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Drunken Buñuelos or Cuban Style Beignets

cuban buñuelo

One of the best things about the holidays, other than seeing family and friends, and eating great food, is reconnecting with certain dishes and recipes you’ve lost touch with. In my case, there are plenty of foods that fall into that category. How that happens in a culture where everything happens in the kitchen, is beyond me.

How do you keep up with all the food there is to eat, cook, learn to cook, try, and re-incorporate into your “diet?”

I think talking about recipe organization and prioritization is a whole other post in it of itself. So, I’ll gather my thoughts and points and work on that one for a later date.

For now, let me introduce you to beignets, or buñuelos, as we call them. These globally loved doughnuts are something I remember eating as a child, but have no recollection at what point Abuela or Mami just stopped making them. Prior to making them for this post, the last time I remember having one, was about 13 years ago during a visit to Miami, where my paternal grandmother’s brother was making them from scratch.

I stood in complex amazement of how he made the dough, moreso the ingredients he was using to make them, and then how he meticulously shaped them into mini size 8s.  Clearly, I wasn’t cooking professionally at the time. I was so giddy and couldn’t wait to dig in; acting more like an adolescent at an amusement park, so perhaps it was more than 13 years ago.

Oh yes, it must have been!

A few days before Christmas, Mami and I got really hyped up about cooking different things. She’s been more and more intrigued by the non-Cuban dishes I prepare for my clients, and I’ve been more and more interested in going back to solid, traditional Cuban food, 3-4 generations back. We started talking and decided on a few dishes to tackle together.

cuban buñuelo

So on a cold afternoon a few weeks ago, we decided to take a stab at making these figure eight Cuban luvies. After 2 hours of table-talk-turned loud debate over which was the right recipe, we finally agreed on one, which was more or less a combination of 4: grandma’s brother, my cousin’s aunt, some Cuban website, and my mother’s own creativity and determination to make it our own.

Our Cuban beignets are primarily made of starchy vegetables! Imagine that. Yuca, my all-time favorite tuber, malanga, plantain, Cuban white sweet potato (boniato) and other vegetables can be used and combined to make the dough. Eggs and butter, no doubt, are part of the equation for some.

Choose wisely.

We limited ours to 2 main vegetables, though I’m putting plantain in my next batch. We figured too many elements would take a way from the intensity of the intended flavor. Of course, you can play around and get all messy, if you’d like!

cuban buñuelo

ALERT: This recipe is not for the lazy, the cheater or the one that takes short cuts. It’s a tedious recipe of ratios. Michael Ruhlman would love to apply his theory to this. It’s a must. One too much of a single vegetable, then it becomes either too sticky or gooey. Another thing–these Cuban buñuelos are topped with a most juicy almibar, or honey sauce made with star anise and cinnamon sticks–two of my favorite spices. The ratio aspect applies here as well. Too much sugar or not enough water will mess up the desired consistency.

So, proceed with caution and fun!

The most important thing about these buñuelos is the light crisp factor: not too crispy like funnel cakes, but not too soft like flan. And, if made right, a few won’t even make it to to the final stages of adding the syrup! You won’t resist. Okay wait, I’m lying. The syrup is really the icing on the cake on these eloquently shaped doughnuts!

This stuff what right here is guaranteed to get you long and over-due accolades, make you a star home baker, and a connoisseur of other Cuban desserts.

How could any of that be bad? Even if it takes you two hours to make?!

And lastly, how could something this sinfully divine have escaped our making for over a decade! Cuban nationalism now re-instated, thank you very much!

cuban buñuelo

Finally, here I am on ABC Action News in Tampa, talking up all their glory.

* Note: this post was originally published on Jan. 19, 2010. I was inspired to update it after a CBS producer in Tampa found it, made it, and emailed me a few pictures of her mother and she making them as a way to remember her late grandmother whom hadn’t left the recipe behind. This is now her second Christmas making them and letting me know. This is the beauty of sharing our beloved recipes — that someone else is able to enjoy them and remember someone they love while at it! Tis the season.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Drunken Cuban Buñuelos



  • 1 lb. of yucca (fresh or uncooked frozen)
  • 1 lb. of malanga
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. of ground anise
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • 1/2 gallon water

star-anise & cinnamon syrup:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 lime rinds
  • 1/4 cup star anise (whole)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup your favorite rum (flavored or not and optional)*


For dough:

Bring water to boil. Peel all vegetables and cook en in boiling water until softened, but not too tender where they fall apart. Drain and let cool. In large bowl, mash up all vegetables using masher or your bare hands. Beat egg and add to vegetable mixture, anise, salt and flour. Mix well until mixture does not stick to your hands and becomes a nice dough. Place dough on wax paper. Take half palm full’s  amount of dough, roll into a 6″ long link. Shape  into 4″  high number 8 figures. Using a deep fryer or 6 qt non-stick pot, heat oil on high or 350F. Using tongs, place shaped buñuelos into either pan and fry until golden brown and  bit crsispy. Transfer onto serving plate. Pour rum all over buñuelos, then pour syrup (recipe to follow) and drench entire pan of  Cuban doughnuts!

For star-anise & cinnamon syrup:

In medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to low boil, stirring constantly. Add star anise, cinnamon sticks and lime rinds. Stir until mixture has reduced to a honey-like consistency. Pour immediately on buñuelos.

110 thoughts on “Drunken Buñuelos or Cuban Style Beignets

  1. alright Ms bren, i’ma gonna tell you what they say to me most of the times..you wrong fo dat girl!!! 🙂 BTW, are bunuelos good with chicharones 🙂 cause that’s what I am munching on right now. bought some this morning at the Cuban shop..uggghhh!!! i am gonna have to wrangle that recipe and bring forth to my kitchen..umm, maybe make it for my demo this Saturday at Bloomingdales..

    Chef Irie

  2. I agree chica, I’d love to see more Cuban stuff posted and cooked :)your Bunuelos post is the BEST I’ve seen online and on blogs for making “Cuban Bunuelos” love the star anise in the syrup, I’ve never used it but know that is must have some killer flavor, at my home for the syrup we use anise seed, lime rind, cinnamon stick, and raspadura with water to form the syrup.

    Sometimes , my grandmother insists on only yuca, other times it’s yuca and malanga just like yours. If you can get access to “Malanga Amarilla” use that instead it will have a beautiful color. 🙂

  3. I was one of the few lucky ones who got to see these prepared and was able to try them out too. Let me tell you, the pics doesn’t do them justice. The syrup was delicious, all I heard was Bren telling me to make sure I soaked them, good thing I had my insulin handy:). Bren, I’m requesting a standing order, even if you have to freeze them until I come into town!

    Ciao bella!

  4. looks interesting, maybe when I get down to GA where I can get the veggies I’ll try to make them. Meantime I might do the syrup to pour over the pound cake.

    how is your cook book coming ?

    Blessed be Bren

  5. Bunuelos are the best! Ate for the first time at your cribo and loved them. Like your “Cuban Style” the most. Keep at it!!!

  6. mi hijade veras fue muy divertido compartir contigo algo tan delicioso como esos bunuelos .y sobre todo en las fiestas donde todos se chuparon los dedos.es muy bueno ver que puedes hacer cualquir comida felicidades mami

  7. Val: sure is girl. I’m working on it. Let me know if you make there before I do!!

    Chef Irie: just make sure to tell everyone I put you on to them and give FE a huge shout out! Thanks! 🙂

    Nathan: Verdad! It’s about time we had a buñuelo post! These were so divine!! I swear we ate them for like 3 days straight! Next time, I’m going to make them with platano.

    Chef Juls: girl I owe you a can of coco en almibar!! yes, i know. u don’t think your local farmers market has malanga or yuca?

    Dullah: glad you loved them sweetheart.

    CB: ay mami, que rico quedaron!!! la proxima vez vamos ha hecharles platano y mas ron!!! 🙂 jaja.

    Trucknolgoy: thanks for stopping by!

    Natasha: girl, they sure are. You just can’t be worried about your waistline AT ALL!!!!

  8. Chef Juls: when are you coming back to ATL??

    Cheffresco: tasty isn’t even the word, my luvies!!!!

  9. You had me at ‘drunken’. 😛 Buñuelos is the cherry on top of the cake. Like churros, only better!
    Wow Bren, you’ve outdone yourself. Can i move in with you? Come on, say yes!

  10. Muy bien, mami! I haven’t had these in a loooong time, and the pictures got me FEENIN’!!!!!! Me voy a Miami en febrero; hopefully I can find a spot that makes these!

  11. YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!! Did i mention they were yummy??? I think i ate like 10 of them straight out of the fryer.. so good.. and then with the syrup on top.. HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!! I had to have gained atleast 8 WORTHWHILE lbs over the holidays.. haha!!! Great post sis!! Even better bunuelos!!!

    p.s. YUMMY!!!!!!!!

  12. ZenChef: ooh you know what happens when you’re drunk! You told me you’d share secrets with me if I got you drunk! Does this count!?

    Glamah: This wil most definitely get you right OFF track!

    RB: hey you papi! you can’t these in Miami like I and my mom make them! LOL! Good luck! But do bask in all their Cubanisms there! 🙂 besitos!

    Lil B: girl u crazy! love you sissy! U are too funny! Why aren’t we working on your comedy show, yet?!?

    Erica: hola Erica. Un placer en *conocerte*. Thanks for visiting, too! And, yeah, come back!

  13. wow, estos bunuelos si que son nuevos para mi. me encanta la idea de probar esta receta. aunque no se si llegue a encontrar yuca por aca.

  14. Definitely making this for my gringo boyfriend this winter! Anise and I aren’t the best of friends but I enjoy it it bunuelos and arepitas de yuca…Thanks for sharing!

  15. After a couple of these, we’d all have to go for a nice RUN! The spiced simple syrup is one of the best parts. Those are flavors that make you think about the holidays, gatherings, big meals, etc. They’re so homey!

  16. Growing up in Central America I had my share of buñuelos de yuca. They are so good! In Peru I learned to love Picarones, made with pumpkin, yuca, and sweet potatoes, flour and yeast, and served with a raw sugar and spices syrup. Your recipe is amazing, I´ve never seen buñuelos like 8´s, but I want to try them asap. Thanks for the recipe.

  17. Se me hace agua la boca! They look like they must taste somewhat like the buñuelos de yuca that I grew up with, but don’t think they’re made with rum syrup, which I love

  18. This brings back memories of my mother cooking at Christmas time in Cuba, there wasn’t much but she still managed to make it great. I made this recipe and used the rinds of 2 limes, (as indicated) it was way too overpowering, I couldn’t taste the anise flavor which is the flavor I remember growing up. Could this has been 2 slices of lemons rind instead? Otherwise, everything was great.

  19. Your recipe sounds awesome, however as I can recall my Super Cuban neighbor made the absolute best bunuelos and she made it out of boniatos and yuca…. no manlanga in the mix. And like her’s there is only one more person in Miami…. Mabel

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