Puffy, pillowy and perfectly fried Sopapillas dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with honey. This finger-licking dessert from New Mexico is easy to make and can be served any day of the week!
Sopapillas (and all desserts made from delicious fried dough) are a true weakness of mine. I just can’t say no, especially when they’re as easy to make as this recipe!
What are sopapillas?
Sopapillas are a deep fried pastry that are very popular in New Mexico and other southwestern states, as well as different South American countries. When fried, the pastry puffs up and creates a big air pocket in the middle, making the sopapillas very pillow-like.
They’re often served as dessert and covered in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar, and drizzled with honey.
They can also be served with savory ingredients. In savory versions, the sopapilla is sliced down the middle and stuffed with things like meats and cheese.
I’ve shared a recipe for Sopapilla Cheesecake, but it’s finally time to make some real-deal traditional sopapillas. Let’s do it!
How to make sopapillas
Making sopapillas consists of three simple steps:
- Making the dough
- Rolling out the dough
- Frying the dough
Making the dough
Sopapilla dough is made from:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- oil or shortening
To make it, mix together the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients and then knead it until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Form it into a ball and let it rest for about 20 minutes
Rolling out the dough
Once the dough is finished resting, cut it in half and set one half to the side. (I find it easier to work with one half at a time.)
Roll out the dough into a square shape until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut the rolled out dough into 9 pieces. They should roughly be 3-inch squares.
Then roll out the other half of the dough and cut it into squares. You should have a total of 18 pieces.
Frying the dough
To fry sopapillas, you’ll need to fill a medium pot or deep fryer with enough oil so that the sopapilla dough can be fully submerged. I used canola oil, but you can use any vegetable oil or fat that’s suitable for frying.
Heat the oil to 375°F, or until the oil sizzles and bubbles when a small piece of dough is dropped in. Working in batches, carefully drop in 2 sopapilla squares into the hot oil.
Using a metal slotted spoon, lightly push down each square so that it is fully submerged in the oil. The dough will immediately begin to puff up quickly and should have a big air pocket in the middle.
Once the air pocket has formed, remove the pressure from the spoon and let the dough fry like normal. Flip the sopapillas over after 45 seconds, and let the other side fry.
When golden brown, transfer the sopapillas to a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.
Don’t forget the toppings!
To serve, dust the sopapillas with powdered sugar on both sides. Then drizzle with lots of honey and eat immediately!
You can also cover them in cinnamon sugar if you prefer. To get the cinnamon sugar to “stick”, I recommend prepping the cinnamon sugar beforehand and then rolling the sopapillas in the mixture immediately after frying.
Prepping and making ahead
Since sopapillas are best served immediately after frying, I don’t recommend making them more than 1 hour before serving.
Once fried, you can keep the sopapillas warm in a 200°F oven up to 1 hour.
More dessert recipes to try
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
- 3/4 cup warm water
- oil, for frying (canola or vegetable oil)
- powdered sugar, for topping
- honey, for topping
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to combine.
- Add oil and water and stir to combine until a dough forms.
- Transfer the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough becomes too sticky to work with during the kneading process, add in a little more flour. The final dough should be tacky, but not so much that it completely sticks to your fingers and hands.
- Roll the dough into a ball, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, line a large baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
- 5 minutes before the dough is finished resting, heat the frying oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven to 375°F. (If you don't have a thermometer, you'll know it's ready when a small piece of dough sizzles and bubbles in the frying oil.)
- Cut the dough ball in half. Roll out each half into a square about 1/4-inch thick, then cut the dough into 9 pieces (I used a pizza cutter for this). Each piece should roughly be a 3-inch square. You should have 18 pieces total. (Some pieces may be rectangular or triangular in shape – that's okay.)
- Working in batches, carefully add 2 sopapilla squares into the hot oil. Using a metal slotted spoon, lightly push down each square so that it is fully submerged in the oil. The dough will immediately begin to puff up quickly and should have a big air pocket in the middle.
- Once the air pocket has formed, remove the spoon and let the dough fry like normal. Flip the sopapillas over after 45 seconds, and let the other side fry.
- When golden brown, transfer the sopapillas to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Continue frying the remaining sopapilla squares.
- Dust the sopapillas with powdered sugar on both sides, then drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.