South African Recipes

Traditional Koeksister Recipe | Deliciously Sweet and Sticky Snack

Jump to RecipePrint Recipe

Let’s dive into the world of South African treats with a classic favourite – the koeksister! This deep-fried, syrup-coated doughnut twist is the epitome of a sweet, satisfying snack.

Perfecting Your Koeksisters: Tips and Considerations

Crafting the perfect koeksister requires a little bit of patience, but it’s worth every minute. Remember, it’s all about the syrup. It must be ice cold when you dunk those hot, fried twists into it, so prepare it ahead of time. As for the dough, don’t overwork it – a light touch ensures a tender crumb.

Koeksister Recipe Origin

Koeksisters hold a cherished place in South Africa’s culinary history. Their name comes from the Dutch word “koek”, which broadly refers to a baked good. The two main versions – the Afrikaner koeksister and the Cape Malay koe’sister – are both scrumptious, but they differ in taste, texture, and method of preparation. The Afrikaner version is the sweet, crunchy plait that’s most commonly known. On the other hand, the Cape Malay koe’sister is a spiced, doughnut-like ball rolled in coconut. It’s believed that the Cape Malay version predates the Afrikaner one, but this is conjecture, as the exact origins are a bit muddled with time. Either way, both are a testament to South Africa’s rich, multicultural heritage.

Best Occasions to Serve Koeksisters

Koeksisters are a treat for any occasion, but they truly shine during celebrations. In South Africa, they’re often enjoyed on Sunday afternoons with a cup of rooibos tea, a unique herbal beverage native to our country. They’re also a staple at church bazaars, family gatherings, and festive holiday celebrations like Heritage Day. But really, any time you fancy a bit of sweetness, a koeksister will hit the spot. Whether it’s a summer braai (our famous South African barbeque) or a cosy winter gathering, these syrupy delights always bring a touch of joy. And remember, they’re best served chilled, so keep a few in the fridge for those unexpected sweet cravings!

Koeksister Recipe

Gianpiero Rusconi
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Deep Fryer (Alternatively you can use a large deep pot)
  • Wire rack
  • Tray or large plate


  • 500 g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 200 ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 litre sunflower oil (for deep frying)

For Syrup

  • 800 g Sugar
  • 625 ml Water
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks


  • Start with the syrup: combine sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, ground ginger and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and chill in the fridge.
  • In the large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Whisk the milk and eggs together in a separate bowl, then pour into the flour mixture. Mix until a soft dough forms.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough to about 1cm thickness. Cut into strips, then cut each strip into thirds. Braid or plait the thirds together, pinching the ends to seal.
  • Heat your oil in the deep fryer or pot to 180°C.
  • Fry your koeksisters in batches until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil.
  • Immediately dunk the hot koeksisters into the cold syrup, ensuring they're fully coated.
  • Place them on a wire rack over a tray or plate to drain any excess syrup.
Keyword koeksister

Table of Contents