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Puffy and pillowy Sopapillas are fried to perfection and topped with honey for a simple and delicious Mexican dessert.
What is a Sopapilla?
Sopapillas (or sopaipillas) are dough that puff up when fried and they have a hollow center. They are a type of quick bread served in several regions with Hispanic heritage (Wikipedia).
They are pillow shaped and usually dusted in sugar (sometimes powdered sugar, sometimes cinnamon sugar), then drizzled with honey.
Even though they are most commonly served as dessert, they can also be filled with sweet or savory ingredients after they have been fried.
My kids are always requesting them for dessert (no surprise they’re called the “the doughnuts of the Southwest). It’s such a fun treat that can be enjoyed for any occasion.
However you decide to eat them, you will LOVE these homemade sopapillas.
How to Make Sopapillas
DOUGH. Start by making the Sopapilla dough. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or two knives, until the pieces are no bigger than pea sized. Pour in the warm water and mix to form a dough.
REST. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for twenty minutes.
OIL. While the dough is resting, heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pan or pot until the temperature of the oil is 375 degrees.
FRY. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 inch squares. Fry each square in hot vegetable oil until it puffs up and turns golden brown on both sides. Take each batch out of the hot oil and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
SERVE. Serve the Sopapillas warm, and drizzle with honey.
A few tips to keep in mind when making these sopapillas:
- Lard gives these the best possible flavor, but you can also use vegetable shortening. Butter can be used, but because is has a different melting point, the results may vary.
- If your oil is hot enough (375°F), they should only take about 15 seconds per side to fry.
How to Change it Up:
We prefer to serve these little pillows of goodness sweet, like many Tex-Mex restaurants. Having said that, they’re also served savory like they do in Northern New Mexico. Either way – they’re delicious!
- SWEET IDEAS: Try stuffing them with whipped cream and fresh berries. You can also sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
- SAVORY IDEAS: Skip sprinkling them with sugar and fill them with taco meat, Cafe Rio Shredded chicken or Carne asada. Cover with chile and cheese and top with lettuce and tomato.
Making Ahead & Storing
Sopapillas can be made ahead of time in either dough form or cooked.
- Dough: The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours. To freeze the dough: Place the dough in a freezer Ziploc and wrap that with aluminum foil. Label and freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw the dough, roll and fry as directed.
- Cooked: You can fry these up and keep them warm in a 200°F oven for up to one hour. You can also store them at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How to store? Store Sopapillas in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. They will last 2-4 days if stored properly.
How to reheat? Set the oven to 300°F place Sopapillas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until just warm, this will only take about 5 minutes. Be sure you do not over heat them or they will dry out and harden.
They’re typically served sweet, topped with honey or powdered sugar, but you can also serve it savory with taco meat. For more ideas see “Recipe Tips” above.
You can, but they won’t puff up as much as traditional ones. Spray the basket with oil, place the dough inside and cook at 350℉ for 8 minutes, then flip each one and cook for another 4 minutes. Once they’re golden brown, remove from the air fryer and brush with melted butter.
For more Mexican Desserts, try:
- Tres Leches Cake
- Arroz con Leche
- Churro Cheesecake Bars
- Cinnamon Chips
- Mexican Hot Chocolate
- Cheesecake Chimichanga
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or two knives, until the pieces are no bigger than pea sized. Pour in the warm water and mix to form a dough. Cover and let rest twenty minutes.
- While the dough is resting, heat the oil in a deep fryer or heaving bottomed pan to 375℉.
- Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 inch squares. Fry until golden brown on both sides, then drain on paper towels. Serve warm drizzled with honey.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.