Easy Recipe for Sopapillas

With simple pantry ingredients, you will have these Homemade Sopapillas ready in no time. Perfectly light and crispy, rolled in cinnamon sugar and dipped in sweet honey- the perfect treat!

Plate of sopapillas with cinnamon sugar


 

Sopapillas hold a soft spot in my heart. I don’t remember much about living in Colorado when I was young, but for some reason, I distinctly remember the Mexican restaurant, their chile rellenos and of course, the sopapillas.

We moved to Dallas when I was in 3rd grade and ever since I am always on the hunt for similar items, but the chile rellenos were uniquely made in egg roll wrappers and the sopapillas a blend between doughy and flaky with just honey, no cinnamon and sugar.

What is a Sopapilla?

Sopapillas are a type of fry bread or quick bread, although some classify them as a pastry. They have a Mexican heritage, but are also common in New Mexico. The dough has a similar taste to funnel cakes.

They bake up to lovely little hollow pillows. I was always told that the word sopapilla meant “little pillows”, but that was incorrect. The first sopapillas were actually called Xopaipa and it translates from Mozarabic to bread soaked in oil. Not nearly as attractive as doughy bread with a drizzle of honey, right?

Most are tossed with a cinnamon sugar blend, but I’ve seen a few fancy versions that stuff them with a cream cheese blend or fresh fruit jams. These can also be served on the side as a dipping sauce.

dipping a sopapilla dipping in honey

You will love this easy recipe for Sopapillas

I don’t know why it took me until near 40 years old to make them at home. They are SO easy to make! And just like I remember them. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t eat one… or two too many the day I initially whipped up a batch.

The dough is simple, made from just pantry essentials and warm water. The key ingredient is shortening. Cut into the dough, it is what makes the signature flaky texture.

hand reaching in for a sopapilla

The only tricky element is frying, but we will get to that below.

Sopapilla Recipe ingredients

The dough is simply:

  • flour
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • shortening
  • and water

It seems that many cultures have some variation of puffy fried dough. It’s popular in Italian cuisine and also French creole with the beignet, although it uses yeast making it slightly more doughy.

But mine has a secret ingredient that not only adds warmth, but also aroma. And that is nutmeg.

water pouring into sopapilla dough

As with most ground spices, make sure your nutmeg is fragrant and fresh or grate your own. It can be omitted altogether if it doesn’t interest you.

bowl of dough for sopapillas
close up of cinnamon sugar sopapilla

How to make Sopapillas

Rolling or Rolling

Nope, that is not a typo, you have two choices on how to “roll”.

The first is to lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough with rolling pin. Aim for 1/8 of an inch. If the dough is too thick, you run the risk of it not puffing correctly. Then cut into 3-4 inch squares. I find this to be the fastest method.

rolling out dough with a rolling pin

Or… make your sopapillas into fun shapes! No one says they have to be squares. Hearts, stars, circles, any shape will do. I suggest shying away from anything too intricate or detailed, but basic shapes will work.

The second option is to pull 2 inch balls from the larger ball of dough and pat them in your palms until fairly flat and around 1/8 of an inch. They won’t be a perfect shape, but they don’t need to be in order to be delicious.

cutting dough into squares

But make sure to keep them around the same size of 3-4 inches, making them too small or too large runs the risk of not puffing up properly.

Frying

Frying is the part where folks get tripped up. And you really don’t need to be intimidated by frying if you buy a thermometer. They are not costly and there is really no excuse to not use one. They are often the key between failed sopapillas and sopapilla masterpieces.

Sizes of saucepans vary. Make sure you use 2-3 inches of oil. If it is too shallow, they won’t have space to puff and float. I use vegetable oil for frying, this can be swapped, but make sure it is an oil with high smoke point.

frying a sopapilla

The oil needs to be between 350-375 degrees, and stay there. Only every time you add dough, the oil will reduce signifcantly. This means you might need to adjust the heat as you fry. That is normal.

If the oil is too hot, the exterior will brown before the inside has a chance to cook. If the oil is too cool, they will eventually fry, but will fail to puff. You want hot oil, but not too hot.

Aim for a golden brown exterior and remove with a slotted spoon to try and allow excess oil to drip off back into the pot.

Cooling

Never remove fried foods to a paper towel lined plate. I know every recipe you ever read said to do this. I confess, some of my old recipes probably tell you the same thing, but don’t.

sopapillas on a wire rack

Instead, remove them to a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. This way the oil can drain, but it won’t be smothered in an oil damp paper towel, also making your sopapilla a soggy mess on the bottom.

Easy Sopapillas Recipe tips

I highly suggest cutting the shortening into smaller cubes to equally integrate it through all of the sopapillas dough without overmixing. I carefully use a stand mixer, being overly watchful to mix only until the dough comes together. Lard is an acceptable substitution.

Next, let it rest before rolling. Make sure to cover it with a damp tea towel to prevent drying.

How to serve Sopapillas

I like to toss mine in a cinnamon and sugar blend and use honey. I know, I know, SO MUCH SUGAR. But I only make them about once a year, so I don’t beat myself up.

Tossing in cinnamon and sugar is optional, but needs to be done right after the sopapilla drains from oil so it doesn’t clump, but while the puffed dough is still hot and tacky so it sticks.

topping cinnamon sugar on a sopapilla

Nowadays I just lightly dip in honey, but in my childhood, I loved biting off a corner and pouring honey instead the sopapillas and rolling it around. You can also dip it in a sauce like raspberry, strawberry, caramel, dulce de leche or fudge sauce.

Enjoy Warm

There are very few things I make that I highly encourage you to enjoy immediately and not reheat. Sopapillas are one of them. It doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, it just means they are 100% better fresh and hot.

half bitten sopapilla

Sopapilla storage

If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Eat at room temp or wrap in a paper towel and heat at 50% power for only 10-15 seconds.

sopapilla for pinterest

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Hand holding a sopapilla
plate of sopapillas

Homemade Sopapillas Recipe

4.62 from 13 votes
Made with simple pantry ingredients, these Homemade Sopapillas are light, crispy, rolled in cinnamon sugar and dipped in sweet honey!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 24 sopapillas

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Add cubed shortening and warm water, mixing until dough forms. Do not overmix.
  • Cover bowl with a damp tea towel for 15 minutes to let rest.
  • While dough rests, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Roll out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Roll to 1/8 inch thick and cut into 3-4 inch squares.
  • Use a deep fryer thermometer, heat oil in a large saucepan to 375 degrees.
  • Fry sopapillas 2 at a time for 1-2 minutes on each side or until lightly brown.
  • Remove to a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  • While still warm, but after the glisten of oil has subsided, toss in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Enjoy while hot or warm and dip in honey.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 206 kcal, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 8 g, Sodium: 99 mg, Potassium: 56 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 8 g, Calcium: 20 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 206
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: sopapillas
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!

Recipe adapted from Mashed, where I am a contributor. 

Made with simple pantry ingredients, these Homemade Sopapillas are light, crispy, rolled in cinnamon sugar and dipped in sweet honey! #homemadesopapillas #sopapillasrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    My teens are going to love this recipe! I can’t wait to make these with my daughter! So excited to give these a try! Looks so yummy and scrumptious!

  2. 5 stars
    These little sopapillas look like the most delightful treat. Especially with all that cinnamon sugar – so yummy! Can’t wait to give them a try!

  3. 5 stars
    These look positively delicious — I’m a huge nutmeg fan and I think you’re “secret ingredient” sounds perfect in the sopapillas. Making this for my nephews this weekend!

  4. 5 stars
    I lived in NM a couple decades ago and have been craving these since. So grateful I found your recipe. They turned out amazing!

  5. 5 stars
    Jessica, these sopapillas looks amazing, the post is really detailed and I feel confident in making them under your guidance. Thank you!