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Friday, May 6, 2011

Sopapillas: Bread--or Dessert?

At many New Mexican restaurants the other question servers ask besides "Red or green?" is "Tortilla or sopapilla?" Sopapillas are a New Mexican regional fried bread used to mop up that puddle of green or red chile on your plate or drizzled with honey for a sweet ending to your meal. I've also had them covered in cinnamon sugar, tasting kind of like a doughnut. Sopapillas can also be stuffed with beans, meat, eggs, or a little bit of all those things as an entree.

They are fried pillows of dough, light, airy and bready. 

Charlie's Spic and Span Cafe and Bakery in Las Vegas offers the "sopa" (short for sopapilla) and what they call "Stuffys." For breakfast the sopapillas are stuffed with eggs and your choice of meat, red or green on top. Lunch offers sopas stuffed with beans and your choice of meat.

Ham and Egg Breakfast Stuffy
My good friend Shela grew up eating New Mexican sopapillas. During high school she worked  in a Mexican cafe where she learned how to make them. The cafe owner, Dee, said to knead until you are tired, then knead some more. This is not Dee's recipe, but one I found in New Mexico magazine's The Best From New Mexico Kitchens.


Sopaipillas are an incredibly light, puffy fry bread. To eat, poke or tear them open and spread with honey or honey butter. They must be eaten immediately while steaming hot! This dish is a delight for all ages.

Sopaipillas Recipe:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard* or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup lukewarm water
shortening or oil for frying
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Work the lard and water in to make a soft dough. Cover and leave in refrigerator until chilled.
3. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface, then cut into 3-inch squares or similar-sized triangles (about a 4 1/2-inch square, cut diagonally).
4. Deep fry a few at a time at 400F degrees until light golden brown, turning once.
5. Drain on paper towels.
6. Sprinkle with powder sugar or open and spread with honey.
*Using lard in the recipe, and frying with shortening rather than oil will make the sopaipillas lighter and is traditional.


  1. goodness! that looks like a yummy breakfast...not sure i would try to make them...well, maybe..but i'd love to visit charlie's and have a stuffy...num num...pattie

  2. I only ate half and took the rest home. This morning I had it again....still good the second time around. The photo is grainy since I used my phone, but notice the cheese? That was after I said, "Easy on the cheese."


    You've just been pinned! I live in Rio Rancho, NM. Loved your posting about our state's lovely sopapillas so had to pin you :)


  4. Thanks for the pin, Hayley! Had a Breakfast Stuffy at Charlie's Spic and Span in Las Vegas just yesterday!

  5. Thank you for your recipe of Sopapillas. I grew up in Roswell New Mexico (before the little green men took over) I was living there at the time but knew nothing about them. I loved eating sopapillas at Mrs. Aris. After leaving for college in 1959 I was no longer able to find them. Finally in sometie around 1960 to 1966 I found the recipe in the New Mexico magazine. I can no longer find my copy. My daughter tried to make them for Christmas but they just didn't work. I am going to give her your recipe. Thank you. Dannie Greene, Big Spring, TX


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