Pupusas are an easy recipe to make at home.
These homemade traditional Central American pupusas have a thick corn tortilla stuffed flavorful red beans. I share my easy step by step instructions for this delicious recipe.
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How have I never experienced Pupusas before? It’s like my life is now complete now that I’ve made and enjoyed this recipe.
I really don’t know how to describe what a pupusa is other than to call it an inside out not-crispy tostada almost-burrito. Okay, maybe not the best description. Let’s just say they’re super tasty, kids love them, and when served with homemade salsa roja and Curtido they are a complete and satisfying meal.
Where did the pupusa originate from?
Pupusas are a 2,000-year-old Central American tradition that are still enjoyed today. Like any recipe I’ve adapted from a different culture, I’ve put my own personal spin on it that might make it deviate from a true, authentic, Salvadoran pupusa. But I can tell you that they are easy to make and I really enjoyed their flavor and texture.
What is a pupusa?
A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a savory filling. Instead of using a pre-made tortilla, I made the dough using masa flour and shaped it with my hands. I have lots of photos of the process in the recipe below.
The filling is typically some kind of cheese, refried red beans, and sometimes pork. I chose to make my pupusas with just cheese and refried red beans. I opted to use the shredded pork I had in my homemade tamales.
Pupusas are typically accompanied by curtido and salsa roja.
What kind of flour do you use for pupusas?
Pupusas are made with corn masa flour. I use Bob’s Red Mill and it’s pretty easy to find at most grocery stores.
To make the tortilla portion of the pupusa, you mix together the masa flour with salt and hot water.
How do you make pupusas?
- I use onion in most of my recipes, and this one was no exception. This recipe started by sauteeing diced white onion. I then mixed them with the red beans and cheese.
- To make the pupusa dough, you combing the masa flour with salt and hot water and blend in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes until the dough is light and fluffy. I let my dough rest, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
- Next comes the fun and messy part – forming the pupusa. You’ll need to have a bowl handy with oil and water in it to rub on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. You’ll pat the dough into a disk, add a scoop of filling, wrap the dough around to make a ball, then flatten to a disk.
- You’ll cook the pupusas on a hot griddle, flip once, and then enjoy them hot.
How do you make Pupusa sauce?
The best pupusa sauce is homemade salsa roja that’s made from roasted chili peppers that have been soaked in hot water and blended with other roasted vegetables. The sauce you serve with pupusas is mild and smokey. It’s the perfect compliment!
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other high heat oil like avocado oil
- 1/2 medium white onion minced
- 15 ounces refried red beans
- 4 ounces queso fresco grated, about 1 cup
- 3 cups corn masa flour Bob's Red Mill recommended
- 3 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups hot water
To form pupusas:
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T warm water
- Heat vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the minced onion. Allow to brown and stir only to prevent burning. When onion is brown and fragrant, scoop out onion with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
- Combine cooked and cooled onions with refried red beans and cheese in medium bowl. Set aside.
- To make the pupusa dough, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat masa flour, salt and hot water on medium speed until dough is very thick and sticky. Mix for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Allow dough to rest, uncovered, 15 minutes.
- Combine remaining oil and warm water in a small bowl. Dip both hands in this mixture and rub your hands together to coat. This will prevent dough from sticking to your hands, and will hydrate dough as you assemble.
- Add some dough to the palm of your hand and flatten.
- Add a scoop of the bean mixture to the center.
- Pull up sides of dough and pinch dough around filling to enclose. Add extra dough to patch any holes, if needed.
- Gently flatten into a disk. Repeat with remaining dough and bean mixture (I ended up making 8 pupusas that were about 5 inches in diameter).
- Heat nonstick griddle over medium to medium high heat and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until cooked thru and starting to darken.
- Serve hot with Salvadoran Curtido cabbage slaw and Salvadoran Salsa Roja alongside.