The standard-bearer of Salvadoran food, a pupusa is a flat, pan-fried pocket of corn dough traditionally stuffed with cheese, beans or meat, then served with mild salsa and curtido (a tangy cabbage slaw). Maria and Juan Vasquez serve them with and without meat at their 3 in 1 Restaurant in Indianapolis.

Source: Midwest Living


Credit: Carson Downing

Recipe Summary

25 mins
35 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • For masa (dough): Place masa flour in a large bowl. Gradually stir in the warm water to form a dough, kneading dough gently until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. The masa will have a texture like firm play dough. (Test masa by taking a small handful and forming it into a ball then flattening it. If masa cracks, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is moist enough.) Cover with a damp cloth; set aside.

  • In a medium bowl, toss together mozzarella, melted butter, pepper and salt until well mixed.

  • To assemble pupusas: Divide masa into six equal portions (about 2 1/2 ounces each). Working with one portion at a time (and keeping remaining portions covered with the damp towel), flatten masa in your palm, simultaneously twisting and slapping it into a 6-inch-diameter tortilla-like shape. Holding the flattened masa in your hand, add 2 1/2 tablespoons refried beans and a heaping 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture. Reform dough into a ball shape, enclosing the fillings. Gently flatten filled ball into a thick disk, 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. (This takes practice. If the fillings peek through in spots, don't worry about it. Alternately, place pupusa ball inside a cut-open resealable freezer bag and gently flatten ball on the counter instead of between your bare hands.) Repeat with remaining masa and fillings, covering completed pupusas with another damp cloth. After you've formed your first pupusa, heat a large skillet over medium. Brush skillet with some of the oil.

  • To cook: Place a pupusa in the hot skillet. Cook until the outer edge of pupusa changes from pale white to light brown. Flip pupusa and repeat, cooking the second side until light brown and free of any pale dough, 5 to 7 minutes total. Repeat with remaining pupusas, re-oiling skillet between batches. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot, topped with Red Salsa and Curtido.

*Shopping Tip

Available in large supermarkets, corn masa flour (masa harina) is the primary ingredient in Latin American staples like tortillas. It's made from dried hominy--corn that has been treated with lime (calcium hydroxide). Cornmeal is not a substitute. Maseca is a popular brand.

Red Salsa

In a large saucepan, combine 1 pound whole Roma tomatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until tomatoes are soft and the skins have started to burst open and peel, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes from water; let cool and remove skins. Do not discard cooking water. In a blender, combine tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped white onion, 1 clove garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and blend until smooth. If necessary, add some of the tomato cooking water to make smooth. Do not add too much or sauce will be watery. Transfer mixture to a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.


In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. When salt is dissolved, taste mixture; add more salt or vinegar as needed. Add 5 cups shredded green or red cabbage, 1/2 cup shredded carrot and 1/4 of a fresh jalapeño pepper, finely chopped. Mix well to coat. Let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 1 hour. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts

377 calories; fat 20g; cholesterol 45mg; saturated fat 10g; carbohydrates 38g; mono fat 6g; poly fat 2g; trans fatty acid 1g; insoluble fiber 4g; sugars 2g; protein 14g; vitamin a 559.2IU; vitamin c 2.4mg; thiamin 0.6mg; riboflavin 0.5mg; niacin equivalents 4mg; vitamin b6 0.3mg; folate 76.4mcg; vitamin b12 0.5mcg; sodium 566mg; potassium 281mg; calcium 339mg; iron 3.9mg.