A simple, authentic sopapilla recipe from New Mexico. Once you try homemade sopapillas, you’ll be serving them after every spicy meal!
Have you ever been to New Mexico? I had the opportunity to travel there a few years ago with the New Mexico Tourism Board and it’s my favorite travel assignment yet. I ate my way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, toured hatch chile farms, met with scientists at the Chile Pepper Institute, and ate sopapillas.
A lot of sopapillas!
It’s more than safe to say that I fell in love with their pillowy texture and each sweet, sticky and glorious bite. I vowed to make them in my own kitchen, and I’ve finally succeeded in creating a recipe that rivals those memories.
What is a sopapilla?
A sopapilla is puffed, fried dough that’s traditionally drizzled with honey. Powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar are also common, and I’ve also seen them served in restaurants with chocolate sauce. This sopapilla recipe uses cinnamon and sugar plus a drizzle of honey. They’re fantastic with whatever you top them with, so make them your favorite way!
How to make sopapillas:
Sopapillas can be made from scratch, using ingredients very similar to homemade flour tortillas, or you can make them using store-bought tortillas for a quicker version. Both ways are delicious and depending on how much time you have, you might want to try them both.
I prefer to use this sopapilla recipe because it’s much better than the “cheat” technique. But if I have flour tortillas leftover with no plans for them, I’ll often fry them up into sopapillas. It’s so easy and fast, plus everyone in this family crowds around as soon as they can smell them frying!
To make homemade sopapillas, you’ll mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Next, you’ll mix in some shortening or lard. Warm water is added and mixed in until the dough is smooth.
You’ll let the dough sit for about 20 minutes, then roll it out as thin as you can get it (about 1/8 inch thick (or thin, ha!). Cut it into rectangles, then heat some oil in a large dutch oven or pot to about 375°F. Now you’ll just fry them up about 2-2 1/2 minutes for each batch, flipping once, drizzle with honey or your favorite toppings, and watch them disappear!
A note on sopapilla ingredients: I’ve seen recipes that use yeast, and it’s just not necessary nor is it traditional for sopapillas. If your dough is thin and the oil is hot, your sopapillas will puff up just fine!
Tips for making the best sopapillas:
- Roll the dough out as thin as you can. This is so important for puffy, fluffy sopapillas. If you find that you didn’t roll the dough thin enough, they’ll still be delicious, they just won’t be (as) puffy.
- Use enough oil. Don’t try frying these in an inch of oil. The amount you’ll need depends on the diameter of your pot, but the oil needs to go at least 3-4 inches up the sides.
- Don’t overcrowd the pot. This rule applies to anything you deep fry, but it’s especially true when making sopapillas. I usually make just two at a time to make sure the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too much.
- If you have one, use a thermometer. Making sure your oil is hot enough – and not too hot – is important to get the best sopapillas possible. A thermometer is your best bet, but if you don’t have one, you can use the old “test the oil with a piece of bread” trick.
- Use high-quality honey. This one isn’t as important as the others, but as with any recipe using such few ingredients, the better the ingredients, the better the dish. If I’m frying up leftover tortillas, I’ll use what’s left in the bear. But I’ve used Tupelo honey when making sopapillas from scratch.
Can you make sopapillas ahead of time?
Sopapillas will always be best just after they come out of the fryer, so I recommend serving them immediately. If you don’t want to pass them out as they finish frying, you can keep them warm in a 200°F oven until the entire batch is done. Don’t leave them too long though, as you don’t want to miss out on their crispy outside and tender inside!
Sopapilla dough can also be frozen for up to one month. Roll out the dough and cut into triangles, then freeze and allow them to defrost before frying.
Can you make savory sopapillas?
Yes, and they’re delicious! The dough itself isn’t sweet which makes it simple to use as both a savory main dish or a sweet dessert, depending on the filling and toppings.
Cut the dough in larger triangles so they’re large enough to hold the filling. They’re terrific just out of the fryer, then filled with just about anything you can think of. I’ve stuffed savory sopapillas with everything from taco fillings to bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes!
If you love this sopapillas recipe, you’ll love this easy Sopapilla Cheesecake recipe, too!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 cup lard or shortening
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- Canola or vegetable oil - enough to go at least 3-4 inches up the side of your pot
- Toppings: honey, powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate sauce
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the lard or shortening.
- Add the warm water and mix it just until the dough is smooth (don't overmix). Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle until it's as thin as possible, about 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into rectangles, about 4x3 inches. (Don't worry too much about getting it perfect; they'll fry up just fine)!
- Heat the oil to 375°F. Drop the dough into the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Flip them after about a minute, when they're just golden brown (you don't want them too crispy). Cook for another 1-1 1/2 minutes, or until the other side is golden brown.
- Remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.
- Enjoy immediately!
Alternatively, you can use leftover flour tortillas in place of the dough. Simply cut them into six triangles each then fry them as instructed in step 4.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 277mgCarbohydrates: 32gNet Carbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
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