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Pupusas are an easy recipe to make at home. 

These homemade Central American inspired Pupusas have a thick corn tortilla stuffed flavorful red beans. I share my easy step by step instructions for this delicious recipe.

how to make traditional pupusas

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.

What is a pupusa?

A traditional Pupusa is a 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.

homemade pupusas with 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.

Here’s how to make them:

  • 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 to 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!

homemade el salvadoran pupusas with red refried beans

How to Make Pupusas

Prep15 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Rest time for dough15 minutes
Total35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Pupusas are an easy recipe to make at home. These homemade traditional Central American pupusas have a thick corn tortilla stuffed flavorful red beans.



Pupusa filling:

  • 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

Pupusa tortilla:

  • 3 cups corn masa flour Bob’s Red Mill recommended
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water

To form pupusas:


  • 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.


Calories: 312kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 1286mg, Potassium: 140mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 250IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 157mg, Iron: 3.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you’re in the right place! Stick around… I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe. I used to get pupusas from a Salvadorian owned 7-11 every morning years ago, and haven’t seen them since. This recipe will be a welcome addition to my repertoire.

  2. 5 stars
    Woah I’ve never heard of these but they look so good! I’m interested and will have to try these soon

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of these before but after looking at your steps to make them and your photos, I can definitely say that I will be trying them soon.

  4. Do you know if these pupusas can be refrigerated or frozen and then reheated? I imagine fresh is probably best, but I don’t know if I could eat 8 servings in one day since it’s just me. Thank you!

    1. Yes! You totally can freeze them. I just recommend allowing them to come to room temp before reheating.

  5. Hey! I LOVE pupusas! I’m still trying to perfect mine with my electric nonstick griddle (they aren’t browning the way I ant them to) but may I suggest swapping out the water in your masa for an equal amount of chicken or vegetable stock? Also add a bit of lime zest. It’s not traditional but gosh darn does it bring a new level of delicious. Just be careful with your salt if you use stock. Cheers!

    1. Hi Wonda, I have a friend who’s from El Salvador and she told me that she almost always uses the beans but varies the type of cheese she uses and also makes them with different kinds of shredded meat.

  6. Oooooooh, My family loves some Mexican (or even Tex-Mex) and this recipe looks so fun !!! Definitely going on my list : p
    Thanks so much for sharing: D