Travel blog

The Immigration of Flavor: The History of Beignets

Posted by Diana Cowgill on Oct 11, 2022 10:00:00 AM


It’s easy to spot someone who has just enjoyed their first New Orleans beignet. Covered in powdered sugar and grinning from ear to ear, they just tasted the official state doughnut of Louisiana. Just remember, the proper beignet pronunciation is ben-yay!

What is a Beignet?

Beignets are deep fried, square-shaped pieces of lightly sweetened dough liberally dusted with confectioner’s sugar. You can pair a beignet with a cup of strong chicory café au lait for the perfect New Orleans treat.

History of Beignets

Food historians believe that beignets originated in ancient Rome. The world’s first donut was known as Scriblita, a pastry made from moist dough boiled in animal fat. From Rome, Scriblita traveled to France, where cooks began perfecting the recipe and technique.

Experts disagree on how fried dough made its way to America. Some say it made the trip across the pond with Ursuline nuns, while others credit its arrival to French Canadian settlers. Either way, an early relative of this classic dessert made it to the Crescent City in the 1700s. The rest is culinary history.

Best Beignets in New Orleans

Now that we’ve tempted your taste buds, the next question is where to go for the best beignet in New Orleans. Most locals agree that these are the top contenders:

Cafe du Monde

First opened in 1862, the original Café du Monde beignet stand is found along the waterfront of the French Market. There are ten Café du Monde locations, but the original remains a top tourist destination.

Cafe Du Monde Riverwalk
500 Port of New Orleans Place
Open Monday-Saturday 10 AM-7 PM
Open Sunday 10 AM-6 PM

Morning Call

New Orleans’s “most famous coffee drinking place” has been serving up café au lait and beignets since 1870. Multiple generations of the Jurisich family have worked at this eclectic establishment, which claims to be one of the world’s great coffee houses.

Morning Call Coffee Stand
5101 Canal Street
Open daily 7 AM – 12 PM

Cafe Beignet

Along with beignets and coffee, this French Quarter institution also serves up Cajun specialties and an excellent all-day breakfast. There are four locations, including the original Café Beignet on Royal Street.

Cafe Beignet Royal
334 Royal Street
Open daily 7 AM-5 PM


Enjoy a Beignet in New Orleans with YMT Vacations

Since there’s no definitive way to prove which beignet stand serves the city’s best, you’ll just have to taste them all on your New Orleans tour. Along the way you can fill up on the history, culture and music of the city.

One of the best ways to experience New Orleans is on a YMT Vacations escorted tour. New Orleans & Western Caribbean Cruise is an 11-day land and sea journey. Heart of Texas & New Orleans is a celebration of all things southern. For information, or to join one of the upcoming tours, call your travel professional or YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.


Topics: Food and Dining