Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an experience, but no trip to NOLA can compete with the city’s finest attraction: its beignets. Put the beads away because you have more pressing matters to attend to…like your trip to Café Du Monde.

No matter how touristy it might sound, stopping at this French Quarter staple is a must. When you take a bite of those little squares, you’ve officially consumed fried dough goodness from the gods. Sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar, wash it all down with a hot cup of coffee, and you’ve achieved bliss.

It’s a mighty fine dessert, but if you’ve noticed, it does bear a striking resemblance to the zeppoles from your neighborhood’s annual carnival. A plate of either is certainly inviting, but what exactly is the difference between the two?

Let’s start with the origin: Beignets hail from France whereas zeppoles are the Italian counterpart. Both are fried, but beignets tend to be square in shape; the word originates from “buyne,” meaning bump or lump. Zeppoles, known as “fried soft dough” are circular treats that are a staple on Festa di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day).

Stepping away from Italian holidays, let’s focus on the French. They developed two types of pastry: yeast serves as the dough’s rising agent for the first type; the second is dough that rises from its own steam. The correct term for the latter is “choux pastry,” which includes beignets. Beignets made their way over to the US thanks to the Acadians. The legends behind zeppoles and their connections to St. Joseph, however, are up for much debate.

But regardless of origin, both delectable desserts are worthy of seconds, so no sweat about trying to differentiate the two. You’ll just have to have both. If you can’t make it to NOLA to enjoy Louisiana’s state doughnut, or if you’re not able to attend the next St. Joseph’s Day party, here are a few recipes to whip up on your own.

Dough-nut Zeppole


This recipe puts a spin on the classic Italian dessert and definitely gets an A+. If you find yourself with extra pizza dough after whipping up a pie for the fam, you can certainly put it to use when making these zeppoles. Get our Dough-nut Zeppole recipe.

Gingerbread Surprise Beignets with Spiced Mocha Hot Chocolate

Half Baked Harvest

This dessert is the perfect comfort food for the colder months. Thanks to a taste of ginger and cinnamon — as chocolate oozes from each bite — all you need is a warm blanket and fireplace to accompany your dessert. Props to blogger Tieghan Gerard for going the extra mile with these bad boys. Get the recipe.

Zeppole di San Guiseppe

Christina’s Cucina

Scottish-Italian blogger Christina, the brains behind Christina’s Cucina, knows a thing or two about the St. Joseph’s Day dessert. Her method calls for a cream filling and a cherry placed atop of the treat — a perfect finish. We hope we get an invite to the holiday party. Get the recipe.

Chocolate-Filled Beignets with Chocolate Sauce

Back To The Cutting Board

Back to the Cutting Board’s dish gives us a double chocolate whammy. Willy Wonka would certainly be proud of this one. Get the recipe.

Zeppoles with Hazelnut Chocolate Filling

Mangia Michelle

When desserts get the chocolate treatment, the dish is taken to new levels. The blogger behind Magna Michelle adds a sweet Nutella filling to the doughy goodness, and we certainly respect her creativity. Chocolate + Fried Anything = Delectable. Get the recipe.

Strawberry-Lemon Beignets

Chocolate + Connie

Get a fruity twist on your favorite fried dessert thanks to Chocolate + Connie’s expertise. Half tangy and doughy, yet completely delicious, these snacks are a must for any summer soiree. Get the recipe.

Yogurt Zeppoles

Laura In The Kitchen

Add a sweet (and arguably healthy) touch to your zeppoles with a yogurt filling and a splash of lemon, thanks to the recipe from Laura in the Kitchen. A little bit doughy and bitter? Sign us up for a bite of those babies. Get the recipe.

Beignets with Raspberry Sauce

Country Cleaver

Country Cleaver’s take on the Louisiana fan favorite adds a tangy blast to the dessert thanks to her raspberry sauce. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the fruit dip makes this an eligible breakfast option. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin Zeppoles

Sparkles To Sprinkles

You’re going to need a dessert to accompany your PSL in the fall, and Sparkles to Sprinkles’ Pumpkin Zeppole Fritters are the answer. This treat screams “scary movie fest” and “plaid sweaters,” so obviously it’s a go-to for the season. Get the recipe.

Apple Beignets With Vanilla Sauce

The Girl Loves To Eat

Love apple pie and ice cream? This is your fried alternative to the beloved dish. Get the lowdown from The Girl Loves to Eat blog and start rethinking your Thanksgiving dessert options. Get the recipe.

— Head photo illustration by Chowhound, using: flickr (jen dubin)/flickr (mswine).

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