How to make a South African classic – Koeksisters

How to make a South African classic – Koeksisters

Madelein-head-chef-at-Maliba-lodgeThe first thing that you need to make when preparing to bake Koeksisters is the syrup.  The secret to the perfect koeksister is leaving the syrup overnight in the fridge.

A koeksister or koesister comes from the Dutch word koekje, which translates to “cookie”. It is a South African syrup-coated doughnut in a twisted or braided shape (like a plait).


  • 500 ml Sugar
  • 310 ml Water
  • Cinnamon


You can either use ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick, the idea is to get the cinnamon flavour in the syrup.

Put the Sugar, water and cinnamon in a pot and put it over medium heat on the stove, the mixture needs to simmer until all the sugar is melted.   As soon as the sugar is melted and the syrup simmered for a couple of minutes, remove it from the heat and pour it into a separate container.   You can cover the container and put it in the fridge, leave it there overnight, or for at least 4 to 5 hours.

I find it easier to double the amount of syrup.  When dipping the koeksisters , they need to be completely submerged and drenched in the syrup.  The more syrup you have and the deeper the bowl that the syrup is placed in, the better.

koeksisters on a cooling rackDough:

  • 500 ml Cake Flour
  • 1 ml Salt
  • 10 ml Baking Powder
  • 40 ml Butter
  • 7 ml Sugar
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 125 ml Cold Water
  • Oil


Sift the dry ingredients together, then cut the butter.  You can also use your fingers to crumble the butter into the flour.  Then add the sugar and the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough is formed.  It is easier to use your hands once the mixture becomes too doughy.

The dough is now ready for use.  Koeksisters need to be plaited or rolled into balls, to make the process of plaiting them easier, you can first put the dough in the fridge.  Dough that has been resting in the fridge is easier to handle and easier to shape.

Now lightly flour the space where you want to roll out the dough.

koeksister plait diagramIf you are planning to plait the Koeksisters:  Roll out the dough until it is about 7 mm thick, then cut the dough into strips.

If you are not plaiting the dough, simply roll it into balls the size of a truffle.  Bigger balls can be made, but the syrup doesn’t always reach right through to the middle of the dough when balls are bigger.  The smaller the balls, the easier the syrup can soak through the entire Koeksister.

Get the Syrup out only once you are done with everything, it needs to be as cold as it possibly can be.

Deep fry the dough in oil, remember that once your oil is too hot, the outside will turn golden brown but the inside might not be thoroughly done.  Have the oil on a medium heat, about 160 Degrees Celcius.

Once the Koeksister is golden brown take it out of the oil and put it directly into the syrup, pressing the koeksister down and keeping it submerged.  The trick with this part of the process is not to allow the dough to suck up too much air, the faster you can get it into the syrup the better.

Once you have kept the koeksister in the syrup, you can remove it and put it on a cooling rack to allow the excess syrup to run off.  When you are done, put the Koeksisters in the fridge and serve chilled.



6 thoughts on “How to make a South African classic – Koeksisters

  1. My koeksisters got syrup right thru but they are doughy and not dripping with syrup. They are also not cruchy as are those in the shops. What are we doing wrong?

  2. After u dip them in syrup I woul roll them in coconut that’s how my mum makes them. I’m from Durban living in Chicago and I love my s.a food.

  3. Hi everyone. I tried to make koeksisters twice and both times they were very crunchy and the syrup didn’t go all the way through. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲