Authentic, New Orleans-style Beignets made at home? You bet! These soft, pillowy treats are lightly sweet and super simple.
Perfect Homemade Beignets, Dusted with Powdered Sugar
Beignets are fluffy, light little bits of goodness that very closely resemble doughnuts. They’re famously associated with New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde, which has been serving beignets and cafe au lait since 1862! And when a snack has been around that long, you know it has to be good!
Luckily, beignets are not only addictively delicious, but they are also easy to make. From the super-simple list of ingredients to its even-simpler instructions, this recipe is perfect for making at home, even for a beginner baker. You and your family are going to love these, I promise!
What Is the Difference Between a Donut and a Beignet?
Doughnuts and beignets are very similar and can get mixed up, but there are some key differences that give each one its special characteristics.
First, and obviously, beignets have no holes in the middle, unlike a classic doughnut. Sure, filled doughnuts don’t have holes, but beignets are not filled – in fact, they tend to be a little bit hollow inside!
And, since they contain fewer eggs, beignets are a bit lighter and fluffier than their doughnut cousins.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
Fried beignets are made with just a few ingredients, but keep in mind that you’ll need a generous amount of oil for the frying process. The Cafe Du Monde website recommends cottonseed oil, but any high-heat frying oil will work. I use vegetable or canola oil.
- Water: You’ll need a little warm water, to dissolve the yeast.
- Yeast: One packet of active dry yeast gives the beignets their characteristic fluffy texture.
- Egg: One whole egg, preferably at room temperature.
- Milk: Whole milk is my go-to, for moistening and lightly enriching the dough.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar is fine. You will also want powdered sugar to dust the beignets with before serving.
- Vinegar: A small amount of vinegar balances the sweetness and improves the beignet’s overall taste and texture. You can use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even rice vinegar. Each brings a subtle difference in taste.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract gives the best flavor.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt, but regular table salt is fine, too.
- Cinnamon: To give the beignets a little warmth!
- Flour: All-purpose for is perfect here.
- Butter: You’ll need a little bit of unsalted butter, melted. If you use salted butter, you may want to reduce the salt in the dough.
- Oil: For frying.
How to Make Your Own Beignets
Now for the fun part! This will take some time, so make sure to set aside plenty. You may want to read through the instructions a few times before starting.
- Make the Dough. Whisk together the warm water and yeast, in a stand mixer. Let this sit for 5 minutes to get foamy. Next, add the egg, milk, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk these ingredients on low until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and dump in the flour. Mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should form a ball, but still be slightly sticky and soft. If the dough seems too wet to handle, you can mix in an extra tablespoon or two of flour at a time. Last, add the melted butter and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Let the Dough Rise. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 4 to 6 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Fry the Beignets. Heat a couple of inches of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. Allow the oil to heat to 350°F; this should take about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the dough on a floured surface, into a rectangle shape about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, into 2-inch squares. Carefully add the beignets to the oil, about 3 to 4 at a time. You can use a clean, dry, slotted spoon for this. As soon as the beignets rise to the surface of the oil and puff up, flip them over. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Cool and Serve. Once the beignets are done, use a slotted spoon or spider spoon to lift them out of the hot oil. Place them on a wire rack to cool. When cooled, dust generously with powdered sugar, and serve warm.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Beignets can be a bit tricky, so I’ve gathered a few helpful tips and tricks to help you to achieve the best beignets ever.
- Overmixing: Be careful not to overmix the dough, as this could lead to a tough and chewy beignet (which trust me, is not as good as a light and fluffy one).
- Heat: If your beignets are browning too quickly, turn the heat down to medium. Frying too quickly may lead to a crispy outside and an undercooked inside. You’ll also want to make sure the oil is hot enough. If not, the beignets will not get properly fluffy.
- Yeast: Make sure to let your yeast and water sit for a few minutes before adding the other ingredients. The yeast Should bubble or foam a bit. If it doesn’t, it’s no longer active, and you’ll need to start over with fresh yeast – or the dough won’t rise!
Classic beignets are practically perfect the way they are, but if you’re interested in changing it up, try some of these awesomely tasty variations!
- Shapes: For a fun touch to your beignets, try cutting them into different shapes like diamonds, hearts, or ovals (be careful, though – when you fry them, they’ll become puffier and the shape may change).
- Toppings: Instead of using powdered sugar to top your beignets, you could use melted chocolate drizzle, a sweet lemon glaze, maple syrup, or even icing!
- Extracts: Try adding maple extract, almond extract, or orange extract to the dough for a mouthwatering twist.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To Store: Keep your beignets in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
- To Reheat: Put the beignets in the microwave for a few seconds, or warm on a 350˚F oven until heated through.
- Raw Dough: You can also store the raw beignet dough in the refrigerator for 4 days in an airtight container, before rolling and frying.
Can I Freeze Homemade Beignets?
- You bet! Cool the beignets completely and then put them in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze them. They will be good for 1 to 2 months.
- If you’re freezing the raw dough, put it in the same kind of container and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- ½ cup warm water, (the warm water temperature should be about 105˚F to 110°F for proofing)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 whole egg
- ½ cup milk
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3-4 cups canola oil, for frying
- In a stand mixer, whisk together water and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add egg, milk, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk on low until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and add in flour. Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should form a ball, but still be slightly sticky and soft. Mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour at a time IF the dough is too wet to handle.
- Last, add in the melted butter and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Cover the dough and let rise in a warm environment for 4 to 6 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Heat 2 inches of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. Allow the oil to heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, this should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place dough on a floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. Cut into 2-inch by 2-inch squares.
- Carefully add the beignets to the oil, frying about 3 to 4 at a time. As soon as they rise to the oil surface and puff up, flip them over. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer beignets to a wire rack to cool.
- Dust beignets with powdered sugar and serve warm.