Beignets are pronounced ben-YAY for a reason! These tasty, memorable treats have brought people joy since they first made their way into New Orleans in the 18th Century. From the most well-known beignet cafe in NOLA to new spins on this classic treat, we will cover the sweet history of beignets, the best parts beignets, and where to grab your next hot beignet.
What is a Beignet?
If you’ve never had beignets, you may be wondering what all of the hype is about. Beignets are a special part of breakfasts and brunches all over New Orleans. Though there are variations on recipes, they are typically made from pâte à choux, a delicate pastry dough. Beignets are known for their light, fluffy inside and golden brown, crispy outside. The foundation of a great Beignet recipe is the dough mix. Traditionally, beignets are served hot, covered in powdered sugar, and paired with cafe au lait or iced coffee. Most beignet cafes serve them in sets of 3. You can find a classic Beignet on every menu in the south, but below is a list of the restaurants that stand out.
History of Beignets
The history of the beloved beignet dates back to the 17th century. We can trace the consumption of fried dough back to the times of ancient Rome. Beignets are thought to have migrated with French settlers and were introduced to Louisiana when settlers made their home there. Though beignets are found in other parts of the world, they are mostly known in the French Quarter. Because of their popularity, beignet cafes are popping up everywhere!
Top Rated Beignets in New Orleans
Cafe Du Monde is the pioneer of the New Orleans’ Beignet. Established in 1862 as a coffee stand in the French Market, it now operates about ten different locations in Louisiana. Cafe Du Monde is open 24 hours, seven days a week.
At Cafe Du Monde, you can watch as your beignets are made. They start by rolling the dough and cutting the dough into squares. Then they fry the dough squares in hot cottonseed oil.
Tip: If you’re making beignets yourself, you can fry the dough squares in any type of vegetable oil.
From there, they take the pastries and cover them in a heap of powdered sugar using a rotary sifter.
This iconic spot is a great tourist destination as well as a popular spot for locals looking for a sweet treat. Served as a set of three, these fried dough squares pair perfectly with their original dark roasted Chicory coffee or a Cafe Au Lait.
Cafe Beignet was established by a group of friends in 1990. It now operates four locations in New Orleans and has another location under construction.
Each location offers something unique to tourists and locals alike, including live entertainment, crafted cocktails, pet-friendly outdoor seating, and classic New Orleans dishes to complement their beignets. This cafe fries the beignets in soybean oil before dusting them with a generous amount of powdered sugar.
In 2017, Cafe Beignet won the People’s Choice Award for the Best Traditional Beignet at the annual Beignet Fest!
Coffee, Beignets, Wines, Bubbles, and Bites. This is everything we love about The Vintage. This chic spot is located on Magazine street and serves their tasty dishes in an entertaining and trendy atmosphere. Unlike our first two beignet spots, The Vintage serves up unique takes on beignets that are a really fun way to start a day in New Orleans.
Something really unique about The Vintage is that they offer a “Fancy Beignet Flight” as well as a late-night “Beignet Bites.” The late-night bites include golden brown beignets and flutes of bubbly Cava!
Mo’Bay is known for serving up handmade and fresh-to-order Beignets from scratch! They add a wow factor to their beignets by adding some flavorful syrups such as buttercream or cinnamon. They also offer seasonal syrups for topping throughout the year.
Although Mo’bay has only been operating for a few years, they quickly gained an overwhelming following in Alabama. Their sweet, soft and fluffy beignets make it easy to want to visit this spot over and over again.
New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Company is located on St. Charles Ave, and it’s the little sibling of New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood. They’re serving traditional beignets as well as coffee and espresso beverages. One of their coffees that catch our eye is their “bowl of soul”. This is a Cafe Au Lait with caramel, whipped cream and cinnamon. This beverage compliments the crispy and sweet flavors of their hot and fresh beignets.
Eating beignets is a messy business, but making them doesn’t have to be!
Here are some PRO tips:
- Be sure to measure your ingredients. It may take a few batches to get your ratios perfect!
- Avoid creating tough bites by not over mixing your dough.
- Be sure to use plenty of cups of flour to avoid sticking and your dough falling apart.
Another PROtip is our beignet mix! Here at Gulf Coast Blenders, we love helping restaurants get the flavors they desire with less prep time while saving overall costs. Our beignet mix is one of the many ways we help kitchens take their food to the next level. On top of producing fantastic flavors, our dry blend also streamlines the process and is a just-add-water mix! This allows you to customize your beignets to fit the flavor and personality of your restaurant.
If your restaurant is looking to get started with beignets, begin by downloading our free guide. This will answer many of your questions and put you well on your way to giving your customers the best beignet experience of their lives.