
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Originally published in January 2020; this post has been updated.