Salvadoran Pupusas

I am very fortunate to have the best friend a girl could ever ask for from the time we were both eleven. We have gone through everything together and I love her like a sister. She married an absolutely wonderful man and he is quite passionate about food like me. His parents are from El Salvador and Ecuador, so it was he who introduced me to the wonders of Salvadoran pupusas. The first time I ate one at their house, I became obsessed. They were so unlike anything I had ever eaten and I was blown away by the flavors and textures. So I embarked on the daunting task of making them at home! They fit in so well with this blog even though they were outside of my comfort zone. My friend’s husband spoke with so much love and pride when he talked about his grandmother’s pupusas. It reminded me of how I feel about my grandmothers and their cooking. So with his guidance, a little research and my culinary instincts I put together a recipe that I hope would make her proud!

There are two toppings that always are served with traditional Salvadoran pupusas. The curtido is a gorgeous cabbage slaw that was easy to make. I actually made it the day before because the longer it sits, the better it is. I just tossed all of the veggies with some seasoning, apple cider vinegar and warm water. The simplicity let everything really sing.
There are two toppings that always accompany traditional Salvadoran pupusas. The curtido is a gorgeous cabbage slaw that was easy to make. I actually made it the day before because the longer it sits, the better it is. I just tossed all of the veggies with some seasoning, apple cider vinegar and warm water. The simplicity let everything really sing.
The other traditional topping for the Salvadoran pupusas is the salsa roja. It was a simple red sauce made of tomato, jalapeño, onion, seasoning and water to thin it out. I cooked it for just a few minutes to bring out the flavors.
The other traditional topping for the Salvadoran pupusas is the salsa roja. It was a simple red sauce to make with tomato, jalapeño, onion, seasoning and water to thin it out. I cooked it for just a few minutes to bring out the flavors. Making it ahead of time also let the flavors meld even more!
The star of the salvadoran pupusas was definitely the pork filling. I made this the day before as well. The pork cooked low and slow for hours with lots of aromatics and seasoning. Then I pulsed it into a fine mixture in my food processor. Oh my goodness it smelled incredible!
The star of the Salvadoran pupusas was definitely the pork filling. I made this the day before as well. The pork cooked low and slow for hours with lots of aromatics and seasoning. Then I pulsed it into a fine mixture in my food processor. Oh my goodness it smelled incredible!
The next day it was time to make the simple masa dough. The flour was the essential part. I used Maseca masa flour, which is the best for Salvadoran pupusas. A spoon was not allowed here. Clean hands were the best for bringing it together!
The next day it was time to make the simple masa dough. The flour was the essential part. I used Maseca masa flour, which is the best for Salvadoran pupusas. A spoon was not allowed here. Clean hands were the best for bringing it together!
I used a 1/4 cup to measure perfect portions of the dough. Then I stuffed it with that glorious pork mixture and queso fresco.
I used a 1/4 cup to measure perfect portions of the dough. Then I stuffed it with that glorious pork mixture and queso fresco. This video here helped me get the technique for forming the Salvadoran pupusas. It was so useful!
My beloved electric griddle cooked the Salvadoran pupusas perfectly. They took about 3 minutes on each side to become golden with those lovely little sun spots.
My beloved electric griddle cooked the Salvadoran pupusas perfectly. They took about 3 minutes on each side to become golden with those lovely little sun spots. The filling heated through in that time beautifully as well.

I formed and cooked the Salvadoran pupusas until the dough was all gone. There was filling leftover, so I planned on making tacos with it. Then I just served the pupusas warm with the salsa roja and curtido on top. Biting in made me so happy. The masa dough was pillowy and so flavorful with the hearty, aromatic filling. The crunchy slaw and gorgeous sauce brought it all together gloriously. It was a lot of work, but so fun to take a trip to El Salvador right in my own kitchen. Hope you all enjoy this classic Latin dish! xoxo

Salvadoran Pupusas
Salvadoran Pupusas
Salvadoran Pupusas
Salvadoran Pupusas

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4.84 from 6 votes
Salvadoran Pupusas
Salvadoran Pupusas
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs
 

Salvadoran pupusas are just pure flavor with an amazing pork, refried bean and queso fresco filling, served with curtido and salsa roja! 

Course: Main Course
Keyword: Pupusas, Salvadoran Pupusas
Servings: 32 pupusas
Calories: 514 kcal
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
Ingredients
FOR THE CURTIDO
  • 1 head cabbage cored and shredded
  • 2 whole carrots grated
  • 2 whole jalapeno peppers seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 whole onion thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
FOR THE PUPUSAS
  • 1 dash olive oil plus additional as needed
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper seeded and quartered
  • 1 whole onion thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2.5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 dash worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 can refried beans 16 ounce size
  • 6 cups Maseca Masa Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2- 6 1/2 cups warm water
  • 8 ounces queso fresco crumbled finely
FOR THE SALSA ROJA
  • 2 whole tomatoes quartered
  • 1 whole jalapeno seeded and quartered
  • 1 whole onion quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
  1. The curtido really needs to sit at least overnight, so prepare that first. Toss the shredded cabbage, carrots, jalapeño, salt, oregano and coriander together well in a large, glass bowl that has a sealable lid. Pour the apple cider vinegar and warm water over it and give it all another thorough toss. Seal the bowl with the lid and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to meld together.
  2. Next, start on the filling. This can also be done the day before or on the day you want to make the pupusas. Get out a large dutch oven and heat the dash of olive oil in it over medium high heat. Cook the jalapeño, onion and garlic in it for a minute to get them fragrant. Then add the pork in and brown it on all sides. It does not need to be cooked through at this point, just brown. Season it while it browns with the seasoned salt, dried oregano and smoked paprika. Once it is browned and seasoned, add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and let them cook with it for a minute. Finally, add the chicken stock and bay leaves. Let the chicken stock come to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pot with its lid and let the pork simmer low and slow for 3 hours.
  3. While the pork cooks, make the red sauce (salsa roja) for topping the pupusas. This can also be done either the day before or the day of making the pupusas. Combine the tomato, jalapeño, onion, salt, garlic powder and water in a large blender. Blend it until it is smooth and liquified. Then pour it into a small pot and heat it up over medium high heat. Let it gently bubble for 5-10 minutes until it cooks through and turns into a gorgeous, thin red liquid. Seal it in a container and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
  4. Once the pork is done cooking, remove it from the pot and bring the liquid up to a gentle boil again. Shred the pork off of the bone and discard the fat back. Then return the shredded pork to the pot and also add the refried beans. Let it all cook together until the liquid is pretty much cooked off for about 15 minutes. Take the pot off of the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Set up a food processor and transfer the cooled mixture into its bowl. Pulse it a few times to make it a fine, uniform mixture. At this point you can put the filling in a sealed container and refrigerate it.
  5. When you are ready to make the pupusas, put together the simple masa dough. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then start by pouring 5 1/2 cups of the warm water in. With clean hands, work it all together into a dough. If it is still a little crumbly, add more water gradually and keep working it until it is a soft, slightly wet dough. Then get out an electric griddle and heat it up to 375.
  6. Grease your hands liberally with olive oil. Then take a 1/4 cup portion of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball. Press it with your hands into a disc and transfer it between your hands while you press firmly to thin it out. It is basically like clapping hard while you transfer it between your hands. Then take a tablespoon of the pork filling and a pinch of the queso fresco and place it in the middle of the disc. Bring the edges over the filling almost like closing a dumpling. Since it will almost be like a little ball at this point, smooth out the ball in your hands and press it out again into a thin disc with the filling inside.
  7. Get the pupusa onto the hot griddle and cook it for about 3 minutes on each side. It should get golden with little sun spots on the outside. Keep forming and cooking the pupusas this way until the dough is all used up. As they finish cooking, transfer them to a plate and cover them with foil to keep them warm. There will be some pork filling and cheese leftover. They go perfectly in tacos for leftovers! Serve the pupusas warm with the salsa roja and curtido on top. They also make great leftovers and reheat well in the oven!
Nutrition Facts
Salvadoran Pupusas
Amount Per Serving (3 pupusas)
Calories 514 Calories from Fat 221
% Daily Value*
Fat 24.6g38%
Saturated Fat 7.1g44%
Cholesterol 57mg19%
Sodium 838mg36%
Potassium 391mg11%
Carbohydrates 53.7g18%
Fiber 7.1g30%
Sugar 2.9g3%
Protein 21.6g43%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 5.8mg32%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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20 thoughts on “Salvadoran Pupusas”

  1. Never written a post on anyone’s blog but I had to do it this time. I made these for dinner tonight and they were absolutely DELICIOUS! Made everything as written and it totally taste authentic! Thanks for this great recipe!! Will definitely make again

  2. There used to be a Salvadoran restaurant near us and that’s where I tried pupusas for the first time. I remember them being SO delicious! I’ve never thought about making them myself, but I would love to try these.

  3. 5 stars
    Made these today and they were absolutely amazing!!!
    It took me some time to get used to dealing with the masa. Even with olive oil on hands it was difficult to handle but after a few I got it.
    The chicharron recipe with the refried beans was amazing!
    The salsa was great. Substituted the garlic powder with chicken bouillon and added fresh garlic.
    Also made pupusas with refried beans and cheese.
    Amazing, thank you for the very detailed step by step! Will plan some parts ahead of time in the future.

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