Our grandmother (Mama) used to make the most delicious koeksisters — a South African donut that’s fried, rolled in boiling syrup and then covered in shredded coconut. Get this classic South African favorite today.

Koeksisters are an integral part of any Cape Town resident—on Sunday mornings we would wake up to the smell of fried dough and run to the kitchen for those deliciously soft, pillow-like donuts called koeksisters.

They’re almost universally eaten warm and enjoyed with a cup of sweet, milky rooibos. However, exceptions to the tea rule may be made for foreigners who don’t know any better 🙂

There are actually a few varieties of koeksisters in South Africa. In other parts of the country, koeksisters are quite different. They are braided pieces of dough that are fried and then tossed in ice cold syrup, rather than the boiled syrup for these Cape Town koeksisters.

Also, there’s another version of Cape Malay koeksisters—a traditional kind—that includes boiled potato. I’ve never had this variety, although many Cape Malays love it.

Instead, our version is the classic, plain koeksisters made with lots of love and flavor. There’s another version that is  more spiced, with cardamon, ginger powder, and other aromatics, and we may create that version on Meyer Food Blog at a later time.

But today is all about the classics.

cape malay koeksisters | heytheredelicious

We used to call our grandma “Mama” for one reason or another. Unfortunately, she left us a decade ago, but not before she taught our mother to make these wonderful delicacies.

My mother was kind enough to pass it on to me, and I’ll be lucky enough to one day pass it onto my child(ren).

The koeksisters are relatively easy to make, especially if you have experience making dough (as I often do with our pizza). For the most part, you want a soft, slightly wet dough, and depending on your area, you might have to add some extra flour with it.

It’s actually pretty simple: add flour, salt, yeast and sugar to eggs, butter and lukewarm water. Let the dough rest for about 1 – 1.5 hours. Stretch the dough into a long rope and divide it into 24 pieces.

While you get your oil ready, the dough pieces will continue to rise a little, forming into smoother oval shapes (although mine tend to look like eclairs).

Fry each one (about 2 minutes each) until you’re done. Then warm up equal parts sugar to water with stick cinnamon until its boiling and slightly thick, then roll your fried dough in there.

Now, traditionally, you roll it in the hot syrup for about 1-2 minutes. This will make it softer, but also potentially soggy. I like to do mine about 30 seconds to maximum 1 minute, so that it’s soft from the syrup but not soggy.

Transfer the hot, syrupy donuts to a plate full of shredded coconut. Roll it around and enjoy when it’s cool enough to eat.

What Are Koeksisters?

Koeksisters are a delicious treat that originated in South Africa. These sweet treats are made from a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The process of making them is very simple, and all you need is some basic ingredients.

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There are many different flavors and styles of Koeksisters available on the market today. Some popular options include chocolate koeksisters, raspberry koeksisters, and strawberry koeksisters. Some people even enjoy mixing different flavors together to create unique combinations.

Koeksisters make a great snack or dessert option – they’re packed with nutrients and offer a variety of health benefits. In addition to being delicious, Koeksisters are also energy-packed so they can help to satisfy your hunger pangs when you’re feeling snacky. There are also plenty of meal suggestions for incorporating Koeksisters into your diet – try them as part of a breakfast or lunchtime meal! Plus, there’s no wrong way to enjoy these sweet treats – try them in various ways as part of a DIY project or enjoy them as part of an elaborate dinner party menu. Finally, be sure to read our tips for making the perfect Koeksters and enjoy your own batch this season!


Our grandmother (Mama) used to make the most delicious koeksisters—a South African donut that's fried, rolled in boiling syrup and then covered in shredded coconut. Get this classic South African favorite today.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Breakfast
Cuisine Malaysia
Servings 24 piecies
Calories 156 kcal



  • 4.5 cups cake flour 600 g
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar 130 g
  • 2 packets active dry yeast 14 g
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted (85 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 cups oil 750 ml


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar 225 g
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • shredded coconut for coating


  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and yeast).
  • Add the egg, melted butter and lukewarm water and mix until a sticky dough begins to form. Transfered to a floured surface and knead the dough. As Mama said, "The secret lies in the way you knead it." Knead until a soft dough forms, adding flour or water as necessary. I often let the dough rest for a few minutes (while I wash the mixing bowl) and continue to knead the dough, which is now a bit softened.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled mixing bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for about 1-1.5 hours
  • Once the dough is ready, stretch it into a long rope and divide it into 24 equal pieces. As you cook, the remaining donuts will continue to rise and become more oval in shape.
  • Warm the oil over medium-high heat. Throw a small piece of dough into the hot oil to see if it is ready. Add a few pieces of dough in at a time and fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
  • After all the dough has been fried, heat 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling, stirring continuously to stop the sugar from burning. Let it boil for 2 more minutes until it is slightly sticky.
  • Add the fried dough (a few at a time) to the boiling syrup for 1-2 minutes then remove and roll in the shredded coconut. Continue until all the koeksisters have been made. Serve hot with some milky, sweet rooibos tea--South African style 🙂Bon appetit!



So there you have it, everything you need to know about making delicious koeksisters! Now it's time to get started in your kitchen and whip up a batch (or two) of these South African treats. And don't forget to share your photos and results with us on social media using the hashtag #koeksisters.

Serving Suggestions For Koeksisters

Unlock the Authentic Flavor of South African Food with Mama's Koeksisters
Unlock the Authentic Flavor of South African Food with Mama’s Koeksisters

Koeksisters are a South African tradition that have quickly become a favorite all over the world. Made from sugar, eggs, and flour, these sweet treats are loved for their delicate sweetness and unique shape. Koeksisters are said to have originated in the 1800s in South Africa, and today they can be found all over the world. Whether you’re in South Africa or anywhere else in the world, here are some tips on how to make traditional South African style Koeksisters.

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To make Koeksisters, you will need sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract (or any other flavor of your choice), butter (or margarine), milk or cream (for yeasty taste), and a pan with a non-stick surface. First beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture slowly until everything is combined. Stir in baking powder and vanilla extract (or other flavor of your choice). Melt butter (or margarine) into the batter until it’s fully melted – do not overheat! Pour about two-thirds of the batter into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly with a spoon or spatula. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow koeksisters to cool completely before serving – they will be firmer if they’re stored this way!

Here are some Serving Suggestions for Koeksisters:

  • – With milk: Enjoy as is or serve with whipped cream or ice cream
  • – With fruit juice: As an after dinner drink
  • – With orange juice: As an afternoon snack
  • – With coffee: As part of breakfast or afternoon tea.
  • – With South African Malay Curry

Frequently Asked Questions On Koeksisters

Experience the Comfort of South African Cuisine with Mama's Koeksisters
Experience the Comfort of South African Cuisine with Mama’s Koeksisters

What is the history of koeksisters?

Koeksisters are thought to have originated in the Cape Colony in the 18th century. The name is derived from the Dutch word for cake, “koekje,” and the word for sister, “zuster.” It is believed that the pastry was created by Dutch settlers who were looking for a way to use up leftover cake batter.

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How are koeksisters made?

Koeksisters are made by deep-frying a dough that is coated in a syrup or honey. The dough is made from flour, sugar, yeast, eggs, and milk, and is often flavored with spices such as cinnamon or ginger. After being fried, the koeksisters are dipped in a cold syrup or honey, which gives them their characteristic crispy exterior and chewy interior.

What are some of the most popular ways to eat koeksisters?

Koeksisters can be eaten as is, or they can be served with a dipping sauce such as chocolate or coffee. They can also be used as a topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Where can I buy koeksisters?

Koeksisters are available at many bakeries and supermarkets in South Africa. They can also be ordered online from specialty retailers.

Creating The Perfect Syrup For Your Koeksisters

Indulge in the Delicious and Unique Flavor of Mama's Koeksisters
Indulge in the Delicious and Unique Flavor of Mama’s Koeksisters

Different types of koeksisters are available at your local grocery store or convenience store, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The origins of this dessert date back to the 1700s in South Africa, and it is believed that the koeksister was inspired by Arabic coffee cups called timbuktuks. In fact, the word ‘koeksister’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘kopje koffie’ which means ‘cup of coffee’ in Afrikaans.

  • To make your syrup for Koeksisters, you will need: dates, milk (whole or 2%), sugar (granulated or confectioners’), vanilla extract (optional), and cornstarch. Dates can be soaked in water overnight before using if they’re unavailable pre-soaked. You will also need a fine mesh strainer and a saucepan with a low flame. To make the syrup more fluid so that it coats the dates nicely when dipping them into it, simmer the mixture on low heat until it thickens slightly – about 10 minutes should do the trick. Once your syrup is ready, strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan and set aside until needed.
  • To create perfect syrups every time for your Koeksisters recipes: follow these simple steps: heat your milk until just warm (between 110-115 degrees F) then add sugar gradually while stirring constantly with an overhead mixer on low speed; continue cooking until sugar has fully dissolved; add vanilla extract if desired; stir in cornstarch dissolved in cold water until smooth; pour mixture over pitted dates; let cool before serving!
  • When serving Koeksisters, consider adding fresh fruit such as berries or sliced bananas to individual servings for added sweetness and color contrast along with some whipped cream or creamed honey if desired! Enjoy these delicious little treats anytime – whether paired with breakfast cereals like muesli or granola bars during snack time OR as an afternoon sweet treat!

Koe’sisters are an incredibly delicious South African treat that is sure to delight any sweet tooth. With a variety of serving suggestions, tips on making your own koe’sisters, and Mama’s secret recipe for the perfect syrup, you can easily unlock the deliciousness of South African culture in your own kitchen. So why not give it a try? Pick up some ingredients today and get ready to experience (and share!) the unique flavors of koe’sisters!. Recipe by : https://foodandmeal.com

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