If you’ve never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you’re in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

Salvadoran Pupusas

The first time I ate a Salvadoran Pupusa, it was as you exactly as you should have a Salvadoran Papusa for the first time. In a tiny restaurant with no-frills and no fancy table cloths simply churning out delicious home-cooked Salvadoran food. With a majority of the patrons, clearly regulars on their lunch break evidenced by the way they confidently ordered their food, and the others already sitting, inhaling perfectly crispy pieces of cheesy-stuffed corn dough, saucy chicken and rice, fried plantains and cold Strawberry Fantas, I knew I was I was forever going to be changed.  

While the other traditional Salvadoran dishes did strike my fancy, I was there for the pupusas, and that’s what I got. And as expected, I fell in love. Currently, when it comes to ethnic food, aside from a perfectly crispy spring roll, there is nothing I crave more than a cheesy pupusa. And lucky for both you and I, they’re super easy so make. 

But let’s back up for a second. If you’re asking yourself, “What is a pupusa?” here’s the deal. They are flatbread pockets of dough, made from corn meal, more specifically corn masa, that are flattened, stuffed with an array of fillings and ever-so-lightly fried on a griddle. I’d describe them somewhere between a tortilla and an empanada if you had to make comparisons. They are crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and full of texture. So good. 

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

Ingredients in Salvadoran Pupusas

The pupusas

The pupusas themselves only have a few ingredients, here’s what you’ll need: 

Instant Masa Harina. This is a cooked white corn flour or meal very similar in texture to corn meal. It’s a little bit grittier than traditional cornmeal and is pre-cooked so it also behaves very differently when mixed with the other ingredients and cooked. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, all it takes is a quick link on Amazon to get it delivered directly to your door. We used this brand and have found it to work very well. 

Water. A lot of recipes are very finicky about whether or not you use warm or cold water. I found that room temperature water worked just fine, so I didn’t bother with making sure it was super cold or warm to the touch. 

Salt. As it is with any recipe, it’s important to season with plenty of salt or the pupusas will be bland. 

Oil. You want to use a little bit of oil to cook the pupusas. This helps them to crisp up nicely and gives them a deep-fried taste without actually deep-frying them. 

Pupusa dough should we slightly wet and look like playdough

Pupusa fillings

You could literally stuff a pupusa with anything, but I’ve listed the most common fillers for a traditional stuffed pupusa. 

  • Cheese
  • Chicharrones (Shredded Pork)
  • Beans and Cheese 
  • Jalapeños and Cheese 
  •  Zucchini flowers
  • Zucchini and Cheese 

Our version of a pupusa is sort of untraditional because in addition to traditional Oaxaca cheese, we also use cooked chorizo which is more common in Mexican cooking. Of course, pupusas are totally adaptable so stuff them with whatever you want! 

The slaw

Almost all traditional Salvadoran pupusa dishes are served with a simple slaw, ours is no exception. We simply mixed a a pre-package cabbage, carrot, and red cabbage mix with chopped cilantro, white vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. 

Stuff with chorizo and cheese

How to make the pupusas

Make the filling. I like to get everything ready to go, so that when my dough is ready, I can form the pupusas and get them to the table as fast as possible. As mentioned, our version of Salvadoran pupusas are stuffed with shredded Oaxaca cheese and spicy Mexican chorizo. 

Add the the chorizo to a small sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Brown the chorizo until cooked through, drain on paper towels. Set aside. 

Make the dough. Add the masa harina to a medium bowl. Stir in salt. Slowly drizzle in the water while stirring the masa. Continue to stir until the water is incorporated. Wet hands with cold water and continue to mix the dough until it comes together. If the dough seems dry, add a few drops of water until it comes together. Keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from stick. 

It should resemble slightly tacky play dough. 

Form the pupusas. As before, keep your hands slightly wet, so the dough doesn’t stick to your skin. Use your hands to grab a heaping 1/4 cup of the dough. Roll into a ball and slightly flatten. 

Stuff the pupusas. Place two tablespoons of the cheese in the middle. Spoon another tablespoon or two (if you want them really packed with filling) of the chorizo on top. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball again, enclose the dough around the filling. Once the filling has been covered, again use your hands to flatten the dough into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining pupupsas. 

Flatten pupusas with hand

Make the slaw. Add vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and sriracha to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add slaw mix. Toss. Let the slaw sit while you fry the pupusas. 

Cook the pupusas. You can use a few different cooking vessels to cook the pupusas, but I prefer to use a cast-iron skillet. It conducts heat beautifully and you need very little oil to make the pupusas very crispy. If you want to cook a bunch at the same time, I’d also recommend using a large griddle you can set on your stovetop. 

Heat the skillet or griddle to a medium heat. Drizzle the skillet or griddle with a little bit of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pupusas. Cook until super crispy and brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. 

Serve! Serve the pupusas with a little bit of slaw and eat right away while gooey and hot. 

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

Can you make pupusas in advance? 

Yes! While I wouldn’t cook them in advance because they are best served straight from the griddle, you can form them ahead of time. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to cook. 

Do you have to use masa harina? 

Yes. You cannot substitute cornmeal, flour, or anything else for masa harina. 

Can you bake Salvadoran Pupusas? 

While yes, you can technically bake them, the texture won’t be the same if you cooked them on a griddle in a little bit of oil. 

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success

  • If you can’t find Oaxaca cheese, you swap out Monterrey jack or mozzarella
  • Instead of chorizo, use any of the other fillings we mentioned above. I’m partial to beans and jalapeños 
  • You can keep the pupusas warm in the oven. Just set a cookie cooling rack on top of a sheet pan and keep warm at 275 degrees. 
  • If you end up making your dough too wet, add more masa carina, a little bit at a time until you reach the right consistency. 
  • Reversely, if your dough isn’t wet enough, add a few drops of water, a little bit at a time until you reach the right consistency. 

Tools Used in Today’s Post

For more fun street food appetizers, check out these posts

  • These Chicken Enchilada Empanadas are the perfect bite-sized treat. They’re stuffed with chicken, jalapeños and cream cheese, and baked until crisp. 
  • Spanakopita triangles are my favorite Greek appetizer. Phyllo dough is stuffed with spinach, feta, and baked until super crispy. So delicious. 
  • Another favorite Greek app – phyllo dough wrapped in feta, baked and drizzle with sesame and honey. The perfect combination of sweet and salty. 

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. \

 Cheesy Salvadoran Pupusas with Chorizo

If you've never had Salvadoran Pupusas, you're in for a very delicious treat. Crispy corn flatbreads are stuffed with gooey oaxaca cheese and spicy chorizo, pan-fried until irresistibly crispy and then served with a simple slaw. Simple, but so delicious. 

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Salvadoran
Keyword pupusas, cheesy pupusas, salvadoran pupusa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 pupusas
Calories 255 kcal
Author Nicole

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 cups packaged slaw mix (without dressing)
  • 10 oz shredded  oaxaca cheese
  • 8 oz mexican chorizo
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups cold or room temp water, plus a little more if needed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • canola oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Add vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and sriracha to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add slaw mix. Toss. Let the slaw sit while you make the pupusas. 

  2. Add the the chorizo to a small sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Brown the chorizo until cooked through, drain on paper towels. Set aside.  Shred the cheese 

  3. Add the masa harina to a medium bowl. Stir in salt. Slowly drizzle in the water while stirring the masa. Continue to stir until the water is incorporated. If needed add a little bit more water to the dough. The dough should be slightly sticky and wet, and form into balls easily. (See photo for consistency.) Wet hands with cold water and continue to mix the dough until it comes together. If the dough seems dry, add a few drops of water until it comes together. Keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking. 

     

  4. As before, keep your hands slightly wet, so the dough doesn’t stick to your skin. Use your hands to grab a heaping 1/4 cup of the dough. Roll into a ball and slightly flatten. 

  5. Place three tablespoons of the cheese in the middle. Spoon another two tablespoons of the chorizo on top. Use your hands to enclose the dough around the filling. Once the filling has been covered, again use your hands to flatten the dough into a disc about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough. 

  6. You can use a few different cooking vessels to cook the pupusas, but I prefer to use a cast-iron skillet. It conducts heat beautifully and you need very little oil to make the pupusas very crispy. If you want to cook a bunch at the same time, I’d also recommend using a large griddle you can set on your stovetop. 

  7. Heat the skillet or griddle to a medium heat. Drizzle the skillet or griddle with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan or skillet. (For a large cast-iron skillet, I used about 2 tablespoons of oil.) Once the oil is hot, add the pupusas. Cook until super crispy and brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. 

  8. Serve the pupusas with a little bit of slaw and eat right away while gooey and hot. 

Nutrition Facts
 Cheesy Salvadoran Pupusas with Chorizo
Amount Per Serving (1 pupusa)
Calories 255 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 24mg8%
Sodium 773mg34%
Potassium 84mg2%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 149IU3%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 52mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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