If I am to speak in the quaint superlatives Mexico and Mexican cuisine are often described in, I would say a walk through an old Mexican neighborhood is an endless tease of heavenly fragrances promising steaming bowls of caldos, fresh tortillas, silken frijoles refritos etc etc.

If the particular neighborhood in this cliche is the Villa de Seris area of Hermosillo, in Sonora, one particular scent will pull you through picturesque dirt roads, past colorful houses accented with sprays of climbing bougainvillea, past a sleeping street dog or two, and into Coyotas Doña Maria, where the mixture of flour, piloncillo (lump brown sugar), shortening and a wood fired oven produce that powerful olfactory siren.

Hermosillo is known for a few things: the heat, the carne asada and machaca, and coyotas. Anyone coming back from Hermosillo without a stack of coyotas wrapped in grease stained paper is immediately removed from the Christmas card list and permanently thought of as a dead man or woman.

I had not made these in years, but a visit to a friend and gift her with a small stack seemed like the perfect opportunity. Life is better with people that bring you coyotas.

The Doña Maria coyota recipe has been in print for years, with the expected amount of vagueness of a proprietary recipe. It has been scaled down from the original to a more manageable size for a domestic kitchen, and lard is used, instead of the original vegetable shortening.


  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

For the syrup:

  • 1 piloncillo cone (see note)
  • ½ cup water

For the dough:

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 250 g grams lard
  • 1 ½ tsp dry active yeast
  • ¼ cup water, approx.
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 2 piloncillo cones
  • Additional flour as needed

Note: Piloncillo cones are raw lump brown sugar cones easily found in most Mexican grocery stores. Still containing all of the molasses of unrefined cane sugar, they have a rich caramel flavor with a slight mineral undertone. Most cones weigh between 130-150 grams (approx. 4.5-5.25 ounces). If piloncillo is not available, one cone can be substituted with half a cup of packed dark brown sugar plus a tablespoon of molasses.

Make a syrup with the half cup water and one piloncillo cone, or half a cup of packed dark brown sugar and one tablespoon of molasses. Cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, mix the flour and yeast. Cut the lard into the flour until evenly incorporated. Kneading by hand or in a mixer fitter with a dough hook, slowly drizzle in the cooled piloncillo syrup into the flour. Be sure cooled syrup is no more than 110°F as it will kill the yeast. Add in more room temperature water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough has a slightly tacky but not sticky consistency, approximately 3 tablespoons, but no more than ¼ of a cup (4 tablespoons).

Once all the liquid has been incorporated, add the salt, and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Finish the dough by hand, kneading into a smooth ball. Grease a clean bowl lightly, turn the dough to coat, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for one hour, until the dough feels smooth and relaxed.

Prepare the filling by grating the piloncillo with a box grater. Toss with a small amount of flour to prevent from sticking.

As each coyota is made up for two tortillas, divide the dough into an even number of golf ball sized pieces (approx. 1 ½”), rolling smooth. Keep portions covered with a damp kitchen towel while working.

Dust working surface lightly with flour. To roll each portion, flatten slightly into a disk with the heel of the hand, then working with a rolling pin, begin by rolling from the center out away from you, then from the center towards you. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling motion. Continue to turn the dough 45 or 90 degrees and rolling until a thin flat disk of approximately 5 inches in diameter is achieved.

Place each bottom layer of the coyota in a parchment or silicone baking sheet lined tray. Add an even layer of grated piloncillo filling on each one, approximately a tablespoon, leaving ½” clearance all around the edge. Lightly dampen the edges and press the top layer, being sure to seal the edges. Trim to shape if necessary. With a fork or paring knife, poke or score vent holes to the top.

Repeat as needed. Allow to rest before 15 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350°F for approximately 15-18 minutes. Coyotas should still be slightly soft to the touch when done.

Cool before serving.

4 Replies to “Only From Sonora: Coyotas”

  1. These came out so good! I don’t get to Sonora very often and my mother never brings enough of these back for me. I made half with piloncillo and half with homemade cajeta. The pastry is just as I would expect, light and flaky. Thank you so much for sharing!


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