Crispy, fried masa-infused sopes are piled high with savory carne asada for an authentic Mexican street food treat that anyone can cook with ease. These crispy fried cakes can be filled with any topping you’d like, making them perfect for any meal or any gathering.
If you’ve never experienced the vibrant, bustling magic of a lively road lined with Mexican street food vendors, then this sopes recipe will bring the mouthwatering aromas of fried dough and sizzling savory meats to you!
Recently I was down in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico and we were looking for an afternoon pick me up at a local coffee shop in the town square. Outside, across the street in front of the shop under the shade of trees, this man set up his cart and was selling fresh made sopes! His were made with beans and cheese and were outstanding for being so simple. Right there I knew I had to make my own once we got back home.
These fried corn discs are thicker than normal tortillas, making them the perfect edible platform for all of your favorite toppings like creamy guacamole, tender carnitas, refried beans, and more — just don’t forget plenty of Mexican cheese!
Mexican sopes are fairly simple to make using only a few low-cost ingredients and can be customized to any palate. Choose a bunch of toppings and make them as crunchy, chewy, creamy, salty, spicy, or sweet as you’d like!
Pile your sopes Mexicanas high with meats and make it a fiesta-style meal, or serve them as indulgent, hand-held appetizers with unique, bold flavors and impressive cultural flair.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Masa Harina – A corn-based flour used in may Mexican dishes, this gives these treats their distinct flavor and texture. You can use yellow or white, depending on what’s available.
- Lard – This helps the dough get thick. I tend to use saved bacon fat, but lard is the traditional choice. Vegetable or olive oil can be used as well.
- Warm Water – You may need more or less than 1 cup depending on the texture of your dough.
- Vegetable Oil – Great for frying. Use canola, safflower, or peanut oil instead.
- Baking Powder – Helps the dough inflate as it cooks. Don’t skip this ingredient!
- All-Purpose Flour – Just enough to keep your sopes nice and doughy.
- Carne Asada – A classic savory, meaty topping. Use pulled chicken, carnitas, or any protein of your choice!
- Iceburg Lettuce – Adds a cool, crisp crunch.
- Guacamole – A classic topping that’s simple to make!
- Pickled Red Onions – For some tangy flavor. Substitute with pickled carrots or jalapeños.
- Queso Fresco – A Mexican favorite, this can be substituted with crumbled feta or cotija. You can also top with sour cream, crema, or your favorite queso.
HOW TO MAKE SOPES
1. Form The Dough. In a bowl, mix together your dry ingredients. Then, using your hands, work the lard into the dry ingredients. Add half of your warm water and mix with hands, slowly adding more water as you mix. The dough should be soft and tacky, but not quite sticky.
2. Roll It Out. Gently roll dough into a thick log and divide into four even portions. Roll each into a ball before flattening into a thick disk that resembles an English muffin.
3. Bake Your Masa Discs. Place disks on a hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they’re browned. (The middle won’t be completely cooked through yet.)
4. Form The Sopes. Let disks cool a few minutes before slicing each in half lengthwise. Lay them cooked-side up. Use your thumbs and index fingers to pinch the dough and form a well in the middle of each sope, creating thick, even walls without cracks.
5. Fry Them Up. In a heavy skillet, heat an inch of oil over medium heat to 365°F, or until the surface of the oil is shimmering. Fry 4 sopes at a time until they are golden on each side. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and let them drain upside down.
6. Add Toppings and Enjoy! Top and serve immediately.
How Do You Eat Sopes Mexicanas?
These disc-shaped fried dough snacks are traditionally eaten as finger foods. You can pick them up and eat them with your hands like a mini pizza, or you can choose to use a fork and knife.
They can be eaten virtually any way you’d like — topped with eggs and salsa for breakfast, or with beans and avocado as a snack. The possibilities are endless!
What’s the Difference Between Mexican Sopes and Tostadas?
Both of these are both classic Mexican street food favorites consisting of flat circles of fried masa harina topped with Mexican fillings.
However, a tostada is typically very thin and crunchy, like a big tortilla chip. In this sopes recipe, they are fried to be crispy on the outside, but are much thicker and softer on the inside.
Are Sopes Supposed to be Crunchy?
Since the dough of this dish is made to be very thick, they are fried to be crispy and browned on the outside with a doughy, soft interior. They shouldn’t be overly crunchy to the point where they crumble, but each bite should have a satisfying crispiness.
Sopes (Mexican Street Food)
- 1¾ cups dried masa harina (See Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons lard vegetable or olive oil (See Note 2)
- 1 cup warm tap water + or – 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups vegetable oil (or 1-inch for frying)
- In a bowl, add dry masa harina, salt, baking powder and flour. Work the lard into the dry ingredients, like you would when making pie or empanada dough. Add half the warm water and mix using your fingers. Continue working in the remaining water a little more at a time until dough is soft and tacky, but not sticky. Sometimes you will need plus or minus 2 tablespoons of more water depending on dough and humidity.
- Gently roll the dough into a thick log and divide into 4 portions. Roll each portion into balls and flatten into thick disks like an English muffin (3-inches wide and 1-inch thick).
- Place the masa discs on a hot griddle or skillet and bake until browned on bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and bake the other side 3-4 minutes. The masa will not be completely cooked through, but don't worry.
- Remove from heat and let them cool for 5 minutes on the counter top. Slice them in half like an English muffin (the center will be soft since the masa is uncooked). Lay all on the cooked side up.
- Form one at a time: use your thumbs and index fingers to pinch up a thick wall around the edge of each sope, widening the base so that the sopes end up about 3 ½ inches. It’s important that the wall is uniformly thick and the bottom is flat so it cooks evenly as it fries. Use your index finger and flatten the dough where the base and bottom of wall meet, pressing together (typically it's thickest there) so there are no cracks. Do the same to the center. Repeat with remaining sopes.
- Layer a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. I add a wire rack as well to help drain excess oil after frying, optional.
- In a deep, heavy skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium-high, heat an inch of oil to 365°F (See Note 3).
- Fry the sopes 4 at a time, carefully turning them once, until they are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Drain upside down on the paper towels or wire rack lined tray.
- Fill each sope with your favorite filling of choice OR layer toppings in the order listed above. Serve immediately.
- This is used for making tortillas. I prefer the yellow, but white is fine to use as well.
- I use saved bacon fat instead of lard, optional.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil is hot enough when you see it shimmer on top and a corner of a sope sizzles when dipped into the oil.
- Nutritional information is for sopes only, without fillings of choice.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.