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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
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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.

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

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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.

Video

Ingredients 

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:

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Instructions 

  • 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.

Nutrition

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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33 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Thank you for sharing your take on pupusas; it’s a shame many of the comments here about such a comforting food are so negative. Sharing your version of a well-known recipe on the internet is a brave thing to do, and the simpler a recipe is to begin with, the meaner the comments seem to be when it is not made “perfectly”. Although tradition is important and very much worth respecting, so is each individual’s right to learn by making mistakes.

    I’m sure I could say this more politely, but I would like to challenge anyone who takes pride in knowing how to buy a slightly different sort of cheese and squash their pupusas down a bit more to try making paneer makhani and sharing the results with an Indian cook. That way, when they don’t know what bhunao is, burn their spices black in the tadka, and end up wasting the right kind of cheese in a pot of bland, bitter tomato water, they will be able to receive positive, helpful feedback and perhaps learn to give it themselves.

    I’m sorry for the rant. Keep doing your best!

  2. You’ll be disappointed to know these aren’t Mexican or TexMex, these are delicacies from a country unrelated to México called El Salvador. But definitely worth trying.

  3. I just got back from El Salvador and have also been eating pupusas since I was a child, and have never seen any that were this thick. Pupusas are flatter and the filling should be smooth.

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe was so easy to make and they turned out very good! I used a different filling but it was still so good! Thank you sharing! All those haters gonna keep hating, you keep being you!

  5. Thank you so much for your wonderful recipe. Can’t wait to try them! I’ve purchased them frozen and they were quite good. I don’t know why people have have leave negative comments. Just move along and say nothing. I appreciate that you posted this recipe and your positive/gracious response.

  6. My friend from El Salvador told me this is what he had for Christmas Eve dinner with the curtido. He told me to give it a try.
    Your recipe looks good and I will try it soon.

  7. These are not traditional pupusas .
    You are supposed to use Maseca for the dough . the beans are supposed to be homemade re friend beans . You are definitely not supposed to use queso fresco , it’s made with grated Monterey Jack cheese or Monterey pepper jack cheese . Lastly , they should not be so thick … if you’ve actually had traditional pupusas you would know that this recipe completely missed the mark …

    1. Thank you for all the feedback. I definitely gave it my best shot, but I’ve realized that my attempt was a very basic Americanized version.

    2. Gaby,
      No hay necesidad de corregir a otros, todos tenemos nuestras versión de las recetas.
      We should be proud, many people enjoy and like to imitate Salvadoran dishes.
      Having said that, I’m going to go make some refried beans. To make some pupusas for my kids.

    3. Seriously? Monterey Jack? I just got back from El Salvador a few weeks ago. None of the Pupuserias we visited use Monterey Jack to make their pupusas. They used local cheese. Monterey Jack cheese is an American variety from California and would have to be imported. It is basically unheard of in El Salvador villages.
      Krissy has done a great job sharing this recipe.

      1. Thanks Laura. This is one of the recipes I gave my best shot at making, but I always do so with my own Americanized twist. I definitely apologize to anyone I offend because there’s no way I can make it super authentic because I’ve never been to El Salvador… but my goal is just to take the inspiration to make something that tastes good.

    4. 😂😂 Monterrey jack seriuously!!. And to take you out of ignorance, there are the traditional pupusas.
      1. Revueltas.-
      2. Frijol con queso.-
      3. Queso con loroco.-
      4. Chicharrón con queso.-
      Iam from El Salvador, don’t know we’re you are from but if you are going to say the recipie miss the mark, first know what the original ingredients for pupusas are, but Monterrey jack please, hahahaha.

  8. Can I use a skillet if I don’t have a non-stick griddle? Or is there anything else you would recommend?

    Thanks!

    1. Masa harina flour is typically used to make papusas and tamales. It’s a corn flour that’s made from corn that has been treated with an alkaline solution (like lye).

  9. I have had pupusas made with a zucchini (calbacita) and carrot filling before, cheese and loroco flowers too.