How to Make South African Koeksisters

If you’re a fan of delectable pastries and sweet treats, you’ll fall head over heels for South African Koeksisters!

These mouthwatering, syrup-drenched delights are a unique blend of spicy, aromatic flavors and a golden, crunchy exterior.

Koeksisters are a popular treat in South Africa, enjoyed at family gatherings, special occasions, and even as an afternoon snack.

If you want to experience a taste of South Africa in your own kitchen, let’s dive into the process of making these delightful treats.


For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Photo by RiaanCoetzee via Getty Images


1. Prepare the Dough: In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add the softened butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and beaten egg. Gradually pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.

2. Shape the Koeksisters: Divide the dough into smaller portions and roll each piece into long, thin ropes, about 5-6 inches in length.

Join three ropes together at one end and start braiding them, pressing the ends together once you reach the other end.

Repeat this process until you have braided all the dough portions.

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3. Fry the Koeksisters: In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer, heat vegetable oil to 350°F (175°C).

Carefully place a few braided doughs at a time into the hot oil and fry until they turn a beautiful golden brown, usually around 2-3 minutes per side.

Be cautious not to overcrowd the pot as it can reduce the oil temperature and result in soggy koeksisters.

4. Prepare the Syrup: While the koeksisters are frying, it’s time to make the syrup. In a separate saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, water, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and lemon juice.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the syrup thickens slightly.

5. Soak the Koeksisters: As soon as the koeksisters are done frying, remove them from the oil and drain them briefly on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

While they are still warm, immerse the koeksisters into the hot syrup, ensuring they are fully coated. Allow the syrup to soak into the pastries for a few minutes.

6. Serve and Enjoy! Once the koeksisters have soaked in the syrup, remove them from the saucepan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve these delightful treats with a cup of tea or coffee, and watch them disappear in no time!


  • To achieve a crispier texture, refrigerate the braided koeksisters for about 30 minutes before frying.
  • You can adjust the spiciness of the syrup by adding more or less cinnamon, ginger, depending on your taste preferences.
  • Traditional koeksisters are quite sweet, but you can reduce the sugar in the syrup if you prefer them less sugary.
  • Koeksisters are best enjoyed on the day they are made, but you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two.
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South African Koeksisters are a true delight that brings the warmth and richness of South African culture to your plate.

From the moment you take your first bite, you’ll understand why these treats are so beloved.

So, why not try your hand at making these delicious pastries and share them with family and friends?

Happy baking and indulging!