Learn classic South African Magwinya (Vetkoek) recipes to try at home

Learn classic South African Magwinya (Vetkoek) recipes to try at home

  • Magwinya, known by various names such as Amagwinya, Mafetcook, Vetkoek, or Fat cakes, are highly sought-after delicacies that are widely relished throughout the African continent.
  • Award-winning cookbook author Neo Nontso shared with Briefly.co.za readers the tips on achieving the ideal texture for magwinya.
  • If you want to try them, check out the best Magwinya recipe below.
classic South African Magwinya (Vetkoek) recipes Neo Nontso
South African Magwinya (Vetkoek) recipe tips from chef Neo Nontso. Photo: @dinewithneo
Source: Instagram

South Africa is a country richly endowed in so many aspects, including a rich cultural heritage and delicious foods. Magwinya or fat cakes are among the top dishes and are commonly sold by street vendors.

Magwinya recipe: simple and yummy options

Magwinya refers to deep-fried dough balls often enjoyed as a snack or for breakfast with a cup of tea. Some people prefer to serve them in a more lavish manner with a variety of fillings such as fried potato chips, polony, snoek fish, atchaar, and cheese.

Tips from a professional chef

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Award-winning cookbook author Neo Nontso shared tips with Briefly.co.za on achieving the ideal texture - crispy on the outside and soft on the inside - when frying magwinya:

  1. Make sure your heat is not on high or else your vetkoeks will burn on the outside before they can cook inside!
  2. Keep your heat on medium heat so the inside can cook through while slowly browning and crisping on the outside.
  3. When your magwinyas start feeling light while frying, that’s when your vetkoek’s are done!

She also says that you can fill vetkoek with cheese, bacon, atchar, fries, egg, and russian to create South African Burger or Vetkoek Kota.

These delicious deep-fried dough balls can be made with or without yeast. Check out how to prepare them below.

Magwinya recipe with instant yeast

If you have wondered how to make Magwinya with yeast, fret not. Below are two simple recipes that use instant yeast, an ingredient that is readily available in South Africa.

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Thick batter Magwinya recipe

This amazing recipe uses a thick batter made with yeast instead of dough.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (plus more for frying)
  • 2 cups of warm water


  • Take a large mixing bowl and combine the dry ingredients, i.e., all-purpose flour, salt, instant yeast, and sugar. Whisk to combine well.
  • Add a tablespoon of oil to the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  • Next, add the warm water, bit by bit, and mix to form a thick batter you can drop in dollops.
  • Cover the dough with a tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour. The dough should double in size.
  • Mix the batter gently and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
  • Take a large pot, add vegetable oil for deep frying, and place the pot on the stove over medium heat.
  • Test the temperature of the oil by dropping a little batter in. If it sizzles, you are ready to start frying.

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What is Magwinya called in English?
What is Magwinya called in English? Photo: youtube.com, @Perfect Tasty Bhog (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • Using a tablespoon, add dollops of dough to the oil. You can use a second spoon to help push the dough down if necessary. You can put multiple dollops at a time.
  • Deep fry the dollops, making sure you turn them frequently until golden brown. Drain over paper towels and serve whilst warm.
What is Magwinya called in English?
Magwinya recipe with instant yeast. Photo: pexels.com, @Karolina Grabowska
Source: UGC

Magwinya recipe with yeast dough

In this recipe, you make a dough instead of a thick batter. If you have been meaning to learn how to make Vetkoek with instant yeast, try this recipe out soon.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus more for frying)
  • 2 cups warm water


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, i.e., all-purpose flour, salt, instant yeast, and sugar. Add a tablespoon of oil to the bowl and mix well.
  • Next, add the warm water, bit by bit, and mix to form a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The longer you knead, the softer the final product will be.
  • Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it proof for about an hour. It should double in size.
  • Knead down the dough.
  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it about half an inch thick.
  • Use a knife or a cutter to section the dough as you please. Most people use round cutters.
  • In a large cooking pot, add some oil for deep frying, and place it on medium heat. Test the oil for readiness.
  • Deep fry the dough pieces into the oil until golden brown, about three minutes per side. You can put multiple pieces at a go, depending on the size of your pot.
  • Once cooked, drain on paper towels and serve as desired.

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How to make fat cakes without yeast

If you have been looking for a Vetkoek recipe with Royal Baking Powder or any other brand of baking powder, we've got you. Use the simple but rich recipe below.


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp Royal Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 125ml buttermilk/ natural yoghurt
  • 1 whole egg
  • Oil for frying


  • In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, i.e. flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Make a well in the middle.
  • In another small bowl, combine the wet ingredients, i.e., buttermilk and egg.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough for five minutes.
  • Cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes before forming into ten evenly sized balls (small balls).
  • Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.
  • When your oil is hot enough, fry the Vetkoek for two to three minutes on both sides.
  • Remove from the oil and place onto a kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.
  • Serve as desired.

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NB: You can make your own cake flour by measuring one cup of all-purpose flour, removing two tablespoons of the flour, and then replacing them with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Whisk well to combine.

magwinya recipe
Magwinya recipe. Photo: pexels.com, @Kaboompics.com
Source: UGC

How do you mix Magwinya flour?

You can mix Magwinya flour using your hands or a hand-held whisk. You can also use a cake/dough mixer.

What is Magwinya called in English?

Magwinya translates to fat cakes in English or Vetkoek in Afrikaans.

Which flour is best for Amagwinya?

All-purpose wheat flour is the best for Amagwinya. If you are making fat cakes with baking powder, you should consider using cake flour.

Can you use baking powder for Vetkoek?

Yes, you can use baking powder for Vetkoek. Use the recipe above to make delicious Vetkoek. Note that the texture of Vetkoek made using baking powder may be different to that made using yeast.

Finding the best Magwinya recipe can be challenging because different people prepare this delicacy differently. We hope you try the recipes above. Share the outcome with us in the comment section.

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A good peppermint crisp tart has the perfect combination of minty, chocolatey goodness that will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you wanting more. Making the peppermint dessert is super easy and only requires a few ingredients.

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