When thinking of New Orleans, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the beignet, which has been sold at Café du Monde since the 1800s. French-style donuts covered in powdered sugar, beignets come out of the fryer piping hot and are so beloved that visitors to the city will wait in lines that snake around the block just to try one. Your lips will be a sticky mess after biting into one of these, but it's worth the mess. 

In Miami, I had heard the word pronounced as "been-yay," which is how I was saying it before I did my research. I'd also heard some people get pretty creative with the word and pronounce it as "beg-net" or "bang-yay." Who's right in this case? I guess we'll find out! But first, what even are they?

What are Beignets?

The word beignet is French for "fritters," or "doughnuts." The beignet was brought over by the French-Creole colonists during the 18th century and quickly became part of the New Orleans culture. Beignets, in simple terms, are a French-style doughnut covered with TONS of powdered sugar, so if you try one, be prepared to have some sticky fingers (and if you sit outside and the wind blows, good luck, the powdered sugar flies everywhere). A beignet is different from a doughnut in that it's made out of a square piece of dough and doesn't have a hole in the middle. In addition, the texture is a bit different than one of a doughnut; it's a bit heavier and thicker, but delicious nonetheless. 

Beignets are typically eaten for breakfast, but after you have some in the morning, there's a high chance you'll be back for more later in the day. Beignets are served fresh and hot, and are best eaten this way. They're paired well with a hot cup of coffee (or shall I say, café au lait?).

Where to Try Beignets

Kaitlyn Reyes

New Orleans is known for their fair share of beignet locations, one of the original locations being Café du Monde. The original Café du Monde has been around since 1862 in the New Orleans French market, and there are multiple newer locations around the city you can visit. People travel from all over the world to come stand in line at the original Café du Monde to try their beignets and café au lait. 

If you want to avoid lines, head to the Musical Legends Park and try Cafe Beignet, which will not disappoint. You can enjoy an authentic Cajun breakfast along with some beignets, drinks, and Jazz music. If a trip to New Orleans is just out of the picture you can order Café du Monde's beignet mix online. 

How to Pronounce "Beignet"

sweet, beignets, pastry, chocolate, cake, dough, flour, bread, candy
Sarah Yanofsky

I've heard this word pronounced many different ways, but I learned how to say it correctly from the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog. In this film, Tiana clearly says "ben-yay," and because it's Disney, it has to be right, no? Therefore, the real pronunciation of the word "beignet" is "ben-YAY." There are also lots of pronunciation videos floating around the internet that support this. And let's not forget, this is how my waiter at Café du Monde pronounced it too. 

Now that you know how to pronounce "beignet," you can hop on a plane and test out your skills with the locals and share your knowledge about the word with fellow travelers. I'm sure the locals will be extremely impressed with your pronunciation of the word, because pretty much all tourists mess it up.