Fresh Sopapillas with Hot HoneyJump to Recipe
Here in Denver there is an institution of a restaurant called Casa Bonita (yes, of South Park Fame). It was recently announced that to save the restaurant the creators of South Park are actually purchasing it. Pretty amazing! In honor of them saving this piece of Denver history, I thought I’d make some Fresh Sopapillas!
While sopapillas are frequently served with powdered sugar and honey, I decided to spice mine up a bit and serve them with a hot honey (also a Colorado thing). It adds a spicy and sweet kick to the little pillows of fried dough.
Also, if you check out the photos, you might notice I had a helper for this recipe! She got out of school early and so we were able to cook together!
Table of contents
What is a sopapilla?
if you’ve never had the pleasure of having a fresh sopapilla after a Tex-Mex meal of tacos or enchiladas, you have truly missed out! Basically, a sopapilla is a piece of fried dough that puffs up into a pillow-like thing.
Sopapillas aren’t exactly flavorful on their own, but they are the perfect vessel for other things. They are generally served dusted heavily with powdered sugar, honey, and sometimes cinnamon.
While many cultures have versions of fried dough, I’m most familiar with the New Mexico style of sopapilla, generally thought to be about 200 years old. You can read a lot about the history of the sopapilla on the Wikipedia page.
What makes sopapillas puff up?
Not all sopapillas puff up, but I like the ones that do! They don’t need much levening to puff up, but a little baking powder in the dough does help. The real trick to getting them to puff up nicely is to roll the dough very thin and make sure your oil is hot when you put them in the fryer.
The hot oil will create steam and cause the dough to puff as it fries. It happens really quickly!
Even if your sopapillas don’t puff (some will puff more than others), they are still delicious.
How to make sopapilla dough
Sopapilla dough is one the more forgiving and easier doughs to make. You just stir together the dry ingredients and then mix in the shortening with your hands until it’s in a coarse meal. I had a helper on this particular day!
You could use lard instead of shortening if you wanted to. Either would work fine.
Then add warm water to your dough until it comes together in a ball and then knead it lightly in the bowl until it’s soft and not sticky. You can add more flour if it’s too sticky. After kneading for about five minutes you should have a really smooth dough ball.
Cover the sopapilla dough and let it rest for 20 minutes at least. You can also make this in advance and store it in the fridge. Just pull it out 30 minutes before rolling cooking the sopapillas.
Frying fresh sopapillas
Frying these little dough pillows is easy enough. Add some canola or vegetable oil to a cast iron skillet or pot. Heat it to 350˚F. Meanwhile cut your dough into quarters so it’s easier to work with and roll out each quarter on a lightly floured surface.
When the dough is thin and about 8-10 inches in diameter, it’s ready to cut up and fry! I like to cut my dough into a variety of shapes and sizes. No need for perfection here!
These sopapillas will fry very quickly, usually 60-90 seconds per side and they will be golden brown and perfect.
NOTE: Obviously, if you have a 4-year old helper, don’t let them do the frying part. It’s hot!
How to serve fresh sopapillas
You can do a lot with sopapillas once you have them fried. If you wanted to go the savory route, you could stuff them with meat and taco toppings.
Most Mexican restaurants in the States serve sopapillas with a big dusting of powdered sugar and honey.
For my sopapillas, I mixed up some hot honey to serve with them.
Once they come out of the fryer, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy them! They are best while they are warm obviously!
My Fresh Sopapilla recipe with hot honey
Making fresh sopapillas is a wonderful treat and they fry up perfectly fluffy, just like at Casa Bonita! Don’t skimp on the hot honey!
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. use your fingers to work the shortening into the flour mixture until it’s well-mixed in, almost like coarse sand. Then stir in water and stir until the dough forms a ball. If the dough isn’t shaping into a ball, add more water by the tablespoon until it comes together.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it’s smooth and soft. It shouldn’t be sticky at all. If it is sticky, sprinkle it with flour as you knead it. Once you have worked the dough for five minutes, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes. (If you are making it in advance, you can transfer it to the fridge and remove it 30 minutes before cooking).
- When ready to make sopapillas, add oil to a pot or skillet so it comes up a few inches. You might not need all the oil.
- Cut the sopapilla dough into four even quarters. Working with one at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s 8-10 inches in diameter. Then cut the dough into 8-10 pieces of different shapes and sizes. Some variety is nice!
- Add the sopapilla pieces to the hot oil (350˚F) and fry for about 90 seconds per side. The finished sopapillas should puff up and get golden brown.
- Remove sopapillas and let drain on a few paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar before serving and serve with hot honey.
To make hot honey, stir together honey with hot sauce and adjust to taste.