Koeksisters – South African Syrup Coated Doughnut

I will start this blog with a health warning! If you have watched the Sugar Movie or you are following a healthy diet then, this post is definitely Not for you!

This is a curve ball post as I normally try and make food that is simple and easy to prepare – these are not! However, I thought it might be fun for you to read a recipe that is a little bit different and you might even be game enough to try!

The reason I am writing this post is because this happens to be one of my very favourite sweets and I only indulge in these once a year around this time. You will understand why when you see the ingredients and cooking method below! Because of my fondness (addiction!) to these my mum has tradiontally made these each year for my birthday for as long as I can remember. My mum is the Koeksister Queen after making them for over 50 years! It has also become a tradition that my daughters and I participate – a bit like the nonna and daughters making passata! We take turns rolling dough, cutting dough, plaiting dough, cooking and dunking in the syrup and of course eating the warm koeksisters dripping in syrup! It is a day I love, not only because of the food but because I am doing something I enjoy with my beautiful  family.





Makes about 4 dozen


4 cups sugar

2 pieces of lemon peel

2 cups water

1 tsp cream fof tartar combined with 2 tsp cold water

2 tblsp lemon juice

First prepare the syrup.

Combine the sugar, water, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon peel in a saucepan. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cream of tartar mixture, increase the heat to high and boil for 10 mins. Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Let the syrup cool and then place in the fridge overnight.

It is important the the syrup is very cold when you use it.


3 cups of plain flour

1 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder

2 tblsp butter

2 tbslp lard

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup of buttermilk

Oil for deep fat frying ( I used ricebran oil)

To make the koeksisters, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a deep bowl. Add the butter and lard and rub mixture together. Stirring constantly, slowly pour in the buttermilk and stir to combine all the ingredients. Knead the mixture to form a soft, pliable dough.


Roll out the dough to about an inch thick. Cut the dough into strips about 3cm wide and 12 cm long. Plait each strip and squeeze the end tightly. Lay them on a try and continue until all the dough is finished.

Rolled dough 1″ thick
Rolled dough ready for cutting


Cut into strips


Plaiting the dough


Heat up your oil to very hot. Put in about 6 plaits(koeksister)at a time and keep turning so they are golden all over.

Cooking in hot oil


Remove plaits (koeksister) one at a time and put straight into the cold syrup, holding down to absorb the syrup.  Remove from the syrup and place on a wire rack to drain. Repeat until you have done all the koeksisters.

Dunk in cold syrup
Koeksisters in cold syrup
The end result – delicious sweet koeksisters



A koeksister (or koe’sister) derives from the Dutch word koekje, which translates to “cookie”.[1] There are two popular versions of this South African syrup-coated doughnut: an Afrikaner version which is a twisted or braided shape (like a plait) and a Cape Malay version which is a spicy treat finished off with a sprinkling of coconut. It is prepared by deep-frying plaited dough rolls in oil, then dipping the fried dough into cold sugar syrup. Koeksisters are very sticky and sweet and taste like honey.[2]

Koeksisters are of Cape Malay origin,[3] among whom they were known as koe’sisters, apparently suggesting polite gossiping among spinsters.[4] The Afrikaner version is much more syrupy and crisp, while the Cape Malay version is an oval, fried dumpling with a texture more akin to a cake. The dough includes yeast and is spiced with powdered cinnamon, aniseed, cardamom and ginger. It is deep fried, then placed in hot syrup and finally rolled or sprinkled in dried coconut.

Happy Cooking 🙂

(If you are game!!)








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