Are Beignets A French Breakfast Or A Dessert? We Have Your Answer.

Whether you've eaten one on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower itself or just watched through a screen as Tiana Rogers served them in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," you've likely heard of a beignet. The French pastry, sometimes referred to as a French donut, is a deep-fried sweet dough, usually cut into squares and sprinkled heavily with powdered sugar. It's a slightly complicated recipe ladened with proofing and frying in hot oil, but it's a staple of both French and New Orleans culture. While each region's beignets are different in shape and texture, they both pose the same problem: Recipes aren't clear on whether they are a breakfast food or a dessert item. So, which is it?

Truthfully, beignets can be ... just about anything you want them to be. A whole breakfast, an afternoon snack, a side for lunch, a dessert after dinner, a midnight snack; the range is limitless. Think of them like a donut; sure, some people eat donuts for breakfast, but just as many eat them for a dessert or a midnight treat. With the breadth of possibilities offered, the real question then, is: What's the best way to eat a beignet?

How to enjoy beignets at different times of day

Let's start in the morning, with breakfast. To truly invoke a French experience, whip up a simple and classic café au lait (milk and coffee drink) or try this luscious lavender version for a twist. Pair your beignets with a hearty meal (think eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns; the whole nine yards) or use the beignet as a pillow for this spicy egg sandwich recipe and you'll have a perfectly sweet and spicy breakfast. Or, if you can't handle spice, use the beignets as a base and try these anything-but-bacon substitutes for a different kind of breakfast sandwich. No matter what you do, be sure to stay true to the beignet and coat it with powdered sugar before eating.

For lunch, you could similarly make a sandwich (such as this chicken, brie, and peach panini). Or, you could serve the beignets whole as a side bread for soup or this slow cooker chicken gumbo.

For the grand finale, we have dessert. Although the pastry is sweet enough as is, who doesn't love just a little more sugar? Common sauces for dipping beignets are chocolate, strawberry, and caramel. For a chunkier, more-smotherable-than-dippable sauce, try this quick and easy strawberry compote. If you want to try something completely new, experiment with a boozy brown sugar whiskey sauce to use as a drizzle. But again, let's say it together: Don't forget the powdered sugar snow!