Benne Bits

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about



Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Benne (or sesame) seeds play an integral role in both savory and sweet dishes throughout the coastal Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, and rare is the Charleston or Savannah cocktail reception or tea that doesn’t include a bowl of these tiny nuggets, which are eaten almost like peanuts. Benne bits are available in tins all over Charleston (and by mail), but I’ve yet to taste a commercial product that can equal the freshly baked nuggets. Do be very careful not to burn the benne seeds, toasting them only till they’re golden brown.


  • ¼ cup benne (sesame) seeds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Scatter the benne seeds evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring, till golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add the butter in pieces and work with your fingertips till the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the benne seeds, milk, and water and mix with your hands till the dough is smooth.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface about ¼ inch thick and cut it into 1-inch rounds. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and bake till golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Store in a tightly closed tin up to 2 weeks.