South African Recipes

Authentic Roosterkoek Recipe | Beloved Grill-Baked Bread Rolls

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Welcome, Mzansi food lovers! Today, we’re delving into the heart of traditional South African cuisine with a beloved classic, roosterkoek. These grill-baked bread rolls are a braai (South African BBQ) staple and an absolute joy to make and eat. Let’s get cracking!

roosterkoek on board

Insider Tips on Roosterkoek Perfection

First tip from my trusty South African kitchen: patience is key! Roosterkoek dough loves a gentle touch and ample resting time to puff up beautifully on the braai. Second, don’t skimp on the kneading – this step helps to build up the gluten, essential for fluffy roosterkoek. Lastly, remember, your braai grid should be medium-hot for the perfect golden crust.Recipe Heritage

The roots of roosterkoek, like many traditional South African recipes, run deep. It’s believed to have originated with the indigenous Khoi people, who cooked bread on open fires long before the arrival of Europeans. However, this is based more on conjecture than hard evidence.

The recipe was passed down through generations, becoming a favourite amongst Voortrekker families on their long journey inland. Roosterkoek, or “grill cake” in English, has maintained its status as a cherished staple, much like biltong and boerewors, in South African culture.

Best Occasions to Serve Roosterkoek

Roosterkoek is so versatile, it can grace any occasion with a homely, heart-warming presence. They’re an essential at Heritage Day celebrations, where they’re served straight off the braai with a generous slathering of butter.

In the colder months, they’re a perfect companion to a hearty bredie (stew), bringing warmth to the chilliest winter evening. But they’re not just for grand occasions; roosterkoek can turn even a simple Sunday lunch into something truly special. So, whether you’re planning a boisterous braai or a cosy family dinner, remember to include roosterkoek on your menu. You’ll be hailed as the ultimate South African host!

single roosterkoek on table


Matthew Rolfe
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Whisk or fork
  • 1 Clean kitchen towel
  • 1 Grill or braai (Alternatively, you can use an oven)
  • 1 Baking sheet (if using an oven)


  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 300 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil


  • In your large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, instant yeast, salt, and sugar. Give it a good mix with your whisk or fork.
  • Pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Stir until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough in the bowl or on a clean surface for about 5 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, give it a punch to deflate it. Divide it into 8 equal portions and shape each one into a ball.
  • Flatten each ball slightly with your hand and place them on a baking sheet, giving each enough room to expand.
  • Cover the dough balls with the kitchen towel again and let them rise for another 15 minutes.
  • Now, it's time to cook your roosterkoek. If you're using a grill or braai, place the dough directly on the grid over medium coals. If you're using an oven, preheat it to 200°C and bake on the middle rack.
  • Cook the roosterkoek for about 15 minutes, turning them over once halfway through, until they're golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  • Serve your roosterkoek hot, ideally straight from the grill or oven, with butter, jam, or your favourite braai meat. Enjoy this South African classic!
Keyword Roosterkoek

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