Beignets are a deep-fried, confectioners’ sugar-dusted indulgence that’s a New Orleans tradition made famous by Cafe du Monde. But you don’t have to go to the Big Easy to experience them. Thankfully they’re surprisingly easy to make at home.
These knee-wobblingly lovely blobs of fried dough that come buried beneath mounds of confectioners’ sugar originally came about as breakfast for dockworkers and merchants at the old French Market in New Orleans, according to author Constance Snow. They’re crisp on the outside and pillowy inside, sorta like the sopapilla of The Big Easy. Serve the beignets while still hot. If you’ve been to Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, you know well the warning not to wear black while tucking into a plateful of beignets. We suggest you heed the same advice when indulging in these beignets at home.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- 1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm 110°F (43°C) water
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar or more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- Peanut oil or mild vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine 3 cups (15 ounces) of the flour, the granulated sugar, and salt. Process briefly.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter and heat gently until the butter melts and the milk is warm but not steaming. Remove from the heat. With the processor running, pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and process until blended. Add the egg, yeast mixture, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) flour and process just until a soft dough forms. If you prefer a softer beignet, let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes; if you like your beignet a little crisp at the edges, cover and refrigerate the dough until chilled through or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Line an ovenproof platter with paper towels. Pour the oil to a depth of 3 inches in a deep, heavy saucepan or a deep fryer and heat to 360°F (182°C) on a deep-frying thermometer.
- While the oil is heating, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. On a well-floured work surface, knead 1 piece of the dough briefly until soft but not sticky. Roll into a rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick. Cut into 6 equal rectangles (or, if you prefer more modestly sized beignet, 8 or 12 rectangles). When the oil is ready, drop 2 or 3 rectangles into the oil and fry, turning once, until puffed and brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to the paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining rectangles, and then the remaining dough.
- Arrange the beignet son a warmed plate and, using a fine-mesh sieve, dust them heavily with confectioners’ sugar or place the confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag, add few beignets at a time to a brown paper bag, fold the top of the bag several times to seal, and then gently shake to coat. Serve the beignets at once. (As if you could wait…!)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe worked as written and was very easy to make. I would have liked a little more sugar in the dough. The recipe that I usually use — and most beignet recipes, call for two eggs and one half cup granulated sugar, whereas this recipe called for one egg and three tablespoons of granulated sugar. But I guess sweetness is a matter of taste. I would also suggest dropping the beignets into a bag of powdered sugar rather than placing them on a plate and sifting the sugar over them — easier and less messy. All in all, I would recommend this recipe to friends, with the suggestion that they might want to add more sugar if they like their beignets sweeter.
The first night, I fried them right away like the recipe called for. They puffed and were pretty good, but weren’t just a bit crispy like I prefer. I put the rest of the dough in the fridge overnight. Crispier tonight, not as doughy. We had coffee and beignets, New Orleans style, with powdered sugar everywhere. And there’s more dough in the fridge!
Originally published February 04, 2018