Sopes Shopping Tips
How hot is that chile pepper? Fresh peppers get hotter as they age; they will achieve a more reddish hue and sometimes develop streaks in the skin.
Sopes Cooking Tips
There are 60 varieties of chile peppers, many of which are used in Mexican cooking. Handle them with care. When handling the spicier kinds, gloves are recommended. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your eyes.
How to cook store bought sopes
See how to cook store bought sopes and top them with vegetarian refried beans for an easy weeknight dinner!
I’m all about the easy mexican vegetarian meals, and these vegetarian refried beans sopes are one of my favorite meals because they’re easy to prepare. I managed to cut my time even more by using the new Herdez instant refried beans. It takes under 10 minutes for the beans to be ready for this easy sopes recipe. If you’re having a large group of people over, I would suggest buying all four varieties (queso, chorizo, jalapeño, and traditional) and setting the meal up as a buffet.
You can work on frying the sopes and making the beans simultaneously to save some time. Buying pre-made salsa saves even more work. Whenever possible, always go for authentic ingredients (we bought our ingredients at our local Northgate Market).
- For the Sopes:
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- To serve:
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
- 1 cup salsa, divided
- 1 cup refried beans
- 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or cojita cheese
In a large bowl, combine masa harina and salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the warm water. Knead until mixture forms a smooth ball without lumps. If it feels a bit dry, add some more water to achieved the desired consistency.
Divide the dough into 12 portions. Shape into 2-inch diameter balls and cover with plastic wrap or a wet kitchen towel to keep the dough moist and pliable. Keep a small bowl of water next to your working area. If the dough begins to stick to your hands as you are rolling and shaping the balls, occasionally dip your fingertips into the water to lightly moisten the dough.
Working one at a time while keeping the other balls covered, place one of the balls of dough between two sheets of plastic wrap.
If you have a tortilla press, gently press down to make a flat 1/4-inch thick disk, about the thickness of a pancake. It will be much thicker than a tortilla, so do not flatten all the way down. If you do not have a tortilla press, use a glass pie pan to evenly press down the dough into 3-or 4-inch circles. Repeat with all 12 balls of dough.
On an ungreased griddle or large sauté pan, cook the dough circles over medium-low heat for 2 minutes on each side until the dough is just set and can be turned without sticking. Work in batches of 3 or 4 circles at a time.
Remove the circles from the heat and quickly pinch the edge of circles to form a 1/2-in. rim all the way around. Set aside until all the circles have been gently cooked and pinched. Be careful to protect your fingers as you are making a rim around each sope. If they are very warm, use a thin kitchen towel or paper towel as you form and shape the sopes.
Add a small amount of oil to the pan and return the shaped sopes to the pan. Cook in batches until lightly browned and cooked through, about three minutes.
Place the sopes on a paper towel lined plate as you finish the whole batch.
In a small saucepan, combine the shredded cooked chicken breast and 1/2 cup of the salsa. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
To assemble, layer each sope with some warmed refried beans, and the warmed chicken mixture. Sprinkle each sope with shredded lettuce and queso fresco. Top with remaining salsa.
Serve immediately and enjoy! If eaten the same day, they may be kept wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. Cooked sopes can also be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and then reheated. Sopes can also be frozen and then thawed and reheated later.
If you’re looking for an easy, traditional Mexican dish, look no further than our authentic Mexican sopes, or chicken sopes. Mexican sopes are corn cakes made with the same masa (dough) as corn tortillas or tamales but are slightly smaller and thicker to hold all of your delightful toppings.
Also called pellizcadas (pinched) because the edges are pinched to create a lip, sopes are just as delicious served as an antojito (appetizer) as they are a main dish. Sopes are a popular street food in Mexico, and now you can make them in your own kitchen! And because they’re made with corn, they’re gluten-free.
refried beans, salsa, shredded chicken, lettuce, onions and cream, and you’re ready to eat! Authentic sopes are versatile, too, so you can top them with carnitas (pulled pork), carne asada (grilled steak), chorizo (pork sausage), guacamole or veggies.
- 6 pre-made sopes, room temperature
- 2 cups refried beans
- 1 ½ cup shredded chicken
- 1 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 cup Mexican crema (cream) or sour cream
- 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 4-6 tbsp vegetable oil or salsa roja
Tip: If you’re using salsa roja, or red salsa, you should add it last, after all the other toppings. But if you use salsa verde, it tastes best directly on the beans. There’s something about the flavor mixture of refried beans and salsa verde that gives this dish that little something extra.
Once you’ve added your salsa verde, sprinkle on some shredded chicken.
- 1 1/2 pounds bone-on, skin-on chicken breast
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 pound tomatillos
- 1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed, split in half lengthwise
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stem and seeds removed, split in half lengthwise
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- Kosher salt
- 2 quarts peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can refried beans, or 2 cups homemade refried beans, warmed
- 1 cup Mexican Crema, or 3/4 tablespoons sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
The very first class I taught at the Mexican Cultural Institute, after I switched from being a policy analyst at the Inter American Dialogue, was October 18, 2007.
I remember the date exactly, because it was a day after Sami’s 6 th birthday. For months, I had been teaching him and his two brothers, Alan who was then 8 and Juju who was just 1, how to make sopes every night for at least 3 months.
I had been so nervous about teaching in front of a live audience that, instead of telling them our usual bed time story about an imaginary and mischievous monkey called Waba-Waba, I had switched to a nightly cooking demo. They were as loving and kind and patient as they are with me to this day, did not complain, and pretended to be making sopes along with me.
I started the classes at the Institute in an attempt to share my love for Mexican cuisine and culture and to try to open a much wider window into its richness, diversity and surprising accessibility. I wanted to help break misconceptions about our food and our people and invite people north of the border to make use of our ingredients, techniques and recipes to enrich their own kitchens.
The very first dish that I shared was sopes. I even found a photo of that day… and you can see Rosa and I showing how to make sopes many ways, with our hands, using a rolling pin, with a tortilla press…
Why did I choose sopes? To begin with, because they are one of my favorite things to eat! But also, because sopes helped me shine a light on so many crucial elements of Mexican cuisine…
Sopes are part of a category of dishes we Mexicans call antojos, or antojitos, which translates to little cravings. An antojo is something you can eat anytime of day and can either be a quick bite or make a full meal, depending on what you top them with… and how many you eat.
Sopes are made of corn masa, which is a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine that has existed for thousands of years. Made of nixtamalized corn, corn masa renders corn nutritious and versatile. You don’t need to nixtamalize corn yourself, you can buy masa harina, which simply mixed with water makes masa!
Sopes show how playful and versatile masa can be. They are similar to a tortilla, but they are much thicker, and the rim around it that helps contain its garnishes. They are like little edible plates.
Sopes are easy to make. Different from a corn tortilla, someone who is making sopes for the first time, doesn’t need to worry about knowing how to use a tortilla press, the correct thickness, or the technique for making them puff up. They are much more forgiving.
Sopes are also accessible: you can make them ahead of time, vary the toppings, assemble in a few minutes, dress them up or dress them down. I always, always, add a layer of refried beans, a tasty salsa and either tangy, salty and crumbly queso cotija or queso fresco, crumbled on top.
To boot, sopes are super fun to make by yourself or with friends or with your kids.
So as you can see, sopes helped me achieve many things: they helped me show how accessible, forgiving, fun, filling, nutritious, versatile, rich and delicious Mexican food is.
You can follow along with this video too…
To this day, I am still proudly teaching at the Institute where I am the resident chef 11 years after I started. I am also serving sopes any chance I get.
The authentic mexican sopes, and how to make them
The Sopes (soh-pehz) are a large family of mexican snacks and appetizers, which are very popular in Mexico but almost completely unknown elsewhere in the world. Sopes can be found under many different names, varying region per region with names such as: Tlacoyos, Huaraches, Sopes, Pellizcadas, Picaditas, Garnachas, Salbutes and many more. Many of these recipes come directly and unchanged from the Aztec cuisine in the pre-colonial times. Of course all these sope recipes are all different from one to another and each one has its own personality. By all means, I encourage you to try and experiment with these they are easy to make and the result will not disappoint you!
Making any recipes involving homemade dough can seem like an intimidating task to some, but I assure you the corn masa flour used in these mexican recipes is a pure joy to use.
Memelas al Pastor, a larger type of Sope
Mexico On My Plate: Leftover Chicken Sopes
There are nights where the idea of being in the kitchen for even an hour seems like a huge task. Perhaps it is out of pure laziness, lack of time or simply just not in the mood to cook. On those nights we either go out to eat or I rummage through the refrigerator for left overs or quick meal ideas. I’ve said it many times, many a good meal has been the result of refrigerator rummaging. These easy sopes were one of those meals.
Every now and then I will make batches of tortillas, tostadas, sopes and gorditas to have ready for meals during the week. This project takes a few hours but then the majority of the work for our weekly Mexican dinners is done ahead of time. The whole idea behind this dinner was to make it hassle free and quick, so that is when those sopes I had made earlier in the week really came in handy. Okay if you actually don’t have ready made sopes in your refrigerator that will be the most time consuming part of the meal. But they are super easy and relatively fast to make. The recipe for sopes can be found in my archives here, Gorditas and Sopes a Mexican Treat. By the way sopes and gorditas are made with the same dough so you could also change these chicken sopes to chicken gorditas.
Ingredients used for these chicken sopes.
Keeping in mind that this meal needed to be brainless and take up very little of my time, I wasn’t too concerned about making the salsa in the most traditional way. I simply boiled the salsa ingredients to soften then placed in the blender. Easy and brainless but still tasty enough to give the sopes a little kick. Now just because we want easy and brainless meals that doesn’t mean they have to also be tasteless. Adjust the salsa ingredients, or if you can purchase a tasty ready made salsa then just use that to save yourself some time. The chicken here was from leftover boiled chicken or you could also use roasted chicken. The beans were also leftovers from homemade beans. In my opinion canned refried beans are awful but if you like them then go ahead and use them, no judgement.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Masa harina – The base of plenty of delicious Mexican recipes, masa harina is made from dried maize corn. This ground corn flour is used to make corn tortillas, atole, tamales, and more.
- Oil – You’ll need olive oil to add moisture to the dough as well as vegetable oil if you plan on frying the sopes.
- Salt – For flavor and balance in the dough.
- Water – A simple mix of hot water, oil, masa harina, and salt is all that’s needed to form the sopes dough.
Mexican Chicken Sopes
I hadn’t heard of sopes until a friend of mine brought over some that her mother, who is from Mexico, had made. This was back in my single days – which seem like forever ago, although we’re only talking circa 2003 – when I had my own one-bedroom apartment in one of those s-era buildings in West Hollywood. On Sunday nights, I’d have a small group of girls over for cosmos and watching Sex and the City. We devoured this homemade snack.
Sopes, it turned out, were these little golden-fried masa discs with raised sides to cradle fillings like refried beans, cheese, lettuce and salsa. When you bite into them, the edges are light and crispy while the center of the sope is softer. It tastes much like an extra-thick corn tortilla, which it essentially is – formidable enough to support all the goodies inside. I was excited to recently find a recipe for sopes on the side of a package of masa harina (the main ingredient). I’d been wanting for years to try these again!
Making the sopes was incredibly easy. And it wouldn’t have taken much time at all had I remembered just how long it takes for oil to heat up for frying (I always underestimate this!). I wound up making only about 10 sopes, although the recipe said it would yield twice that amount. Still, it was more than enough for our family to have for dinner. Now that I have this 5 lb bag of masa harina in my pantry I imagine we’ll be making these more often!