Pupusas with Curtido from El Salvador

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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  1. Sandra g says

    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!

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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.

  4. says

    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!!!!

  5. says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

  7. says

    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.

  8. lisa says

    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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