How to make Pupusas! Savory, stuffed Salvadoran Corn Cakes filled with refried beans and melty cheese with cilantro and scallions. Serve these with Curtido – a lightly fermented Salvadoran Slaw. A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable!
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A Salvadoran-inspired dish, Pupusas are griddled corn 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 optional hot sauce.
Here we’ve simplified them and stuffed them 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!
While not truly authentic, this take on Pupusas is nicely balanced with refreshing, lightly fermented slaw, called Curtido.
It starts with masa harina or corn flour. 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.
Form into equal-sized balls. Flatten into disks and add fillings.
Above I’ve tried a vegan, black bean version with shallots, scallions, and cilantro.
And here I’ve filled with cheese. You can also use vegan cheese.
My favorite is a combination of all – black beans, cheese, shallots, cilantro, and scallions….so tasty!
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).
With greased hand form a smooth ball ( the filling is inside), then flatten to create a 4-inch wide cake, about ½ in thick.
TIP: You’ll know the masa cakes have the right moisture content if the edges don’t crack. See recipe notes for an easy “test”.
Then just pan sear 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.
Give these Pupusas a try this weekend!
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!
- 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)
Fill a bowl with warm water ( for hand dipping) with a tiny splash of olive oil.
Prepare your fillings, gathering them around. If using the shallot, finely chop and saute until deeply golden and tender.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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