These much-loved South African traditional sticky spicy treats are so yummy! These are called koeksisters, but are not to be confused with the traditional South African, Dutch style plaited koeksister!

koeksister recipe

Traditional Malay Koeksisters are aromatic doughnuts containing warming spices like ground cinnamon, cardamom,  ginger and mixed spice uplifted with the heady scent of aniseed and sometimes freshly grated naartjie peel.

What is the difference between Koeksister and Koesister?

These are both South African sweet treats that are deep fried and dipped in a sugar syrup, however that’s where the similarities end.

A koeksister is plaited, deep-fried and immediately dipped into a cold sugar syrup, resulting in a crispy exterior. The Cape Malay koeksister or koesister is flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom, mixed spice and aniseed and dipped into a hot sugar syrup and dusted with desiccated coconut.

5 from 1 reviews
Traditional Malay Koeksisters
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Malay
  • 6 Cups Cake Flour
  • 2 Tsps Baking Powder
  • ⅓ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 10g (1 Pkt) Instant Yeast
  • 2 Tsps Ground Cardamom
  • 2 Tsps Ground Ginger
  • 2 Tsps Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Tsps Mixed Spice
  • 2 Tsps Whole Aniseed
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 375ml (11/2 Cups) Warm Water
  • 375ml (11/2 Cups) Warm Milk
  • 1 Large Egg (Lightly Beaten)
  • Oil for Deep Frying
  • Desiccated Coconut for Sprinkling
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Cardamon Pods
  1. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour and add the baking powder, sugar, salt, yeast and the spices.
  2. Melt the butter and add lightly beaten egg and the water and milk.
  3. Mix thoroughly to form a soft smooth dough.
  4. Leave to rise for about 1- 2 hours in a warm place.
  5. koeksister recipe
  6. Once risen, moisten hands with oil and roll dough into a sausage shape and cut into 2cm slices. I normally break off small golf ball-sized pieces of dough weighing approximately 40 grams each and roll them between my palms to get a smooth ball then put them down to rise a second time.
  7. koeksister recipe
  8. Place the slices on a lightly oil tray or directly on your countertop which has been rubbed with a very light film of cooking oil to prevent the dough from sticking.
  9. Leave to rise again for approximately 10-15 mins.
  10. Lightly stretch slices to form an oval shape and deep fry in medium hot oil until golden brown. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  11. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  12. At this stage, the cooled koeksisters can be frozen for approximately 3 months.
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a slow boil, stirring to ensure the sugar does not burn.
  2. Stir until the sugar syrup becomes slightly sticky.
  3. Boil the koeksisters in it for 1- 2 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon.
  4. Sprinkle with a little of the desiccated coconut and serve hot.