How to Make Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)

Happy Monday everyone! If there is such a thing…

Today I have for you these be-a-utiful conchas! As you may or may not know, I’ve been on a bit of a Mexican kick lately as I await a much needed vacation there in May. If you missed it, here is my favorite salsa recipe. And here is my take on the drool-inducing Mexican dessert known as tres leches. But for now, take a look at these cuties:

conchas stacked

So vibrant! So sweet and fluffy!

conchas cookie sheet

Conchas, if you didn’t know, is the Spanish word for “shells,” which explains the beautiful pattern on top of these delicious pastries. They come in all flavors and colors and aren’t all that difficult to make. Trust me! This was my first time making them, and if anyone knows how to eff up in the kitchen, it’s me. 😉 

They are golden brown on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and covered with a delicious sugary paste to satisfy our sweet tooths (teeth?). So without further ado, here’s how you make them!

conchas plate

The dough for the rolls themselves is made with milk and butter, so you know it’s gon be good, know’m sayin’? Simply dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then toss in the warm milk, sugar, egg, butter, and half of the flour until you get a big gloopy mess like so….

conchas dough

Now add the rest of the flour a bit at a time until you get something that resembles a dough rather than porridge. Dump that bish out on a slightly floured work surface and begin to knead it until it’s no longer sticky, adding a bit more flour if you “knead” to. Ha. Ha. Ha.

conchas before kneading

I actually popped mine into my mixer with the dough hook attachment for about five minutes. I’m lazy, okay? As you can see, the dough got a lot smoother and lost most of its stickiness. I placed it here in this bowl (that I sprayed with a bit of oil), covered it, and allowed it to rise for about and hour. 

conchas before rising

The rising time will vary depending on what type of yeast you use and the temperature of your kitchen, but what you’re looking for is the dough to be about double in size. Also, if you can poke a hole in it with your finger and it doesn’t budge, you’re golden!

conchas after rising

Once that’s done, just dump the dough onto a floured surface again, then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut it into twelve parts. Then I suggest grabbing a scale to make sure they are all the same size, because if you’re anything like me then you messed up this part. lol.

dough sixteen

Roll them into cute little balls and then set them aside while you work on the paste!

dough ball

Making the paste is as easy as mixing the ingredients in a bowl. I won’t bore you. But after it’s all mixed, feel free to divide it and color it. I was aiming for tangerine, turquoise, and a bright magenta. Uh…good enough. I recommend using gel paste for this and adding more flour if it changes the consistency of the paste too much. It should feel a bit like play doh or cookie dough.

sugar paste

I’m not going to lie….this sugar paste is a pain in the ass (I blame the butter). I recommend making sure you have a nice, flat spatula on hand and that you keep your work surface dusted with flour. You’ll need to roll out the paste, but honestly, it’s a lot easier to just pat it down using your (floured!) hand. You want it pretty thin. Next, you’ll need to cut out some circles that are just big enough to cover the dough balls you just rolled, like so:

paste circles

Now carefully pick up the sugar paste circle using your spatula and place it on the dough ball. If you find that it won’t adhere to the ball you can dab on a little bit of water to make it stick. Then all that’s left to do is to score the sugar paste using a knife or pizza cutter. I stuck with a traditional seashell pattern.

shell pattern

As you can see, they puff up beautifully in the oven. And any little mistakes you made with the sugar paste ends up being no big deal. I recommend letting them cool slightly before digging right in! 

conchas cooling

Overall, these sweet treats are totally worth the effort. I mean, look how adorable they are. Check out the recipe below for some flavor variations. 🙂 

Until next time!

Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)
Yields 12
Sweet buns topped with colorful sugar paste.
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
2 hr 18 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
2 hr 18 min
For the buns
  1. 3 tsp active dry yeast (approximately a packet and a half)
  2. 1⁄2 c (4 oz) warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F or 40 to 46 celsius)
  3. 1⁄2 c (4 oz) warm milk (same as water)
  4. 1⁄3 c granulated sugar
  5. 1⁄3 c butter, room temp
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 egg
  8. 3 1⁄2-4 c all-purpose flour
For the sugar paste
  1. 1⁄3 c granulated sugar
  2. 1⁄4 c butter
  3. 1⁄2 c all-purpose flour
  4. Flavoring such as 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, orange zest, or cocoa powder (I stuck with vanilla).
  1. Add warm water, milk, and sugar to a large bowl. Stir in yeast and wait 5-10 minutes for it to activate (it will look all foamy). If using instant yeast you can skip the waiting.
  2. Add the room temperature egg and butter, salt, and two cups of the flour. Mix together well. Keep adding flour a bit at a time until the dough is more "doughy" and less "soupy."
  3. Scoop softened dough onto a floured surface. With well-floured hands, knead it until it becomes smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can add the dough to a stand mixer with the hook attachment and let it run on low for about five minutes.
  4. Once the dough is nice and smooth and no longer sticky, put it in a covered bowl and cover it to let it double in size (give or take an hour).
  5. Dump dough back onto a floured surface and cut it into 12 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and set it on a lined baking sheet.
  6. To make the paste, cream together the softened butter and sugar. Mix in the flour and add your flavoring(s). The consistency should resemble cookie dough. Divide dough into 2 or more parts and color each section with gel paste (add more flour if you need to).
  7. On a well-floured surface and with well-floured hands, pat out the dough until it is about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut out circles that are large enough to cover the top of your dough balls. Top each dough ball with a circle (you can dab on a little water as glue if it won't stick) then use a knife or pizza cutter to care out a shell pattern.
  8. Bake for approximately 16-20 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until nice and golden.
Adapted from
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How to Make Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)
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4 thoughts on “How to Make Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)

  1. Meant to comment earlier – these are the cutest!!! I “knead” to try making these, too 😉
    What a culinary adventure you’ll be able to have in Mexico, hope you’ll share some delicious photos from your exciting vacay! I tried dulce de leche for the first time (I know!) last week and let’s just say that the jar of it didn’t have long in this world, can’t believe I’ve lived so long without it 😛

    1. Hey there! Probably not. Salt is really just used to enhance all of the other flavors. I’m sure they were still amazing!

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