International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Woman making pupusas

(Salvadoran, Honduran stuffed masa flatbread)

Image by Hermann Luyken

Average: 4.5 (478 votes)

Pupusas are similar to corn tortillas, only thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. The pupusa originated in El Salvador, but it is also popular in neighboring Honduras. Pupusas are sold hot at small restaurants called pupuserías, where they are always accompanied by a cabbage salad called curtido and a slightly spicy tomato sauce called salsa roja.

Pupusas are traditionally made by slapping the dough back and forth between well greased palms. A tortilla press is quicker and easier for beginners.

November 13th is National Pupusa Day in El Salvador. Mark your calendars!

Makes 4 or 5 pupusas


  • Masa harina -- 2 cups
  • Warm water -- 1 cup
  • Filling (see variations) -- 1 cup


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Work in more water, one tablespoonful at a time, if needed, to make a moist yet firm dough. A ball of the masa should not crack at the edges when you press down on it. Cover the masa and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. On a clean, smooth surface, roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn't spill out.
  4. Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  5. Heat a well greased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. Serve with curtido and salsa roja.

Pupusa Variations

  • Pupusa Dough: This recipe uses masa harina, a special dried cornmeal flour used in making tortillas, tamales, etc. If you are able to get fresh masa, definitely use it instead. The flavor will be much fresher. Just substitute the masa harina and water with fresh masa. One pound will make about 4 to 6 pupusas depending on size.
  • Pupusas de Queso: Fill the pupusa with grated cheese. Use grated quesillo, queso fresco, farmer's cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese or a combination of two or more. Add some minced green chile for a bit of a kick.
  • Pupusas de Chicharrones: These pupusas are filled with chopped chicharrones, or ground, cooked pork, and mixed with a a little tomato sauce. A reasonable facsimile can be made by pulsing 1 cup of cooked bacon with a little bit of tomato sauce in a food processor.
  • Pupusas de Frijoles Refritos: Use either black or red refried beans.
  • Pupusas Revueltas: A tasty mix of chicharrones, cheese and refried beans. Revueltas means roughly "mixed up" in Spanish.
  • Pupusas de Queso y Loroco: A filling of cheese and a tropical vine flower, called loroco. Loroco can be found in jars at many Latin markets.
  • Other Fillings: Try cooked, chopped potatoes or finely minced and sauteed jalapeño peppers.
  • Pupusas de Arroz: Rice pupusas are a variety of pupusa that uses rice flour instead of corn masa.


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