Beignets, those pillowy, square-shaped, fried pieces of dough covered in powdered sugar, are craveable and delicious. More chefs are playing with the New Orleans-style doughnuts—menu mentions have grown 44 percent over the past four years, according to Datassential’s MenuMonitor. Perhaps the trend in regional American is pulling beignets into sharper focus. Or maybe it’s the doughnut craze, inviting all doughy deep-fried brethren into the fold. Whatever has brought beignets to the forefront, the evidence is clear: Chefs across the country are molding their versions to fit their brands in clever, enticing ways.
The Pineapple Beignet, made with Mama Walker’s Glazed Doughnut Liqueur and pineapple
—Mad Platter Restaurant, Nashville, Tenn.
Chocolate Stuffed Beignets: Decadent chocolate rolled in sweet dough, flash-fried and topped with powdered sugar and sweet Nutella sauce
—Kitchen 67, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Beignets with vanilla crème anglaise and rum butterscotch
—Aretsky’s Patroon, New York
Chocolate Beignets, filled with molten Ghirardelli chocolate
—Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco
Oreo Beignets: Six classic Oreo cookies fried in a light and fluffy beignet batter, topped with a white chocolate-bourbon sauce and a drizzle of chocolate sauce
—Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille, five Florida locations
Piggery Beignets: New Orleans-style doughnuts served with bourbon-maple bacon glaze
—The Piggery, Chicago
Beignets may be as much a part of New Orleans culture as Mardi Gras and chicory coffee, but chefs are finding fun ways to move them outside of Louisiana. The warm, sugary treat is seeing a lot of successful innovation, from sweet fillings to dipping sauces to drizzles.
Let’s be honest—fried dough coated in powdered sugar is awesome for all ages. As you indulge, you can dip it in chocolate milk or something like honey marmalade to make it a little more sweet, or in coffee to add a touch of bitter. Our biscuit beignets are based off a biscuit recipe—crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle—always hot, always made to order and fun to share.
Jason Knoll, Vice President of Culinary,
Another Broken Egg Cafe, based in Destin, FLa.
For me, beignets are such a versatile and fun pastry. You can keep them classic to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee, or you could go crazy with flavors. One that I have been playing with is a traditional beignet that has a lime glaze and a dusting of Tajín. Serve that up with a mango compote and sweet corn ice cream and you have a fun summer dish. It pulls some of my favorite summer ingredients together with the extra love of a beignet.
Courtney Joseph, Pastry Chef,
The Dearborn, Chicago
I think it would be fun to make Asian-fusion beignets, rolled in sugar and Sichuan pepper and dipped in white chocolate-green-tea sauce. Deviating from the standard France/New Orleans origin makes them unique.
Francis Laureano, Executive Pastry Chef,
Blue Bridge Hospitality, San Diego
In the past, I’ve done corn ice cream with blueberries and smoked beignets. I took 10 percent of my raw beignet dough and cold-smoked it heavily before adding it back into the dough.
Sarah Jordan, Chef/Owner,
Johnny’s Grill, Chicago
I love beignets. We often have them in one or more ways on the menu. I’m currently making a pistachio beignet on one of our dessert menus. In the future, we are going to try savory ones as components for different applications, such as a lobster beignet or bone marrow beignet.
Jared Wentworth, Chef/Partner,
Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle, The Promontory,
Saint Lou’s Assembly, Chicago
Recently, my 16-year-old suggested that we create a beignet that resembles a Poké Ball from Pokémon. I laughed at first, but then mouths started to water thinking of powdered sugar and strawberry reduction on top of a circular beignet that would resemble a red-and-white Poké Ball. We can’t wait to roll it out on our menu.
Ebony Broadway, Chef/Co-Owner,
Cane Patch Kitchen, Liberty Public Market, San Diego