beignets or sfenj with icing sugar on a wire rack

Dessert they’ll love you to add to your staples!


Whatever goes in in the world, people still manage to carry on and just get on with things! This week a recipe was shared with me for these Moroccan pastries. Whilst a literal translation is likely to bring up ‘donuts’, or indeed ‘sponge’ these are basically rings of unsweetened fried dough. As you may know, I prefer my foods baked, but after eating the fluffy insides, I thought I would try the whole Sfenj. These are good!

Sfenj cooking in a pan
Sfenj being shaped and cooked

The Sfenj recipe

These rings of dough are traditionally plant based, so this is an authentic recipe. As this is a bread dough, you need yeast, flour and water, then a bit of salt. A sprinkle of sugar is sometimes added to feed the yeast, but this is not essential if using dried yeast. Of course, you need some oil to cook these in and I would use a fresh neutral vegetable oil. Sugar, syrup or more often honey is used to top these once cooked, but a sprinkle of icing sugar works well too.


Traditional Moroccan fried dough rings.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: beignets, dessert, donuts, sfenj
Created by:: Laurena @LifeDietHealth
  • 250 ml warm water
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (approx 7g)
  • pinch of sugar (if wanted)
  • 500 g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • oil for deep frying
  • syrup, jam, honey, chocolate spread, or icing sugar for topping
  1. Put the warm water in a bowl and stir in the yeast (add sugar if using). Set aside for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is frothy with bubbles.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Make a space in the centre of the bowl and gradually pour the yeast mixture in. Combine everything together using a wooden spoon or your hands.

  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it well for 10 minutes. The dough should be sticky. Punch and pummel it as much as you like (or use a machine with a dough hook if you prefer). Return to the bowl and loosely cover (a tea towel is fine) and set aside for around 2 hours. The dough should have doubled in size.

  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or pot to around 350-375°F (175-190°C).

  5. Dampen your hands with water (have a small bowl next to you) to prevent the dough from sticking, then pinch of a small handful of dough (a bit bigger than the size of a golf ball) and flatten it between your palms. Use your fingers to create a hole in the centre, similar to a doughnut, then make the hole bigger so you end up with a ring of dough about 1cm thick with a fist sized gap in the centre.

  6. Carefully place the ring of dough into the hot oil using a slotted spoon or your hands. You can cook multiple sfenj at once, but allow space for them to grow!

  7. Fry the sfenj on one side at a time, slightly lifting it up to check underneath. The sfenj should be a dark golden brown colour. When the bottom is cooked, gently flip over and cook the other side. They should take 3-5 minutes to cook each one.

  8. Remove the sfenj from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a plate (or a colander) lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

  9. Serve immediately with your choice of sweet topping.

  10. Enjoy!

What do I need?

Here are a few items you may find useful for this recipe. I may receive a small commission if you click and purchase through these links (this is at no additional cost to you)!


These are traditionally served with fresh mint tea. You can eat them plain or sprinkle with icing sugar, syrup, honey or even chocolate spread. You could make these part of an afternoon tea or brunch, perhaps with some waffles or pancakes too.

metal dish full of fresh beignets / sfenj
Sfenj ready for topping


These are supposed to be cooked and eaten fresh. The dough can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, then brought up to room temperature (covered) and allowed to rise before cooking.


Great for sharing with a crowd! What are you topping your sfenj with?

As always, I love hearing about any recipes of mine you try, any ideas you adapt or suggestions you have for future recipes. Please share and tag me @LifeDietHealth or using #LifeDietHealth on InstagramPinterest,  Facebook or Twitter.

Leave me a comment below… I love to chat!

I hope to speak with you soon

Laurena x

sfenj cooking
Traditional method of cooking Sfenj

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