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South-African Koeksisters

South-African Koeksisters are Syrup drenched, deep fried, decadent sweet treats !

South-African Koeksisters - Syrup drenched, decadent sweet treats !

South-African Koeksisters are syrup drenched, deep-fried dough sweet treats and loved by young and old. If you live in South-Africa you will know exactly what these little gems are and if you have ever visited the country and have not had a Koeksister, you missed out big time !

I have to admit that I have never made my own traditional Koeksisters (see NOTE below), let’s just call it pure laziness.

That is now when I still cooked and baked without any help from the hubby. Whom as you might know is the main cook/chef/baker in the house since my shoulders started acting up.

BUT, a couple of weeks ago my daughter’s fiance’s granny baked a batch and they brought us a packet – what a treat ! Not store-bought as I usually just grab a packet or three at the supermarket, but real homemade, freshly baked Koeksisters.

Koeksisters - Syrup drenched, decadent sweet treats !
Photo Credit : Vincent Viljoen

There is quite a bit of work into making these South-African Koeksisters. Therefore I will suggest you make the full recipe which yields around 4 – 6 dozen of these decadent treats.

You can twist/roll them into any size you wish but the sizes given in the directions are the most popular.

When I was little, I used to watch my own granny make these and even then I knew the most important part is — HOT fried dough, dumped quickly into the ICE-COLD syrup is key to the success of a perfect Koeksister.

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Over the years I have seen Koeksisters being called Koesisters as well (with the 2nd K dropped) but it is the same thing. Although some people calls Cape Malay Koeksisters, Koesisters and not Koeksisters with the 2nd K.

Please just never call them Cake Sisters ! It is pronounced the same as you would say COOKSISTER.

NOTE: I have made two varieties of Koeksisters and you can find the recipes by clicking on the names below :

South-African Koeksisters - Syrup drenched, decadent sweet treats !

South-African Koeksisters

South-African Koeksisters

South-African Koeksisters

Linda Nortje
South-African Koeksisters are Syrup drenched, deep fried, decadent sweet treats !
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Course Dessert
Cuisine South-African


  • 4 cups Sugar
  • 1 ½ cups Boiling Water
  • ½ t Cream of Tartar
  • ½ t Ground Ginger
  • 2 sticks Cinnamon
  • 1 t Edible Glycerin (optional)


  • 4 cups Flour
  • ½ t Salt
  • 2 TB Baking Powder
  • 2 TB Butter cubed
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Oil for deep-fry


  • Syrup: Dissolve the Sugar in the Water in a large saucepan – add the Cream of Tartar, Ginger and Cinnamon and let boil over high heat for 5 minutes – remove from heat and stir in the Glycerin, if using (Glycerin adds a little more shine to the Koeksisters) – leave syrup to cool completely then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight (the syrup must be ice-cold)


  • Sift together the Flour, Salt and Baking Powder in a large mixing bowl – rub Butter into the dry mixture until crumbly
  • Whisk together the Egg and Milk – add to the Flour mixture and knead until a dough forms (at least 5 minutes) – the dough must be soft but still firm enough to roll out – cover and let stand 2 hours
  • Roll out the dough on a floured board – 1 cm (1/4 – 1/2 inch) thick – cut into same size strips (you can do long or short strips – 20 cm (8 inch) strips are usually preferable – plaid or simply rolled (see picture below)
  • Deep-fry in small batches at 190 deg C (375 deg F) 1 – 2 minutes or until light brown – remove using a slotted spoon and quickly drain on paper towel
  • Place the bowl of chilled syrup over a bowl with ice – this will prevent the syrup from warming too quickly once the dipping starts
  • Dip each fried hot Koeksister quickly in the ice-cold syrup – remove using a slotted spoon, shake excess syrup off gently and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet to dry a little


Recipe Credit: Alida Viljoen
Nutrition value, where given, is not always accurate. Please also check your ingredient labels.

Serve cold – keep leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


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Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous)

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

i wonder how similar these are to gulab jamun, which are indian syrup soaked doughnuts. i haven't had either, but they both sound delicious!

Julia Jordan

Friday 17th of March 2017

Looks scrumptious!


Wednesday 15th of March 2017

I'd pick up a package or 2 at the store too! But the recipe is intriguing. Ice cold syrup on hot fried bread must be delicious. My mouth is watering. I'll probably never make these because I should never eat them with diabetes. But the process is so interesting. Thank you for sharing.

Wishes for tasty dishes,Linda

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