Beignets are a light and airy pastry covered in powdered sugar with a taste that’s out of this world! Similar to a fritter, this French doughnut is simple to make with this easy beignets recipe that your family will love!
I’ll never forget my first trip to New Orleans. The highlight of the trip? Beignets. Fresh ones with one of the best cups of cafe au lait I’d ever had in my life. A stop by the Cafe du Monde during our morning walk is a special memory. The aroma got me first – and then I could see them! Beignets!
It was so amazing I almost inhaled it – then realized this was something special and I savored every bite! A light and fluffy confection, I wasn’t going to miss the enjoyment of one bite of it. And I knew right then I was going to make my own as soon as I returned home.
These easy beignets are simple to make even though you have to exercise a tad of patience for the dough to rise and such. But oh my goodness, is it ever worth it! Dust them with powdered sugar or dip them in chocolate sauce; either way, the scrumptious, fluffy texture and fabulous taste are something special! I believe you will love this delicious taste of New Orleans in your own home as much as my family does!
What is a Beignet?
A beignet is a French doughnut that is native to New Orleans – especially the French Quarter – that can be enjoyed as a breakfast or dessert treat. Also sometimes called a fritter, these delicacies are pastries that are deep-fried pieces of dough that have been allowed to rise before frying so that they are light as air and soft on the inside. After they cool a bit, they are most often dusted with powdered sugar and served warm. They differ from traditional doughnuts in that they are lighter, and doughnuts are a bit denser in texture and usually have their iconic shape.
How to Make Beignets
To make this beignet recipe, you will need these ingredients:
- water – Use warm water to help activate the yeast. We like to check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer to make sure that it is at that temperature before adding our yeast. A temperature of more than 110º F will kill the yeast.
- granulated sugar – Granulated sugar is needed to feed the yeast in the dough and also lends flavor and structure to the recipe.
- active dry yeast – Use fresh yeast for best results so that it is active and not out of date. Check the expiration date on the package before you start. The yeast helps the dough to rise and keep its light and airy texture. If it doesn’t start to foam after adding it to warm water and sugar, it may not be active, and you may want to get a new package of yeast.
- eggs -Use large eggs – I recommend having them at room temperature for easier mixing into the dough.
- salt – The salt enhances the flavor of the dough.
- evaporated milk – Creamy and thick milk that gives the beignets a soft texture
- all-purpose flour – Flour provides the structure for the dough. We use all-purpose flour for this dough. If you use a whole-wheat or other flour combination, the beignets may be a bit denser or chewier and not as tender as with all-purpose flour. You should note that the amount of flour in any yeast dough recipe may need to be adjusted slightly depending on the weather, humidity, etc. You may need to add a bit more, a tablespoon at a time, for the dough to form the perfect yeast dough ball. The dough should be tender, smooth, and resilient.
- vegetable shortening
- oil – Used for deep-frying the beignets. Be sure to use oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, for frying these. These also have a neutral flavor.
- confectioners’ sugar – Delicious sprinkled on beignets after they are fried
- chocolate ganache – optional – Makes a delicious dipping sauce for the finished beignets. You can also make a simple chocolate sauce with a 10-ounce package of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of coconut oil, melting in a bowl in the microwave at 50% power and stirring after 30-second intervals, and repeating until melted and smooth.
- caramel sauce – optional – Another delicious sauce for dipping
- Activate – or proof – the yeast. Heat water to the temperature noted in the recipe in a glass bowl in the microwave. Stir in a tablespoon of granulated sugar until it dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes to foam as it proofs.
- Combine other dough ingredients. While yeast is proofing, mix together the remaining granulated sugar, eggs, salt, and evaporated milk together.
This recipe does not require a stand mixer to make delicious beignets, although you certainly can use one if you prefer. You can easily mix the yeast dough by hand or with a stand mixer. Either method works well.
To mix by hand: Add the yeast and sugar to warm water in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine and allow the yeast to foam to proof. Once the yeast has proofed, stir the egg mixture and flour into the yeast mixture. Gently mix until well combined.
To use a stand mixer: Add the yeast and sugar to warm water in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine and allow the yeast to foam to proof. Once the yeast has proofed, fit the mixer with a dough hook to mix the egg mixture and flour well combined, forming a soft and sticky dough ball in about 6 – 8 minutes.
- Knead the dough. Then, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and tender.
- Let it double. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a buttered glass or metal bowl. Cover lightly with a clean kitchen or tea towel and store in a warm place free from draft to allow it to double in size.
- Prepare to fry. Preheat the oil in the deep fryer to 350 degrees, making sure to use enough oil to submerge the dough pieces. While it’s heating, prep a large-rimmed baking sheet with paper towels to drain the fried beignets. Use a candy thermometer or deep-frying thermometer to monitor the temperature.
- Roll and cut the dough. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
- Fry the beignets. Carefully add a few beignets to the heated oil at a time to deep fry. Flip the beignets almost constantly, cooking until they become a nice golden color – about 2 minutes. Remove them with a metal strainer spoon or slotted spoon and place them on the paper towel-lined pan briefly for the excess oil to be absorbed from them.
- Serve and enjoy! After cooling slightly on the paper towel-lined pan, place them on a plate or tray and dust both sides with the confectioner’s sugar. Dip in either the chocolate sauce or caramel sauce if you wish. Delicious!
Tips for the Best Beignets
Check the temperature of the water – Water that is too cold won’t allow the yeast to proof properly, and water that is too hot will kill the yeast. An instant-read thermometer is an excellent way to ensure the temperature is correct.
Make sure yeast is fresh – If your yeast is expired or not active, it will not foam in warm water. Check the expiration date before using, and if it doesn’t foam, then start over.
Check the temperature of the oil – Use a candy thermometer or a deep frying thermometer to make sure the oil is at 350 degrees and doesn’t go much higher. The beignets should cook in a couple of minutes in the correct temperature oil but could burn if a much higher temperature is reached.
Test one – Once the oil is to the correct temperature, drop one beignet into the oil first to test before adding multiple to the hot oil.
More Breakfast and Brunch Recipe Favorites
Here’s my favorite Beignet Recipe. I think you’ll love them, too!
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 6 1/2 – 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup shortening
- confectioners’ sugar
- Heat water to 110º – 120º F in a in a medium glass bowl in the microwave. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar until it dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and sugar and allow to sit for about 5 -10 minutes to foam as it proofs.
- While yeast is proofing, mix together remaining granulated sugar, eggs, salt, and evaporated milk together. Stir together the yeast mixture with the egg mixture. Then, stir in 3 cups of flour, one half cup at a time, into the yeast and egg mixture. Stir together until all the flour is well incorporated, being sure to get all of the flour incorporated from the bottom of the bowl. Add the shortening and continue to add the remaining flour until all of the flour is well combined.
- Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, knead the dough, adding flour ¼ cup at a time until the the dough forms a ball and does not stick to the bottom of the bowl.
- If using a stand mixer, fit the mixer with a dough hook and turn the mixer to medium speed and knead for 7-10 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky.
- If kneading by hand, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10-15 minutes.
- Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk.
- Once dough is ready, preheat the oil in a deep-fryer to 350º F. You will need enough oil to fully submerse the beignets as they are frying.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with two layers of paper towels for the beignets to drain on once deep fried.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Carefully add a few beignets to the heated oil at a time to deep fry. Flip the beignets constantly while cooking until they become a nice golden color. Remove them with a slotted spoon to dry on the paper towel lined pan for a few seconds. Then place them on a plate or tray and dust both sides with confectioner’s sugar.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.