A French Quarter tradition since 1862, Cafe Du Monde beignets are probably the most famous beignets in the world.
When you’re having beignets in New Orleans, you’re either eating them at Cafe Du Monde, or you wish you were.
The traditional square doughnuts that were introduced to America in the 18th century are perfected at this famous French Quarter coffee shop, where a stack of beignets comes out freshly made and perfectly warm, often paired up with a hot cup of coffee and chicory cafe au lait.
Sure, underneath all that powdered sugar is just a simple dough recipe, but how you put these 8 common dough ingredients together is what determines if your beignets are delicious, puffy clones of Cafe Du Monde beignets, or just boring fried squares of dough.
We want the good kind so let’s do this right. We’ll start with the yeast…
First, dissolve your yeast in the warm water and sugar solution. Let it rest for 12 to 15 minutes and it should look foamy like this.
If it doesn’t, check the expiration date on your yeast. If the yeast is new, your water was probably too hot, and you get to do step #1 again with less hot H2O.
Once the yeast has bloomed nicely, whisk in the egg, milk, salt, and half of the flour. Stir it just until everything is mixed together, and no more than that.
You may notice that I’m using whole milk there, not evaporated milk.
If you’re at all familiar with beignets, you probably know that most beignet recipes, including Cafe Du Monde copycats, call for evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is milk that has 60% of the water removed before it gets canned, which gives it a more intense flavor than whole milk, but it still tastes canned. I think whole milk tastes much better, which is one good reason to use it here, but there’s more than that to consider.
Cafe Du Monde was first making beignets in 1862 using a classic recipe that was brought to New Orleans by the French in the 18th century. Evaporated milk wasn’t invented until 1891, so it’s impossible that evaporated milk was used in the original formula. It’s most likely that the restaurant utilized a traditional recipe created before canning was invented, with milk straight from a cow. Sure, there’s a small chance they were originally using sweetened condensed canned milk in the recipe, which was invented in 1856, but I doubt it. Especially after seeing this video…
In this screengrab, shot through the glass at Cafe Du Monde as beignets were being prepared, you can see several gallons of whole milk sitting on a counter near the dough mixing bowl. Sitting cold milk out to come to room temperature is exactly what you would want to do before adding it to a dough that needs to stay warm, so I think there’s a pretty good chance this whole milk is destined for the dough.
Conclusion: the original recipe contains whole milk, not evaporated, so that’s what we’ll use.
After you mixed all that up, stir in the melted shortening. Don’t overdo it though. Just a light stir is good enough.
Now add the rest of the flour.
Stir the dough with a big spoon until you can’t stir it anymore, then…
Get your mitts in there and help combine all of the ingredients so that you can take the dough out of the bowl for the next step.
Knead the dough on a well-floured surface with the heels of your hands just until the dough is smooth with no lumps in it.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, then cover it with a towel or plastic wrap.
Now you can catch up on your shows since the dough will need to rest for a couple of hours until it doubles in size.
While the dough is resting you should start preparing your oil. Cafe Du Monde, and any other restaurant that makes traditional beignets, will use cottonseed oil for frying because of its neutral taste.
For decades, cottonseed oil was the only plant oil used for cooking in the U.S., until soybean oil took over in the 40s following World War II cotton shortages.
You can certainly use other oils for frying your beignets, but cottonseed oil is a must if you want the best hack. And you’ll want to get it to the exact temperature Cafe Du Monde uses: 370 degrees F. If frying in a pan on your stovetop, use a thermometer. Or you can use a deep fryer, which regulates the temp better.
Your dough is rested and now it’s time to roll it out. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it’s about 1/4-inch thick.
Use a pizza wheel, or a sharp knife, to slice the dough into 2 1/2-inch squares.
Drop the dough squares into the hot cottonseed oil and spoon oil over the top of each of them. Continue to baste for about 45 seconds then flip them over and repeat the basting. After another 45 seconds or so, flip the beignets again and continue to flip them as needed for a consistent golden brown color on both sides. The beignets will fry for about 3 minutes total time.
Drain the beignets on a wire rack or on a plate lined with some paper towels.
Finally, when the beignets have drained, place three on a plate, hit them with a snowstorm of powdered sugar, and immediately serve while warm.
— Todd Wilbur, The Food Hacker
What other famous foods can be made at home? I’ve created recipes for over 1,100 iconic foods at TopSecretRecipes.com. See if I cloned your favorites here.
Cafe Du Monde Beignets Hack
- 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 18 ounces (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
- Cottonseed oil for frying
- Powdered sugar
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Let the solution sit for 15 minutes and it will become foamy.
- Whisk in the milk, egg and salt. Then mix in half of the flour with a large spoon. If using a mixer, use a paddle attachment on low to medium speed.
- Mix in the shortening.
- Add the remaining flour and mix with the spoon until you can use your hands, then turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead just until smooth. Don't over-knead or the dough will get too tough. If using a mixer, swap out the paddle for your dough hook and knead just until the dough is smooth.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel in a warm spot to rise for 2 hours. The dough will double in size.
- Preheat 3 to 4 inches of cottonseed oil in a pan or deep fryer to 370 degrees F.
- On a heavily floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Use a pizza slicer or knife to cut the dough into 2 1/2-inch square pieces and fry 3 to 4 pieces at a time in the oil. Immediately after dropping the dough into the oil use a large spoon to gently splash hot oil over the top of each piece. after 30 to 45 seconds, flip all of the beignets over and continue to baste with the oil. After another minute or so, flip the beignets again, and continue to cook until the beignets are a deep golden brown. Continue flipping the beignets over to brown them evenly on both sides. After about 3 minutes, they should be done. Let them drain on a cooling rack or a paper towel-lined plate for a minute, until you can handle them.
- Serve three beignets on a plate with a very heavy dusting of powdered sugar on top.
NICE TRY !!! DU MONDE BEIGNETS HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO YEAST !!!
THEY RELY ON DOUGH’S HIGH MOISTURE CONTENT TO CREATE STEAM EFFECT AND POP UP !!!
1er. Je viens de la Louisianne et j’ai habite’ en la Nouvelle Orleans. Mais pas au jourd’hui. Il ya beaucoup des anne depuis.
& now I’ll switch to English. 🙂
You. Nailed. This. Recipe. My physician is going to have a fit b/c I’m going to be fat(er) now.
I am simply speechless. I do believe that people should seriously consider buying cottonseed oil for this. It’s not on shelves everywhere (and since the fall of society is in progress it’s even harder to find anything). I made this and here’s a few comments:
* use cottonseed oil. Subbing is maybe possible but I used to walk 2 miles just to get to Cafe du Monde at least once a week just to get these. I’ve spent AGES trying to hack this but never got it. The secret sauce is indeed cottonseed oil.
* Pay attention to the temperature of your oil. Play with your stove a bit to find the sweet spot. On my glass electric it’s 7 until it hits 370, then back off to 3 and a stir. I check the oil constantly while cooking.
* I got perfect beignets at 370-390 with 30 seconds on one side, flip, 2 mins, flip, 30 secs, remove. Total 3 mins and I spoon oil over the top the entire time. A LOT of Cajun foods are made awesome not just by the ingredients but HOW they are cooked. This one is really picky. I had some overburned when the temp was over 400 but the above worked well.
* let them cool off for about 3 mins before sugaring them
* MAKE A MESS with the sugar. Load it down. Plenty of sugar.
* This is so spot on it’s not funny. Well done!
I followed this recipe carefully and had a real problem! The dough was more the consistency of cake batter! I added additional flour but it was still too thin. What went wrong? I checked the recipe carefully!
Steam alone doesn’t leaven (puff up). The Cafe Du Monde beignet mix literally lists baking powder, baking soda and/or yeast in its ingredients.
Your history seems to be mixed up.
Your rationale behind using whole milk rather than evaporated milk is wrong. First of all, just because they hadn’t figured out how to store evaporated milk in cans until 1891 doesn’t mean no one had ever evaporated milk before that. It’s literally just milk that has had some of the water boiled off. Second, what’s those jugs of milk is not clear to me from looking at the photograph, since the label is unclear. There’s no reason the jugs can’t be holding evaporated milk; they just wouldn’t have the same shelf life that the canned version would have.
The idea that cottonseed oil would have been used in 1862 for human consumption is laughable. Reading the Wikipedia page on it would have told you that. It wasn’t until 1857 that a means for cheap production was available, and even then, it was used as a replacement for whale oil in lamps. Between 1859 and 1884, they were illegally adding it to lard, and Congress passed a law stating that it had to be labeled as a “lard compound”. They did the same with olive oil, and Italy banned the import of the stuff in 1883. It wasn’t until 1911 when Proctor and Gamble started their marketing campaign of lies, telling consumers that their hydrogenated cottonseed oil was healthier than animal fats, when people started actually eating the stuff.
Foods were traditionally fried in tallow, and I have no reason to believe anyone in the 1800s was knowingly using anything different. Most people alive have never tasted the authentic stuff, thanks to the aggressive marketing of something we now know is literally poison.
Spot on recipe for authentic beignets (I’m from Louisiana, so I should know :0). I use peanut oil for frying because the burn point is higher. Otherwise, everything is the same. My grandkids love them! Thanks for sharing.
You obviously don’t know much about cooking or anything especially if you rely on wikipedia for your information! Those gallons ARE of WHOLE MILK, are NOT Evaporated milk as evaporated milk is not sold in plastic jugs, it’s only sold in cans or special cartons that are 17oz. size. Cottonseed oil is very good to use to fry in, it’s good to lower LDL and increase HDL.
The primary fatty acid in cottonseed oil is omega-6 or linoleic acid. Cottonseed oil doesn’t break down as quickly as soybean or sunflower seed oil when used in frying. This makes it a better choice for the commercial food and snack industry.
Btw, if you aren’t happy with this guy’s recipes, don’t pay for them!
Steam alone definitely can leaven. It’s how puff pastry and pâte à choux are made. However, it seems that Cafe Du Monde does used baking powder, baking soda and/or yeast, at least in their mix. Given that the instructions with the mix do not call for letting the dough rise, I suspect they are not using yeast.
It’s my husband’s birthday today and I immediately knew that I was going to make him beignets because we would be in Disneyland right now eating them for this special occasion. Pandemic or not, we have Magical Beignets thanks to you. I paired them with the notorious Mint Julep from the same place you get beignets at Disneyland-Mint Julep Bar, and I’m honestly floating on cloud nine right now. I added a 1 tsp. of vanilla extract (because I love it in all my desserts) and 3 tbsp. of salted butter instead of shortening. I only had bread flour on hand and it worked perfectly. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this recipe. I will be making it for all of my family’s special occasions from now on until forever.
Why have a clone when Cafe du Monde will gladly give out their recipe. I have asked for it and they printed it out for me…
Would you mind sharing? Just wondering how it might stack up against what’s printed on the recipe mix.
Just thought you’d like to know that the NYT recipe section has a nearly identical recipe (they slightly tweak salt/sugar) to yours, but 2 years later hmmmmm
Imitation is the best form of flattery or whatever – but shameful from the recipe editors for not attributing it to you ( I guess they only care about proper attribution when it’s for “ethnic” recipes??)
Your recipe and the research and story are far more enjoyable to read and learn from than the NYT’s. Frying some up now, happy Mardi Gras!
This recipe of yours is one of my many favorite recipes.
I followed you and made your sim recipe again.
And, to be honest, I’m a reader of yours.
Just made these and they came out so well! I used Type 00 bread flour instead of AP and canola oil instead of cottonseed oil for frying, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I let the beignets rise again for about 30 minutes after I cut them into squares while waiting for the oil to heat. The end result was very fluffy with a nice springy texture. Great recipe!
I just found this recipe, because I was having a disagreement with my wife about the Disney recipe just released. I told her thise were not real because I’m pretty sure Cafe Du Monde uses bread flour…but here you are using AP flower. I think you are both wrong! Lol.
There’s no yeast in Cafe du Monde beignets. I just saw the recipe from the owner on TV. Moisture puffs them up.
Whoever you saw on TV is either lying or talking about the boxed crap you can buy in the supermarket which never puffs up. There’s no way they’re not using yeast.
This recipe is perfect. I wound up brushing the cut dough with canola oil and using my air fryer (370 degrees for 10 minutes) and they turned out amazing.
I don’t know what they really use, but a traditional version of beignets use choux pastry, which relies on moisture from the dough to create puffiness. This recipe seems more doughnut than beignets.
Perfect meal this morning for Fat Tuesday. We had lemon curds (more French than Cajun) as well as the traditional powdered sugar.
Where did you purchase cottonseed oil from?
I could not find cottonseed oil anywhere, but grapeseed oil is just as good, if not better!
Volume of flour is spot on; you must knead properly to achieve the perfect baby’s butt silky smoothness. I am keeping half of the dough in the refrigerator to fry next week. Excellent job!
Unless this dough is supposed to be absolutely uncomfortably sticky, you flour measurement is painfully incorrect. PAINFULLY. And is there a reason you use less than a packet amount of yeast? A packet is 2 1/4 tsp, not 1 1/4 tsp. Give people time references in a recipe, man. It’s easy and it lets people who read it have a general idea of how much theyre supposed to do and where they’re supposed to be. I shouldn’t have to scour your review page to find out information that should be in the recipe.
I use 1 1/4 tsp yeast because that’s what works. I’ll provide more time references in future recipes whenever possible.
You didn’t use enough flour. You need to measure out 18oz. If you measure 3 cups it won’t be enough.
And every baker knows you use the lowest amount of yeast you need, otherwise your product tastes like yeast. 1.25 tsps is perfect.
I make Beignets every New Year’s Day for my family. It’s become a new tradition. I’ve tried a few different recipes in the past, but this is the best recipe ever! Thank you for the complete instructions and pictures. Very helpful. I used an electric skillet which regulated heat well and made the cooking process very easy.
I made these last night and they turned out great. I mixed the dough the day before using my kitchen aid stand mixer with the dough hook – the dough got very silky and smooth after about 15 minutes on medium speed. I then let the dough rise for about an hour on the counter, before putting in fridge to chill for 24 hours. About an hour before frying I pulled dough out of fridge to warm up, and then fried as instructed. Turned out perfect!
These turned out great I used lard and it was great. Highly recommend.
I want to try this recipe but I’m confused about the quantity of AP flour in your recipe. I usually measure ingredients by weight. The general conversion of AP flour from cups to oz is 1 cup = 120g / 4.25 oz. However, your ingredient list states 18 oz (3 1/2 cups), which is a conversion of 145g / 5.1 oz per cup. That’s a pretty significant weight difference, so I would like to clarify what is the measurement you use when making this recipe.
Use my weights (rather than volume) and the recipe will work out for you. The volume measurements are not accurate.
Having been there before Katrina, one of the best breakfasts ever. The milk you picture, though, may be for the cafe au lait chicory coffee we had. Yum
I made these last weekend and they came out perfect thanks to your instructions! I even made a raspberry sauce to go with them so I could feel like I really was in NOLA. I couldn’t find cottonseed oil so I subbed peanut, and next time I think I’ll make them bigger for fun 🙂 You don’t know how excited I was to find this recipe because I was so sick of the disappointment at restaurants claiming to have Beignets.
Here’s my recap if interested: https://ramblinrandol.com/2019/04/05/the-best-cafe-du-monde-beignet-copycat-recipe/
Thank you Shannon. Comments like yours are why I love doing what I do.
I don’t understand how raspberry sauce makes you think of New Orleans. Raspberry sauce has nothing to do with New Orleans. Raspberries don’t even grow in New Orleans. Strawberries maybe.
Where are you from anyhow?
When my daughter hit me with “I need beignets this morning for my French Class Mardi Gras party” I panicked because I was out of my Cafe du Monde mix. I found your recipe and will never buy the mix again. It came together so easily and they fried up beautifully. They were delish and a huge hit!
I have been to Cafe du Monde and spoken to them about whether or not their recipe includes eggs because my son is very allergic to eggs (even a small amount cooked with other ingredients). I was told by the staff at Cafe du Monde that there are no eggs in their dough. There are also no eggs in the beignet mix that they sell at Cafe du Monde (in the mix itself or added during preparation). I’m sure that these beignets are wonderful, but the original Cafe du Monde recipe includes no eggs.
Would the original recipe have used vegetable shortening? I have some homemade lard I was hoping to use. Do you suppose that would negatively affect the texture by not coating glutens the way veg. shortening does? My lard is quite soft/semi-liquid at room temperature.
I’m not really a baker/confectioner, so this is all alchemy to me. Thanks for any insight.
I’m not sure if you would detect any difference. Best way to find out is to try it. Let us know here how they turned out.
Can you store the uncooked sliced dough overnight or freezer them to fry later? I haven’t tried the recipe yet. But can’t wait to try it out!!
That should work as long as you fully defrost before frying. You can also par-fry the dough, freeze, and finish frying later.
Can I use the knead attachment on the mixer and for how long? Want to make bigger quantities…
I’m surprised that your recipe doesn’t use bread flour. Does the original definitely use AP flour instead? Thanks for your time
Bread flour is tougher due to more gluten. The bite of the original suggested a less chewy flour, like A.P. But feel free to use bread flour if you want beignets with more “bite.”
I grew up in Louisiana and have had Cafe du Monde many times. Now that I live in California, I missed beignes very much. This recipe was delicious and spot on. I decided to attempt this the night before and was not able to find cottonseed oil in the local stores. I used canola instead, which was fine. I think the next time that I make it, I will make sure to order cottonseed oil in advance. The ones I made were a bit smaller than 2 1/2 inch squares, and I think making them bigger (perhaps even as large as 3 inch squares) would definitely be closer to the original. The platter I made was empty in less than 5 minutes., and my guests gave me rave reviews. I should have made two batches, lol. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!!
Todd I am impressed! These are Fluffy, Puffy, Sugar Love Coated! Squares of Dough Goodness !YESSSSS! Beignet Heaven! I just have to travel by feet to my kitchen! Thanks again Todd for this hack! Wow! Yummy!
What can I use instead of the shortening for this recipe?
Margarine should work the same.
Can I “fry” these in my air fryer?
Help a vegan out here! What can I use instead of the egg?
good day, all i can find is instant yeast. can i use instant yeast? if so, how much (should it be less?) thank you
Sure. Measure the same amount. Your rise time will be a little quicker (by 15 minutes or so).
What do you think will happen if I use butter instead of shortening?
If you’re making this for the morning, is there harm in letting it rise overnight?
You can do that. Cover it and let it rise overnight in your fridge, then bring it out in the morning to warm up 1-2 hours before rolling.
I LOVE this recipe and LOVE the new website design! I’ve followed you for yeeeeears (at least 16) and am always impressed with your hacks. Don’t ever stop, k? 🙂