Beignets from scratch are the ultimate recipe to make at home. Get a taste of New Orleans beignets in your kitchen with this easy recipe for homemade beignets. The dough comes together quickly with just a one-hour rise time, and it can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days before frying. These puffy donuts with a hollow center covered in an obscene amount of powdered sugar can't be missed!
I’m just going to say it: this is the best recipe to ever come out of my kitchen. Apologies for being so demonstrative, but I'm still on a powdered sugar high.
I am an absolute beignet lover. I grew up in Texas, so the box mix of Cafe du Monde beignets was common on our HEB store shelves. We bought and made the box mix often in college. One person would be in charge of frying the dough in the oil, the next person would scoop them out of the oil when they were golden brown on both sides, and the newbie in the kitchen would be in charge of dunking the freshly fried dough squares in powdered sugar. We loved putting the newbie in charge of the powdered sugar, so that they could keep asking us 'how much powdered sugar?,' and we could keep saying 'more more more!'
However, it wasn't until my honeymoon that I tasted my first real authentic beignet from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Upon the first bite, my husband and I sat there in a trance: guzzling chicory coffee and eating beignets so quickly. We had little regard for the amount of powdered sugar on our face, or for the amount accumulating on the table and floor. The absolute delight you experience upon the first bite of these square-shaped pieces of dough that are deep-fried and generously sprinkled with confectioners sugar is life-changing.
What is a beignet?
A beignet is a yeast-risen dough that is rolled out, cut into square shapes, and deep-fried until golden brown. A hollow pocket forms in the center of the beignet when frying. Right when the beignets come out of the frying oil, they are rolled in copious amounts of powdered sugar. The dough is special because it only needs one rise to be ready to cook, and because it contains shortening, eggs, and boiling water.
What does a beignet taste like?
A beignet tastes very similar to a powdered sugar doughnut because both are deep-fried and then rolled in a coating.
What's the difference between a donut and a beignet?
A donut can be dipped in any kind of coating (glaze, frosting, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar) and stuffed with anything (creams or jelly), while beignets are only rolled in powdered sugar. Very good beignets have a hollow center, or pocket of air (see the photos below), while donuts do not. Donut dough always rises twice so that it keeps its shape better when fried, while beignets only need to rise once. Beignets and donuts both fry at the same temperature, however.
Are beignets like funnel cakes?
Absolutely not: funnel cakes are made of pancake batter that is deep-fried. Funnel cake batter does not contain yeast, nor does it require a rising time. Beignets are more similar to donuts than funnel cakes.
Active Dry Yeast. We're using active dry yeast for this recipe, because it can be 'proofed' or checked before proceeding with the recipe. By combining the yeast with a pinch of sugar and warm water and waiting to see if it becomes foamy, we are certain our dough will rise before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Shortening. This recipe uses vegetable shortening, and while it can be substituted with butter, I really don't recommend it. Shortening is what creates the pocket of air in the center of the beignet. This is because shortening contains absolutely no water, while butter contains water.
Sugar. We need a small amount of sugar for the dough, plus an extra pinch for waking up the yeast and helping it rise.
Egg. This is a small-batch beignet recipe that makes 4-5 large beignets, so we only need an egg white.
Oil for Frying. I like any kind of neutral oil for frying sweets: canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil. Do not use anything with a strong flavor, like olive oil or coconut oil.
Step by step instructions:
- Gather the ingredients: yeast, shortening, sugar, milk, egg white, and flour. Have the oil in a large, deep pot with a thermometer clipped to the side.
- In a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of warm water, ½ teaspoon of active dry yeast, and a small pinch of sugar. Stir this together, and let it sit for 5 minutes to become foamy.
- In a separate bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of shortening, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 3 tablespoons of whole milk, and the egg white. Whisk very well to combine.
- Pour the 3 tablespoons of boiling water slowly into the shortening mixture. Test this mixture with a thermometer, and when it is between 110-115-degrees Fahrenheit, stir it into the yeast mixture.
- Once everything is combined, add 1 ¼ cups of flour and a pinch of salt. When the dough is fully mixed, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in warm place for 1 hour. You can make this dough up to 3 days ahead of time and store in the fridge. Let rest at room temperature until its easy to roll out and proceed.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the risen dough on a floured surface, and roll it gently into an 8-inch by 4-inch rectangle. Use a pizza wheel to cut it into 8 pieces--cut it in half first, and cut each half into quarters. You may also make 4 large beignets instead of 8 small ones!
- When the oil is at 360, drop in 3 pieces of dough. Fry for 1-2 minutes, flip and fry for another minute.
- Move to wire rack to drain any excess oil, and then toss with powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, monitoring the temperature of the oil to ensure it stays near 360.
You can double or triple this recipe to get more beignets easily, just follow it exactly (use only egg whites, not the whole egg).
Tips and tricks:
- Use a thermometer to ensure your oil is at the proper temperature. This is the one that I like.
- Use a deep pot anytime you are frying to prevent oil from overflowing.
- You can make this dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days before frying.
Other New Orleans recipes:
- 2 tablespoons warm water (105°F)
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoon vegetable shortening
- 1 tablespoon sugar (plus a pinch for yeast proofing)
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 large egg white
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups neutral oil for frying (I use canola)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- First, heat the water to 105°F in a small bowl.
- Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to the water. Stir to dissolve. Let it sit and confirm the yeast is active---it will foam. If it does not foam, throw it out and start over.
- Meanwhile, combine the shortening, sugar, milk, and egg white in a small cup. Whisk together well, then add the boiling water. Test the temperature of this mixture, and when it's between 105-110°, add it to the foamy yeast mixture. Stir well.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl, and stir gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour. You can make the dough ahead of time up to this point. I have kept dough for 3 days in the fridge before frying, and it's fine.
- Heat the oil in a deep pot to 360°F.
- Meanwhile, divide the dough in half, and roll it out on a floured counter into a square about 6" wide. Use a pizza wheel to cut it small squares. (see photo above for reference)
- When the oil is at 360°, drop in 3 square of dough. Do not walk away. The first side fries for 1-2 minutes. When golden brown on one side, flip the squares using a fork and continue to fry. When that side is golden brown (about 1 minute more), remove from the oil onto a cooling rack lined with paper towels.
- Roll out the other half of the dough, cut into squares, and fry all the squares.
- After cooling for about 5 minutes, dunk the beignets into the powdered sugar. Serve with all the extra powdered sugar piled on top.
Active Dry Yeast: We're using active dry yeast for this recipe because we can proof it to be certain our dough will rise before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Shortening: Highly recommend vegetable shortening, but you may use butter. Beignets made with butter don't have the hollow centers as often, be warned.
Sugar: We need sugar for the dough, plus an extra pinch for waking up the yeas.
Egg: This is a small-batch beignet recipe that makes 4 large beignets (or 8 small ones), so we only need an egg white. If you double the recipe, use 2 egg whites, NOT a whole egg.
Oil for Frying: The best oil for frying is canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil. Do not use anything with a strong flavor, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 649Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 51gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g