Akara (Accara): Nigerian and West African Bean Fritters

July 31, 2017 (Last Updated: March 26, 2020)

Akara (also called accara in Senegal or koose in Ghana) is a popular breakfast staple in Nigerian homes and a very popular street snack. You will commonly find Nigerian akara being sold by street sellers on their own or as part of what is locally called “akara burger”, where a local bread favorite called “agege bread” is stuffed with several pieces of akara. In this Nigerian akara recipe, I show how to easily make these fluffy, delicious and totally vegan bean fritters and use them in my own elevated akara burger.

top shot of Akara (West African bean fritters) with kaani sauce

You will recall that the other day, I had mentioned moi moi as one of my favorites, but I have other dishes that are also on my list of top foods. Akara (also known as accara) is another favorite of mine and is quite easy to make. Akara are popular Nigerian and West African bean fritters made natively from brown beans, cowpeas or black eyed peas; blended with fresh pepper, onions and salt and deep fried. Akara is one of the most popular breakfast staples in Nigerian homes and a very popular street snack as well. You will commonly find Nigerian akara sold by street sellers on their own or as part of what is locally called “akara burger”, where a local bread favorite called “agege bread” (so named due to its popularity in the streets of Agege town in Lagos State, Nigeria) is stuffed with several pieces of this bean fritter resulting in an amazing snack somewhat similar to a falafel burger (but much better in my obviously biased opinion). In this Nigerian akara recipe, I show how to easily make the fluffiest, most delicious and totally vegan bean fritters and use them in my own elevated akara burger.

Akara is also quite popular in the West African region in places like Ghana where it is called ‘koose’ and Senegal where it goes by the name “accara”. There is a version also enjoyed in Brazil where West African migrants call it ‘acaraje’ with their black eyed pea fritters commonly stuffed with shrimp. There isn’t any difference in the methods of preparation of Nigerian akara, Ghanaian koose or Senegalese accara, but there might be slight differences in how these bean fritters are eaten, depending on region. While akara and koose are eaten similarly, in Senegal, it is very common to serve accara with a side of kaani sauce: a spicy, tomato-based sauce usually used for dipping (which I also used as a side in this recipe for variety). West African bean fritters have some similarities to Moi moi (another African bean pudding) in that they employ very similar blended beans mixtures but unlike Moi moi that is usually steamed or baked, these are fried.

bean fritters (accara) in foreground with kaani dipping sauce

How to Make Akara

Main Ingredients

  • One and a half cups brown beans or black eyed peas – Nigerian akara natively utilizes black eyed peas, cowpeas, West African brown beans or honey-beans which are a sweeter variety of brown beans. Brown and honey beans may be available at a local African store near you.
  • Half of a red onion
  • 2 scotch bonnet/ habanero peppers – Feel free to use less or omit if you aren’t into spicy food.
  • 3 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying – I tend to prefer canola oil because it is a flavorless oil. Feel free to use any other flavorless oil like avocado oil, sunflower oil or vegetable oil. If you choose to use palm oil as is traditionally used, just be aware that it will add its own unique flavor (which some prefer).

Skin and Prep the Beans

First of all, start by skinning the beans. Simply soak the beans in water for 3 minutes. After about 3 minutes, the skin of the beans should start wrinkling a little bit. Place the beans in a food processor, with some water, just enough to cover it. Pulse the food processor about 5-6 times to agitate the beans. This process breaks the beans up and separates the skins off the beans. Be careful, some water might splash out of the processor while pulsing the beans.

2-step photo showing skinning and pulsing of beans

Wash the Beans

Pour the skinned beans in a bowl. Rinse several times to separate the beans from the skins, draining the skins with the water with each rinse. The skins should come off easily because the skins are lighter and should float to the top.

Once the beans are clean, soak them in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.

After the beans have soaked, drain the water that they have been soaking in, and rinse the beans one more time.

2-step photo showing washing and rinsing of beans

Grind the Peppers

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the scotch bonnet peppers to a rough paste and set aside.

Blend Beans and Onions

Blend the beans and the onions with 1/2 a cup of water until it is completely smooth. The texture should be similar to that of a thick muffin batter.

2-step photo showing prepping and blending of beans

Fry the Akara Batter in Oil

Heat up oil for deep frying in a pan up to 375°F while preparing the batter.

Add the salt, bullion, and scotch bonnet peppers to the akara batter, mixing continuously for five minutes to incorporate air into it.

With a large spoon, drop the akara batter a spoonful at a time into the hot oil to fry. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until it is golden brown both sides, take out of the frying oil and place into a colander or on paper towels to drain.

2-step photo mixing and frying of Akara batter
West African bean fritters frying in hot oil

Serve hot!

bean fritters (Accara) served with spicy kaani sauce

Akara can be served by itself, but these West African bean fritters are commonly paired with a side of pap (a fermented corn based porridge common in Africa, also called ‘akamu’), eaten with cold soaked garri (finely ground cassava flakes soaked in cold water), custard or porridge oats as side dishes . However, as we hinted earlier, one of the favorite ways these bean fritters are commonly eaten in the streets of South Western Nigeria is as a burger.

Making an Akara Burger

Akara burger features quite predominantly as a breakfast snack or meal in the streets of Akure city of Ondo State, Nigeria or Osun state, Nigeria where it was called ‘akara osu’. Akara burger is natively made with bean fritters most commonly fried in palm oil and stuffed between the warm loaves of fresh long bread! Certain versions of this delicacy were stuffed with crayfish or prawns (highlighting the strong connections to the acaraje origins now). It is amazingly delicious so we had no choice but to replicate it!

3 delicious Akara burgers on a tray

This section describes how to make an akara burger using sweet Ghana bread. To assemble the burger simply place the bean fritters between your favorite bread buns ( instead of the usual agege bread, I used my own homemade Ghana sweet bread buns), and top it off with your favorite burger toppings. I topped my akara burger with caramelized onions, sprouts, and tomatoes.

3 Akara burgers with hand picking tomato in the background

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Akara flat?

The most likely reason you might end up with flat akara after frying is that you used too much water in the batter. If you add too much water, the fritters might not be able to hold their consistency while deep frying and ends up flat. Another possible reason is that the oil you fried the akara in is too shallow, so try adding more oil before deep frying.

Can I add Maggi to Akara?

It really isn’t necessary to add maggi and as you can see from this recipe, Akara turns out perfectly without it. But if you must, as long as you reduce the amount of salt you add to the batter and taste as you go, it should still turn out okay.

How do you reheat Akara?

The best way to reheat Akara so it retains its consistency is to warm it in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. You can also microwave it but I find that using an oven keeps it as moist and close as possible to its original texture.

Can you freeze Akara?

Freezing Akara can affect the texture, so Instead, I recommend keeping it in any container no more than 7-8 days in the refrigerator.

Akara (Nigerian bean cake) carried on oven pan fresh from fryer

Please be sure to rate my recipe and leave a comment below if you tried these delicious West African bean fritters! Also while you’re here why not take a quick second and subscribe to my newsletter to get email notifications on new recipes, click the links to FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST or INSTAGRAM? You can catch some behind the scenes action, my shopping hauls, personalized tips and friend-only recipes with videos on my Instagram. Also pin this recipe for later and explore some of my favorite recipes on Pinterest and if you love it as much as I know you will, SHARE with some friends! 

top shot of Akara (West African bean fritters) with kaani sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Nigerian Akara Recipe

Akara (Accara) are tasty, deep fried, Nigerian brown bean or black eyed pea fritters that are also quite popular in West Africa and are served alone, with a side of starch, kaani or in a burger.
Prep Time5 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time5 hrs 30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Nigerian, West African
Servings: 30 pieces
Calories: 21.6kcal
Author: Yummy Medley

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups black eyed peas
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 scotch bonnet/ habanero peppers
  • 3 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying

Instructions

  • First of all, start by skinning the beans. Simply soak the beans in water for 3 minutes. After about 3 minutes, the skin of the beans should start wrinkling a little bit. Place the beans in a food processor, with some water, just enough to cover it. Pulse the food processor about 5-6 times to agitate the beans. This process breaks the beans up and separates the skins off the beans. Be careful, some water might splash out of the processor while pulsing the beans.
  • Pour the skinned beans in a bowl. Rinse several times to separate the beans from the skins, draining the skins with the water with each rinse. The skins should come off easily because the skins are lighter and should float to the top.
  • Once the beans are clean, soak them in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • After the beans have soaked, drain the water that they have been soaking in, and rinse the beans one more time.
  • Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the scotch bonnet peppers to a rough paste and set aside.
  • Blend the beans and the onions with 1/2 a cup of water until it is completely smooth.
  • The texture should be similar to that of a thick muffin batter.
  • Heat up oil for deep frying in a pan up to 375°F while preparing the batter.
  • Add the salt, bullion, and scotch bonnet peppers to the bean batter, mixing continuously for five minutes to in-cooperate air into the batter.
  • With a large spoon, drop the batter a spoonful at a time into the hot oil to fry. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until it is golden brown both sides, take out of the frying oil and place into a colander or on paper towels to drain.
  • Serve hot!

Notes

Akara Calories and Nutrition

The nutrition information of a single West African bean fritter is shown below using the ingredients listed to make 30 balls of Akara, and assuming a 10% oil retention on fried foods.

If you are looking for other delicious beans recipes, why not check out my Nigerian Beans porridge recipe or click here for more delicious vegan African recipes?

29 Comments

  • Reply
    Osaze
    September 5, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    5 stars
    This was my favorite breakfast growing up! This recipe makes me want to be a child again 🙂. Amazing photography xxx

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      September 6, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Osaze! You should try the recipe yourself!

  • Reply
    Sunshine
    September 9, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    5 stars
    Your pictures are topnotch.
    I remember trying this at home. Need to try this again.

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      September 11, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Thank you Sunshine! You definitely should give it a try.

  • Reply
    Sues
    December 14, 2017 at 10:04 am

    These would be great for New Year’s Eve, to bring luck in the new year!

  • Reply
    Sara
    December 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    5 stars
    Oh! These look awesome! I have to try this recipe!

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 15, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I hope you like it when you do!

  • Reply
    Julia
    December 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

    5 stars
    I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to stop eating these. They sound absolutely scrumptious with the addition of the hot peppers. Oh, and the photos are really pretty!

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Thank you kindly Julia!

  • Reply
    Helene
    December 16, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I saw those babies earlier on Pinterest and thought how gorgeous they look. They kind of reminds me of something that I had in india. I would like to try akara sometime. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 8:58 am

      I think I might know what Indian dish you are referring to Helene.

  • Reply
    Tina
    December 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

    5 stars
    This sounds great! In Texas we ate a lot of black eyed peas. Our growing climate I think is similar to Nigeria. We grow amaranth and okra too!

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 8:59 am

      The climate in Texas is a little similar Tina. And there is a big Nigerian community in Texas so I am not surprised that there will be a demand for those ingredients. That is really cool!

  • Reply
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    December 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I bet the scotch bonnets give a nice kick to your fritters. I’d love to try them. I really like ordering new tastes and cuisines when we eat out. This recipe certainly looks easy.

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 9:01 am

      It really is easy to make Marisa. The scotch bonnets add more flavor than spice to the dish honestly, I might be biased cos I eat a ton of spicy foods… lol! If you try it I will say use a little at a time.

  • Reply
    prasanna hede
    December 17, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I love fritters,but the way I am used to making them is so different than yours.Will definitely try them out.

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 9:02 am

      I am sure you are going to love them!

  • Reply
    Saima Zaidi
    December 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    These look really interesting especially in between the burger bun!

  • Reply
    Citra Kale
    December 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    İt looks scrumptious snack for me. And it’s wonderful we can pair it with burger buns..sound perfect brunch.

  • Reply
    Jessica (Swanky Recipes)
    December 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    This time of year, we make black pea and cabbage soup. This year, I might just have to try this recipe as it looks incredibly tasty!

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 8:55 am

      I hope you try it! It is a delicious departure from regular black eyed peas

  • Reply
    Christine
    December 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Love black eyed peas, so I think I would love these! I’ve never had Akara, but it looks delicious. Yum!

  • Reply
    Jillian
    December 17, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    I love spicy foods and this looks amazing. I have never tried making a fritter with black eyed peas or habaneros.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire
    December 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I used to live with someone from Ghana, but he never made these and now I am really angry at him because these look amazing. I also really love these photos!!!

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 20, 2017 at 8:53 am

      You should be angry with him honestly cos he deprived you… lol! Well now you can make it on your own and let him know.

  • Reply
    Sebastian Wahl
    December 22, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Wole soyinka favorite breakfast food. I have always wanted to try. The Ghana buns are amazing. Want to try the Brazilian version that I think is eaten with some sort of coconut cashew and shrimp paste. Also can you put dried crayfish into akara? I will be going to local African market soon. Recently purchased both of Pierre tham’s Senegalese cookbooks.

    • Reply
      Lois. O
      December 26, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      You can definitely put dried catfish into Akara. It is not done traditionally, but you certainly do not have to be traditional when making yours

  • Reply
    Tina
    March 2, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I’m trying to avoid oil and wonder if these could be baked. I’m very anxious to try them as they look very tasty. Any suggestions on ways to cook them other than frying?

    • Reply
      Lois
      March 18, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      Hey Tina!I have never tried akara without frying, there is a steamed version that is different in texture but somewhat si milar in taste that you could try. It is called moimoi, and I have a recipe for it on this site.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.