Sopes: How to make them from scratch
Learn how to make sopes from scratch with our easy video recipe. You just need two ingredients and some practice to make and enjoy this Mexican basic recipe.
What Are Sopes?
Sopes are one of the most popular antojitos (snacks) that are found as street food in Mexico.
The dish consists of a thick disc of masa dough cooked on a griddle and then pinched on the edges to form a little border.
This small border serves to contain the different ingredients that are placed on top of each piece; those ingredients range from meat to different vegetables, cream, sauces, cheese, etc.
The dish originated in the center and south part of the country and then spread throughout the territory, enriching thoroughly with the various ingredients available in every state or region.
The sope receives its name from both, the thick tortilla, and the final dish with all toppings.
Traditionally they are cooked on a comal. A disc that can be made of different materials such as iron, clay, ceramic, or metal, and that withstands high temperatures.
Other traditional dishes belong to the sope category, even if they’re not made exactly the same.
- In the state of Veracruz, you will find the picaditas, which is a thinner and simpler variation of a sope with only beans, onions, cheese, and salsa as toppings.
- In some states (like in Colima), two small barriers (pinched) are also made in the center of a sope.
- Other variants include the dough in different colors, for example, the most common is masa azul prepared with blue corn, there are also those made of red masa using some type of chili (guajillo, pasilla, ancho ); green masa using nopales (cactus) or black masa using black beans.
- Mexican Huaraches is an oval-shaped variation of this basic recipe.
About The Masa
The dough used to make this Mexican recipe is the same used to make tortillas. This dough is made from nixtamalized corn flour.
The nixtamalization process allows the corn to enhance its nutritional value. Read more about nixtamalized corn.
Finding nixtamalized corn dough may not be an option for many, especially those who live outside of Mexico. So, you are left with two options to make this recipe:
- Make nixtamalized corn at home (from dried corn kernels) which is quite a long process.
- Buy flour already nixtamalized (called masa harina) to prepare the dough. In the market there are many brands, so we can choose the best one for our taste and budget.
How To Make Sopes (Step By Step)
Make the dough
In a large mixing bowl, put the masa harina and a pinch of salt (optional). Add water and slowly begin to integrate everything with your hands.
It won’t take so long before you’ll see the dough combining together and change in texture as water is added.
After 1 or 2 minutes, you will end with a dough with a manageable texture that doesn’t stick to your hands and resembles play dough.
TIP: If the masa crumbles like breadcrumbs, it needs more water. If, you notice that the dough sticks to your hands or to the bowl, it is because too much water was added. In both cases, you can adjust with flour or water until you achieve the right consistency (watch the video).
BY HAND – Take a portion of dough. Roll it into a ball and, with your hands slightly moistened with water, flatten it to make a patty.
Pass the dough from one hand to the other quickly while slapping it to flatten it until you’ll have a disc about 3.5 inches (9cm) in circumference and 1/4 inch (0,65cm) thick. Check the video below.
WITH A TORTILLA PRESS – Cut 2 squares from a plastic bag of about 15 cm (6 inches) each. Place one square of plastic on the tortilla press, then place on top one of the dough balls and cover with the other piece of plastic.
Now, close and press gently until you form a small thick tortilla.
WITH A HEAVY DISH – Do the same as with the tortilla press, but instead use a heavy dish (like a pie or casserole dish) placed on top of the masa ball, then press to form the sope.
Heat a griddle or a comal over medium-high heat. As you are shaping each piece, place them on the hot griddle and cook for about 1 minute on each side (read notes below).
Make the border
Place the sope just removed from the pan between a clean cloth napkin or paper towel. Your fingers should not touch the sope directly.
Press gently, pinching between the thumb, index, and middle fingers to form a border of about half an inch (1.5cm).
As you finish each piece, place them onto a clean kitchen towel and let them cool completely.
And that’s it. They are now ready to fry, add toppings, and enjoy. Or you can also store them for later as suggested below.
Useful Notes And Tips
- Keep a small bowl of water next to your working area and use it to keep your hands and dough moisten.
- The sope has to be hot to be able to make the edges. So the best thing you can do is cook them in small batches. Ideally, two or three pieces, so you’ll have time to make the borders as soon as they are ready.
- If you do not have a Mexican comal, the most common thing is to use a cast iron skillet or any other pan that you can use just for this purpose.
- The temperature is important because if it is too low the dough can lose all its moisture.
- If, on the other hand, the temperature it’s too high, the sope will burn quickly on the surface but it will remain raw on the inside.
- The best thing is to regulate the temperature depending on the stove and pan you use. It may be necessary to “sacrifice” a couple of pieces at the beginning to find out the best temperature.
How Are They Eaten
Depending on which recipe you want to use your sopes, you might need first to lightly fry them, then top them with various ingredients. Here are some ideas:
- THE BASE: Typically, some refried beans are spread before adding anything else.
- THE GUISADO: A mixture that might include some protein, like beef picadillo con papas, chilorio (shredded pork), tinga (shredded chicken), or can also be some vegan/vegetarian mixture like mushrooms, nopales (cactus), potatoes, or lentils.
- VEGETABLES: Cabbage salad, simply shredded lettuce, chopped or sliced onions, nopales (cactus), pickled onions, fresh tomatoes, pico de gallo, radishes, cilantro, etc.
- SAUCE: You can use a traditional consomé (tomato salsa) or any other salsa of your choice like avocado salsa or salsa de molcajete.
- DAIRY: Queso fresco and Mexican crema are often used to top this dish too, but it’s not mandatory.
Want to try some of our favorite recipes? Here’s a list to inspire you:
- With chicken and tomato sauce, lettuce, cream, and cheese.
- With ground beef, red onions, and cream.
- Garnachitas with shredded beef and pickled salad.
How To Store
Sopes can be frozen if you do it properly. First, you need to let them cool completely placing them onto a clean kitchen towel so it can absorb any moisture they might release. Then…
- Fridge: Place all pieces in an airtight container previously lined with paper towels. Close the lid and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Wrap them individually or in batches of 3-4 pieces with cling film. Transfer to a bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Thaw them in the fridge then use them as instructed in your recipe.
Are they gluten free?
Yes, because the dough is made using nixtamalized masa harina.
Are they healthy?
A sope can be as healthy as a regular tortilla if you don’t go crazy on the toppings.
Are they soft or crispy?
As sopes are right off the griddle, they are soft. But they can also be crispy if fried a little bit before adding the toppings.
Can I make them with Maseca?
Yes, of course. You can use whatever brand of masa harina you want, Maseca included.
Watch How To Make Them
Sopes: How to make them from scratch
- 2 cups masa harina (250 gr)
- 1 ½ cups water (400 ml)
- pinch salt (optional)
- In a large bowl, put the masa harina. Add the water and slowly begin to integrate everything until you have a dough that does not stick to the hands or to the bowl (see notes).
- Divide the dough into 20 pieces of the same weight (about 50gr) and keep them covered with a damp cloth.
- Heat a comal or a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- With your hands slightly moistened with water, take a portion of dough and roll it into a ball then flatten it to make a patty.
- Pass the dough from one hand to the other quickly while flattening it until you'll have a disc about 3.5-inch (9cm) of circumference and ¼-inch (0,65cm) thick. See notes.
- Carefully put the sope onto the hot skillet and cook for about 1 minute. Flip it over (with a spatula) and cook for another minute.
- Take the sope from the skillet and place it between a paper or cloth towel.
- Using the towel, press gently, pinching with your fingers around the sope to form a border about half and inch (1.5cm).
- Place the sope turned over, using the edges as support, onto a clean kitchen towel and let it cool completely.
- Repeat from the step 4 until all masa dough is used.
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I am a regular visitor of your website . I can enrich my cooking skill by seeing your blog .It was a helpful procedure to learn how to make sopes from scratch with their easy recipe.
Loved the recipe! So easy to follow, specially to make them using a dish. Thank you.