4.98 from 95 votes
Jump to RecipeJump to VideoRate

This easy pupusa recipe teaches you how to make bean and cheese-filled tortillas. These pupusas come together in less than 10 minutes, and they are easy to customize with your favorite fillings.


If you love our tacos dorados or Mulitas, you will surely love Pupusas. This popular street food makes the best snacks or a meal in itself.

Growing up, mom used to make her version of these but called them stuffed tortillas. It was only recently when I asked her for the recipe that she informed me they were the infamous pupusa! Fun to say, even more fun to eat!

Table of Contents
  1. What are pupusas?
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make pupusas
  4. Tips to make the best recipe
  5. Storage instructions
  6. What to serve with this dish
  7. Frequently asked questions
  8. Pupusas

What are pupusas?

Popular in Salvadoran cuisine (El Salvador), pupusas are thick corn pancakes that are filled with refried beans, cheese, or some form of protein (usually in the form of carnitas or skirt steak).

Similar to arepas, they are commonly made with corn flour, though rice flour may be used too. Usually served with curtido, a twist on the classic coleslaw, they are a popular street food but also make a fabulous lunch or dinner.

We like to use a cast iron pan to cook them, and our homemade recipe is a game changer. You’ll love it, too, because:

  • Customizable fillings. What makes this dish so good is that you can make them with any filling of your choice, including meat, beans, cheese, mashed potatoes, chorizo, etc. 
  • Great side dish or appetizer. Served with salsa and sauces, it is an amazing appetizer or side dish. You can make them with different filling options to fit everyone’s preferences. 
  • Freezer-friendly. Uncooked pupusas freeze quite well. Double this recipe and freeze part of the pupusas for later use. 
pupusas with curtido in a white pan.

Ingredients needed

These beans and cheese-stuffed pupusas call for only six simple ingredients. Here’s everything you will need to make them. 

  • Masa harina. Known as dried corn dough, masa harina is the key ingredient you need to make traditional pupusas. 
  • Water. Warm water is needed to mix with masa harina and make the dough.
  • Cheese. Any shredded cheese will work so long as it melts well. Mozzarella and queso fresco are two of your best options. 
  • Refried beans. Use canned refried beans or make them yourself. 
  • Oil. Sunflower oil, vegetable oil, or any neutral-flavored cooking oil of your choice. 
  • Salt. To taste. 

How to make pupusas

While making Salvadoran pupusas implies making dough, the process is fairly simple if you follow a few simple steps. 

Step 1- Prepare the dough. Combine masa harina with warm water and salt in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon until it thickens and proceed to knead with your hands until smooth dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes. 

pupusa dough.

Step 2- Shape and stuff the pupusas. Divide the dough into 14 even balls (golf ball size). Use your hands to form a pocket in the middle of the ball. Place a teaspoon of refried beans and a teaspoon of shredded cheese in the pocket. Bring over the edges to cover the fillings and form a ball again. Use your hands to gently flatten the pupusa ball into a thick disk. 

how to make pupusas.

Step 3- Cook. Add a small amount of cooking oil to a non-stick pan or griddle and heat it. Cook the pupusas in the pan for 3 minutes per side until lightly browned. 

pupusa recipe.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Use an ice cream or a cookie scoop to portion the dough evenly and make even-sized pupusas. 
  • For an authentic Salvadoran experience, serve these with salsa and curtido. The latter is a traditional Salvadoran cabbage slaw. 
  • Oil your hands lightly to prevent the dough from sticking to them. 
  • If the dough tears while forming the pupusa, simply pinch it back together. 
  • If you are making a big batch of them and need to keep them warm while you finish cooking all of them, turn on the oven to 200F degrees and keep the cooked ones there until it’s dinner time. 

Storage instructions

To store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

To freeze. Freeze them on a baking sheet first until they are solid. Then put them in an airtight bag or container and freeze them for up to 3 months. We typically don’t keep them any longer because they are easy enough to make fresh,

To reheat. Reheat them in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave at 15-second intervals until they are heated through.  

pupusas stuffed with beans and cheese in a white tray.

What to serve with this dish

While we typically make curtido (fermented cabbage salad), anything fresh and green pairs well with it, so here are some suggestions.

Frequently asked questions

What do pupusas taste like?

The flavor of pupusas depends on the fillings you use for them. The flatbread itself tastes pretty much like a corn tortilla. 

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, pupusas are gluten-free, so long as you don’t use wheat flour to make them. Additionally, when using canned ingredients, such as refried beans, check the ingredient list to make sure they don’t have any gluten-containing additives. 

Can I cook these in the air fryer?

Yes! Simply prepare them as instructed, then place them in a greased air fryer basket and air fry at 200C/400F for 4 minutes, flipping halfway through.

pupusas recipe.


4.98 from 95 votes
Learn how to make Pupusa, a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with savory fillings such as cheese, pork, or beans. They come together in less than 10 minutes.
Servings: 14 servings
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 8 minutes


  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 2 tablespoons oil


  • In a mixing bowl, combine masa harina and salt. Add the water and mix with the spoon until it thickens. Start kneading with your hands until a smooth dough forms. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 14 balls. With your hands form a pocket in the middle of the ball. Place one teaspoon of refried beans and one tablespoon of shredded cheese in the pupusa dough. Using the edges, cover the filling and form a ball once again. Flatten each filled ball into a thick disk shape.
  • Add oil to a non-stick pan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the pupusa to the pan and cook for 3 minutes per side until it starts browning.



TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
TO FREEZE: Freeze them on a baking sheet first until they are solid. Then put them in an airtight bag or container and freeze them for up to 3 months. We typically don’t keep them any longer because they are easy enough to make fresh,
TO REHEAT: Reheat them in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave at 15-second intervals until they are heated through.


Serving: 1pupusaCalories: 124kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 5gFat: 3gSodium: 443mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 98IUCalcium: 114mgIron: 2mgNET CARBS: 18g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Salvadoran
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

Never Miss a Recipe!
Subscribe to get my recipes directly to your inbox

You May Also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is the quickest, simplest, tastiest pupusa I’ve made at home! I particularly appreciated the instructions because I’ve always had difficulty getting the pupusa folded properly. No longer a problem! Because in my family we have a range of different preferences, the beans with cheese is a classic my grandsons love. I use a few other fillings, including meat with cheese for my son-in-law and tofu with sweet onions & cumin is one of my personal favorites. These are also very hands-on and fun to make with my elementary-school age grandsons.

  2. Hi 🙂 if I can’t find masa marina where I am, are these able to be made with simple corn flour? Thank you!

  3. I have a lot of recipes that my father and I created together for holidays and special occasions,, I absolutely love trying New recipes

    1. 5 stars
      Love your recipes easy to follow and so delicious what more can I said so super happy I founded your recipes
      Thank you

  4. Hi! Love your recipes! I have been making the Naan bread (GF!)
    I have added Cashew Yogurt! It gives great added flavor.
    My non GF family loves it. This recipe you’ve posted gave me an idea… could I put some mozzarella in the Naan bread recipe? Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Con harina de arroz es recomendable poner agua un poco más caliente, son más crocantes gracias por probar la comida Salvadoreña 🤩☺️

  6. these will be fun to make, kinda dumpling like, good dish to save for when I’m taking a break from my diet, thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    My grandfather made something similar to this, they were a go to for after school snack. Of course there were some made with dates and other dried fruits. Will have to make these today.

    1. 5 stars
      Yes I made them, brought me back to my childhood, winter time rode my bike back home, I’m cold ready for a slightly chili hot, and my coffee. You have to understand Mexican coffee, made for kids. Sugar and milk brought together foamy, then coffee added. The memory itself is worth it.