Puff-Puff (Deep fried dough) – Immaculate Bites

Puff Puff — A very popular West African street food that’s quick and easy to make with different variations. Dangerously delicious and addicting!

As a child, I would often watch in amazement how the women selling the puffs would grab the mixture with the tip of their fingers, place it in the palm of their hands, and drop the mixture in oil.

I was fascinated by this process and would go home and practice this act with any mixture I had on hand. But it never came out as proportional or as visually appealing as the women did it. After years of practice as an adult, I think I can proudly say that I finally got the hang of it.

What Is Puff Puff?

Most West African countries are familiar with the popular street food Puff-Puff,  which is known by different names depending on the country. Ghanaians call it Bofrot (togbei), and Cameroonians and Nigerians call it Puff-Puff (Puff) or beignet in French. The basic ingredient consists of flour, sugar, yeast, water, salt, and oil for deep frying.

Puff Puff (deep fried dough)

It is an easy and quick recipe to make with different variations. This recipe is the one I have been making for years and the one that takes me back to my hometown. It brings back memories of late-night snacking on the street.

Recipe Ingredients

Trust me when I say that cooking these puff puffs is as mesmerizing as it is tasty. The best part about this treat is that it only needs a handful of ingredients. You might already have these in your pantry:

  • Flour – This pantry must-have isn’t just for baking. It’s also great for many savory dishes.
  • Yeast –  This is basically the life of the recipe as it makes the dough rise for an airy, fluffy texture.
  • Warm Water – An essential part of making any dough. It’s the basis for forming our treat. It’s important to have just the right warmth. If the water is too hot, it kills the yeast. If too cold, the yeast has a hard time rising.
  • Sugar – Common table sugar you can easily find in any grocery store gives this recipe a slight sweetness and feeds the yeast for a good rise.
  • Cooking Oil – The necessary ingredient for deep frying the puff puffs.

How to Make Puff Puff

Activating the yeast
  • Activate the yeast: Mix salt, water, sugar, and yeast. Set it aside for 5 minutes (Photo 1)
  • Make the dough: Add flour and mix (Photo 2)
Let the dough rise covered
Frying puff puff
  • Rest and Rise: Let the mixture rise for approximately 1-2 hours (Photos 3-5)
  • Pre-heat the oil: In a large saucepan, pour vegetable oil into a pot until it’s about 3 inches (or 5 centimeters ) high (too little will result into flatter balls), and place in low heat
  • Check the heat: Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a drop of batter into the oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom instead of rising to the top.
  • Fry the puff puff:
    • Hand Method: Using your hands, grab a little bit of mixture at a time and drop it into the oil. (See photo 6)
    • Spoon Method: When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil. Sort of in the shape of a ball.
Flip the puff puff in oil
  • Check the doneness: Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown (Photo 7)
  • Flip the puff puff: Turn the ball over for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown. (Photo 8)
  • Remove from oil: Use a large spoon or a slotted spoon to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
  • Coat the puff puff: If desired, you can roll up the finished products in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter.
Puff Puff sprinkled with powdered sugar

Serving Suggestions

Puff-puff is usually eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or as a side dish. Regardless of when you eat them, they are enjoyable with or without a side dish. A must-have for me – pepper sauce.

The beauty of puff puffs is that you can eat them sweet or savory. They’re a great snack, appetizer, or dessert. I often eat it as a snack or appetizer. My son definitely loves it as a simple dessert with just a bit of powdered sugar. Another great dessert/snack is homemade bon bons. Yum!

If you’re craving more, then these recipes from my list of African snacks and appetizers should help you feel satisfied.

An insider's view of deep-fried puff puff

Tips and Tricks for Making Puff Puff

  1. Soft puff puff: For a softer puff puff, add about 1-2 tablespoons more water. Some people find it a little bit hard after it stays out.
  2. Crunchy, not soggy: Do not overcrowd the frying pan; it will absorb excess oil and sometimes make it soggy.
  3. Hold the salt: You may cut back on the salt if you are watching your salt intake; about 1 teaspoon will do.
  4. Preheat the stove: If your house is too cold, turn on the stove for about 2-3 minutes until warm. Then turn it off and let the puff puff rise next to it. Or heat up the oven, turn it off when hot, and wait until it cools down. If you want it warm but not hot, then let it rise in the oven. Check after 30 minutes to ensure it’s rising.
  5. Use a spoon instead to scoop the dough into the oil if you do not want to use your hands. It still tastes delicious!

Watch How to Make It

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This blog post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated with additional tips.

Puff Puff

A very popular West African street food that’s quick and easy to make with different variations. Dangerously delicious and addicting!