My gran’s pumpkin fritters | Pampoen koekies

Pumpkin fritters

Whenever my gran brought a tray of these delicious morsels out after lunch, I jumped up and down like only a little girl in love with her gran’s cooking can. I was obsessed with the light and fluffy fritters covered in sticky, gooey sauce. And now, years later, I feel no different.

Pumpkin fritters

Whilst writing my first book my beloved gran passed away and even though I was heartbroken, the memories I have of her will always put a smile on my face. Like the number of times I begged her to bake cookies with me. We rolled out the dough, cut the cookies and I waited patiently whilst the first batch was in the oven. The moment they were cool enough to touch, I would take the whole tray and go sit in the corner, scoffing them one by one, leaving my gran to roll out, cut and bake the rest. She never got irritated and she never became impatient. I learned that food could heal and that the kitchen was a place that things were forgiven. Her memory will forever live on in our minds and hearts and most definitely also her recipes. She changed the way our family thought about food and she was most definitely the biggest food influence in my life. I learned to cook by her knee. I miss her everyday but I’m sad while doing so, because a life like hers should only be celebrated.

Caramel sauce for pumpkin fritters

Back to these phenomenal fritters (or as we call them in Afrikaans, Pampoen koekies), they really are all they are hyped up to be. I once cooked a fellow food blogger friend a batch and he proceeded to eat close to 20. In one sitting. They are rich, sticky, buttery and absolutely drool-worthy. My gran used to serve them with this caramel sauce and I remember it being a light coloured but incredibly rich sauce. I normally allow it to cook a bit more to get a deeper colour but then you might need to add a bit more cream. I also added a pinch of salt flakes as the salty caramel works so well with the pumpkin.  Everyone I feed these to falls instantly in love with my ouma’s pampoen koekies and I guarantee that you will too!

Pumpkin fritters

This recipe first appeared in my cookbook Simple & Delicious: Recipes from the heart, published by Penguin Books SA in 2012. 

Makes approximately 20 fritters

For the fritters
1 cup pumpkin, cooked and pureed
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg
¼ cup milk
pinch of salt
oil, for deep frying
Caramel Sauce
¾ cup sugar
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tbsp butter
½ cup golden syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

  1. To make the fritters, combine all the ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry spoonfuls of the batter until golden brown and cooked throughout, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Continue until all the fritters are cooked.
  5. To make the caramel sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and allow to cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.
  6. Pour the syrup over the fritters and serve.
Simply Delicious Recipe Ebook
Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • sugar&spice

    This takes me back to SUnday afternoon spread on the ‘platteland’! It is close to pudding and your pictures is devine! WEll done and thanks…my mom sometimes also made it with sweet potatoes :)

    • Alida Ryder

      Sweet potato sounds like a great idea!

  • Asha Shivakumar

    Omg, saw these on FG and had to visit. Your memories are so beautiful with your grandma and these fritters are gorgeous and of course who could stop at 2-3…btw love your pictures. I am pinning …

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks for your lovely comment Asha! x

  • Lori Lange

    These look SOOOOO good!

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks Lori! :)

  • Candy

    I’d love to try these but I have a couple of quick questions. What is golden syrup? And can I use regular sugar instead of caster sugar? Thanks!

    • Alida Ryder

      Candy, golden syrup is a British product, similar to maple syrup but with the consistency of runny honey. I’m sure you’d be able to find it in a grocery store. It often comes in little tins.

  • Shobee

    Love the pictures…

    • Alida Ryder


  • Susan Andrews

    I want to make these but what is golden syrup? I’ve never heard of it.

    • Alida Ryder

      Susan, golden syrup is a syrup similar to maple syrup but with the consistency of runny honey. I’m sure you’ll be able to find it or something similar at a grocery store.

      • Susan Andrews

        Thank you!

  • Ashley Jean

    what is pumpkin cooked? is it a puree?

    • Alida Ryder

      Yes, cooked and pureed.

  • Heidi

    This recipe looks incredible and what a legacy for your gran to leave. Wow, show stopper. Pinned and Pinned!

  • Shanna

    Do you think I could use applesauce instead of the pumpkin?

    • Alida Ryder

      Shanna, I think apple sauce might be too runny so you’ll have to use lots of flour and that might result in a tough fritter.

  • Mar

    I have a useful note for anyone who doesn’t have golden syrup or caster sugar!
    As I made these, I did some research on caster sugar. I just ground granulated sugar in my coffee grinder, since caster sugar is basically a finer-grained sugar. Don’t grind it TOO much, or you’ll get powdered sugar!
    And for the syrup, instead of 1/2 cup golden syrup, I used 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup pancake syrup (log cabin syrup). It may not have tasted as yummy and caramely as this recipe, but was still gooey and tasty! Hope this helps anyone!
    And the pumpkin fritters were BEYOND delicious! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks for this great tip Mar!

  • Alida Ryder

    Peter, I used butternut for this version but I’ve also used ‘boerpampoen’ which is a round, orange-fleshed pumpkin. I think almost any pumpkin will work for this. You could even try it with sweet potato.

  • Alida Ryder

    So glad you liked it Andie. And thanks for the note about the substitutions. (Caster sugar is also referred to as Super Fine sugar, if I’m not mistaken)

  • Liz Posmyk

    Oh, what a lovely recipe! Pleased to have found your blog via El.

  • Alida Ryder

    Thanks so much!

  • Alida Ryder

    Isn’t it lovely to be able to cook from your gran’s cookbooks?

  • Chante

    I recently made these for a dinner party with family and they were to-die-for. I served them sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar as my three year old cousin is diabetic. Everyone loved them! I doubled the recipe and came out with about 50 and between the 8 of us they were gone within minutes. My little brother and I were eating them as is straight from the pan! The best pumpkin fritter recipe I have ever tried. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    • Alida Ryder

      Ah wow, so glad you liked them so much. I have to say, they are definitely in my top 5 things to eat! Love them!

  • Alida Ryder

    Castor sugar is also known as superfine sugar and golden syrup is similar to honey except it’s different in flavour.

    • Barbara S. Van Dyck

      And made from corn

  • Allison

    I was wondering if you could just use the pumpkin in a can? These look and sound delish!! Thank you

    • Alida Ryder

      Allison, I’ve never used pumpkin from a can but I’m sure it should be fine as long as it’s not too wet.

  • Rachel

    What kind of pumpkin do you use? Butternut squash my boyfriend is from South Africa and we would love to make these.

    • Alida Ryder

      Butternut squash is perfect in this!

  • Holly

    I have made these several times and they are so delicious and addicting. I’d like to make them for a party, wondering if the batter can be mixed ahead of time and chilled until ready to fry?

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks Holly.

      You know, I’m sure you could. Just watch out for the baking powder as it gets activated the moment the wet ingredients are added. My gran used to make this and keep it warm in huge trays covered with foil before hand.

  • sirdaveysockrocker

    can i add chocolate chips? maybe the small ones? Or would that mess them up when frying.

    • Alida Ryder

      I’m sure you could, I’ve never done that before so not sure how they would turn out once fried, but maybe give them a go and see?

  • Alida Ryder

    What a lovely idea!

  • Alida Ryder

    You could use corn syrup or honey. Golden syrup is often sold in little cans, so if you can find it, that would be great as that will give the authentic flavour you’re looking for.

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