Food & Cooking Blog

A New Mexico Flatbread Favorite You Can Make at Home

Have you heard of sopaipillas? These fried, pillowy portions of flatbread, typically served with honey, are native to (and ubiquitous in) New Mexico, but are little-known elsewhere in the United States. Crispy on the edges, tender on the inside, this flatbread doesn't necessarily feature fancy or innovative flavors, but perhaps its simplicity is its beauty: It tastes absolutely divine when smothered in honey.

Sopaipillas

Photos via CakeSpy

Suffice it to say that this fried flatbread, which puffs up like pita bread while it fries, is well worth a try and is bound to make an impression on your taste buds — regardless of your geographical location. But before we get to the actual sopaipillas recipe, there are some important questions we should address.

Sopaipillas or sopapillas?

If you ask Google, you'll mainly find sopapillas recipes (note the missing "i" after the a). But having lived in New Mexico for three years, I can personally (albeit anecdotally) attest to the fact that in the Land of Enchantment, it's usually written sopaipillas. But hey — they taste the same no matter how you spell it.

Dinner or dessert?

Sopaipilla drenched in honey Sopaipillas are made using a slightly sweet dough, which is fried to crispy perfection and then served with honey on the side. This might tempt you to think of them as a dessert. Yes, they certainly can fit the bill, but they're actually more frequently served as a side to savory foods. In New Mexican eateries, a basket of freshly fried sopaipillas arrives alongside a hot bowl of green chile or plate of spicy-rich carne adovada. It's said that the sweetness is the perfect counterpart to spice. You'll even see stuffed sopaipillas (filled with burrito-like fixings) on many a menu. Sopaipillas

Sopaipillas recipe

Makes about 24 sopaipillas

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (can substitute lard or butter)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (can substitute sugar)
  • 1½ cups warm water
  • Oil, for frying
  • Honey, for serving

Note: This recipe can be halved.

Step 1:

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Step 2:

Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter. The mixture should resemble a coarse meal. Shortening into sopaipillas

Step 3:

Add the honey and water, and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture is cohesive. Turn the dough onto a work surface (you can lightly flour the surface, but I didn't find it necessary) and knead until the dough is fairly smooth and can be formed into a ball. Place in a bowl, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Sopaipillas dough

Step 4:

Turn the dough onto a work surface (lightly floured if your dough is sticky) and use a rolling pin to roll the dough to approximately 1/8" thick. I found that it was easiest to divide the dough into two separate portions and roll out one at a time on limited counter space. Re-roll the scraps to get more cutouts. These portions may not puff up as nicely, but they will still taste just as good. Roll the dough

Step 5:

Cut the dough into approximately 3" squares (I used a bench scraper to cut them). They can be slightly larger or smaller if you prefer. Cut the portions

Step 6:

Fill a skillet (10" to 12" works best) with about 2" of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, looking for a target frying temperature of about 350 F (the heat of the oil helps them "puff"). While you wait for the oil to heat, place a few sheets of paper towels over a wire rack. This will be the resting place for the finished sopaipillas after frying but before serving.

Step 7:

Drop the dough into the hot oil, a few portions at a time (make sure that they have room, so that they don't stick together). Cook the first side until browned to your liking — it won't take long, only about a minute — then flip and cook the second side to match.

Step 8:

Remove the fried sopaipillas and place on paper towels above a wire rack to blot excess oil. Let cool briefly; they will deflate slightly as they cool. Serve warm with plenty of honey. Serve with honey If you love traditional and regional flatbreads, then you've got to check out Craftsy course Focaccia & Flatbreads From Around the World! You'll explore the art of making flatbreads from around the world, including naan, homemade tortillas and so much more.

Have you ever tried sopaipillas? 

9 Comments

Jet

Oh yes, They are fantastic. My father used to have a dozen w/honey when he picked me up at the airport or train. And we’d go straight for some Green Chili Soup. He lived in Albuquerque for many years and this was a ritual. He died in 1996. NOW I have to make them myself. They remind me of the New Orleans beignet. Same principle.

Reply
Jessie Oleson Moore

You know, now that I think of it they are pretty similar to the NOLA beignet, just served and eaten in different ways. Thanks for sharing the story!

Reply
Carla

Oh yes! Mine puff up more..recipe is absolutely it the same. Been making them for over 50 years!!

Reply
Jessie Oleson Moore

LOL – mine did puff up more but by the time I took them outside to take a nice picture they deflated a bit. Still so delicious!

Reply
Martharuth

Sopaipillas aren’t a flat bread. They are supposed to be puffed up pillows perfect for holding lots of honey. If they come out flat, you did something wrong. I’ve been eating them for over 60 years. They are always on my list of things I have to have when I go home to New Mexico

Reply
Jessie Moore

Hi Martha, they do puff up; mine deflated slightly before I could get a nice picture. “flatbread” just refers to the fact that they don’t contain yeast for leavening. 🙂

Reply
Elyse B.

We have had these at Mexican Restaurants. They were topped with strawberries and strawberry sauce with whipped cream on top.

Reply
Lori jones

Can one use whole wheat flour?

Reply
Dori

We used to get them in Little Rock at Casa Bonita, which has since closed 😢😢

Reply

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