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Mouth-Watering South African Koeksisters Recipe

koeksisters recipe
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Koeksisters – pronounced “cook-sisters” are a traditional dessert in South Africa. It’s crunchy, syrupy goodness that you cannot stop once you start.

If you’re a South African ex-pat craving for koeksister, crave no more! You can make your own koeksisters!

South African Koeksisters Recipe

Prep, Rest And Cook Time: 3 Hours | Servings: 4-6 | Difficulty: Medium
Koeksisters Ingredients

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
3/4 inch fresh ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
Lemon peel of one lemon

2 cups cake flour (see below how to make your own)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups oil for frying

Cooking Instructions


  1. Add your syrup ingredients into a pot.
  2. Bring the syrup to a boil and stir until the sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Allow it to cool down on your counter, then place it in the refrigerator to cool down completely, overnight preferably. For best results, your syrup should be as cold as possible.
  4. Your syrup can be used when needed.


  1. Mix your flour, salt, and baking powder thoroughly in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small chunks and add it into the flour mixture.
  3. Add the milk. Mix well until a dough is formed.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for approximately 2 hours.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a thickness of approximately1/4 in./ 5mm.
  6. Cut the dough into 1/2 in./ 10mm wide strips.
  7. Take 3 strips and join their ends on one side. Braid the strips to your desired koeksister length – it should be short enough to comfortably fit into your pot/frying pan. Join other ends. *
  8. Fill your pot/pan approximately 2 inches deep. Heat the oil in your pot/ frying pan until hot.
  9. Add your braided koeksisters into the hot oil – do not overcrowd the pot/pan.
  10. Fry on both sides until they are golden-brown in color.
  11. As you remove the fried koeksisters, immediately dip them into the chilled syrup for 10 seconds. (Important – Keep your syrup chilled between soakings. Return the syrup to the refrigerator to keep it cool.)

* While the traditional method of braiding does work, I like the strategy they recommend in the video.

I cannot speak for others but in the past, I would take the syrup out of the refrigerator when I start frying the koeksisters. If you think about it, this makes sense because you’ll need to dip the koeksisters as they come out of the hot oil. However, resist the urge to do this because your syrup will cool down, (especially if you dilly dally like me). The new, clever strategy that I’ve been trying is to place your syrup into a large ice bath once you start frying. By doing this, it remains ice-cold and it’s ready for dipping.

In our house, the strategy is to split the syrup into two portions. One portion is left in the refrigerator, (to be used when needed,) and the other is placed into an ice bowl (for immediate use.) Yes, this is an extra bowl to clean but I think it’s worth it – we have a fresh batch of syrup for the next load of koeksisters.

Make Your Own Cake Flour

For 1 cup of Cake Flour, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour into a large bowl. Using a measuring tablespoon, take out 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. Replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Thoroughly whisk all of the ingredients together.

How to Test Your Oil Temperature

Here’s a super-easy guide to checking when your oil is perfect for frying your Koeksisters (or Cape Malay Koeksisters).


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About The Author

Hi. We’re the Chelten’s. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year, so we want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

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