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Vetkoek Recipe | Delicious Traditional Fried Bread

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There’s just something about vetkoek that can get any South African excited. Perhaps it’s the crispiness of the outside, or the softness of the inside. Maybe it’s the delicious curry mince that usually accompanies this wondrous bread. Otherwise, it may just be the memories we have of the special occasions and happy days that this tasty meal has often been eaten on.

Whatever makes your heart beat a little faster, vetkoek is certainly worth the excitement. But, as with most foods, it needs to be made well. An average vetkoek, without its particular crispiness and richness of flavour, is always a bit of a disappointment. So if you’re wanting an easy vetkoek recipe that turns out great every time, read on.

What is Vetkoek?

As this is a traditional Afrikaans recipe, it has an Afrikaans name. “Vet” translates directly to “fat”, and “koek” means “cake”. So its English name is the far less appealing “fat cake”. You can perhaps see why everyone sticks to the original name.

Another name for these simple dough balls is Magwinya. This is the Zulu name for them, and they could vie for the title of original creators. However, this form of vetkoek is often rolled in sugar to make them a delicious sweet treat. Since we’re sticking to the original flavour, we’ll call it vetkoek.

The name is, however, apt. In addition to being made from chubby little balls of dough, vetkoeks are fried in hot oil, staunchly earning it the right to be called fat cake. This is what sets it apart from Roosterkoek recipes. So this is definitely not an everyday recipe. But if you have a cheat day coming up, or a social gathering where no one needs to be worried about a silly little thing like calories, we’d say it’s time to try out this recipe.

How to make Vetkoek

One of the most important elements of vetkoek is what goes inside it. Sure, you can slap on some jam and cheese and call it a day. But the best way to enjoy this classic meal, hands down, is with curry mince and vegetables. So when you’re making this easy vetkoek recipe, you should also budget time, effort and excitement for a delicious, hearty mince curry.

When you’ve made your dough and allowed it to rise for approximately an hour, you’ll want to start heating up your oil. It needs to be a few inches deep, so that the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom once it’s plopped in. When I made these, I added about one cup of coconut oil to the sunflower oil, and it yielded incredible vetkoek. So you can play around with it a bit or simply stick with sunflower oil.

Oil alone does not easily come to a boil, so the best way to tell it’s hot enough is with a candy thermometer. It should be around 180 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t stress. You can simply roll a little ball of dough between your fingers, and drop it into the hot oil. If it burns immediately, the oil is too hot. If the oil froths and the dough turns brown, it’s ready.

The frothing oil might look alarming at first, but it’s just right. It also makes the cooking process more entertaining. Just be sure to stand away from the pot, and don’t wear your favourite white blouse for this one.

Vetkoek dough recipe

So let’s get into it. You know what to expect, what to prepare (the curry mince), and what to be wary of; you’re ready to get down to it. Just remember to make this “vetkoek resep” an hour or two in advance.

If you’re anything like me when I made this for the first time, you might just blank and pitch up to the kitchen expecting to make it all in one go. Which will leave everyone waiting for an extra hour or so. And when you’re making this vetkoek recipe, trust me, they won’t be happy to wait.

Vetkoek Recipe (yields 8 - 12)

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine South African
Servings 8


  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups sunflower oil


  • 1 cup coconut oil


  • In a large bowl, pour in the water and add the yeast. Leave this to ferment for 3 minutes.
  • In another bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Be sure to mix this well.
  • Pour the flour mixture into the activated water and mix well. The dough does not require kneading, but you may feel that this is the easiest way to ensure that there are no flour pockets.
  • After about an hour, the dough will have risen to about twice its original size. Pull off pieces of dough and form it into balls. Then squash it flat. These can go straight into the hot oil, or you can form them all together before moving onto the next step, placing them on a floured surface before you start cooking them.
  • Depending on how large the pot you chose is, you’ll be making between two and four vetkoek each round. In the end, it should yield approximately 8 - 12 vetkoek, depending on how large you chose to make them.


Our favourite Vetkoek recipe

And there you have it – the ultimate vetkoek recipe. You’re sure to enjoy making these little balls of goodness, and your family and friends will be very, very happy for you to. If you’re needing a dessert to go with it, peppermint crisp tart will go perfectly.

When I made it for my three housemates, they could not get enough and kept coming into the kitchen to check how it was going and to express their excitement. And they were not disappointed! These vetkoek look, smell, and taste absolutely delicious. It’s a sure crowd-pleaser!