How to make Salvadoran Pupusas!  Pupusas are griddled Salvadoran cakes made with masa flour (or rice flour) filled with beans and cheese (optional).  Serve Pupusas with Curtido and Salsa Roja.  A simple, easy vegetarian version of Pupusas, that is Vegan adaptable! Video.

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Your healing lifts up the ocean of existence. When you heal, we all heal. ~ Yung Pueblo ~

A Salvadoran-inspired meal, Pupusas are griddled masa cakes that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings. Serve them up as a tasty appetizer or a delicious meal with Curtido (a lightly fermented Salvadoran slaw) and Salvadoran Salsa, called Salsa Roja.

Here we’ve simplified them and kept them vegetarian -with refried black beans, cheese, caramelized shallots, cilantro, and scallions, but these could easily be made vegan or feel free to add cooked meat if you like.

You’ll love how flexible and adaptable they are, and I know you will come up with your own filling variations!  Plus, they are just fun to make!

This take on Pupusas is nicely balanced with refreshing, lightly fermented slaw, called Curtido and optional Salvadoran Salsa Roja.

Salvadoran Pupusas| Video

Ingredients in Pupusas

  • masa harina corn flour (be sure you are using cornflour- not cornmeal! Some versions use rice flour)
  • warm water
  • olive oil
  • salt

Optional Fillings:

  • Cheese- Oaxacan Cheese, mozzarella or jack
  • refried beans , pinto beans, red beans, black beans
  •  shallot or onion
  •  chopped cilantro
  •  scallions, finely sliced

 

 

How to make Pupusas: step by step

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step one:

It starts with masa harina or cornflour. FYI, Polenta (or cornmeal)  is not the same as corn flour- it is not as fine- so be sure you are using corn flour, not cornmeal. 

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step two:

Make a simple dough mixing warm water, oil, salt and masa harina corn flour.

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step three:

Form into equal-sized balls.

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step four:

Flatten into disks and add fillings. Above I’ve tried a vegan, refried black bean version with shallots, scallions, and cilantro. And here below I’ve filled with cheese. You can also use vegan cheese. My favorite is a combination of all- refried black beans, cheese, shallots, cilantro, and scallions….so tasty!

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step five:

Pull the edges up around the filling to form a ball. It’s easiest to just do this in the palm of your hand ( but I was photographing).

Basically, you are encasing the filling. With greased hand form a smooth ball (with the filling is inside).

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step six:

Flatten the filled balls, to create a 4-5 inch wide cake, about ½ in thick. Feel free to go thinner if so inclined- a little more traditional!

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Pupusa tip: 

You’ll know the pupusas have the right moisture content if the edges don’t crack. See recipe notes for an easy “test”.

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

Step six:

Pan-sear the pupusas on each side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and crispy and insides are warm and melty.  Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

What to serve with Salvadoran Pupusas

How to make Pupusas!  Delicious Salvadorian masa corn cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable! #pupusa #pupusas #pupusarecipe #curtido #corncakes #masa #masacakes

I really love the flavor of these Pupusas and I hope you enjoy making them as much as we do!

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

xoxo

Sylvia

 

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Pupusa Recipe - a simple step by step guide to making griddled Salvadorian masa cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese  (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. Easy and delicious! Vegan adaptable!

Salvadoran Pupusas!

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cakes 1x
  • Category: appetizer, main
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: South American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Pupusa Recipe – a simple step by step guide to making griddled Salvadoran Corn cakes filled with refried beans and cheese with cilantro and scallions. Easy and delicious! Vegan adaptable!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups masa harina corn flour (corn meal or polenta is not the same)
  • 1 ⅔ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Fillings: (see notes)

  • ½1 cup shredded cheese- Oaxacan Cheese, mozzarella or jack
  • ½1 cup refried beans (homemade or out of a can) Refried black beans are great here
  • 1 shallot, diced & sautéed
  • 12 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 12 scallions, finely sliced

Serve with  Curtido, Salsa Roja (or hot sauce) sour cream or avocado, cilantro, lime.

Salsa Roja Ingredients:

  • 4 large roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 12 jalapenos ( or serranos) halved
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 23 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the masa harina flour with salt in a medium bowl. Add the warm water and oil and kneed until it becomes a pliable dough. (see notes)
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water ( for hand dipping) with a tiny splash of olive oil.
  3. Line a sheet pan with parchment or simply place a piece of parchment on the counter.
  4. Prepare your fillings, gathering them around. If using the shallot, finely chop and saute until deeply golden and tender.
  5. Dip your hands in the oiled water, divide the dough in half. Then form 4 equal-sized balls (with each half), a total of eight similar-sized balls, dipping your hands in the water as needed to prevent sticking.
  6. Flatten a ball into a 4 inch round in the palm of your greased hand, creating a cup. (TIP: If the edges crack or crumble, the dough needs a little more water.)
  7. Place a little of the filling inside (1 tablespoon beans, 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 teaspoon shallots, cilantro and scallions) and fold the edges up and around up to enclose. Roll into a neat, sealed round ball.
  8. Flatten one more time using your two palms  ( to about ½ inch thick) and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with all the pupusas.
  9. Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook each side until crispy and golden, about 5-7 minutes, each side. Keep warm in an oven until serving.
  10. Serve with Curtido, Salsa Roja or  hot sauce, sour cream or avocado, cilantro and lime.

To make Salsa Roja: 

  1. Place all ingredients (except the oil) in a blender and puree.  Heat oil in a medium pot.  Carefully pour in the tomato mixture- it will spatter so hold a lid over the pot at an angle, like a shield with the other hand. Bring to a simmer, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until thickened and darkened. Cool and serve.

Notes

To test the dough for the right water content, form a ball the size of a golf ball. Flatten, if edges split or crack, you may want to add little more water. Alternatively, if the dough feels sticky add little more corn flour.

You can keep these totally vegan by leaving out the cheese (or using alternative meltable vegan cheese).

I like the combination of using both refried black beans and cheese, along with the shallots, cilantro and scallions. Up to you. You can keep them kid-friendly by just using cheese.

Make a double batch, saving leftovers to be reheated for another meal.

To make the Salsa Roja.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cakes
  • Calories: 286
  • Sugar: 3.6 g
  • Sodium: 1016 mg
  • Fat: 5.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 51.7 g
  • Fiber: 5.8 g
  • Protein: 9.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 7.9 mg

Keywords: pupusas, pupusa recipe, how to make pupusas, what is a pupusa, masa cakes, Salvadorian masa cakes,

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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Comments

  1. fantastic! love pupusa’s but the nearest restaurant is 30 miles away, so thankful I found this recipe! Tastes authentic and delicious! Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  2. First time making something like this and we love them. Time consuming but I imagine I will get a bit faster now that I have done them one time. Thankful for your tips and pictures. Enjoy the filling and look forward to making them again. Thank you –A question, after making would they freeze well?

    1. Thanks Frances- I have not frozen them but my guess is yes they should freeze great after pan-searing!

  3. Wow—this was so fast, simple and delicious—definitely the sum is greater than the parts. Reminiscent of tamales but with much less effort and with a lovely toothsome crispness from the shallow fry (I liked the darker fried ones best). I added fresh corn kernels to my refried beans + cheddar but am looking forward to trying more fillings. Any suggestions (I presume dryish ones work best)? I didn’t need the bowl of water/oil—my dough was really easy to work with and held together without being sticky at all (I made it by adding 1 ¾ c boiling water to the masa+salt, mixing and then letting that sit covered until it was cool enough to handle—or longer if you want—then I smushed in the oil by hand making a nice moist dough. I rolled it into a fat log that I cut into 8 slices that I flattened and filled. Worked great. Pupusas were a discovery for me — this was something I’d never heard of and we loved it. Thanks for that!

  4. These turned out delicious. Our kids love them and served them with your Mexican slaw. next time I’ll make the curdito.

  5. Theses turned out so good. Love that we can make them vegan with the refried beans!

  6. Thank you for this tasty recipe. Made this evening and even my 8 year old loved these! She wants to take to camp for lunch tomorrow
    I did not have time to make the curtido so I served with cabbage tossed with apple cider vinegar salt and dill. It was a nice compliment.
    Will definitely make again

  7. I am excited to try these! I used to have a co-worker that had them for lunch all the time. She told me how to make them but I never did. I will definitely give these a try soon.

  8. I feel like you are a little foodie spirit that lives on my shoulder! after a brilliant lunch of pupusas from a local Salvadorean bakery, I was just saying that tackling a pupusa recipe was one of my summer goals – and look at this! I am so excited to be guided by you!!