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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


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!


Units Scale

Fillings: (see notes)

  • 1/21 cup shredded cheese- Oaxacan Cheese, mozzarella or jack
  • 1/21 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
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 12 jalapenos ( or serranos) halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 23 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil


  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.


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.


  • 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,