Our family loves these simple and delicious homemade Pupusas, filled with beans and cheese and served with traditional toppings like curtido and salsa roja.

Looking for more International Inspired Recipes? I recommend Chilaquiles, Beef Birria, or Cioppino!

A stack of 4 homemade Pupusas on a plate with Curtido and Salsa Roja on top.

I’m not from El Salvador, so I can’t call these authentic, but I love trying to recreate some of our family’s favorite international dishes, and I love the way these turned out! I wanted to share my recipe that I make my family in my home kitchen, with ingredients I can easily find at my local grocery store. I love teaching my kids about other cultures and foods.

Why I love this recipe:

  • Cook Together – This is such a fun meal to invite the whole family in the kitchen to help, or even turn it into a party! The recipe makes a bunch and they are fun to assemble.
  • Fresh – You can’t get a fresher taste than making homemade dough and serving with Curtido and salsa roja made from scratch.
  • Unique – Not everyone can travel internationally, but cooking food from different cultures is a fun way to teach and introduce kids. These pupusas are definitely a favorite of ours!

What are Pupusas?

Pupusas are a traditional dish from El Salvador and are similar to a corn pancake with bean and cheese or meat filling. They are similar to a flatbread or pancake that is made with corn flour (masa) and can be filled with a variety of different savory fillings, like cheese, beans, beef, pork or veggies. They’re often with curtido and salsa roja (a Salvadorian red sauce).

You may have heard of Venezuelan “arepas” or Mexican “gorditas.”  Pupusas are like a cousin to these popular Latin American recipes as all of them are made with corn masa and stuffed with a variety of fillings. My family loves the delicious simplicity of bean and cheese pupusas.

How to make Pupusas:

Make Dough: Add masa harina (corn flour) and salt to a large mixing bowl then add the warm water, little by little, while mixing the dough with your hand until you get the consistency of a soft play dough. Add butter and chicken bouillon if you’d like, for extra flavor.

A glass mixing bowl with fresh dough from masa harina to make Pupusas.

Shape into Balls: Scoop the dough into large golf ball size portions. If the masa is sticking to your hands while forming the pupusas, mix a little bit of water and oil together in a bowl and dip your hands in it as needed, while you work.

A bunch of golf ball sized balls of dough on a countertop to make Pupusas.

Add the Filling: Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a disc, about 4 inches in diameter. Scoop a tablespoon of beans and place in the center of the masa disc then sprinkle on some cheese.

Two images showing the process of adding the filling for Pupusas. First, the refried beans, then the cheese.

Form Pupusa: Gently bring the edges of the dough up and around the filling. Pinch it closed into a ball, then gently pat/slap the dough back and forth between your palms to form it back into a disc.

Two images showing how to form Pupusas. First, closing the dough around the filling, and then shaping into a disk.

Cook and Serve: Place pupusas on a hot griddle or skillet and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden. Serve immediately, topped with Curtido and Salsa Roja.

A stack of freshly made Pupusas topped with Salsa Rojo and Curtida, with the top Pupusa folded in half to show the filling.

Storage and Freezing Instructions:

To Store: Cooked pupusas are best served warm, right off the griddle. Leftover masa dough can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for 1-2 days. If the dough dries out, add a little more warm water to it before using.

Leftover cooked pupusas should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them on a hot griddle for a minute on each side.

To Freeze: Make the pupusas, but don’t cook them. Place them flat on a baking sheet then freeze them for 30 minutes. Transfer to a tightly sealed freezer bag and place them back in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow them to thaw completely and follow the steps for cooking and serving.

Recipe Variations:

  • Filling: Feel free to try different filling combinations. It is popular to include beans, meat, and cheese.

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Recipe

Prep 30 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 35 mins
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Ingredients
 
 

For the Pupusas:

  • 4 cups masa harina , white or yellow
  • 3 ½ – 4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter , softened (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon paste , optional *

For the filling:

  • 1 can refried beans , or homemade
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese , or Oaxaca cheese

Optional Toppings:

Instructions
 

  • Make Dough: Add masa harina (corn flour) and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water, little by little, mixing the dough with your hand. You may not need all of the water. You want the masa to be the consistency of a soft play dough. If the dough is too wet, mix in some more masa harina. If it’s too dry, add a little more water. Mix in butter and chicken bouillon, if using.
  • Scoop into balls: Scoop the dough into large, golf-ball-size portions. You can scoop all of the dough into balls before continuing, or make 1 pupusa at a time. Be sure to keep the dough covered with a damp cloth as you work, to keep it from drying out.
  • Flatten and add filling: Use the palms of your hands to pat the dough into a disc, about 4 inches in diameter. Scoop about half a tablespoon of the beans and place it in the center of the dough circle, followed by a pinch of shredded cheese. 
  • Shape into disc: Gently bring the edges of the dough up and around the filling, pinching it closed into a ball. Gently pat the dough between your palms to form it into a disc again. Be gentle so you don’t have big cracks of filling come through, but if you do have some, its fine! They don’t need to be perfect.
  • Cook: Heat a large un-greased skillet or pan over medium heat. Place pupusas on the hot pan and cook for about 2-4 minutes on each side. You will know the pupusas are ready to flip when the edges are set and the bottom is lightly golden.
  • Serve immediately, topped with Curtido and Salsa Roja.

Notes

Bouillon: I prefer bouillon paste, or you can use chicken granulated bouillon or one cube.
Filling: Feel free to try different filling combinations. It is popular to include beans, meat, and cheese.
Storage Instructions: Cooked pupusas are best served warm, right off the griddle. If you don’t use all of the masa dough, leftover dough can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for 1-2 days. If the dough dries out at all, you can add a little more warm water to it before using. Leftover cooked pupusas should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them on a hot griddle for a minute on each side.
Freezing Instructions: Make the pupusas, but don’t cook them. Place them flat on a baking sheet then freeze them for 30 minutes. Transfer to a tightly sealed freezer bag and place them back in the freezer for up to 3 months.  To reheat, allow them to thaw completely and follow the steps for cooking and serving.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 173mgPotassium: 55mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 136IUCalcium: 76mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe May 2019. Updated August 2022.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 2 stars
    Hello Lauren, I follow you in social media and I love your recipes.
    I’m from el Salvador and I cook pupusas for my family and friends all the time. Unfortunately this recipe is not accurate at all to the right way to cook it.
    This is a really delicious and the most popular dish from El Salvador. You need it do it right 😊

    1. Hi Erika, I’m not an expert by any means as I’m not from el Salvador. I’d welcome any tips you have to make the recipe better.

  2. I’m Salvadorian and grew up eating these and love to make them from scratch. I was so surprised to see them on your website because most people I know don’t know about them. The recipe looks good, but the dry look very dry. I would recommend adding a little more water teaspoon by teaspoon until the dough is smooth and doesn’t crack. Also if it’s cracking, drying out, or sticking to the pan, then the pan is probably not hot enough. One thing that scared my German husband was seeing the “burn marks” on the pupusas while they were cooking on the hot pan, haha. But authentic pupusas get a little toasty on the outside and some of the cheese oozes out and get toasted on the outside of the dough for extra flavor!

    Thanks Laura for sharing this recipe!

  3. 1 star
    Worst pupusa recipe ever, pupusas flour does not have butter of flavoring in the dough and are made with chicharon and/or salvadorian beans or cheese.

  4. 4 stars
    Never had these but sounded good, so I cut the recipe into 1/4 and tried. Pretty tasty, but no idea what it’s supposed to taste like, lol. Will try them w my granddaughter next. Ty

  5. 5 stars
    Gave these a try tonight. I made your empanada recipe a few weeks ago, better than the ones in Argentina and as good as Uruguay. I’ve had your Curdito in my fridge since then, constantly snacking on it! So today, these. While it’s been awhile since I felt soft play-doh, I got the masa dough down. Filled with carnitas and cheese..and they brought back memories of a little place we had them at in Belize. Thank you for your recipes! I’ll be trying more!

  6. 4 stars
    While this recipe worked fine, I found it nearly impossible to use because of all the ads that kept popping up on the mobile site! I couldn’t even close out of your prompt to sign up for emails because it kept redirecting me to buy some vodka. Once I finally got the recipe it worked okay, my only change was I oiled the skillet because the first two were sticking to it.

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve been eating Pupusas for 29 years, but this was my first attempt at making them at home. I was intimidated by them until I read your recipe. It worked perfectly as written. Next time I plan to make the cabbage and salsa sides for the full experience, and a stewed chicken filling instead of beans (although beans were yummy and budget friendly!).

  8. Years ago, I had a wonderful neighbor who heralded from El Salvador. I visited her in her kitchen often and my most vivid memory is of watching her make these. The way she rounded out the dough, stuffed, then rounded and flattened was mesmerizing and she made it look so easy. Soon after, I gave it a whirl- and I don’t know if it was because I will still such a novice in the kitchen, or because she had been making them for so long, but mine were rather sad looking.

    That was about a decade ago, and I have never attempted them since, but now I think I will. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. I love all your recipes, and with any cook no one recipe will ever be the same. Its your own art. Keep up the great tastes.

    1. I’m not trying to insult anyone and I’m sorry you feel that way. As I say in the post, I love cooking international cuisine and I state upfront that this is simply my basic recipe for pupusas I make my family in our home kitchen. You’re welcome to write your own post online with your own, more authentic recipe.

    2. Hey critic, sharing recipes has been a tradition among peoples and cultures forever. Get real and stop being so offensive. If you don’t like the recipe simply don’t make it. If you want to share your version you can do that too. Just keep the snide comments off the boards. It’s totally inappropriate in a recipe exchange environment.

    3. your comment is more insulting….there is nothing disrespectful in this blog…just fyi as a salvadoran this is exactly how you make them….its sad that people always want to make everything about race or culture….YOUR RECIPE IS PERFECT!!!!

  10. 4 stars
    Thx for this easy recipe! We usually get our pupusa fix at El Rematito flea market along with elote so I was happy to give this recipe a shot! Mine came out a bit chubby…but I’ll improve. I did use the bouillon & a bit of onion powder…filled with pepper jack & minced leftover shredded pork. 🌶🌿 Served with salsa, sour cream & cilantro…Nice, easy & friends asked for your recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    I’ve never had any of this before but I had all the ingredients and a rotisserie chicken that needed eating. It was great. I had an issue with the masa cooking all the way through so had to return the papusas to the griddle for a bit longer. 100% due to my lack of technique and making them a bit bulky! The salsa roja and curtido were excellent as well. Thanks for a fun new recipe/dinner!

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe is perfect and easy to make. I first had them in McAllen, TX after hearing Jack from Titanic talk about them in an article. I am having them now for my Christmas dinner and had every ingredient in my cabinet already.

  13. Absolutely delicious and so easy to make. I added a bit if chorizo. Sooo yummy. Salsa and a dab of sour cream. OMG.

    1. I have not tried this recipe yet but I might make it for dinner tonight. I have tried Pupusas before and I love them. So excited to try the recipe! 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      I made these tonight for my Salvadorian husband and he loved them. I’ve attempted pupusas before but they were just ok. We loved these ones and I also made the curtidos and salsa roja. All delicious. One minor tweak I made is added sour cream to the cheese and also minced green peppers. I also added butter to the grill to make them extra crispy. SO SO good!

  14. 5 stars
    Very simple and turned out great! The only thing I did differently was add additional beans. Numm!

  15. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe! We also had some kalua pork on hand so added that to the mix. I’m not sure if I made them right, they were on the dryer side and I wish I had put a little more cheese in. But they were still amazing.

    The pictures also really helped.

  16. I am looking forward to trying this recipe soon, but I was wondering if anyone had tried any other fillings, I am planning on making most with beans and cheese, but I love being creative with flavors, so if anyone has suggestions I would love to hear them!

  17. 5 stars
    This was my first time trying making pupusas and I’m Salvadorean! I followed your recipe, I admit I added spinach to mines. Yummy!!
    It was easy to follow your instructions. Thank you!

  18. 5 stars
    Best ever. Thank u for sharing. The first time I had these were with pork so I made them that way , but cant wait to try them with beans. I always have left over pulled pork and i just add some different seasonings and mince it up. And this time I didnt have any raw cabbage, so I winged it and added franks hot sauce and oregano to my already made coleslaw. It worked for that crunchy texture you def need .. Thank you again. I will be making these often.

    1. Yes, and you can add them when they are warm, or room temperature (they will cook and heat up when the pupusas cook)

  19. 5 stars
    We are new to pupusas but trust every recipe on your blog so decided to give them a try. I have made these a few times now and they are soo good! Thanks for helping us mix things up at our house!

  20. 5 stars
    Tried these for my family last night. I was a little nervous having never made them before. Thanks for the easy recipe and step-by-step instructions. My family (including my 4-year old) loved these!

  21. 5 stars
    Hello! I had fun looking around your website/blog. Your recipe for Home Made Pupusas caught my eye. For starters, I didn’t know what a pupusa was!!! So I checked and found it was “small round corncakes”. And … I sure didn’t know what masa harina was. We have a Mexican Farmers’ Market just a couple blocks away and they were able to fix me right up! I had fun making these and they were a big hit!! Thanks for sharing!

  22. 5 stars
    Counting these as my new favorite thing to make. My entire family loved them and I was the hero! Thanks for the great recipe.

  23. 5 stars
    I’ve always wanted to make these and saw your tutorial on Youtube and felt like I could really do it, so I made them this weekend. They were so awesome. It took a little practice to get mine to look good. I served them with regular salsa and sour cream.

        1. I’ve used regular flour and it works great. Just a different flavor. Its how they make them here and its all I had.

          1. That isn’t a papusa then, its just a flat bread. Closer to a smushed bun or even a pita / naan than a papusa.