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What are Sopes?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 16, 2024
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In the culinary world, the sope is a sort of cousin to the tortilla. They are made with the same ingredients as tortillas, but their size and thickness is much different. Sopes are smaller in diameter — only about 3 inches (7.6 cm) across — and they are significantly thicker than tortillas. Despite their difference in shape and scale, the two items are used in a manner. They can be filled with cheese, beans, avocado, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, chorizo, and chicken, to name a few of the most popular fillings.

Sopes are made from a dough known as masa. This dough is made into little cakes and then pressed or hand-crafted into thick patties with raised edges. Once they have been molded into the right shape, they are lightly fried on each side in a pan with either vegetable oil or lard. It is important, when cooking them, that cooks make sure that they retain their shape in the pan. The purpose of the raised edge on the top perimeter is to keep the food on top from falling off, and any sauces from rolling down the diner’s chin.

Because of their shape, sopes are not used to wrap their fillings as tortillas are used to make burritos. Rather, the ingredients simply sit atop the base, making something like an open-faced sandwich. In fact, prefabricated sope bases can be purchased at many Latin markets. In general, the most time consuming part of preparing dishes made with sopes is making the dough, shaping them, and frying them.

Whether a cook purchases sopes at the market or fry them up at home, the most fun part about making a dish with them is deciding what to put on top. Many chefs begin by smearing the top with refried beans, but from there, people can simply build up their dream meal. Chorizo, sour cream, and pico de gallo is a popular combination, while chicken, guacamole, lettuce, and cheese can also make good toppings.

Because sopes are small, they are sometimes serves in batches of two or three. This allows diners to have a number of different flavor combinations on one plate. For example, a plate of three could include chorizo, chicken, and vegetarian options. People who are new to Latin American food might want to start with a sampler of toppings in order to taste the many flavors that this cuisine has to offer.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel , Former Writer
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"

Discussion Comments

By kylee07drg — On Jul 31, 2012

@Kristee – I make corn sopes and then fill them with corn and other vegetables, so I do consider them a sort of health food. Sure, they are fried in oil, but they do have redeeming qualities.

I don't eat much meat, so I like to play around with vegetable combinations for sopes. I love mixing zucchini with corn, black beans, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. This is almost like my recipe for chicken tortilla soup, but I usually leave out the chicken.

I can eat three sopes without feeling overstuffed. I think that if I ate any more than that, then the grease in the sopes might get to me.

By Kristee — On Jul 31, 2012

I like to spread a thin layer of salsa on top of my sopes before adding any other toppings. It acts as a gentle glue to hold the other stuff together, and it provides some moisture.

My favorite sope is one with salsa, cooked black beans and corn seasoned with cumin, and shredded chicken. The cumin gives everything a good flavor.

Even though they are thick, sopes don't have to be considered bad. I think if a sope can encourage you to eat things like corn and black beans, it can actually improve your health.

By JackWhack — On Jul 30, 2012

@shell4life – I have a couple of recipes for dessert sopes. The proportions of the ingredients are not all that important, so you can add as much or as little sugar as you need to get your desired degree of sweetness.

I don't like a ton of sugar, so I just add enough to take the tartness out of the other ingredients. I make a berry sope that is topped with blackberries and strawberries. I cook the berries with a little bit of water and sugar over low heat until they are soft, and then I pour them onto the sopes and swirl in a little whipped cream.

I also sometimes top sopes with peaches. I cook them with brown sugar and cinnamon until they are tender. Whipped cream is good with these, as well.

By shell4life — On Jul 30, 2012

Though most sopes recipes may be similar, the variety of toppings is endless. I love bases that go well with just about anything, because I can mix things up and never get bored.

I once made fish sopes. I loved them, but my husband hated them. However, this was okay, because I could easily make him a different topping without having to sacrifice my fish.

I haven't tried making dessert sopes yet, but I have a feeling there are plenty of recipes out there for this. Does anyone here have a good one they would like to share?

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

Former Writer

"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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