Beignets – Traditional New Orleans fried dough covered in powdered sugar and served fresh from the fryer. These chewy, yet airy sweet treats are best served with a cup of hot coffee.
Recently, we made a quick trip over to New Orleans for my birthday. On the top of the list of things to do/eat, was beignets. I know it’s cliché and predictable of me, but I just HAD to see what the big deal was. Are they really that different than doughnuts?
Oh yes they are.
They are warm, fluffy, chewy, and sweet all at the same time. I think the chewy texture is my favorite part about them. Doughnuts are fluffier and breadier. But beignets have a texture all their own. We loved them so much we bought them twice in one day!
Because of my obsession with these new treats, I just had to make them for myself at home. And with Mardi Gras tomorrow, the timing couldn’t be better!
Without further ado, here are my beignets!
Beignets vs doughnuts
Beignets are different than doughnuts in a few ways. First, the dough is made with a single rise. This creates a chewy texture rather than a fluffy one. Because of this, the doughnuts taste best hot from the fryer. If they cool down, they will get slightly tough and won’t be as good.
Additionally, beignet dough rises slowly in the fridge, whereas doughnuts rise in a warm environment for an hour or two. The slow rise helps develop the flavor of the yeast without overproving the dough.
Lastly, beignets are served covered in powdered sugar. There might be other ways to eat them, but this is the most traditional.
Making beignet dough
Beignet dough is very similar to other doughs. It can be made entirely in a stand mixer with a dough hook. There is lots of flour so we add it into the dough in two batches so you don’t overwhelm the mixer.
Shortening is used in place of butter because of it’s neutral flavor. It’s added in with the flour and beaten into the dough.
Once the dough is formed, it’s kept in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight so it rises slowly.
Frying the dough
The next morning, the dough is split into four even pieces to make it easier to work with. Each piece is rolled into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle and cut into 12 smaller rectangles. The rectangles are dropped into hot oil and fried until golden brown. They’re removed from oil and then set to drain on a rack over a baking sheet.
Since you’re working in batches, it’s best to keep the fried beignets warm in a 200-degree oven. Once all the beignets are done frying, cover them in powdered sugar and serve.
Tips & Tricks
- Resting time. The dough takes time to rest and rise in the refrigerator. Do not skip this step. Therefore, make sure you make the dough a day before you want to eat the beignets.
- Oil temperature. Make sure to monitor the oil temperature before and during frying. You must keep it around 360 degrees to ensure the beignets fry perfectly, without getting greasy or burnt. I use a candy thermometer to help with this.
- Only serve hot! The beignets must be kept warm to keep their perfect texture. Trust me – not even reheating them will work. I tried doing so hours after making beignets and they were so tough. Fresh is best!
- 1½ cup warm water
- 1 packet instant yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 7 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup shortening
- oil for frying
- 2 cups powdered sugar for dusting
- Add water, yeast, and a teaspoon of sugar to a bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together and let sit so the yeast can bloom a little, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar, 2 beaten eggs, and the milk and mix until combined.
- Add 4 cups of flour and salt, and mix with dough-hook attachment until smooth. Add 3 remaining cups of flour and shortening and mix on medium-low until dough ball forms. Once dough has formed, increase speed to medium and knead dough for 2 minutes. Dough should be soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- After chilling, the dough is ready. Punch dough down and remove from bowl. Cut into 4 even sections. Cover and rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, place about 4 inches of oil in a Dutch oven, set a candy thermometer on the side so it's emerged in the oil but not touching the bottom. Set heat to medium. It should take about 20-30 minutes to reach 360 degrees.
- Taking one section at a time, flour a clean counter surface and roll out into a square about ¼-inch thick. Cut even rectangles by cutting 3 long strips and then 4 rectangles per strip. You should have 12 rectangles. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. This is where prepared beignets will stay warm. This is crucial because once beignets cool, their texture turns tough.
- Once hot oil reaches 360 degrees, place beignets in, no more than 6 at a time. Fry for about 1 minutes per side, or until the outside turns a deep golden brown. Remove fried beignets from oil to drain on a wire rack place on top of a baking sheet. Place fried beignets in the oven to stay warm. Repeat with second batch of rectangles of dough. Sprinkle beignets with powdered sugar before serving.
- You can repeat this process with the other 3 sections of dough or freeze the dough to use at a later time. To use frozen dough, just thaw in refrigerator for about 24 hours and then it's ready for rolling, cutting, and frying.