Our recipe and guide to koeksisters is the closest you’ll get to learning from Granny herself!

  • 2 hrs 30 + refrigeration
  • Makes about 50
  • Intermediate



  • 9 cups (2 250ml) sugar
  • 4½ cups (1 125ml) water
  • 80-125ml lemon juice, to taste
  • 8ml cream of tartar


  • 4 cups (1 000ml) cake flour
  • 5ml salt
  • 60ml baking powder
  • 30ml cold butter
  • 310ml milk
  • 2 eggs


  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying


  1. For the syrup, heat all the ingredients on high, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate, preferably overnight.
  2. For the dough, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients.
  3. Beat together the milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Mix to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes or until smooth. Cover the dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Working with one ball, roll out on a lightly floured or greased surface into a square of about 5mm thickness. Cut into 2cm x 10cm wide strips.
  5. Cut each strip in half through the length, keeping one end intact. Twist the two strips around each other twice and pinch the end well to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Keep dough covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
  6. Heat enough oil for deep-frying on medium-high and deep-fry the koeksisters in batches for 2-3 minutes, turning often to brown on all sides, until golden and cooked through.
  7. Remove koeksisters from the oil and immediately plunge into ice-cold syrup, pressing them down with another slotted spoon to soak up the syrup.
  8. Remove the koeksisters from the syrup and place onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.


  • The oil should reach 180°C on a sugar thermometer. Use dough offcuts to test the oil if you don’t have a thermometer.
  • The key is to immediately drop the fried koeksisters into the ice-cold syrup – this way they absorb more syrup.
  • Use one slotted spoon for removing koeksisters from the oil and another to submerge them in the sugar syrup. Don’t mix them or let syrup come into the oil or vice versa.
  • Keep your sugar syrup cold by placing it over an ice bowl.
  • Store koeksisters in the freezer to keep them crispy. Remove them from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
  • Experiment by adding 2 cinnamon sticks or a 5cm piece of peeled ginger or orange or naartjie peel to the syrup when heating.

View our step-by-step tutorial here. 


Magazine issue date: Apr, 2018

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Digital editor I’m getting married in 2018 and I think it’s the perfect time to focus on my relationship with not only my fiance but my friends, family and colleagues too. I want to nurture and cherish the people I love by being more understanding and present in their lives.


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