Only From Sonora: Coyotas

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

  • 1 cone piloncillo, approx. 200 g
  • 40 g water
  • 135 g all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
  • 85 g lard, room temperature
  • Scant 1/2 tsp dry active yeast

Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the piloncillo. Place the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 65 g of the grated piloncillo, stir well to dissolve, and remove from heat.

Add one or two teaspoons of all purpose flour to the remaining grated piloncillo to prevent sticking.

Cut the lard into the flour, and being to mix slowly using a dough hook. Add the dry active yeast, and slowly pour the cooled piloncillo syrup.

Continue to mix at slow speed until the dough forms a smooth ball and separates from the walls of he bowl, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Grease the bowl lightly, turn the dough to coat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the dough feels smooth and relaxed.

Divide the dough into 8 even pieces, rolling smooth. Dust working surface lightly with flour. Press down each ball, dust each side with flour, and roll out into even circles. Each coyota is composed of two rounds. On the bottom round, place an even layer of grated piloncillo, 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.


Bake at 350°F until golden brown on parchment or silicone mat lined baking trays.


Cool before serving.


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