Tasty South African Rusks Recipe

Tasty South African Rusks Recipe
Santa Claus Southern California

Experience the comforting taste of South African Rusks. These beloved treats have a rich history and are a staple in South African households. Made from a blend of buttermilk, flour, and a touch of sweetness, rusks are baked until golden and dried until they achieve a crunchy texture. Perfect for dipping in coffee or tea, these rusks offer a satisfying balance of softness inside and crunchiness outside. Whether enjoyed as a morning snack or a cozy evening treat, South African Buttermilk Rusks provide a taste of tradition and a moment of pure comfort. Transport yourself to the heart of South Africa with each delightful bite!

A Tale About A Christmas Eve In Cape Town, And The Most Delicious Recipe For South African Rusks.

South African Rusks Recipe

It was a particularly warm Christmas Eve in South Africa as I landed softly up top Table Mountain in Cape Town. As my sleigh landed, I was met with the fragrance of fynbos flowers, unique in that they are only found in this part of the world.

I peered over the mountain’s edge, planning my route for the night. I’m always struck by the beauty of this city. Cape Town is known as “The Mother City” this sweet nickname is made real by how the mountain seems to wrap her arms around the city, holding the families that live there.

Stock photo of Table Mountain and Cape Town, South Africa at night
Cape Town (South Africa) at night, view from Signal Hill
South African Buttermilk Rusk Recipe 4x3 570

As I ventured on, I dipped down and up to the first house for the night. As I tip-toed into the house, I noticed a little table at the entranceway. Upon it was a flask full of hot coffee and a pretty enamel mug. There was a note saying “dip me” beside a long rectangular Christmas cookie.

Not one to pass up on a treat, I followed the simple instructions. I poured a cup of steaming hot coffee and dipped the South African cookie into it before gobbling it up. Oh, what a delight!

I learned that rusks are a staple in the South African home and are made for sharing with those you love.

Here is an easy recipe for South African rusks that you can enjoy making at home. These are great to make with kids as a Christmas cookie and are an excellent snack for toddlers.

Substitutions And Variations

  • Flour: if you’d like to make a more complex variation of these South African rusks, you can take out 1.6 cups / 200g of the flour. In its place, you can add 1 cup / 80g rolled oats and about 1 cup / 112g coconut flour. This will give the recipe a more breakfast-like flavor and appearance.
  • Butter: if you’d prefer to, you can switch out the butter in this margarine recipe at the same weight.
  • Buttermilk: if you don’t have any buttermilk, you can mix three cups of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and allow it to stand for 15 minutes. This will result in a lovely homemade buttermilk that you can use for this recipe.

Storage And Shelf-life

South African Rusks are made to last. They were designed to be stored for at least a month. The best way to store this South African cookie is in a glass bottle or jar with a tightly sealed lid. A tin with a tightly fitting lid will do just as well.

They can also be kept in a plastic container or bag. They shouldn’t become soggy if they are protected from moisture in the air.

What Is A Rusk?

Rusks mean many things in different parts of the world. A South African rusk is a dough that has been twice baked to dry the cookie out. Rusks were designed this way to preserve them.

Rusks have been around since the 1690s when people traveled long distances without refrigeration and needed a way to preserve food.

Nowadays, rusks are enjoyed by all South Africans as a breakfast or tea-time snack.


How To Serve And Eat South African Rusks

Ask a South African how to eat a rusk, and they will all tell you the same thing. It would be best if you dunked it in a cup of milk, coffee, or tea before munching it up.

Rusks can be served straight out of their glass jar, tin, or on a pretty plate. South Africans love the tradition of drinking their morning coffee in bed with a delicious rusk. If you want to know how to make Christmas cookies from scratch, this is a good place to start!

Old Fashioned South African Rusks

Wrapping It Up

And so, my dear friends, I hope you try out this amazing recipe for South African rusks made with buttermilk. What a great idea for a Christmas cookie with a difference this year. Made for sharing, dunking, and delighting in as a melt-in-your-mouth moment.

A lovely idea would be to make a big batch and buy a few pretty jars or tins to package for friends and family. Don’t forget to add a little note on how to eat them. If you’re looking for a new cookie for Santa idea, I can say that I fully endorse this one!

Discover the joy of South African Rusks as you delve into our Christmas in South Africa article. Explore the rich tapestry of heritages in South Africa while savoring these delightful treats. A cultural and culinary journey awaits!

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South African Rusks

Experience the cherished taste of South African Buttermilk Rusks, a traditional treat with a crunchy exterior and soft interior. Perfect for dipping and enjoying any time of day.
4 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: South African
Keyword: south african rusks, south african rusks recipe, recipe for south african rusks, south african cookie
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours
Servings: 60 rusks
Calories: 182kcal
Author: S. Claus


  • 10 cups self-rising flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups butter cold
  • 2 eggs large
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups almonds flaked


  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F
  • Over and into a large mixing bowl, sift together the self-raising flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
    10 cups self-rising flour, Pinch salt, 1 tbsp baking powder, 3 cups granulated sugar
  • Cut the cold butter into cubes. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture with your fingers to make a finely coated crumb. Similar to the texture of sand. You can also do this in a food processor if you have one.
    1 ½ cups butter
  • In a separate bowl or jug, beat the eggs and buttermilk until combined.
    2 eggs
  • Add the egg and buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to a dry dough. The dough should resemble cookie dough.
    3 cups buttermilk
  • Line a rectangular roasting pan with greased parchment paper. Add the dough to the roasting dish and level it out.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with the flaked almonds. For a Christmas cookie without nuts, you can leave the almonds out.
    2 cups almonds
  • Bake for 45 minutes and then turn the oven down to 300 °F. Bake for another 30 minutes until the dough turns a pale gold color.
  • Leave the baked dough in the pan for 10 minutes to cool and settle.
  • Carefully turn out the baked dough onto a wire wrack covered with a cloth.
  • Cut the baked dough into large fingers. Note that they will shrink in their second bake. When cutting your South African rusks up, consider that they should be of a size that is easy to dunk into a mug of coffee or milk.
  • Turn the oven to 200 °F. Lay the rusks out on baking sheets. It is not necessary to line the sheets or grease them. The point of this next step is to dehydrate them. Ensure you space them out slightly.
  • Bake the South African rusks at this low temperature for about 4-6 hours. Turn them every hour so that they don’t brown. They should be dried out but not darker in color. If they still feel soft and cakey, dry them for another hour.


Serving: 40g | Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 0.4mg