Make a splash at dessert with this decadent sopapilla recipe. They’re crisp on the outside, buttery soft on the inside, and they’re incredibly easy to make!
Whenever I’m craving a special dessert, one that’s easy to make but wholly unique, I always gravitate to these crisp, sweet, and flavorful fried sopapillas.
If you love desserts, especially fried desserts, you will fall head over heels for this recipe. It’s surprisingly quick and made with simple baking ingredients.
What are sopapillas?
If you’ve never heard of sopapillas, they are snacks made of fried sweet bread covered in honey or powdered sugar. They’re similar to other types of fried pastry like elephant ears or Native American fry bread.
They’re most often served in Latin America and South America and are enjoyed for dessert or alongside the main course because why wait?
These sweet pastries have a light and airy texture from the pocket that develops as the dough fries. They’re delightfully sweet and make for fun finger foods.
Why this recipe works
I’ve developed a reputation in my household for making the best sopapilla recipe. Luckily they work well alongside my morning coffee, a healthy smoothie, or after a dinner of Spanish albondigas. Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Simple ingredients. Only basic baking ingredients are needed to make this recipe, so you can make them immediately.
- Easy to make. All you have to do is make the dough, let it rest for an hour, cut them to shape, then fry them up. Even a beginner home cook can make this.
- Serve them with anything. From classic powdered sugar or honey to homemade Nutella, they work with everything. We’ll be sure to give more options down below.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to whip up these crisp and sweet sopapillas.
- Flour. All-purpose flour is best, and you’ll want to sift it first.
- Baking powder. To help the dough rise.
- Sugar. For much-needed sweetness.
- Salt. To bring out the flavor in the fried dough.
- Vegetable shortening. To make for full-flavored sopapillas. This can be swapped for lard if preferred.
- Warm water. Added incrementally to help soften the dough.
- Oil. Preferably peanut oil, but any neutral-flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point will work.
- Powdered sugar. Also known as confectioner’s sugar, this will be used to top the finished dish.
How to make sopapillas
Aside from letting the dough rest in the fridge for an hour, the rest of this recipe goes by pretty quickly. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1- Make the dough
First, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Then add the shortening and water and, using your hands, form a soft and pliable dough. If needed, add more warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until you form the dough.
Step 2- Prepare the sopapillas
Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour, then unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough out into a square, around ⅛-inch in thickness. Then, cut the dough into 4-6 strips horizontally and vertically to create uniform rectangles.
Step 3- Fry the sopapillas
Add 2 inches of oil to a non-stick pan. Once the oil reaches an internal temperature of 375°F/190°C, pour a few of the dough pieces into the hot oil. When they rise to the surface of the oil and puff up, flip them and let them cook for another two minutes. Then, transfer the cooked sopapillas to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the process until all of the sopapillas are fully cooked.
Step 4- Cover in powdered sugar and serve
Serve the finished sopapillas with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
- Don’t let the oil get too hot. If the oil gets too hot, the dough will burn on the outside before cooking on the inside.
- Don’t crowd the skillet. Too many sopapillas being fried at once will lower the temperature of the oil and make for uneven frying.
- Allow them to cool before adding powdered sugar. Otherwise, the powdered sugar will dissolve.
- Don’t skip the sifting. Sifting the flour makes for light and airy sopapillas. Otherwise, they may turn out dense and not puff up.
To store: Allow leftovers to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. On the counter, they should last about two days, while in the fridge, they should last up to 4-5 days.
To freeze: Store leftovers in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to 6 months.
To reheat: Transfer the sopapillas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them at 177°C for 5-7 minutes, stopping halfway through to flip them. You can also reheat them in an air fryer set to 190°C for 3-4 minutes.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Non-stick skillet. Skillets heat up oil faster than a traditional pan, and also keeps the oil temperature more consistent.
- Mixing bowl. Everyone should have a set of a few sizes!
- Pastry chopper. Beats a knife any day!
Frequently asked questions
Mexican sopapillas are made up of a sweet tortilla-like dough that’s fried until a small air pocket appears. They’re usually served with powdered sugar, honey, or some other syrupy topping. Some may even be stuffed with sweet cream or jam.
While churros and sopapillas are both types of fried dough, churros are fried in a snake shape and have a more crispy and bready texture. Sopapillas, on the other hand, are fried into rectangles and have an air pocket, making for a light and crisp dessert.
While similar, beignets have a French origin and are lighter and crispier in texture.
Yes, you can bake these instead of frying them. Simply brush them with oil or butter and bake at 180C/350F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
The best alternatives for shortening include solid butter, ghee, or coconut oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt and mix well. Add the shortening and water, and, using your hands, make a soft and pliable dough. If needed, add some water, one tablespoon at a time.
- Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour.
- Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a square, around 1/8-inch in thickness. Cut 4-6 strips horizontally and vertically to create uniform rectangles.
- Add 2 inches of oil to a non-stick pan. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 375F, add a few sopapillas. When they rise up to the surface and puff up, flip them and cook for another two minutes. Repeat the process until all the sopapillas are cooked up.
- Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
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