Air-fried koeksister bites

8 servings Prep: 1 hr 25 mins, Cooking: 30 mins, Chill/rest/proof: 6 hrs
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Ditch the deep-fat fryer for this koeksister recipe! Dunked in a thick sweet cinnamon spiced syrup, these koeksister bites are a must-try!

By Bianca Jones September 22 2022
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Ingredients (12)

For the syrup
800 g white sugar
500 ml water
5 tsp glycerine
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp tartaric acid
1 cinnamon stick
For the dough
310 g self-raising flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground nutmeg
30 g butter — softened
250 ml buttermilk
vegetable oil — for brushing onto the koeksisters
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For the syrup: combine the white sugar, warm water, glycerine, cream of tartar, tartaric acid and the cinnamon stick in a pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has melted and bring it up to a simmer. Cook the syrup for 10 minutes before transfering to a glass bowl. Allow to cool and then place in the fridge.

Make and cool the syrup at least 6 hours in advance or the night before.

For the dough: sift the self raising flour, a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground nutmeg together. Using your hands, rub in the soft butter until it resembles the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk. Once the dough starts to come together, turn it out onto a clean surface and bring the dough together with your hands.

Knead the dough until smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Place the dough in a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm. Cut the dough into bite size piece cubes (about 2 cm or 3 cm).

Line an air-fryer basket with a few of the prepared pieces of dough, be sure not to over-crowd the basket. You will need to do 2-3 batches.

Brush each piece of dough with some oil and air-fry at 200°C for 8 – 10 minutes. After they have been in the air-fryer for about 5 minutes, give the basket a little shake and brush with some more oil and continue to air-fry until the are nicely crisp, golden and cooked through.

Air-fry times may vary but they will be nicely golden all over when ready.

Keep the rest of the dough/bite size cubes under a clean moist kitchen towel while air-fryer in batches to make sure your dough does not dry out.

As each batch comes out of the air-fryer, immediately dunk them, while they are still hot, into the ice cold syrup. Leave to soak until the next batch is ready to be dunked in the sugar syrup. (You can divide the sugar syrup into batches so it remains cold for each batch of koeksister bites.)

Remove the koeksister bites with a slotted spoon and allow most of the syrup to run off before transferring onto a cooling rack.

Koeksister bites are best enjoyed immediately or stored covered, in the freezer. Simply remove them 15 minutes before serving.


You can make the traditional twisted koeksisters in the air-fryer, you will just have to air-fry for 12 – 15 minutes for each batch, depending on the size of the koeksisters and your air-fryer.

Turn each twist at the 7 minute mark and brush with some oil to ensure the koeksisters get nicely golden all over. They will be done when the are crisp and golden all over.


Recipes adapted from Food24’s South African koeksister guide, click here for more.

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