Beignets are light airy doughnut pillows dusted with icing sugar and best served warm with a cup of joe! Considered the official doughnut of Louisiana.
Whenever I travel I make a long list of the foods I need to try while in a destination along with the best place to find them. I read hundreds of threads and reviews to find the best of the best. Sometimes they are fancier restaurants but most of the time they are small family run businesses… the kind with mom in the back working her culinary magic.
During my trip to New Orleans back in 2017 my list of foods to eat was looooong! I flew in with my husband a few days early before I was to attend a fitness convention believe it or not. And ate my way through the city. Quite literally! Not a great idea considering I was planning to be in workout clothes and with tiny fitness people later that week.
Lou and I would walk from place to place on my list checking boxes of the next culinary delight to consume. Cafe du Monde…. known worldwide for its beignets was one of the top places on my list and did not disappoint!
Cafe Du Monde is in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Down the street from the famous Bourbon street on the waterfront of the Mississippi. It is a huge covered outdoor venue with a long line.
But here is a tip… only the tourists wait in line. Or rather those who didn’t read up about Cafe Du Monde and know it is a first come first serve format.
No need to wait in line.
Just wait for a table to open up, sit and a server will greet you and take your order. But, don’t waste their time. Know what to order, order once, order fast and move on for the next person to sit. My suggestion is a basket for each person (there are 3 per basket) at your table and a cup of coffee. The perfect combo!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Warm water – A temperature between 105 – 110 F. Too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cool and the yeast won’t wake up.
- Active yeast – When combined with water and sugar the yeast will be activated or brought to life and give rise to the dough. The yeast uses the sugar as food and expels gas (yeast farts) which when added to the flour creates airy pockets causing the dough to rise.
- Sugar – food for the yeast and adds sweetness to the dough.
- Buttermilk – Has a lower fat content than regular whole milk and higher acidity which helps to tenderize the gluten in the flour giving the dough a lighter, fluffier texture as well as a tiny tanginess that blends well with the sugar. If you don’t have buttermilk whole milk is an excellent substitute.
- Eggs – 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk. Eggs are a binding agent to keep ingredients together but yolks also help to reduce the formation of gluten in flour creating a lighter fluffier dough.
- Unsalted butter – Fat creates flavour but also helps to accelerate yeast growth.
- Sea salt – Salt in general is a flavour enhancer.
- All-purpose Flour – Because you can’t have doughnuts without alll the carbs!
- Grapeseed Oil – or any other neutral flavoured high smoke point oil. Peanut or safflower oil are other good choices.
- Powdered sugar – To toss the beignets in at the end.
How to this buttermilk beignet recipe
Place the warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl and whisk to activate the yeast. Wait 7-10 minutes until a “raft” of yeast starts to form at the top. If the yeast does not become foamy looking like this toss it out and start again.
I use a candy thermometer to make sure the water temperature is correct.
Add in the melted butter, eggs, the rest of the sugar and the buttermilk. Whisk to blend well.
Add the salt and flour to the liquid and mix with a dough hook using a hand or stand mixer until the dough becomes smoother and pulls away from the edge of the bowl.
I don’t have a stand mixer so once the flour is mixed into the dough I transfer the dough out of the bowl and knead by hand until a smooth ball forms. It takes about 5 minutes of kneading. A little workout before you dive into a plate of homemade beignets!
Then cover the dough with saran wrap and let it rise in a warm spot for 90 minutes. The dough should double in size.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle that is a 1/2″ thick.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the dough into 2″ X 3″ rectangles.
I then like to put them all on a platter separated so I can easily drop them in the hot oil. These cook up fast so you want to me organized before you start.
Fill a large saucepan to about 2″-3″ deep and bring to 350F.
Drop about 5 or 6 pieces of beignet dough into the oil once heated being sure that they have lots of space. You may need to make smaller batches if you have a smaller pot or pan.
Let them cook until golden brown flipping with tongs halfway through. About 2 minutes per side. They will puff up like pillows and float.
Once done remove from the oil and let them rest on paper towels. Continue the process until they are all cooked.
Pour the powdered sugar into a large plastic bag and then add 2 or 3 beignets at a time. Seal the bag and shake gently to coat each of these French Quarter style beignets with powdered sugar.
Serve warm with a coffee and you will be transported straight to Louisiana! Another great recipe I like to eat with my coffee and a fellow doughnut look alike are these Banana Pancake Bites.
how to pronounce beignet
It is not “beg-net” or “beignet”. Remember the Cafe du Monde Beignets are served in the French Quarter of New Orleans so put on your beret and channel your inner Parisienne. Now try… “Ben-yay”.
How long do homemade beignets keep?
You can make this easy beignet recipe ahead of time and store it in a fridge for up to a week after it has risen. Or you can freeze the dough for up to a month. To freeze I recommend rolling the dough and cutting it first and then freezing individual pieces on a cookie sheet before transferring to a tightly sealed container once frozen.
Thaw in the fridge overnight and then toss in the oil when you need a treat!
In terms of eating them… eat them right away for the best beignet experience or at the very least same day. Just like any doughnut they loose their fluffy texture the longer they sit and the powdered sugar seeps into them so after they sit you may need to toss them in more powdered sugar.
Homemade Buttermilk Beignets
- Large Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Hand-mixer or stand mixer
- Rolling Pin
- Sharp knife or pizza cutter
- Measuring tape
- Large deep pan or deep fryer
- Resealable plastic bag
- 1 cup warm water heated to 105 – 100 F
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 1/3 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
- 1.5 litres grapeseed oil or neutral flavoured frying oil
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- In a large bowl add the warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whisk to blend and let sit for 7-10 minutes until a "raft' forms on the top of foamy-looking yeast.
- Add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg, egg yolk and buttermilk to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour and salt and using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a hook attchment blend until the flour is combined with the liquid and the dough begins to become smooth looking and pulls away from the edge of the bowl. If using a hand mixer I find I need to remove the dough from the bowl once it is blended and then knead by hand for about 5 minutes until the ball of dough becomes smooth and less sticky.
- Spray the bowl with cooking spray and let the dough rise in the bowl covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel for about 90 minutes. The dough should double in size.
- Lightly flour a flat surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a rectangle that is a 1/2" thick.
- Using a measuring tape and a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2" X 3" rectangles. Place the individual pieces on a platter so they are separated and ready to fry quickly.
- Fill a large deep pan with grapeseed oil or neutral frying oil of your choice. The oil should be about 2-3" deep. Bring the oil to 350F and then gently add 5-6 pieces of beignet dough to the oil. Let cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until they puff up and turn golden brown. Flip halfway through for even cooking. Remove them with tongs and set on paper towels to catch the excess oil. Continue the process until all the beignets are cooked.
- Add the powdered sugar to a resealable bag and add 2-3 cooked beignets. Seal and shake the bag gently to coat the beignets. Remove and serve immediately!