Gluten Free Sopapillas

Gluten Free Sopapillas

These gluten free sopapillas are simple pillows of fried pastry, served either savory or sweet. So easy!

Gluten Free Sopapillas

There are so many ways to enjoy these gluten free sopapillas, but my favorite is with a light drizzle of honey. In fact, I actually prefer to bite off a corner, and drizzle some extra honey right inside.

I spoke to someone recently who said that she likes to eat sopapillas stuffed with meat and cheese. Just split one open, and pile in the fixings. What a treat!

Gluten Free Sopapillas

It’s truly amazing how the dough puffs up into these little hollow pillows so quickly during frying. To achieve a uniform “puff” of your sopapillas, just be sure to roll the dough into a single, even layer.

Then, cut the edges sharply, leaving very clean edges. You can use a sharp knife, but a pastry or pizza wheel is easiest.

Gluten Free Sopapillas

I am bound and determined to give you back allllll the foods you thought you’d never have again now that you’re gluten free. Or your son is gluten free, like mine. Or your partner. Or your best friend. Or your mom. You get the idea.

Gluten Free Sopapillas

If you follow these recipe instructions, and use these ingredients, you can have it all back. If you can’t use all of the ingredients, I hope you’ll find success using as many as you can.

Gluten Free Sopapillas

Oh, and fear not deep frying! For plenty of frying tips, see the directions in this post. When you see those triangles of dough “pop” in the first few seconds of frying, you won’t regret it one bit. So exciting!

Anyway, thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you baking with these different, foreign-sounding ingredients. Thank you for trusting me enough to take a chance. I promise the rewards are great. And we’ve only just begun!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 28 sopapillas


1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) Expandex modified tapioca starch*

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons (8 g) sugar

2 tablespoons (28 g) vegetable shortening, melted or neutral oil (like canola or vegetable oil)

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature (any kind, just not nonfat)

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) lukewarm water, plus more by the teaspoon as necessary

Honey, for serving

*For information on where to find Expandex, please see the Resources page. I have not yet tested Ultratex 3 in this recipe, but if you would like to try it here, I recommend using 12 grams of Ultratex 3 in place of the Expandex (1/3 the amount of Expandex called for), and then making up the remaining 24 grams of weight in more all purpose gluten free flour. So it would be 269 grams all purpose gluten free flour + 12 grams Ultratex 3. Ultratex 3 is at least 3 times as strong as Expandex.


  • In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, Expandex, salt, baking powder and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the melted shortening or oil, milk and water and mix to combine until the dough comes together. With clean hands, squeeze the dough together into a ball. It should hold together well, and not be so stiff that it is hard to knead. If it is hard to knead, add more water by the teaspoonful, kneading it in after each addition, until the dough is pliable but still holds together very well. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

  • Unwrap the dough and divide it into 7 equal portions. On a large, flat surface, roll each piece of dough into a ball and, with a rolling pin, roll into a round about 6 inches in diameter and about 1/4-inch thick, and cut off the rough edges with a 6-inch cake cutter. The lid of a pot in the proper size should work, too. It is important to roll the dough out very evenly, and for each round to have very clean, well-defined edges. This helps the sopapillas to puff up during frying. Using a pizza or pastry wheel, or a very sharp knife, slice each round carefully into 4 quarters.

  • While the dough is rising, place 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan or deep fryer. Clip a candy/deep fry thermometer to the side of the saucepan, and bring the oil to 375°F. Place the quarters of dough in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them at all. Within the first few seconds, the should float to the top and expand as they fill with air. As soon as they “pop,” turn the over using tongs or chopsticks, and fry until lightly golden brown on both sides (30 to 45 seconds per side). Remove the dough from the oil, and place on paper towel-lined plates to drain.

  • Serve warm, with a drizzle of honey.

  • Adapted from the recipe for Gluten Free Flour Tortillas from Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread (reprinted here), and tips on the method from Use Real Butter.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, pick you your copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread! Your support means everything.

Comments are closed.

  • […] Gluten Free on a Shoestring shared Sopapillas […]

  • Erica
    April 30, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Nicole, can the dough be used for empanadas?

    • May 1, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      Erica, it probably could, but I have a great recipe for empanada dough here on the blog. Just use the search function!

  • joan Wamsley
    April 29, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Can this be made dairy free using coconut or almond milk?

  • Anna
    April 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    What do i use in stead of expandex. In the netherlands i can’t get it.

  • Lisa Scully
    April 28, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    O M G…..I need these!!!

  • Pam
    April 28, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    These look great! Thank you! And I really want you to know that NOTHING compares with your thick crust pizza recipe. It’s the.best.ever! And I’ve tried a lot of gf pizza crust recipes. Also I now swear by Expandex and whey protein isolate, although I admit it did take me some time to warm to them.

    • April 29, 2014 at 7:50 AM

      That’s so great, Pam! I’m thrilled that you pushed past your reservations and that you’re reaping the rewards. :)

  • LindaD
    April 28, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Here’s a picture of the sopapillas we devoured this afternoon. Thanks again!

    • April 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      Linda they’re beautiful!! Thanks so much for posting the photo. Love it!!

  • DrD
    April 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    After going gluten-free out of medical need over a year! I have finally splurged on Expandex and cannot freaking wait to make ANYTHING deliciously crusty! Thank you for experimenting for the rest of us, so we can easily make sopapillas.

  • LindaD
    April 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    We are enjoying an awesome plate of fresh made sopapillas! So exciting! We have several in the family with multiple food allergies so I had to make a few minor adjustments. I used your best all purpose flour recipe from the Bakes Bread book and swapped out the potato starch for half tapioca, half arrowroot starch and the potato flour for sweet potato flour. It worked! The rest was the same and the sopapillas were so good that my son-in-law who works at El Chico’s said these are every bit as good or maybe better than the ones they make there. Thanks so much for posting the recipe!

    • April 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      Wow, Linda. That’s awesome! So glad your subs worked out, and that sounds like quite the high compliment from your son-in-law!

  • Candice
    April 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    I am firmly in the “I love Nicole” camp, too! I wish that people would stick with the “If you can’t say something nice” mantra too. My mom was a big proponent of that and I bite my tongue often. Especially on Facebook. Man, people write nasty things they would never say in person. Sorry that you have to deal with all that, but always remind yourself of the people who’s lives you have affected so positively.
    I cringe every time I read a “do you know what is in nutella?” type comment on your Facebook page. Yes, I do know what is in nutella. That’s why I don’t eat a bowlful of it every day, but I do like to have a little bit sometimes and I’m pretty sure that’s okay!
    Thank you for so many beautiful recipes. I never mastered the art of baking bread WITH gluten and now, with your help, I have mastered the art of baking without it. I get a kick out of bringing the fastest disappearing baked good to an event and then letting everyone know it was made without gluten. I do not have celiac disease, however, I have discovered that I am gluten intolerant and I feel so much better without it. And thanks to you, I don’t miss it. And my body thanks you!

    • April 28, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      Candice you are such a bread-baking rockstar! Clearly, you were meant to do this. Thank you for all the kind words—and for being frustrated with the crazy nasty comments right along with me. Somehow, that helps!!

  • Anneke
    April 28, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    Gee, I show up late to the party ONE day, and all kinds of stuff happens! Naturally, I am firmly in the “I love Nicole” camp!

  • Jen
    April 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Nicole, I have greatly enjoyed your first two books, the Bead book has been my downfall. I have all the ingredients and have tried one of the recipes various times and it NEVER works, have also tried a few others and they have also been major flops. Have yet to figure out the problem. The ingredients are correct and I’m following the recipes to the T; sadly we came to the conclusion a while back that prepping the bread and waiting 3-5 days to not end up with bread is just not worth it. Love you’re other books.

    • April 28, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      Jen, it’s a shame that you haven’t been successful with the recipe from the bread books, and that you just don’t find it to be worthwhile. I know that it can be frustrating when a recipe doesn’t work out, but these recipes have been rigorously tested and will work when made as instructed. I recommend you review the Bread FAQs on the blog, as you are likely doing something that is sabotaging your efforts without even realizing it.

    • Donia Robinson
      April 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Jen, lots of people recommend the English Muffin bread because it doesn’t have that long proof time. Maybe give that a try!

  • Lorna
    April 28, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Sorry you’ve been feeling the brunt of some not so nice comments. My dear old mother always told me ” if you can’t say something good. don’t say anything” and I think generally that’s a pretty good rule. Personally, and I’m sure many others, haven’t got too many good words for you. You have totally changed my attitude towards Gluten Free baking. I’m still struggling with the breads a bit….but mostly that’s because old habits die hard. It is definitely harder to teach an old dog new tricks and all that! Something your objectors should probably take into consideration is the fact that given “normal” circumstances probably not many of us would choose modified ingredients……but when you have issues with gluten nothing is “Normal”. The second big consideration here is the amount used….you have to consider not only the amount used in that loaf of bread but what portion of the loaf is consumed by an individual. And another huge consideration is how greatly you have enhanced our “Quality of Life” for so many who are intolerant to Gluten. I say shoulders up girl and keep up the great work.. Great walks through life always encounter a few little stones to slip and slide over!

    • April 28, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      Your mother sounds like a very smart lady! Thanks for the kind words, Lorna. They are greatly appreciated!

  • Lynn A. Decker
    April 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Hey there Nicole — I have purchased Expandex and the Whey Protein Isolate. And the book. (I got them all on Amazon.) I’m so sorry to hear that people are giving you such a hard time about them!

    Now I just have to build up courage to attempt the actual BREAD. The ingredients don’t worry me AT ALL. It’s the yeast. LOL I’m going to try the English Muffin bread soon. I promise!

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Thanks, Lynn! I think the English Muffin Bread is a great place to start as you don’t shape it. And remember with yeast, just be patient. The rising times are guidelines, not absolutes, and they will vary depending upon the rising environment. You won’t overproof based upon the amount of time you allow dough to rise. You’ll only overproof if it rises too much! You’ll do great. Reading through the Bread FAQs might help, too?

  • Susy
    April 28, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    HI there,
    If i use regular tapioca, would that make a huge difference? I have Bob’s brand here in the US. And I think he also carries Xanthan Gum. Would those be ok?

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Susy, I’m afraid you cannot use regular tapioca starch in place of Expandex. It is a completely different ingredient. In particular, Bob’s Red Mill brand tapioca starch/flour is one that I caution against even when a recipe does call for that ingredient. Their tapioca flour is of very poor quality.

  • Lucy
    April 28, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    I too am a little hesitant to bake from the Bakes Bread. Not sure why, I have the ingredients from Natures Market and I still haven’t made the effort. I sooo bad :(
    Which recipe would you recommend to start with?
    I bake for my daughter she only recently was diagnosed with CD a little over a year ago. I bake something and she always tells me it’s great… but I taste it and think this isn’t how its suppose to taste like… I think she is trying to make me feel good even when the recipe is a flop. I have found that all the recipes I have tried from here and from the GF on a Shoestring are excellent and always recommend friends and school teachers your books.
    Now with the weather starting to warm up and planting the garden and fruit trees I have less time in the kitchen. I always have the best intentions but time slips by.
    Thank you Nicole for your hard work! And always search for new ingredients because one day someone will say ” To bad for you! that you are not eating GF foods, you don’t know what you are missing!”

    • Jennifer S.
      April 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      I recommend the ricotta bread – it’s wonderful!

      • Lucy
        April 28, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Thanks :)

      • Michelle
        April 28, 2014 at 6:38 PM

        I agree with Jennifer. Such a fluffy bread! I like the oatmeal bread, too.

  • Mare Masterson
    April 28, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    I have to say that I am such a sensitive person that I get very sad when anyone is not treated in a kind manner, and I want to go stop those bullies! I think, too, that they get frustrated because either they cannot afford the ingredients, or cannot have the ingredients, and they let it out on you. Not fair! I know, however, that you do your darnedest to develop substitutions that work, and that you encourage them to experiment to make it work for them.

    That being said, I also have major food sensitivities and wasn’t sure about Expandex, but I went for it…and I am so happy I did! I love to bake gluten free bread with your recipes from the book, but I love it even more when I bite into what I have baked–and so does my family!

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Aw, Mare, you’re just the best. Expandex seems foreign because it’s just not common yet. Same thing with whey protein isolate for baking. But there’s always a boundary. It’s for us to push it, right? ;)

  • Jean E.
    April 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I absolutely love your cookbooks, especially Bakes Bread! I don’t have the patience to experiment by trying to convert recipes and I am glad that you will do that for us. As far as the crazy items-I think these couple of things are better than what is in most manufactured food-but everyone has their preferences. I’ve been able to make amazing baked items so that we can have really good tasting baked items again. I promote your books to everyone I meet that if GF. Keep up the good work-we love you!

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      Thanks, Jean! I love hearing from you on Facebook. You’re always so helpful and positive. I understand what you mean about so-called “crazy items.” But I believe that they’re only considered “crazy” because they’re new. Just like xanthan gum once was. That has its detractors, but most people see it as essential, even if just in small quantities, to most gluten free baking. But when you’re first, you take the lumps!

  • kizzl
    April 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    I own all three cookbooks and I love them dearly, but Bakes Bread is the only one I’ve not baked from. This isn’t because I don’t like the recipe… but because I’m afraid. I know that’s silly, but I’ve had so many recipes fail and have spent so much money on flours that I just can’t build up the courage to spend more money on things I’ve not used before. I’ll get there, I know I will, and I want to thank you for doing everything first. You’re brave and I hope I can be brave too.

    • April 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      I understand, kizzl. I really do! Yeast bread-baking is intimidating to many. You’ll get there, and when you do, I’ll be here for you. We all will!

    • Jennifer S.
      April 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      I felt the same way truly. Watch the videos online and just give it a go. You have to just jump right in and go for it. I did and I’m so glad I did!

    • Mare Masterson
      April 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Kizzi, Go for it! I was petrified because I never made bread – never mind GF bread. I finally gave in and did it and have not regretted it at all! Start with the English Muffin bread. I have to say, even my “failures” (didn’t rise) tasted better than what is in the supermarkets. I have not given up! I figured out the rise issue thanks to to someone who posts here (was it Donia?–CRS moment). I am scared of the “No Rye Rye” starter. I need to bite that bullet next because I want a Reuben and pastrami on rye!

    • Stephanie Bachman
      April 28, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      I started with pancakes and now that I have mastered them, I’m empowered to move to other more complicated stuff. As Nicole says, it just takes a bit of practice with the weighing and measuring. I really do think having my tub of supplies has made it a lot less intimidating. So far, my “failure” on the lean white bread was the same as Mare’s – very tasty, but just didn’t rise.

    • Michelle
      April 28, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      If you are already using Better Batter, it’s easy to make the bread flour with it. Just use the BB as the base flour and all you have to add are the Expandex and the whey protein isolate. I make big batches and keep it in a glass jar. The ricotta and oatmeal breads are probably my favorites for basic toast, but I made the olive bread and love it with a salad. I was out of kalamatas, so used regular black olives and some jalapeno- stuffed green olives. It was amazing! I also make the pizza crust and the yeast- raised waffles all of the time.

  • tjmarquez
    April 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    My dear Nicole, I address you as a friend because I have been following you for so long. I too, have all of your books EXCEPT the last bread book. I cannot in good conscience use the additives you mention above. I promote cooking and baking from scratch, to avoid such things. That said, I use your other books and look forward to your posts that don’t include these ingredients. I think what you do is stellar and you make me laugh. My job is pretty humorless so I look forward to your daily posts. Too bad you are in Westchester. If you were a “little bit” further north, I could/would write a Chef Spotlight for the newspaper I work for.

  • Kendra
    April 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    PS can’t wait to make the sopapillas!

  • Stephanie Bachman
    April 28, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    While it would be lovely to use only four ingredients to bake bread like you can with wheat, you just can’t do that GF. I think the negativity you have been receiving is reflective not of the value of your book, but of people’s frustration with this fact. You can’t change the facts, though, and I am thankful for you whenever I cook. Sure, it is daunting to have an entire plastic bin of weird-sounding flours, gums, starches, etc., but now I haul out my bin and mix up my GF flour (with scale) and make my recipes with no problem. You are a gift to anyone who cooks GF. Thank you.

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      I think you’re right, Stephanie. In that regard, I guess I’m the bearer of bad tidings! But I strive to make things as normal as possible, including the method of making gluten free yeast bread. I feel that if it is as “familiar” as possible, people will feel more confident. But gluten is at the very heart of conventional yeast bread baking. To think that we could just take it out and carry on as “usual” without replacing it with other ingredients is just never going to happen, as you say!

  • Kendra
    April 28, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I’m one who doesn’t love the bread book but with suitable modifications and a few caveats how found it very helpful and exciting. We are dairy free. finding a suitable relplacement for whole milk yogurt was an adventure. Using almond flour by weight instead of skim milk powder and I live in a very dry part of texas, invariably I have to add more moisture. usually just a tablespoon of two but in july of august i may need as much as a1/4 cup or more! I don’t have anything with an airtght seal, that isn’t already storing flour, for the long refrigerator rises. So i just rise the breads on the counter until double then refrigerate for 15 min or so until easier to handle. For any recipe baked for 30 min or longer i just use whey isolate as I can get that pretty cheap locally anything less that 30 min i use the dairy free substitutions and handle the dough wearing vinyl gloves from the dollar store sprayed with cooking oil…… hasn’t failed me yet and the hawaiin rolls come out delicious. So I bought the book and the ingredients and made it work for us.

  • Jennifer S.
    April 28, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    I’m proud of you too and I tell everyone that asks me to buy your books and get to your blog immediately. I somewhat of a cookbook hoarder and your GF books are the ones that I go to the most, are dog eared, and smeared with all sorts of crap because all the others are just weird. I still read through them but hardly use them much. Your recipes are honestly anyone should ever need when going gluten free plus more!!!
    I especially love the bread as I sit here and eat my yummy ricotta bread (no cinnamon for me) with fried egg whites and cheese for breakfast. I have it EVERY.DAY. and I love it to pieces!!! Thank you for all you do and for making our lives normal.

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Thank you, Jennifer! I get that there’s a hurdle to leap over. But you and I both know that it’s a one-time hurdle, and it’s well worth the leap!

  • Elizabeth Russell
    April 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Nicole, as the saying goes “you can’t please everyone all the time”. Just know that, for ME, YOU are my go to blog/person when I need inspiration for anything GF, if I have a need for another way to prepare a meal, or even just a chuckle

    • April 28, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      That means so much to me, Elizabeth! You definitely can’t please everyone. I gave up on that long ago (in my 20’s, I think!) and I’m definitely the better for it. I do wish that people could express themselves with more tact, but it appears that’s not going to happen either! I’m not gonna stop, though. I’ll just have to steel myself for the inevitable!

  • Alexandra Brunnerova
    April 28, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Nicole, I have been baking gluten free for ten years. I’ve bought the three books of yours and they are absolutely great! I love your blog and the recipes are the top of gluten free baking. And they simply work, what it cannot be said about quite many of those others made by the “no gums no thickeners” prophets. Don’let yourself be discouraged an PLEASE bake bake bake!

    • April 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Oh, I hear you loud and clear, Alexandra. Every word! I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, without any more spoken. :)

  • Donia Robinson
    April 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    I do feel a little left behind by the revolution since the dairy-free version doesn’t produce the same results, but I am *SO* happy for everyone who can use the whey version and am *VERY* proud of you! I love the book 1 and book 2 recipes, and don’t mind gloppy batter. ;)

    • April 28, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      Thank you, Donia! No why did that choke me up a little bit?!

  • maryemmens
    April 28, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    I’ve just ordered the book in the UK and didn’t think to read the amazon usa reviews! Oh well! Both myself and my husband have coeliacs disease diagnosed in the last 12 months and are awaiting biopsy results on our eldest child, we desperately need to find baked goods that work for us so I can’t wait to get reading and baking.

    • April 28, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      In the UK, Mary, you’ll need to use Ultratex 3 in place of Expandex. Just click on the resources page for information on how to use it!

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