Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (2024)

When I was about 10 years old, my parents developed a habit of traveling during the December holidays without my sisters and I. Don’t ask me why they thought it was a good idea. It was an awful, terrible, horrible idea.

The sweet highlight was that our babysitter Sari, whom we call Nana Tochito and who came from the mountainous regions of Oaxaca, prepared a full blown Christmas style meal to spoil and help us celebrate the holidays. No, we didn’t have the tree like our friends in school. But, thanks to my Nana we couldn’t care less. We exchanged gifts, ate lots of gelt, had the traditional big roasted turkey, drank ponche, and what we loved the most, ate buñuelos.

Mostly found around Christmas and New Year’s, buñuelos speak of nothing but celebration. And truly, what one has to celebrate is being lucky enough to find buñuelos at markets, fairs and street stands or having the time, patience and a reliable recipe to make them at home.

Buñuelos may be one of the most high maintenance treats one can make: but to cut to the chase, they are completely worth it.

Now with that said, you can skip to the end where I give you my most reliable recipe or read a bit more about why I – and everyone in Mexico- love them so, including their demanding and time consuming nature…

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (1)

They are immense with a stunning deep caramel color. Light, thin, crisp yet sturdy. It is a mystery why they don’t break piled high in the stalls or baskets where they wait to be sold, defying gravity and their own weight.

They are irresistible, especially drenched in sweet piloncillo syrup and eaten bite by bite in their entirety or broken into large pieces. Once in your mouth, they feel crunchy and delicate, with a combination of mellow yet distinct flavors. So one large buñuelo is usually just the way to get started…

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (2)

Though the most popular version of the buñuelo is this large, extended and thin one so common in Oaxaca – others being tubed, twisted or with pinwheel looking shapes- there are many spins as to what goes in its dough.

I like to make it with flour, butter -rather than lard or vegetable shortening-, eggs, fresh squeezed orange juice, a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt.

Some old recipes call for Tequesquite– saltpeter- water or water made from simmering tomatillo husks to help ferment the dough and help it have volume, and make it fluffier and crisper as it fries. Since both ingredients sound hard to come by, you may shy away from making them. But don’t! These days most cooks don’t use either, as one can get the same effect from using baking powder and good dough kneading.

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If you look closely behind the oranges, you will also find anise liquor, and in my photoSambuca. If you can’t find it, you can use orange liquor. You can skip the liquor altogether, but it does give it a nice ethereal quality.

So no, this is not just a plain flour dough…

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After the ingredients are mixed, the demanding part of making buñuelos begins. The dough needs to be kneaded for a long, long, time.

It starts looking like the photo above, but it really needs to end up looking like the photo below. Smooth, hom*ogeneous and elastic.

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Because we live in the 21st and not the 19th century, you can choose to knead it by hand for a half hour or just drop all the ingredients in the mixer, and let the mixer do its thing for 10 minutes.

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Then, after that whole lot of massaging in the mixer, the dough calls for a bit of rest.

It really does. If you don’t let it unwind in a greased bowl for at least 20 to 30 minutes, preferably covered with a clean cloth, the dough will not be malleable and easy to work with.

It will be sticky, capricious and unmanageable.

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (7)

But after the rest, it is delightful to work with it. Look at it above, it is fluffy and soft.

Divide the dough into 12 to 15 balls. You can keep them covered if you want as you work through them.

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One by one, with a floured surface and a floured rolling pin, roll the balls out into about 4″ to 6″ disks. It may seem as if when you are rolling them, the dough wants to get back together into a ball. Just gently and softly, roll out, flip and roll out again. Take your time and add more flour if needed.

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (9)

Then you give it a second go. Starting with the first disks you rolled out, flour the surface and try to make them as thin as possible. As thin as paper is the best.

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Here, below I am showing you how thin, can you see my face behind the thin buñuelo? There are many methods to get them as thin as paper. I opt for rolling them in two rounds. Many cooks in Mexico used to stretch them out with clean cloths on their knees; hence the name buñuelos “de rodilla.” But some cooks stretch them out in upside down bowls covered in cloth.

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (11)

Manuel and his sister Rosa, who have been part of my cooking team for almost 4 years now stretch them out by hand on the second round. For the last event at the Mexican Cultural Institutethis year, I asked Manual to show us all. He is a master at it!

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We made 120 buñuelos the night before the class. Though the Director of the Institute thought we were nuts making them for so many people, we couldn’t think of an event themed Holiday Foods without them. Just like there had to be a Piñata -the ones we found had dinosaurs on them!- there had to be buñuelos.

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After the buñuelos are stretched or rolled out as thin as they can be, they need to “air” and dry anywhere from a half hour to a couple of hours. You can’t leave them over night or the will dry too much and crumble when you hold them. They are demanding, see?

Finally, they go quickly deep fried in a generous batch of festive hot oil.

The moment you lay each buñuelo in the oil, they float and bubble. If the oil is very hot, as it should, there will be happy active bubbles all over the place crisping the fritter without it absorbing the oil.

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And as charming as those buñuelos are, they need charming company too.The tastiest syrup is made withpiloncillo simmered with a bit of water andcinnamonuntil it is nice and thick.

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I think it is gorgeous looking.

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Here we go… pouring it on top.

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And it really calls for a lot more…

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So much for 5 minute meals and 3 ingredient recipes. Some foods are worth the hassle. Especially around the holidays, when we have that extra bit of time, and we want to spoil the people we love.

I think this is the most time consuming post I have written in my blog so far, just as time consuming as making the buñuelos. But, if you ask me, it was worth it!

Buñuelos: High Maintenance, But So Worth It! - Pati Jinich (2024)


What are some fun facts about buñuelos? ›

But it's also cause for some interesting — and unexpected — history. The buñuelo wasn't born in Colombia or anywhere in Latin America. It comes from Spain — but not from the Spanish. It was most likely invented by the Moors – the Muslim Arabs who ruled medieval Spain for eight centuries.

How to make buñuelos in Dreamlight Valley? ›

How to Make the Buñuelos Recipe
  1. 1 Milk.
  2. 1 Egg.
  3. 1 Wheat.
  4. 1 Cheese. Once you have gathered the required ingredients, head to a cooking station and place the above items into the pot--you will need one piece of coal to start the cooking process.
Feb 20, 2023

Why are buñuelos important? ›

In Latin America, buñuelos are seen as a symbol of good luck.

What does one traditionally do after you have eaten your bunuelos? ›

In Oaxaca, there is a tradition for New Year where after you eat your buñuelos you smash the ceramic dish on the ground.

What is the meaning of buñuelos? ›

ˌbünyəˈwā(ˌ)lō plural -s. : a flat, semisweet cake made mainly of eggs, flour, and milk fried in deep fat and usually served with sugar and cinnamon or cane syrup.

What buñuelos means? ›

noun. , plural bu·ñu·e·los [boon-yoo-, ey, -lohz, boo-, nywe, -laws]. Mexican Cooking. a thin, round, fried pastry, often dusted with cinnamon sugar.

What is the secret ingredient in Bunuelos in Dreamlight Valley? ›

If you're struggling to figure it out, the missing ingredient is cheese. You can grow or buy Wheat by visiting Goofy's stall in Peaceful Meadow. Then, you can buy Milk, Eggs, and Cheese at Chez Remy.

What are the 4th ingredients for Bunuelos Dreamlight Valley? ›

Remy will identify wheat, milk, and eggs. However, he'll leave players to guess a mysterious fourth ingredient, which turns out to be cheese. After discovering the recipe, players can get them and start cooking.

Why are buñuelos eaten at Christmas? ›

In a word: luck. Many Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to guarantee good luck in the coming year; similarly, many people of Hispanic heritage believe buñuelos bring good luck when eaten during the holiday season.

Where are buñuelos most popular? ›

And she's a paisa – someone from Colombia's second-largest city, Medellín, where the most common Colombian buñuelo recipe originated. The buñuelo, in fact, is one of the most popular Christmas foods not just for Colombians but a number of Latin American cultures.

What countries eat buñuelos? ›

According to the New York Times, this fritter-like treat has its origins in Spain and almost every Latin American country has its own version. While Mexican buñuelos are sweet, deep-fried, and covered in syrup, the Cuban and Nicaraguan version is made with yuca, and the Colombian ones are made with cheese.

Are buñuelos like churros? ›

What's the difference between buñuelos and churros? Both are tempting cinnamon sugar-dusted Mexican desserts, but they're quite different. As we've discussed above, buñuelos are rolled out super thin, fried until they're golden and crispy, and sprinkled with a generous dose of cinnamon and sugar.

What country made buñuelos? ›

Buñuelos are a holiday tradition in Mexico, but they are Spanish in origin and also Arabic, since Spain was under Arab rule for 800 years, until 1492. In Granada, Spanish/Arabic kitchens made buñuelos by first frying the wheat pastries and then dipping them in boiling honey.

What are some random facts about churros? ›

The churro originated in ancient China as a savory fried snack, called a “youtiao.” Portuguese traders made them their own, covering the pastry in sugar instead of salt. As the snack became popular with Spanish shepherds, it got the name “churro,” named for the horns of the churra sheep.

How popular are buñuelos? ›

The sweet, fried dough is a common street food year-round, but the dessert is especially popular during the Christmas season. Mexican buñuelos are rolled out thin and puff up when they're deep-fried.

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