The Sopapilla is a popular New Mexican bread that can be prepared with a variety of twists. They are often served in restaurants as a dessert, but they are traditionally considered a savory side bread. Sopapillas, in the incarnation that New Mexicans recognize them, are rumored to have originated in Albuquerque more than 200 years ago.

Our sopapillas are different from Latin American sopapillas. The fried pastry dough is typically served in lieu of bread or filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef. When served for dessert, they are often drizzled with honey or anise syrup.

Puffy Pastry Pillows

A sopapilla, for those who don’t know, is a fried bread served throughout the region settled by the Spanish. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a Spanish word from a Mozarabic language called Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word, Xopaipa, meant bread soaked in oil. It was derived from the Germanic word Suppa, which meant bread soaked in liquid. Obviously humans figured out long ago that frying things in fat is tasty.

sopapillasSopapillas are the standard dessert for a traditional New Mexican meal. Many restaurants in New Mexico serve them as a complimentary dessert when you order an entree, like chips and salsa. If a New Mexican restaurant does not serve sopapillas, I think less of them.

They can be stuffed with meat or calabacitas and served as an entree. When stuffing sopapillas, I highly recommend smothering them in chile verde or red chile. It doesn’t really matter what you do with a sopapilla. They are tasty whether served sweet or savory.

Luis and Frances AtencioThere are many variations on the recipe. The following recipe is from Frances Atencio of El Parasol.


Servings: Serves 2 dozen (large), 4 dozen (small)

In the process of sampling this recipe, I realized what I have been doing wrong. Sometimes my sopapillas are really puffy. Sometimes they are doughy duds. The two main variables are temperature and the thickness of the dough.


  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (110° F)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 3 Tablespoons lard or shortening
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • About 4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • Salad oil


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Combine milk, lard/shortening (does not need to melt), salt and sugar in a pan; heat to 110 °.
  3. Add dissolved yeast. Beat in 3 cups of all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour. Stir in more flour (about ½ cup) until a sticky dough forms.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured board, adding more flour until it is smooth and non-sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour. Punch it down.
  5. If you aren’t ready to make them immediately, cover and chill the dough for up to 12 hours. Otherwise, knead the dough on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles. Roll it out in portions to avoid the dough getting too warm while you prep. Roll to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness.
  6. Cut in 3.5 x 5 inch rectangles to make two dozen entrée size sopapillas. Cut in smaller portions for appetizer or dessert sopapillas.
  7. Place on lightly floured pans and cover while prepping. Avoid having the dough out at room temperature for more than five minutes at a time to maximize puff and fluff. If you need more time, store the excess dough in the refrigerator until ready.
  8. Heat 1.5 – 2 inches of salad oil to 350° in a deep, wide frying pan. Fry 2-3 sopapillas at a time. When the bread begins to puff, use a slotted spoon to push the portion of the bread where the air bubble is forming into the hot oil to help it puff evenly. Turn several times until both sides are pale gold, 1 – 2 minutes.
  9. Drain on paper towels.


Serve immediately or place in warm oven until you have finished frying. Sopapillas are best fresh, but if you are preparing them ahead of time, cool them, cover and chill or freeze. To reheat bake them in a oven at 300° for 5 – 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overheat or they will be more like hockey pucks than sopapillas.

Please leave your recipe modifications and/or questions in the comments below.

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  1. I love them no matter how you make them, when I’ve made them i used baking powder NOT yeast, they came out so fluffy, and were used for both sweet and savory for my daughters birthday years ago. It was the first time i made them, i was so proud of myself. I learned from a friend/neighbor Rachel, wish i could have some contact with her. I would also like a recipe for Mole, new mexico style, I had a friend who would use peanut butter, oh it was soooo good.

  2. I’m from Northern New Mexico and never used yeast or sugar or egg milk on my sopapiillas , now the recipe shown I use more for making homemade bread with exception of milk, I have a recipe book of my mother’s of old traditions recipes from 1942 and it doesn’t call for your recipe

  3. My mom made delicious sopapillas withoutbyeastbor sugar and served with posolebor beans frijoles. Mom was from Dixon northern NM. We liked calling them bunuelos because they were perfect pillows and held the juices meats beans green chilli ham or posole. Eww I would not do honey or anything else

  4. I don’t use yeast. My mother would make them just like she would make tortillas only she would add a little sugar. I made the just like this for when my daughters were home. We would roll them i sugar and cinnamon. Added honey too.
    They would puff up beautifully. Loved them especially in the winter. We ate them before or after meals. We are from corner of Texas, New Mexico Las Cruces and Mexico.

  5. I used to get Sopapillas in the early 70’s at a restaurant in Old Mesilla. They were served as a dessert with honey inside. Delicious. I have saved this recipe but after reading it through 3 times, I still don’t see how or when you stuff or fill them. I would dearly love to have those honey filled sopapillas again! Thanks for the recipe –

    • After you cook them, you can do as you wish with them. Tear off a corner and drizzle honey inside when they are piping hot or cut one seam and load it up with whatever you like…beef, chicken, adovada, calabacitas, beans, cheese, etc. Smother in red or green chile (or both).

    • LA POSTA in Old Mesilla, NM….absolute BEST Sopaipillas. I lived in Las Cruces for several years and we spent much time having brunch/lunch with those lovely Sopaipillas! I have their recipe, and it differs only slightly from this one.
      I must make these!

      • Maria and her children operated La Posta in Fair Oaks, CA! I worked there for 3 plus years in the late 1980’s. Sopapillas were incredible, as were the Chile rellenos and Chicana burritos!!! Yum! So many wonderful memories with all of them

  6. In New Mexican cuisine, sopapillas are not a dessert! Sopapillas are similar to bread or rolls served with a meal. Any self-respecting New Mexican restaurant does not feature them as a dessert, though that’s not the case outside of New Mexico.

    • Hate to disagree, but many, many New Mexico mexican restaurants absolutely do serve sopapillas as a dessert. Not sure where you are from or where you have eaten, but I have been all over our great state and have always been offered sopapillas after a meal! Of course, I have been to places that serve stuffed sopapillas as a main course. However, almost everywhere I’ve eaten has offered corn or flour tortillas with a meal and sopapillas for dessert.

      • I’m with Kurt on this. I’m from Albuquerque and have lived here for 64 years. Our New Mexican restaurants offer them with the meal to counterbalance the heat of the chile. However, I’m sure you could ask for them to be served after the meal if that is your preference.

      • I so agree. I was raised in NM and every family and restaurant served them as a bread, and honey, with the meal. If I was at a restaurant that didn’t I’d ask for them. I’m not sure where the change to being a dessert happened but it’s certainly common now.

    • Ahem….As a Newp Mexico Native…this is the big argument…..The bulk of the sopapillas I have been served at the end with the Sue Bee container….

  7. Learned to make sopapillas from my mom. Don’t use yeast, sugar, milk or wheat flour, and her sopapillas always puffed up big and delicious… so do mine when I make them. She made round circles with a hole in the middle, so do I, or you can cut the dough into squares.

  8. Thank you soooo much for sharing your recipe. I have seen and tried many without success. Excited to make this recipe.

  9. Admiring the time and energy you put into your website and detailed information you offer.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Wonderful
    read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    • Thank you! I am planning to add a lot of new content this year. Hoping to focus more on the western flank (from Farmington down to Deming). The major communities get plenty of attention, but there are so many things to see and do off the beaten path. Folks are short changing themselves on vacation fun when they stick to the interstates and the well known destinations.

  10. My Aunt used to make a fried “bread” she alled Mule Ears. When cooked she would dredgethemin a cinnamon sugar mix. Delicious. But in reading about sopapillas I believe they were the same thing.

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