Pupusas with Curtido from El Salvador

by Erica Dinho on January 18, 2010

My friend Joan from Foodalogue is going on a virtual culinary tour “South of the Border” and the first stop was Mexico, so I joined her with these Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa.

This week we are going to El Salvador and I am joining her with their national dish, Pupusas. I didn’t know anything about Salvadorian cuisine when Joan announced the itinerary, so I started searching for information about their culture and food. I learned that some Salvadorian dishes are similar to some Colombian traditional dishes. Such similarities can be seen in dishes such as fried cassava and fried sweet plantains.

Pupusas are a thick tortilla made with masa de maiz, which is also used in Mexican tortillas and tamales. Traditionally, pupusas are stuffed with refried beans, Salvadorean cheese, chicharron( fried pork belly), loroco and other fillings like chicken, shrimp and more. They are served with curtido, a cabbage and carrot salad with a vinegar dressing. I made beans and cheese pupusas for my vegetarian husband and I made chicharron, beans and cheese pupusas for myself and they were both delicious with the curtido. I didn’t have Salvadorian cheese, so I used a mix of Queso fresco, mozarella and cheddar cheese.

Visit Joan at Foodalogue for the itinerary and join us on this virtual culinary tour.




  • 1/2 head green cabbage shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped habanero pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup warm water


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Pupusas
  3. 2 cups masa harina
  4. 1 1/4 cups warm water
  5. Salt
  6. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  7. Mozarella cheese
  8. Queso fresco
  9. Cheddar cheese
  10. 1/2 cup chopped chicharron or cooked bacon (if using)
  11. For the Refried beans:
  12. 1 can (oz) pinto beans
  13. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  14. 1/4 cup chopped onion
  15. 1 garlic clove minced
  16. 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  17. Salt and pepper
  18. 1/4 cup water
  19. Directions
  20. To make the beans:
  21. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until translucent, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  22. Add the beans, water, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon.
  23. Mash the beans using a potato masher and stir well. Set aside.
  24. To make the pupusas:
  25. Combine the masa harina, warm water and salt, mixing thoroughly. Let mixture stand for five minutes.
  26. Knead with your hands for about 3 minutes, moistening your hands with water as you work.
  27. Form 8 small balls with the dough. Place each ball between 2 plastic bags and with a flat pot cover, flatten to ¼ inch.
  28. Remove the top plastic of 4 tortillas, sprinkle the cheddar cheese, queso fresco and mozarella cheese over the bottom of each tortilla. Add the refried beans evenly on top of the cheese, then top with chicharron. Top with another tortilla. Press the borders to close the pupusa so the filling does not come out.
  29. Add the oil to a nonstick pan over medium heat. Place the pupusas in the pan, and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until a crust forms or they are golden brown. Serve warm with curtido.
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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Divina January 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM

This is a mouthwatering dish. It’s great to learn something new. :D


2 Ben January 18, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Oh, I’ve heard about pupusas before, but I’ve never knew exactly what they were. Great contribution to the roundup! :D


3 Sandra g January 18, 2010 at 9:33 AM

I’ve always wanted to learn to make pupusas, but though it was to complicated, but is not!, thank you Erica, can’t wait to try them!


4 Joan Nova January 18, 2010 at 9:44 AM

They came out great, Erica. I think the Salvadorans were smart to pair curtido with pupusas because the acid of the salad cuts some of the fat from the cheese and chiccarones. :) Thanks so much for participating.


5 Mari January 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM

These are delicious, I had hem in Massachusetts and hey were awesome! Thanks for the recipe!


6 Devon January 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM

There is a large El Salvadorian community in my neighborhood, so I can order these for take-out. I hope Ecuador is the next stop on the Foodalogue tour; I’m going there in a few weeks and know nothing about the food.


7 Erica January 18, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Thank you all for the comments :) These pupusas are delicious!


8 Simply Life January 18, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Oh my, this looks like it’s just oozing with delicious-ness :)


9 Angie@Angie's Recipes January 18, 2010 at 12:29 PM

They look very much like Chinese pancakes. Yummy!


10 Ruth January 18, 2010 at 1:14 PM

I would love to be able to make something like this, sounds so delicious!


11 Vinolia January 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM

that’s a yummy refreshing dish you’ve got there; love the curtido preparartion, must have bennn crunchy and munchy, lovely combination of veggies!! looks great with the filled pupusas!!!!


12 Christine @ Fresh Local and Best January 18, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Gosh, it’s been ages since I’ve had papusas! I love the warm crispy exterior and how filling these patties are.


13 grace January 18, 2010 at 2:55 PM

oh, how delicious. and those beans make the perfect filler–i could probably eat my weight in these. :)


14 Faith January 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I am really loving this virtual culinary tour! These look super tasty and just perfect with the curtido on the side!


15 Erica January 18, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Thank you guys :) I appreciate all your comments!


16 Velva January 18, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Delicious!!! The Culinary Virtual Tour is an awesome idea.


17 Arlene January 18, 2010 at 7:28 PM

I’ve seen the ready-made frozen Goya puposas, but I’m sure they’re nothing like the real thing. Yours look amazing.


18 Sook January 18, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Oh pupusas!! I’ve heard SO MUCH about it from my Dominican friend! I am bookmarking this recipe to try it sometime. Thanks!


19 monicajane January 18, 2010 at 8:21 PM

yum…i’ve eaten pupusas many times in restaurants but now I live where there are no El Salvadoran restaurants…this looks very doable…and I’d love to make them…

I need to find a source for the flour used.


20 Erica January 18, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Monica- You can find that flour at Latin markets, some brands are Maseca and Goya.


21 Natasha - 5 Star Foodie January 18, 2010 at 11:05 PM

The pupusas and curtido sound excellent! I would love to try! I tried to make something for the tour but totally failed, so hope to join on the next stop.


22 Claudia Medeiros January 19, 2010 at 6:08 AM

Hi, Erica ! Delicious menu ! :D

I wish you a wonderful 2010, dear friend, full of all great things God can allow you :)



23 Carla January 19, 2010 at 8:22 AM

What a great recipe. I have almost a full bag of Masa Harina left from making arepas and need more recipes to use it for. Thanks for the great idea. Looks delicious.


24 anncoo January 19, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Never tried this before, looks very delicious!


25 Kim January 19, 2010 at 9:46 AM

The papusa look delicious. It all looks so homemade and delicious Erica. Great job.


26 Erica January 19, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Thank you everyone :)


27 Kitchen Butterfly January 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

How yummy are these…..I joined the tour – such a great idea!!!!!!


28 Oysterculture January 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM

I love pupusas – in the DC area there was a lot of pupusa restaurants, not so common here in SF, but you’ve inspired me to keep looking!


29 Soma January 24, 2010 at 12:06 PM

I have never heard of this before. But it sounds so much like the stuffed breads we make except with wheat flour and different kind of stuffing. Thanks for sharing Erica.


30 Erica January 27, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Thank you all for visiting my blog!


31 Sandra g February 13, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Erica made the curtido and pupusas tonight, they were delicious!


32 Erica February 14, 2010 at 8:05 AM

Sandra g- Thank you for your feedback!


33 lisa February 23, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Hi Erica! I’m actually Salvadorian-American (Is it Salvadorean or Salvadoran?) and the pupusas that are most commonly made here are the “pupusas revueltas” or pupusas made from chicharron and queso. However, Salvadorian pupusas are more diverse, they can be made with cheese and beans, or cheese only, cheese and loroco (my least favorite, I don’t like loroco) and shrimp and cheese or fish and cheese. I only stick to my pupusas revueltas and cheese pupusas. Another thing, you don’t have to use Salvadorian cheese as a matter fact most people use mozarella cheese to make pupusas. Pupusas are similar to the arepas of Venezuela. They are delicious if made the right way. The curtido also has other ingredients besides vinegar, but my mom would know best since she makes it all the time.


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