Salvadoran Pupusas

This week, the Culinary Medicine team has a recipe for Salvadoran Pupusas!

Salvadoran Pupusas

Salvadoran Pupusas Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. plus 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1⁄4 medium white onion, diced small
  • 5 oz. or 1⁄3 (15 oz.) can Central American red beans or red kidney beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup instant corn masa flour
  • 1 – 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
  • 1 1⁄3 oz. grated queso Oaxaca or salted mozzarella (about 1⁄3 cup)
  • Cabbage relish (optional for serving)
  • Salvadoran salsa roja (optional for serving)


  1. Mash beans with a fork in a small bowl until mostly smooth.
  2. Heat 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onion until pieces are well caramelized and brown.
  3. Transfer mashed beans to skillet with the onion and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan occasionally, until mixture is thick like Greek yogurt, 5–10 minutes; season with salt.
  4. Let cool to thicken; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl mix together masa flour, salt, and 1 cup warm water using your hands or a wooden spoon until incorporated. Add extra water 1 Tbsp. at a time until dough resembles a very soft Play-Doh®.
  6. Meanwhile, add the cheese to the cooled bean mixture and combine well.
  7. Divide dough into 4 balls (about 1⁄4 cup each), keep them covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
  8. Starting with 1 dough ball at a time, use your palms to flatten the ball to a disc about 1⁄2 inch thick.
  9. Fill the center with 2Tbsp. bean mixture.Using cupped hands, work dough over the filling to enclose, then gently flatten to a 41⁄2–5″ disk, dipping your hands in oil-water as needed. Repeat with remaining dough and bean mixture.
  10. Cook pupusas on a well-oiled large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat until center slightly puffs up and pupusa is browned in spots, 5-6 minutes per side. If filling leaks out, simply scrape off pan after pupusa has cooked.
  11. Serve with cabbage relish and salsa roja if desired.

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