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Way back in 2015 I was lucky enough to take a girls’ trip to New Orleans with my blogging BFF Ashley. As professional food bloggers, we were (of course) ridiculously excited about the food. As someone with a mega sweet tooth in particular, I could not wait to try famous beignets from Cafe du Monde.
Admittedly, I was worried they wouldn’t live up to all the hype. Would they just taste like pure sugar? Thankfully, they did not disappoint. In my view, the best food is usually the simplest. If you can’t make something simple taste good, then something has gone wrong.
I knew I had to attempt to recreate beignets at home. Through trials and experiments over the years, I’ve learned a lot. Having Café du Monde as a comparison, I think I found a winning recipe! I’ve included tons of tips and tricks below, so if making homemade beignets intimidates you, be sure to read through them.
How to Make Beignets
What are Beignets?
The word is French and basically translates to doughnut or fritter. This recipe makes New Orleans-Style Beignets which are made from a simple yeast-raised dough that’s cut into squares, deep-fried until golden brown, and generously coated in powdered sugar. What’s not to love?!
What’s the Difference Between a Donut and a Beignet?
They’re very similar with just a few stylistic differences. Most simply, beignets are shaped into squares instead of round donut shapes, and they’re coated in powdered sugar instead of glazed or iced.
You’ll see this beignet recipe uses evaporated milk instead of whole milk (classic to most recipes for doughnuts) to yield an extra fluffy and tender texture. It also uses bread flour, which has a higher protein content and therefore will develop a stronger network of gluten when the dough is kneaded. This helps create those big puffy squares so each bite is extra fluffy inside.
Ingredients for Easy Beignets:
- Granulated sugar – Just enough to sweeten, add moisture, and help the beignets brown while frying. Don’t skip this!
- Instant yeast – Learn about the differences between active dry and instant yeast here.
- Eggs – 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk for extra tenderness.
- Fine sea salt – I prefer sea salt, but you can also use table salt.
- Evaporated milk – This helps create a rich, tender, and fluffy texture and makes this beignet recipe more pantry friendly!
- Vanilla extract – To enhance the sweet flavor and aroma.
- Bread flour – The extra protein helps to create more structure for ultra-thick and fluffy beignets.
- Unsalted butter – Make sure to use butter that is completely softened to room temperature.
- Oil, for frying – This recipe uses vegetable or canola oil because most people have these on hand, but if you want to get really authentic, try and find cottonseed oil! It has a high smoke point of 420°F, and it’s what Cafe du Monde uses.
- Confectioners’ sugar – It isn’t a beignet unless it’s covered in confectioners’ sugar, aka powdered sugar!
How to Make the Beignet Dough
Beignet dough is super easy to make, especially if you’re using a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, you can always knead by hand. A few tips:
- Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the rising time. For most kitchens, it’ll take at least 2 hours to properly double in size, possibly even 3 to 4 hours. This is because this is an enriched dough. The extra fat and sugar in the dough recipe will slow down the rise time.
- You can also allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge.
- The rising time is important because it helps create a beignet that is light, puffy, and pillowy once fried.
Can You Make Beignets Ahead of Time?
Yes! You can make the dough ahead of time and fry later when you’re ready. Here’s how:
- Make the dough as written up until the point of rising.
- Cover well with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- The dough will continue to slowly rise in the fridge.
- Let it come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe as written.
How to Shape Homemade Beignets
- On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.
- Use a pizza wheel, pastry cutter, or sharp knife to cut out squares of dough.
- For small beignets, cut 1 1/2-inch squares. For larger beignets more like Cafe du Monde’s, cut out 3-inch squares. Adjust the frying time to the size of the squares.
- Be sure to keep the rest of the dough covered while frying so it doesn’t dry out.
- Whatever you do, do not overwork the dough as this will lead to tough beignets. Just be gentle!
How to Fry Beignets
In order to create beignets that are airy and fluffy inside and perfectly browned without being greasy on the outside, we’re using oil that’s slightly hotter than normal. Cafe du Monde apparently uses ultra-hot oil at 380°F, but this recipe calls for oil at 360°F so as to keep everything safe. Oil temperatures can fluctuate quickly, so it’s important to keep an eye on it and adjust your stove heat frequently.
It’s important to be accurate here! I always always always use a deep-fry thermometer for both safety and convenience. This deep-dry thermometer is only $10 and works great – I’ve used mine dozens and dozens of times! It’s super important to watch the temperature the entire time and adjust your stove as necessary to maintain it.
How Much Powdered Sugar to Use For Beignets
The key here is to take the amount of powdered sugar you think you’ll need, and double it! You really can’t dust too much powdered sugar here for a more traditional-style NOLA beignet! Use a very large, deep bowl or even a paper bag to help coat your beignets in powdered sugar, without causing a huge mess.
How to Serve Beignets
- Serve as fresh as possible.
- Beignets start to harden and go stale even after just a few hours.
- A batch of beignets goes perfectly with a cup of coffee – or a café au lait, just like they serve in New Orleans!
More Delicious Doughnut Recipes:
(50 grams) granulated sugar
large egg plus 1 egg yolk,
fine sea salt
(508 grams) bread flour
(28 grams) unsalted butter,
completely softened to room temperature
Vegetable oil or canola oil,
for deep frying
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, sugar, yeast, egg + egg yolk, salt, evaporated milk, vanilla, and half the flour (254 grams). Mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and then the remaining flour and increase the speed to medium. Knead until soft, smooth, and slightly tacky but not unbearably sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. If needed, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time to bring the dough together.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. To make ahead: store the risen dough in the fridge for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before proceeding with the next step.
Punch down the dough and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
Preheat 3 to 4 inches of oil in a wide Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat to 350°F measured with a deep-fry thermometer. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl.
While the oil is heating, roll the dough out on a floured work surface into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thickness, sprinkling with flour if your rolling pin sticks anywhere. Cut into 2 1/2-inch squares with a pastry wheel or pizza cutter.
Deep fry three to four at a time, flipping every 20 seconds, until they become a golden color. Adjust the heat up and down as the oil temperature fluctuates, to keep a consistent temperature of 350°F.
Remove the finished beignets with a slotted spoon or spider, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bowl of confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.
This post was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2021 with recipe improvements, more tips, and new photos. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.