Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (2024)

Sopapillas are crispy, airy, delicious deep-fried pastries, that have been rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with a drizzle of honey. These dough pillows are impossible to resist and with my recipe, you can have them ready to serve in minutes with just a handful of ingredients.

Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (1)

Homemade Sopapillas Recipe

Sopapillas in translation from Spanish, mean “little pillows”, and thats the most accurate way to describe them. Beautiful pillows of fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar, and they are impossible to resist. Every time I travel to Mexico, I just can’t get enough. These pastries are so easy to make at home and they are a hit at brunch parties.

A Sopapilla is a golden brown pastry shell, that has been deep-fried to perfection. Inside there is nothing but air! Perfect Sopapillas should look like pillows and when you bite into one, you get the light crispiness of the dough and next to some amazing flakiness from the airy center.

What are Sopapillas?

Also called sopaipa, or cachanga this pastry is served in many regions with Spanish heritage in the Americas. They are found in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, and the US States with Mexican heritage like Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. Traditionally they are served coated in cinnamon and sugar, and honey on the side.

You are lucky, you don’t have to travel anywhere to enjoy an authentic sopapilla. You will only need some shortening, flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, cinnamon, and salt to make them at home.

With the cinnamon sugar coating and drizzle of honey, these sopapillas are just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without being too sugary. They go great with my sopapilla cheesecake and a cup of Mexican hot cocoa or horchata.

Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (3)

What do you need to make sopapillas?

The best thing about my easy recipe is that you probably already have everything you need. They are all common ingredients typically found in every home.

Dry ingredients

  • Flour – All-purpose flour is the best for this recipe to get the right flavor and texture.
  • Baking powder – This is important for getting the right leavening so you get light and crunchy sopapillas.
  • Sugar – White sugar is used in both the dough and the coating for a sweetness you can only get from granulated white sugar.
  • Cinnamon – The cinnamon mixes with the sugar for the coating to make a warm and sweet topping.
  • Salt – Just a bit in the dough to add flavor.

Wet ingredients

  • Vegetable shortening – I use this instead of oil for this recipe because it traps more air bubbles and has a higher melting point than butter. That is why you get that puffy pillow of crunchy goodness.
  • Milk – The milk should be lukewarm. I use whole milk for the best flavor.
  • Vegetable oil – For frying. Be sure to get the best oil you can find for these sweet treats.
  • Water – Warm water mixed with warm milk to add a light but creamy texture.

How to make sopapillas?

  • Mix the dry ingredients: First, add three cups of flour with salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk until mixed.
  • Add shortening: Next, mix in the shortening with a pastry blender or your fingers until it is rubbed in and resembles wet sand.
  • Knead the dough: After, knead the dough and make it into a smooth ball. Place it on a lightly floured surface and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Cut: Next, cut dough into four pieces and roll them each into a small ball. Then, roll them out into rectangles, cut them into three-inch squares, and put them on a pan covered in parchment paper.
  • Fry: Preheat a deep-fryer or a pan with four inches of oil. When it gets to 375 degrees F, add a few sopapillas to the oil and let them fry until they are golden brown. Place them on a cooling rack in a large pan until you are done.
  • Make the topping: Last, mix the sugar and cinnamon and toss the sopapillas in the mixture gently.
  • Serve: Finally, serve warm sopapillas drizzled with honey.
Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (4)

Expert tip

Butter vs Shortening

Although I typically use butter instead of shortening for most of my recipes, this recipe is one that needs the shortening. The shortening not only makes your dough easier to work with, but it also holds its shape better than butter when cooking it.

Because shortening has a higher melting point, it will fry up nicely and does not get soggy like dough made with butter. Also, shortening is dairy-free and vegan, so that is another important note.

Shortening is 100% fat rather than 80% like butter so it gets lighter and crispier, which is important when making these sopapillas. Since the shortening traps more air bubbles, the sopapillas puff up nicely.

What is Shortening and what does it do in baking?

Vegetable shortening is a fat made from vegetable oil and it is usually hydrogenated, so when you buy some, always make sure you choose a non-hydrogenated version. Shortening has a longer shelf life in comparison to butter and it’s also cheaper, but it lacks the flavor of butter. A fun fact is that shortening is vegan.

While butter is usually about 80-85% fat and 15-20% water, shortening is 100% fat. Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, which makes it easier to incorporate it into the dough that needs to be rolled out. Also, the dough made with shortening will hold its shape better during baking.

What does Butter do in baking?

Butter has the best flavor, so it wins when it comes to making cookies, cakes, or frosting. It also adds beautiful flakiness to pie crusts, due to the water content it holds.

But while it tastes good, it can be harder to work with, because of its lower melting point. If it gets too warm, the dough will be too soft to roll and it will tear easily. If it gets too cold, the dough will be more difficult to roll. You may have to transfer the dough in and out of the fridge several times.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Spice it up: Add your favorite spices like nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  • Savory sopapillas: Make your sopapillas savory by using garlic powder and onion powder instead of sugar and cinnamon.
  • Hot: If you love spicy foods, add some red pepper flakes to the cinnamon sugar.
  • Filled sopapillas: For a filled sopapilla, add a spoonful of your favorite preserves or whipped cream filling after they cool.
Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (5)

Serving suggestions:

These crunchy pillows are fun to eat whether you have them plain, serve them with a meal, or dip them in your favorite topping.

  • Serve with several dips like chocolate sauce, whipped cream, or Nutella for your family to dip their sopapillas in.
  • Another way to enjoy these is with a cup of coffee or cappuccino.
  • Sopapillas would be great with a scoop of Oreo ice cream.
  • Instead of honey, drizzle some apple butter, caramel sauce, or strawberry curd on top.

Frequently asked questions

Why didn’t my sopapillas puff up?

One reason why your dough does not puff up is that it may be too thick. It should only be about 1/8 inch thick, so it can puff out. Another possibility is that your oil is not hot enough. It should be 375 degrees F. Use a deep fryer or candy thermometer.

Where did sopapillas come from?

Fried dough cakes have been around since 5000 BC when they fried dough on hot rocks in a fire. In Chile, the first sopapillas were recorded in 1728 but they were usually made savory with hot dips and spices. They are similar to the fry bread that Native Americans made in 1864. There are many variations all over the world from the Peruvian sour cachanga to the torta frita from Uruguay.

What does sopapilla taste like?

The crispy pastry is made from deep-fried dough filled with nothing but air and coated with cinnamon sugar and honey. They are slightly sweet and crunchy and light, perfect for a quick snack, dessert, or an appetizer. Usually, they are served as dessert, but there are many savory versions.

Store:

  • Refrigerate: Put leftover sopapillas in an airtight container and they will stay fresh at room temperature for two days or in the fridge for four days.
  • Freezing: Store carefully in a solid container that is freezer-safe to keep them from getting crushed. They can stay frozen for two months.
  • Defrost: Thaw overnight in the fridge for the best results.
  • Reheating: Heat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes or until warm.

More Mexican desserts to try:

  • How to Make Churros [Video]
  • Mexican Bunuelos Recipe [Video]
  • Classic Tres Leches Cake [video]
  • Chocolate Flan Recipe [Video]

Recipe tips:

  • Do not add too many sopapillas to the oil at one time or they will not have enough room to expand.
  • You do not have to cut the dough into four pieces. It is just easier to handle that way.
  • Be careful when turning your sopapillas so you don’t poke a hole in them.
  • You can prepare the dough in advance, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Keep the thermometer in the oil while you cook them to make sure the oil stays hot enough.

Sopapillas Recipe

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 28 pieces

Ingredients

Sopapillas:

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup water lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup whole milk lukewarm
  • Vegetable or canola oil

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • 1 cup white cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

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Instructions

Sopapillas:

  • In a large bowl add dry ingredients: 3 cups of flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.

  • Add shortening and using your fingers or a pastry blender, combine it with the flour mix until it is fully rubbed in and the mixture resembles sand.

  • Scoop a well in the center of the flour and shortening mix and add warm water and warm milk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until well combined.

  • Once combined, use your hands to knead the dough, for about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add the remaining 1/3 cup of flour a little at a time. The dough should be just lightly sticky, easy to work with, soft and smooth.

  • Knead the dough into a smooth ball. If needed, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface while you knead it. Once you form a ball, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cover it with a damp towel. Let it rest for 30 minutes. The dough can also be wrapped in plastic food wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Fry:

  • After 30 minutes, cut the dough into 4, and roll each piece into a small, smooth ball. You can also skip cutting the ball into pieces, and just roll the entire piece, it's just harder to work with it this way.

  • One by one, roll out each ball on a floured surface into an imperfect rectangle that is about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares and arrange them on a tray that has been covered with parchment paper.

  • Add oil to a deep pan, saucepan, or deep-fryer. If using a pan/saucepan, you need to fill it with at least 4 inches of oil.

  • Once the oil is hot, 375 degrees F, add Sopapillas a few at a time, and fry until golden brown on both sides.

  • It is important to not add too many at the same time, depends how large is the pan or pot you are using. They should have enough room to puff up. Also, it is very important to move them around. Use chopsticks or two forks, to move them around the pan and turn on the other side.

  • Sopapillas have airy centers, they should inflate almost like balloons when added to the hot oil. When moving them around, turning or removing them from the pot, be gentle and careful, to not pierce them.

  • Cook only until golden brown on each side. Remove and place on a cooling rack that has been placed inside a baking dish. This is done to drain any remaining excess oil.

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • Add cinnamon and sugar to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Toss one by one, the still hot Sopapillas into the Cinnamon Sugar mixture or just sprinkle it on top.

  • Serve warm drizzled with honey.

Nutrition Facts

Authentic Sopapillas Recipe [Video] (2024)

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