New Mexican sopapillas are pillow-shaped fried pastry dough. Similar to Native American fry bread, they are typically served as a bread side and are used to mop up sauces, scoop up tidbits, or they can be shredded into stews. Often called “the doughnut of the Southwest”, they’re definitely not a traditional donut, but they’re not really a fritter either. Sopapillas are a delicious category of their own.
In New Mexico, they are often filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef or chicken, covered with chiles and cheese, and served with lettuce and tomato as an entrée. They are also eaten as a dessert, drizzled with honey and covered in powdered sugar. Sop up some Carne Adovada juices with a few of these tasty pillows for your next meal.
New Mexico Sopapillas
- Large heavy-bottomed skillet, deep fryer, or wok
- Large bowl
- Dough cutter or fork
- Candy or instant read thermometer
- Whisk, wooden spoon, rolling pin
- 2 cup All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tbsp Sugar (can be omitted)
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Honey
- ¾ cup Warm water
- 2 tbsp Shortening or vegetable oil
- Oil, for frying (canola or peanut oil)
- Honey, for drizzling
- Powdered sugar, for topping
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar (if using) and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in oil until pea-sized grains are formed. Pour in honey and warm water. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic. If dough seems too sticky, add a little flour. Final dough should be a little tacky but not so much that it sticks to your hands. Transfer back to the bowl, cover bowl with a kitchen towel, and let rest on the counter for 20 minutes.2 cup All-purpose flour, 1 tsp Baking powder, 1 tbsp Sugar (can be omitted), ½ tsp Salt, 1 tbsp Honey, 2 tbsp Shortening or vegetable oil, ¾ cup Warm water
- In a cast iron skillet or wok, pour oil to a depth of around 2-inches. Heat oil to 375℉ (190℃). Meanwhile, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into a thin ⅛-inch square. It doesn't need to be a perfect square, just thin enough to puff up properly. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into approximately 4 x 3 inch rectangles. Place paper towels near the stove for draining cooked sopapillas.Oil, for frying (canola or peanut oil)
- When sopapillas are ready to be cooked, adjust temperature to 375℉ (190℃). Drop 2 rectangles at a time into the hot oil and fry, uncrowded. Submerge each square for a few seconds to for an air pocket. Then let them fry for about 1 minute, flipping them after 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towels. Adjust heat to 375℉ (190℃) again and repeat process until done.
- Serve – To have as a side dish, brush warm sopapillas lightly with honey. To serve as a dessert, coat with both honey and powdered sugar. To serve as a main course, cut dough into larger 6 x 5-inch squares before frying. Once cool enough to handle, make a slit along the top and stuff with cooked ground beef, carne asada, or whatever fits your fancy. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 350℉ (175℃) until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot with salsa verde.Honey, for drizzling
- Cooked sopapillas can be kept warm in a 250F (120C) degree oven.
- Sopapilla dough may be stored wrapped in the refrigerator before using or up-to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw before rolling and frying.
- Leftover sopapillas may be stored on the counter for 2 days in an airtight container, or frozen for 2 months. Reheat in a 300F (150C) degree oven until warmed, about 5-10 minutes.