The Best Beignets You Need to Try in New Orleans
A trip to New Orleans isn’t complete until you’ve sampled the beignets. Bite into one of these warm, puffy pillows of fried dough, smothered in powdered sugar, and you’ll be hooked.
In case you haven’t yet heard of a beignet yet, the beignet is the official state doughnut of Louisiana, but they’re much more than that. Traditionally, beignets are made from dough that’s rolled thin, cut into squares, and deep fried until they turn golden brown. Then, they’re sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Similar to a doughnut but not quite the same, just trust me when I say your trip to New Orleans won’t be complete without sampling a few of the best.
In most coffee shops, the sweet fried dough is usually paired with a New Orleans specialty, chicory coffee. Chicory is a plant root that is roasted and ground and then mixed with coffee grounds. The resulting brew has a bold, robust taste. With plenty of warm milk added, it becomes café au lait.
Although the traditional beignet is simply doused in powdered sugar, chefs in New Orleans are known for their creativity, so it’s also common to find beignets covered, stuffed, and combined with all sorts of delicious ingredients. These iconic pastries can be sweet or savory and eaten as a snack, an appetizer, or a meal.
Be sure to add this to your list of New Orleans must-dos while staying in one of our centrally located vacation rental homes. Just be careful, between the comfort at the rental and decadence of the beignet, you just might not want to go back home!
The History of the Beignet
Beignets date back to the 1760s, when the Acadians arrived in Louisiana from Canada. These French-speaking ancestors to the Cajuns brought with them many of their traditional foods. Original French beignets were made of choux (pronounced “shoo”) pastry dough, the same kind of dough used for cream puffs. They were usually stuffed or served with warm fruit compote.
Over the years, the pastry evolved into the beignet that both tourists and locals in New Orleans love to devour. These days, New Orleans beignets are usually made from a yeast dough and fried like doughnuts. The word “beignet” actually means “fritter” in French.
Wherever you go in New Orleans, you’re never far from a beignet. Dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and snack shops in the Big Easy serve beignets in some form. Many shops are open 24 hours, every day except Christmas.
Here are the 12 places to munch on the best beignets in New Orleans.
Cafe du Monde
Address: 800 Decatur St. (although they have a handful of locations in the city and elsewhere in the state)
Founded in 1862, the Cafe du Monde is famous worldwide for its beignets and true New Orleans atmosphere. Just a few steps from Jackson Square, the original restaurant is not far from French Market District and sits along the bend of the Mississippi, or crescent, that gave New Orleans the nickname of the Crescent City.
Cafe du Monde has just one food item on its menu: beignets.
Each order consists of three pillowy pastries drenched in a scoopful of powdered sugar. You can order the traditional coffee with chicory or cafe au lait, but they also offer a choice of other drinks, including milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, and soft drinks.
At Cafe du Monde, the experience of eating beignets is just as important as the pastries themselves. Although indoor seating is available, most people prefer to sit outside under the green and white striped awning and watch the diversity of people who stroll down Decatur Street.
When you finish, if your face and clothes aren’t covered in powdered sugar, you haven’t done it right.
Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours, but during the day at peak times, the lines for a table can be long. If you don’t want to wait, there are two other locations in New Orleans: City Park and the Riverwalk Shopping Mall.
There’s also a Cafe du Monde shop at the Louis Armstrong International Airport New Orleans airport, in case you need a beignet fix before you fly home. You can also buy Cafe du Monde brands of beignet mix and coffee to try your hand at replicating the iconic taste.
Address: 334 Royal St. (also with multiple other locations)
Eating beignets at the Café Beignet is also as much about the experience as it is about the pastry. The Café has four locations throughout New Orleans, each with a unique atmosphere.
Along with the traditional style beignet, you may find seasonal specials, such as beignets with glaze and sprinkles. The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch. Enjoy New Orleans-style brunch with your beignets here. You can try a New Orleans specialty like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, or a shrimp po’ boy.
The original Café Beignet location on Royal Street is a French Quarter favorite. Founded in 1990, the shop is housed inside a converted carriage house. The long, narrow shop echoes the look and feel of a French bistro and includes an outdoor seating area.
A block away is the Bourbon Street location (311 Bourbon St.), which honors the unique musical history of the Big Easy. The spacious courtyard features life-sized bronze statues honoring jazz legends such as Fats Domino, Louis Prima, and Pete Fountain. Live jazz bands play from 10 a.m. until close.
Café Beignet Decatur (600 Decatur St.) is a little more modern in décor, but has the same great menu. It’s inside the Jackson Brewery (Jax) shopping center, making it perfect for a lunch stop or snack.
The newest location is on Canal Street, in the business district where there’s steady foot traffic of local residents, workers, and tourists. You can enjoy your beignets while watching the bright red streetcars travel their route.
All locations of Café Beignet have dog-friendly outdoor seating areas.
Morning Call Coffee Stand
Address: 5101 Canal Blvd.
Generations of New Orleanians have loved their beignets and café au lait at the Morning Call. Here the beignets are served hot and plain, ready for you to sprinkle on as much or as little powdered sugar as you’d like.
The vintage coffee shop was founded in 1870 in the French Quarter and has long rivaled Café du Monde for the title of the best beignet in the city. The shop moved out of New Orleans in 1974 and has changed its location several times since then, but it’s now back in downtown New Orleans on Canal Street.
Morning Call also serves local lunch favorites like gumbo and red beans and rice.
Loretta’s Authentic Pralines
Address: 2101 North Rampart
A praline is a candy that’s shaped like a cookie. The classic flavor comes from caramelized brown sugar and nuts, usually local Southern pecans. At Loretta’s shop and café in the French Market, the traditional beignet is combined with the crowd-pleasing taste of pralines.
With two New Orleans flavors in one bite, the praline beignet consists of a fluffy beignet with praline filling, coated with sweet praline icing, and dusted in powdered sugar.
Savory beignets are also on the menu. For breakfast, you can order an egg, bacon, and cheese beignet. Slice a beignet in half like a bun, and it makes a great handheld sandwich with crabmeat filling or a burger.
Address: 1179 Annunciation Street
Traditional beignets are on the menu at the Bakery Bar, but you can also find beignets filled with spiced apple pie filling or chocolate chip cookie dough. They’re all available on the dessert menu of this full-service restaurant in the Garden District.
Also famous for its doberge, a multi-layered cake, the Bakery Bar is open for dinner during the week and brunch and dinner on weekends.
Pro Tip: Try the apple pie beignet with a scoop of gelato.
Address: 3121 Magazine St.
For a variety of beignet flavors, you can’t do better than the Vintage. One unique offering is the Fancy Beignet Flight of three different flavored beignets. You might get one filled with raspberries, the second with matcha, and a third flavored like a s’more.
The beignet menu changes seasonally and frequently. At any visit, you could find special beignet fillings or creative shapes. You might even be able to order heart-shaped beignets on Valentine’s Day or bunnies on Easter.
Whatever your appetite, there’s a beignet order that fits. You can order one beignet, the traditional three, or a bag of 10 powdery pastries. Or, try the smaller beignet bites sprinkled with either powdered or cinnamon sugar.
For breakfast, you can enjoy a savory twist on beignets with the pastries covered in bacon sawmill gravy.
La Petite Grocery
Address: 4238 Magazine Street
The name says “grocery,” but it’s actually a restaurant and bar, and it’s famous for its blue crab beignets. The scrumptious appetizer is served with malt vinegar aioli.
The name La Petite Grocery comes from the business that originally occupied the corner. Founded in the late 1800s, it started as a small shop selling coffee and tea, as well as butter and locally-grown foods like pecans and rice. After a fire destroyed the original building in 1908, it was rebuilt and repurposed into a grocery store.
The restaurant offers a variety of refined Southern dishes. You won’t find traditional beignets on the lunch or dinner menu though, these are only available for brunch.
Address: 214 Royal St.
Located in the Hotel Monteleone, the Criollo Restaurant offers two types of beignets. For breakfast, you can order sweet beignets with strawberries and praline sauce. For brunch, try the blue crab and corn beignets with Cajun brown butter and remoulade sauce.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Carousel Bar. The canopy over the bar is like a circus merry-go-round, and the round bar rotates slowly, making one trip around every 15 minutes. Kids aren’t allowed, however; it’s a real bar, and customers must be 21 years or older.
Luca Eats is the home of the scrumptious Oreo beignet. It’s just like it sounds—an Oreo cookie covered in beignet batter and deep fried to a luscious, chocolatey, and creamy treat.
It’s similar to a fried oreo but with a twist. If you’re a fan of that classic fair food, you definitely need to visit Luca Eats to compare the two.
Address: 310 Chartres St.
SoBou has a variety of high-class beignets that are served to match the ambiance of the restaurant. Here, your beignet won’t be served in a brown paper bag but on a plate with cutlery. Don’t let that deter you though, it’s just a chance to try another style of beignet that’s still drool-worthy.
For a fresh take on crawfish beignets, try the SoBou restaurant in the French Quarter. The crawfish drop beignets are smothered in roasted poblano sauce. You may also find other savory beignet servings, like duck and sweet potato. Or for dessert, try the traditional beignet drizzled with caramel sauce.
Katie’s Restaurant and Bar
Address: 3701 Iberville St.
Thanks to jalapenos, cheddar, and mozzarella, Katie’s crawfish beignet has a cheesy, spicy flavor sure to satisfy. The seafood beignet adds shrimp and crabmeat. Both are topped with jalapeno aioli.
If you’re on the lookout for something that combines all the best aspects of Cajun cuisine, these beignets are where you’re going to want to start.
Address: 777 Bienville St.
The blue crab beignets are a featured appetizer at this Cajun-Creole restaurant. They’re more like fritters than the traditional square beignet. One order contains four beignets, each with a different type of remoulade sauce.
At Restaurant R’evolution the beignets won’t be the shining jewel but if you’re for an upscale meal in a vintage environment, you certainly don’t want to miss dining here. Ideal for a date night, you’ll have plenty of great options to choose from on the menu, but do yourself a favor and add the blue crab beignets to your order as an appetizer.
With this, you’re ready to feast your way through New Orleans on beignets alone. From a quick snack to its own meal, you surely won’t want to miss trying at least a few different bites of fried heaven while you’re enjoying your vacation to NOLA.
Featured Image Credit: SMarina