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Sopapillas and Flan: Authentic Mexican Dessert Recipes

Updated on May 5, 2014
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Sopapillas (c) marye audet 2008
Sopapillas (c) marye audet 2008

If you love Mexican food then authentic Mexican dessert recipes should be part of your repertoire. For the most part they are not difficult to make, use ingredients that are easy to find, and just add that perfect ending to a great meal of Mexican food.

As with any regional cuisine, Mexican recipes should be made with the freshest ingredients possible. One of the delicious things about this South of the border food is that most items are grown, gathered, and cooked within a very short time period. Flavors are intensely fresh and clean.

If you use prepared sauces, frozen ingredients, and geriatric produce you just won't be able to achieve the final result that you are looking for.

An Electric Deep Fryer Makes It Easy to Make Sopapillas

Presto 05466 Stainless Steel  Dual Basket Pro Fry Immersion Element Deep Fryer
Presto 05466 Stainless Steel Dual Basket Pro Fry Immersion Element Deep Fryer

This is the fryer I use and I love it. I'm not the only one - it's got more than 300 five star reviews! There are two baskets so that you can fry two different things at the same time. The temperature stays even so nothing is under or over cooked.


Sopapillas, Easy Authentic Mexican Dessert Recipe

Sopapillas are a fantastic ending to any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal. Light and airy, they add that touch of sweetness that you need to know that you are finished with dinner. What are sopapillas? A carb addict’s delight, hollow squares or rounds of a simple dough are deep fried, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or cinnamon sugar. Honey is served with them so you can pour it in the middle. This creates a sticky, sweet, satisfying treat.

If you are feeling nontraditional and even daring try one of the following instead of honey in the hollow sopapilla:

  • Chocolate syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Warmed jalapeno jelly
  • Agave syrup

There are of course many other possibilities. Sopapillas should be served hot, straight from the fryer and can’t be held over for another meal. They just begin to taste greasy and bland. You almost never see sopapillas in a grocery store for this reason.

Simple and filling, sopapillas are also an inexpensive dessert. Many people are afraid of them because of the deep frying but you shouldn’t be. They really are that simple.

Tips for Perfect Sopapillas

  • Use an electric deep fryer heated to 375F
  • Be sure to allow the dough to rest before frying
  • Do not overcrowd the fryer
  • When they float to the top spoon the hot oil over them
  • Turn once

Recipe for Sopapillas

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together
  2. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and coarse
  3. Stir in the water and mix until smooth, kneading if necessary
  4. Allow the dough to stand, covered for about a half hour so that the gluten relaxes. This will keep the sopapillas tender
  5. Heat the oil in the deep fryer to 375
  6. Roll the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface
  7. Cut in 2 x 2 squares
  8. Fry until golden on both sides
  9. Drain
  10. Dust with sugar of choice and serve immediately with honey on the side.

Mexican Flan

If you are looking for authentic Mexican dessert recipes you really can't do much better than flan. It is a creamy custard, simply flavored with vanilla and very hard to mess up.

Bake the flan in a water bath in the oven. This merely means that you plunk the custard cups in a pan of water in the oven and leave them in the whole time. The water around the cups keep the temperature heating evenly which in turn keeps the custards creamy and smooth.

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 inch vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  1. Heat the vanilla bean in the condensed milk over low heat, stirring constantly. The milk will burn if you are not careful, so you are only trying to warm it enough to have the vanilla bean transfer the flavor. When the milk is warm to the touch remove it from heat and allow it to stand for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes remove the vanilla bean and cut it in half. Scrape the seeds out of the bean and add them to the milk. Stir well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  4. Combine the eggs, condensed milk,rum, and vanilla extract. Stir until well blended. Set aside.
  5. In a heavy saucepan, cook the sugar, stirring constantly, until it liquefies.
  6. Keep stirring it. It will begin to turn a light golden brown.
  7. At this point remove it from the heat and cover the bottoms of the custard cups with it.
  8. Pour the condensed milk mixture over the hot sugar.
  9. Place a folded dish towel on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the custard cups on the towel and add warm water to the pan until it comes up halfway on the custard cups.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 30. FLan should be set with a knife coming out clean when inserted halfway between the center and the outside.
  11. Remove from water. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Run knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate. Serve with an orange slice as a garnish.

Makes 8


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    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      I just found a recipe for tres leches that I might try

      loved your hub!!

    • faith03 profile image

      faith03 7 years ago

      Great hub! They all sound very delicious!!

    • profile image

      Wendy 7 years ago

      We used to cut a pocket in ours and fill with honey butter. You could also shake them in powdered sugar.

    • profile image

      Monica 7 years ago

      Flan is one of my favorite desserts.... I don't have it often, but it sure it good. yum!!! (may have to have one tonight...)

    • Jamiehousehusband profile image

      Jamiehousehusband 7 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

      Hi Mary these sopapillas look good, think I'd try serving with a little maple syrup and ice cream - my kids would love these, have bookmarked, thanks.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Very yummy desserts. Great Hub!

    • profile image

      jjrubio 8 years ago

      These are great! I also love to make polvorones and pumpkin filled empenadas too!

    • laringo profile image

      laringo 9 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

      This recipe sounds very delicious. The next time I have family over for dinner I am going to make this dessert.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 9 years ago from Texas

      I love Mexican desserts but almost never have them because I'm always stuffed when we eat Mexican It must be the chips and salsa.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 9 years ago from West Coast

      Marye, I love sopapillas I am definitely going to try this recipe. All I need now is a recipe for churros and I will be all set. Thanks!

    • julia ward profile image

      julia ward 9 years ago from Florida

      THANK YOU! Wonderful article! I've been trying to make Sopapillas since the early 70's with no luck. This may finally be the recipe that gives me the most wonderful dessert ever made!