South African Pumpkin Fritters: You’re New Favorite Thanksgiving Side

Our first Thanksgiving the November after we immigrated to the US was very enlightening; we don’t have Thanksgiving in SA, so we had no idea what to expect. Wanting to contribute to the meal, we asked what was normally served and what we could make. The answers we received were what you’d expect: turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce…and of course pumpkin pie. The idea of pumpkin as a dessert was completely foreign to us because pumpkin is and always will be a vegetable NOT a dessert. Being completely dumbfounded about the idea of a vegetable as a dessert, my mom decided to make a batch of pumpkin fritters (pampoen koekies as we call them in South Africa) to show Americans how pumpkin should be eaten. Needless to say the fluffy, golden brown fritters were a hit and disappeared within minutes. To this day it is still one of my favorite South African side dishes and has become a regular request wherever we go for Thanksgiving dinner. I encourage you to try this recipe for yourself and who knows, maybe it will become a staple at your Thanksgiving dinners too.


Pumpkin Fritters CaramelFor the Fritters:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (can use regular pumpkin and just cook and puree it also)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup regular sugar
  • 1 cp cream (heavy whipping cream is fine as well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  1/2 cup golden syrup (can be found in the international section of most grocery stores or at World Market)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes


For the Fritters

  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients together and mix with a spoon until it’s well combined and you have a smooth batter.
  3. Once oil is hot reduce heat to medium-high and add spoonfuls of batter, careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  4. Fry until golden brown and cooked through (takes approximately 2-3 minutes).
  5. Remove fritters from the oil and allow them to drain on paper towels.
  6. Continue process until all fritters are cooked.

For the Caramel Sauce:Pumpkin Fritters CS

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Cook until the sauce is thick and glossy.
  2. Pour over fritters and serve.

I hope you enjoy!

*Note: If you aren’t a big fan of caramel you can always roll the fritters in cinnamon sugar once the excess oil has drained, but while they are still warm. This method is just as delicious and also wildly popular.

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