Poncho’s Mexican Buffet Sopapillas

Poncho’s Mexican Buffet Sopapillas are a final touch to many Mexican meals. As I child I always loved going out for Mexican food because it meant finishing the meal with the sweet sopapillas drizzled with honey.

sopapillas and honey on parchment paper

Sometimes we are all guilty of pigeon-holing foreign food. For example, the idea that all French food is fancy or that Italian must contain tomatoes, or even that the local Chinese take-out joint is serving the same food as they do in Beijing.

But, perhaps the most maligned ethnic food originates just south of our border in Mexico. Despite hundreds of tacos, burritos, and fajitas you’ve no doubt eaten in your life, not all Mexican food comes wrapped in a tortilla or served with copious amounts of hot sauce. There are even some pretty incredible desserts in Mexico.

One of the most favorite desserts in Mexico and throughout central and South America is the sopapilla, alternatively known as the sopaipa, or even cachanga, depending on the local spelling. Sopapillas are, in essence, doughnuts or fry bread that consists of mostly flour, sugar, and fat with a touch of baking soda to help give them a good rise.

Overall, sopapillas are pretty easy to make, and once you perfect your frying technique, you will want to whip up a batch of Mexican dessert sopapillas to serve at your next fiesta or just to nibble on with your morning coffee. Give this sopapillas recipe a try the next time you find yourself in the mood for a hot, sweet, and all-so-satisfying treat.

Frying Mexican Dessert Sopapillas

If there is one thing holding you back from trying out this recipe, it is probably the fact that sopapillas are fried. The fear of frying is a common kitchen phobia, but the good news is that it isn’t tough.

The essential equipment you need is a wide, thick-bottomed pot such as a rondeau or a Dutch oven, a spider strainer, and a cooking thermometer. If you don’t have a spider strainer, you can use a large metal or wooden slotted cooking spoon, but the thermometer is a must.

Start by pouring about an inch of neutral cooking like canola into the warm pot. Use the thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. A thermometer that clips onto the side of the pot is useful to keep your hands away from the hot grease. When the oil gets to 375 degrees, gently place about three to four uncooked sopapillas into the pot one at a time using your spider or slotted spoon. Cook a few minutes until they puff, and the sides turn a light brown color. Flip carefully with the spider or slotted spoon and fry until the other side finishes cooking.

Remove with the spider or slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined cooling rack Blot and leave them to cool slightly while you finish frying the remaining sopapillas. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. It is best to serve while still warm.

Tips for Serving Mexican Dessert Sopapillas

  • Get creative with the toppings. Sopapillas are lovely with just a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, but you take it up a notch with a drizzle of honey or Cajeta, a traditional caramel sauce made with goat’s milk.
  • Store overnight loosely wrapped on the counter or freeze tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. Reheat thawed sopapillas in a 300-degree oven for about 8 minutes. Turn once.

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Here’s a list of what you need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar
  • Shortening
  • Milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Sopapillas ingredients

Optional ingredients:

  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Honey for serving

How to Make Sopapillas

  1. Sift flour, measure, and sift again with the salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  2. Cut in the shortening and add milk to make a soft dough just firm enough to roll.
    sopapillas dough in a mixing bowl
  3. Cover the bowl and let dough stand for 30 to 60 minutes.
  4. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board.
  5. Cut dough into diamond-shaped pieces.
  6. Heat oil in a frying pan to about 375 degrees.
  7. Add a few pieces at a time so that you do not cool the oil.
  8. Turn the pieces at once so they will puff evenly, then turn them back to brown both sides.
  9. Remove sopapillas from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  10. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  11. Serve with honey.
cinnamon sugar sopapillas and a bowl of honey

More Mexican Sweet Treats

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Be sure to check out more of my easy dessert recipes and the best Mexican food recipes right here on CopyKat.com!

sopapillas and honey on parchment paper

Poncho’s Mexican Buffet Sopapillas

Make the best puffy, sweet sopapillas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Sopapillas
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 475kcal


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Sift flour, measure, and sift again with the salt, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in the shortening, and add milk to make a soft dough just firm enough to roll. Cover bowl and let dough stand for 30 to 60 minutes; then roll 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured board and cut in diamond-shaped pieces. 
  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan to about 375 degrees. Add a few pieces at a time, so that you do not cool the oil too quickly. Turn at once so they will puff evenly, then turn back to brown both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  • You may want to sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar before eating. Serve with honey.


Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 510mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


    • Stephanie

      I knew where you going 😉 It’s a favorite of mine there too. I think they have three good menu items. The chilie rellenos, sopapillas, and their green chili stew.

  1. Charlie

    i rolled 1/4 inch thick…but they did not puff…
    they tasted good…just not light and fluffy…
    maybe if i rolled as thin as possible…but what makes them puff open?

    my memory at poncho’s was the sopapillias
    i would open the top
    drizzle honey on the inside and enjoy…

    oh well…i tried this anyway

  2. Abril

    Yess, if you could help with the cheese enchiladas and cheese sauce … that’s what I miss from Pancho’s most! Thank you for the great sopapilla recipe <3

    • Janet Mason

      I’ve made enchiladas that are pretty close. I use yellow corn tortillas. Fill with sharp cheddar shredded cheese and roll. The sauce is simple. Campbell’s fiesta nacho cheese soup. Mix with about 1/2 a soup can of milk. Cover enchiladas and bake.

5 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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