Mexican Bunuelos recipe for a classic Mexican treat of dough circles fried to crispy golden perfection with a sweet cinnamon sugar coating.
One bite of hot, fresh Mexican Bunuelos coated in cinnamon sugar, and it will be easy to see why these classic Mexican treats have been cherished for generations. The rich dough fries up super crispy and the sweet, spiced flavors make them the perfect Christmas dessert. Enjoy these sweet fritters with a cup of Hot Chocolate and some Whipped Cream for a cozy, festive treat during the holidays or anytime you want a little taste of Mexico.
Mexican Bunuelos look like a fried tortilla, but the dough is closer to a churro or a donut. It starts with a egg custard, then the dough gets rolled into balls before it rests to allow the gluten to develop so they are tender and soft inside. The balls get rolled into flat circles and then fried until they are puffy and crispy The hot bunuelos are smothered in sweet cinnamon and sugar then they are ready to be gobbled up!
What are Mexican Bunuelos?
Bunuelos are a mouthwatering treat and part of traditional Mexican cuisine, but there are also many versions throughout Latin cultures. What sets Mexican Bunuelos apart from other versions is the use of anise and that they are usually flattened into circles, similar to tortillas, before they are fried. They get a generous coating of cinnamon and sugar and enjoyed hot.
What is the difference between Bunuelos and Sopapillas?
While both treats are fried dough with a sweet topping, there are some key differences between Bunuelos and Sopapillas. Bunuelos are thinner, larger, and much crispier thanks to the extended rolling process and they are usually shaped as discs, and they are coated in cinnamon sugar after they are fried. Sopapillas, on the other hand, tend to be puffier pockets of dough that are usually served with honey or melted chocolate as a dipping sauce
How to Make Mexican Bunuelos
- Custard: In a saucepan heat milk and lard over medium heat while stirring until the lard is melted. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla then transfer the wet ingredients to continue cooling in your stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Bunuelos Dough: Whisk the all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and anise in a separate bowl. On medium speed, begin adding the dry ingredients to the milk mixture. Continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticking and a large ball of dough forms.
- Rise: Grease a baking sheet with lard or butter. Divide equal amounts of dough into 20 pieces and roll into balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 40 minutes.
- Shape: Dust a flat surface with flour. Roll out the balls of dough into flat discs. Add a little flour between each dough disc so they don’t stick together and cover your stack with your towel so they don’t dry out while you roll all the dough balls.
- Prep: Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large heavy bottomed pot to 350-365 degrees. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a shallow bowl until well combined and set out a clean baking sheet with a wire rack on top.
- Fry: Once the oil is hot, fry a couple dough discs at a time for 30 seconds on each side, or until golden brown. Coat the hot bunuelos in the cinnamon sugar mixture on both sides then place on the wire rack while you cook the remaining dough.
- Note: Work in batches and don’t crowd the pan so that your oil temperature doesn’t drop. Don’t let them cool on paper towels or they will get soggy.
FAQs for Mexican Bunuelos
In many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Bunuelos symbolize good luck when eaten during the winter holidays. The act of making and sharing Bunuelos also represents a sense of unity and celebration, making them a beloved treat for Christmas.
While both bunuelos and churros are delightful, well-loved Mexican fried fritters, they are quite a bit different. Bunuelos are thin, crispy circles coated in cinnamon sugar, with a delicate crunch and a unique anise flavor. Churros, on the other hand, are thicker and often ridged, featuring a soft interior encased in a slightly crispy exterior, traditionally served with a dusting of sugar or dipped in chocolate.
One common reason your bunuelos can get soggy is that the oil temperature might be too low, causing the dough to take longer to cook and absorb more oil. Another way they can get soggy is allowing them to dry on a paper towel, which allows the grease to pool under the hot pastry.
Create a free account to Save Recipes
- Lard: Lard is not only the authentic way to make these delicious Mexican fried treats, it actually helps your bunuelos get crispier. Since you are melting the lard, you can easily swap it out with butter or shortening if you prefer.
- Anise: Using ground anise gives these bunuelos a traditional taste without dominating the other flavors. Anise has a licorice-like flavor that not everyone is crazy for, so this recipe adds just a hint of it. You can make the anise flavor make it stronger by stepping seeds in hot milk, then straining them and using the milk as usual.
- Vanilla: The warm, sweet vanilla adds its own delicious flavor while also bringing out the flavors of the other spices. You can always adjust the amount depending how much you want to taste the vanilla.
- Cinnamon and Nutmeg: The cinnamon gets added to both the dough and the topping so you get the flavor throughout. The nutmeg in the coating gives it a little extra cozy warm flavor making these the perfect holiday treats!
- Custard: These Bunuelos are made with a rich egg and milk custard mixture so they are incredibly tender inside and full of rich flavor. The custard is probably the most tricky step but the key is to let your milk cool a bit so it doesn’t scramble the eggs when you add it. You also don’t want your milk to get so hot it boils and scalds, just enough to melt the lard.
- Sugar: Unlike donuts or other sweet fried treats, Bunuelos traditionally don’t have any sugar added to the dough. Instead the sugar is added through the toppings or coatings. This keeps them from being overly sweet or sugary.
Can Mexican Bunuelos be made ahead of time?
You can definitely make the dough ahead of time but Mexican Bunuelos are so much better when they are fried fresh. Prepare the dough circles and stack them with flour-dusted parchment paper in between. Refrigerate overnight and then fry and coat them just before serving to ensure they’re at their freshest.
- Piloncillo Syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add a piloncillo cone (8 ounces) and water (⅓ cup). Stir until the sugar dissolves completely then reduce the heat to low and let simmer until it thickens into a syrup. You can also add a stick of cinnamon for more flavor. Drizzle the syrup over the bunuelos and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 month.
- Chocolate: Replace ½ cup of flour with ½ cup Hot Cocoa Mix (or Abuelita’s for authentic Mexican hot chocolate) and prepare the bunuelos as usual. Add a tablespoon of the cocoa mix to the cinnamon sugar mixture too.
- Citrus: Infuse your dough with citrus zest for a hint of fresh fruity flavor. Top them with a drizzle of orange glaze made with fresh squeezed juice and powdered sugar.
- Shape: Instead of flat discs, you can roll out your dough and cut it into shapes with cookie cutters. You could also just fry balls of dough like they are donut holes.
How to Store
- Store: Let your cooked bunuelos cool completely then store them in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3-4 days. You could also refrigerate them for a few days longer and just reheat to serve.
- Reheat: You can reheat them in the oven on low temperature (250 degrees) so they get warm and crisp up but don’t actually cook. If you have an airfryer, that’s a great way to reheat them too!
- Freeze: Once they have completely cooled, you can wrap the leftover bunuelos in plastic wrap then freeze in a storage bag for up to 2 months. Reheat in the oven from frozen at 250 degrees until hot.
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup lard , room temperature butter is ok too
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground anise
- vegetable oil , for frying
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Add milk and lard to a medium saucepan on medium heat.
- Stir well until lard is fully melted, then remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Add in the vanilla extract and eggs and whisk well until it makes a custard and continue to let cool in your stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- In a large bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and anise and whisk until well mixed.
- Turn on the stand mixer to a medium speed and add in the flour mixture, letting the dough come together with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes until it makes a ball that is no longer sticking to the sides of the stand mixer.
- Roll the dough into 20 balls on a greased baking sheet.
- Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.
- On a floured surface each ball into a 5 inch circle, then cover with a clean kitchen towel to avoid it drying out and stack them with a bit of flour dusted between them.
- Heat oil in a large skillet or pot about 1″ deep to 350-365 degrees.
- While the oil is heating up add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to a shallow bowl and mix with a fork.
- Fry each piece of buñuelos until golden brown, about 30 seconds on each side, then immediately coat in the sugar mixture on both sides.
- Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.