How to eat a New Orleans beignet like a pro

Chef Jeffrey Gardner
Quick Beignets

If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you’ve likely found yourself in the French Quarter sitting down to a plate of hot beignets with a cup of café au lait. Unfortunately, enjoying these delicious powdered sugar-covered pillows of fried dough comes with some small hazards.

How do you finish a beignet without leaving a snowy smear all over your face and clothing? Can you avoid coughing from airborne powdered sugar? The answers: It’s easy, yes. Learn how with our step-by-step guide to help you eat the Big Easy’s favorite sugary breakfast treat with style.

1. Serve hot. This may seem like a no-brainer, but whether you’re making beignets at home or visiting a café in New Orleans, it’s imperative to enjoy the beignets fresh out of the fryer. The base layer of powdered sugar adheres better to a hot surface, and the dough’s ethereal texture can only be achieved when served hot. If you find yourself face-to-face with a cold, leaden beignet, send it back to the kitchen.

2. Have plenty of napkins at the ready. This tip should speak for itself, but if you’ve ever been to a restaurant that specializes in beignets, you may have noticed the small aluminum box containing the tiniest napkins known to mankind. Don’t skimp on these, especially if you’re cavalier enough to wear dark clothing during a beignet breakfast. Pull out several of these and line your table, lap, and surrounding areas. These are your first line of defense against a potential powdered sugar attack.

3. Enjoy with a hot beverage. Whether coffee or tea is your preference, having a hot drink to accompany your sweet beignets makes a perfect pairing. To balance out the sugar, try drinking coffee with chicory, which offers more bitterness than many other brands of coffee, in addition to some extra New Orleans authenticity.

4. Avoid the “sugar cough.” Have you ever been ready to chomp down on a warm beignet, only to inhale some of the sugar and immediately cough, projecting powdered debris into the air? Avoiding this scenario takes some attention to detail, but it’s worth forgoing any of the accompanying coughing fits.

First, grab your beignet with purpose and lean slightly over the table. Next, inhale before bringing the beignet to your mouth. Take a bite as you exhale and lower the beignet. Cough no more.

5. Quickly check yourself for any errant powdered sugar. None? You were successful! No go forth and share your wealth of knowledge.