Prepare time: 10 min
Cook: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min

Koeksister is a traditional Afrikaner confectionery prepared by frying plaited dough strips in hot oil, then dipping it into ice cold sugar syrup or honey. The name comes from a Dutch word “koek”, a wheat flour confectionery. “Sister” is basically the oral tradition of two sisters plaiting their doughnuts then dipping them in syrup or “sis” the sizzling sound it makes when the dough is put in the oil. This is different from the Cape Malay version called koe’sister which is a spicy dumpling with a cake-like texture, finished off with a sprinkling of coconut. Koeksisters have a golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup center which is very sticky, sweet, and tastes like honey.


  • 1.4 l water
  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 12.5 ml cream of tartar
  • 40 ml lemon juice
  • Sunflower oil
  • 4 x 250ml (500g) cake flour
  • 25ml baking powder
  • 20ml margarine
  • 1/2 large beaten egg Water, Sugar, Tartar, Lemon Juice, Sunflower oil, baking flour


  1. For the syrup, place the water, sugar and cream of tartar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Bring to boil, then add the lemon juice and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature. Pour half into a bowl, keep over ice to cool rapidly and place the remaining syrup in the fridge to cool.
  3. Moving on to the dough, Put sifted flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the margarine with your fingertips.
  4. Add the beaten ½ egg to the water and whisk to incorporate.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the water mixture and then start to mix until smooth dough has formed. Knead thoroughly.
  6. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes or up to 5 hours. Heat the oil to 160 °C.

    How to plait a Koeksister
  7. Using an oiled rolling pin, roll out the dough on an oiled surface to a thickness of 5 mm, cut the dough into rectangles of 6 x 15 cm. Cut each rectangle lengthways into 3 strips, leaving one side uncut. Plait the 3 strips and press the cut ends together firmly as done in the image.
  8. Fry in batches of 6 in the hot oil for 6–7 minutes, or until dark golden brown. Drain them for a few seconds on paper towels. Keep the rest of the koeksisters covered to prevent them from drying out.
  9. Dip the koeksister into the ice-cold syrup while they are still hot. Remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack. The syrup will gradually become hot with use, so when you have done about half of the koeksisters take the remaining syrup from the fridge and use this for the balance.

Tip:  For a yummy flavour, add a piece of dried ginger and a stick of cinnamon to the syrup when the lemon juice is added and the colder the syrup is, the better.



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