Old Fashioned Beignets

Old Fashioned Beignets are a great way to celebrate Fat Tuesday and wrap up Mardi Gras. These beignets are made without yeast and ready in about 40  minutes.

Wide view of a bowl f stacked old-fashioned beignets beside a bowl of powdered sugar and a fine mesh sieve.

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A trip to the French Quarter isn’t complete without a stop at Cafe Du monde for a cafe au late and an order of beignets. They’re so good that you won’t care that you’re wearing powdered sugar on your shirt for the rest of the day. So worth it.

But we can’t always make the trip when the craving hits us. So every year for Mardi Gras, this recipe makes an appearance at least once. It’s almost foolproof and definitely something to look forward to.

The History Of The Beignet

This iconic New Orleans treat has its origins in the 17th century by the French. Around the 1700s, French settlers introduced fried dough to Louisianna. It became so popular that the beignet was named the official state doughnut of Louisianna in 1986.

Traditional beignets were made without yeast. Also known as ‘granny’s beignets’, this vintage style of beignet is more like a cake doughnut and used baking powder as a leavening agent.

The rough translation of beignet is ‘fritter’.  Whatever you call it, the beignet is delicious dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a milky coffee drink.

Freshly baked old-fashioned beignets cooling on a wire rack waiting to be dusted with powdered sugar.

Ingredients Needed

  • Flour – I used bread flour, which has a higher gluten content and makes the dough more elastic, like a yeasted dough.
  • Baking powder – make sure you have very fresh baking powder. This is what will make the beignets puff up. To test the freshness of your baking powder, mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder into 1 cup of hot water. If it bubbles up and fizzes, the baking powder is good to use.
  • Sugar – you will need both granulated and powdered.
  • Salt
  • Milk – use whole milk.
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract – use good quality vanilla, not imitation vanilla. I use Nielsen-Massey vanilla.
  • Lemon – you’ll use only the zest. Save the fruit itself for cocktails or iced tea.
  • Butter 
  • Vegetable oil – you want to use an oil with a high smoke point, like canola, sunflower, vegetable, or peanut oil.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Separate the eggs.
  3. Whisk together the milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together until a batter forms.
  6. Lightly fold in the whipped egg whites until well combined.
  7. Cover the bowl and let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven.
  9. Scoop the dough by large tablespoonfuls into the hot oil.
  10. Cook until the beignet is golden on all sides.
  11. Remove from the oil.
  12. Brush lightly on both sides with melted butter.
  13. Dust with powdered sugar.
  14. Serve immediately.
Wooden bowl with a stack of Old Fashioned Beignets lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

More New Orleans Recipes


Old Fashioned Beignets

Old Fashioned Beignets are a great way to celebrate Fat Tuesday and wrap up Mardi Gras. These beignets are made without yeast and ready in about 40  minutes.

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 20 beignet 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Deep fry
  • Cuisine: New Orleans



2 ½ cups bread flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of ½ lemon (optional)

4 tablespoons melted butter

Powdered sugar

Vegetable oil for frying


Fill a Dutch oven with about 3-4 inches of vegetable oil. Hook a candy thermometer on the side of your pot.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Use a spatula to combine the ingredients until a batter forms. 

In another medium glass or metal bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form, and then gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a paper towel. Set aside.

Place your Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring it up to 375 degrees.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the batter into the hot oil, 4 or 5 at a time.

Fry until they are a medium golden brown – about 3-4 minutes.

The beignets will flip over on their own as they cook.

Use a wire spider or slotted spoon to remove the beignet to drain on the paper towel-lined baking sheet.

Continue with the remaining batter.

While the beignets are still hot, lightly brush them with the butter and dust them with powdered sugar.

Serve immediately.

Keywords: old-fashioned beignets, beignet recipes, Mardi gras food, Mardi gras recipes, homemade donuts, breakfast, brunch, fried dough