Pupusa recipe with marinated slaw

A few years ago I was first introduced to a pupusa.  My husband was just introduced a month ago.  We both fell in love with them. Since he’s the chef, he decided we should make some!

First things first, a poo-poo-wha?  Poo-POO-sah.  Pu-PU-sa. See, it’s even fun to say! Now say it fast: pupusa

What is a pupusa?  It is a traditional food from El Salvador made from a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is filled with meats, beans, and cheese.  It’s kind of like a quesadilla.

Let’s take a look…

Pupusa recipe 

 Doesn’t it look GOOD?

pupusa recipe

Time for the recipe.  Make the slaw first, then the filling, then the masa dough.  This whole process took me TWO hours.  This pupusa recipe is adapted from Go Vegan Meow

First, make the slaw.

Marinated cabbage slaw (aka curtido) 

  • 1/2 a green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 a red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar


  1. The easiest way to shred the cabbage is to use a large food processor with the shredding blade.  Then I’d try a mandoline.  Slice cabbage in half, remove the core, then shred away! Now place in a separate bowl.
  2. Shred the carrots. Add to the cabbage
  3. Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss well.
  4. Place the slaw into a large reasalable plastic bag (the gallon size should work). Press out all of the air and tightly seal the bag.
  5. Store in the fridge with heavy items on top.  Let cool for approx 1 hour before serving.  If you wanted to prepare this the day ahead you could.

Black bean, cheese, and potato filling


  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 potato (russet or yukon gold)
  • shredded Mexican cheese mix or mozzarella cheese


  1. Clean the potato and cook in the microwave until done.
  2. Add the garlic and oil into a skillet and fry over medium heat until fragrant. 
  3. Add the jalapeno, black beans, cumin, water, and oregano.  Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.  The beans should still be moist.
  5. Once the potato is slightly cooled, cut into very small fine chunks (like o’brien potato size) and add to the beans. 

Masa Dough


  • 2 cups instant Mexican style masa harina (found it at walmart neighborhood market here)
  • 1 3/4 cups or more of warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the masa harina, warm water, and salt.  The dough should be moist and firm, not too sticky.  If it is too sticky, sprinkle with 1 tbsp masa harina at a time until you reach the right consistency.  If too dry, add more water. The dough is done with it doesn’t stick to the bowl.
  2. Grab a chunk of dough and roll it into a ball.  (picture 1)
  3. With the ball of dough in your palm, use your fingers in your other hand to form a little bowl.  (Picture 2)
  4. Now add 1.5-2 tbsp of filling to the indentation.
  5. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the filling (picture 3)
  6. Fold over the sides of the bowl like a taco. (picture 4)
  7. To shape into a flat disc, perform gentle but firm patting motions in a circular pattern.  
  8. If your pupusa cracks or some of the filling pokes out, you can smear a little more dough over the crack.  Honestly though, the filling tastes good when it fries on the pan so it’s not a big deal.  The pupusa should be about 1/4 of an inch thick. (picture 5)
  9. Prepare all of your pupusas (this recipe makes approx 8 of them)
  10. Heat a large skillet coated with some olive oil on medium-high heat.
  11. Grill a few at a time, taking about 5 minutes on each side to finish cooking.  They are done when browned with a few darker (yes even burned spots!) are on them.
  12. If you are serving them all at once, warm in some foil in the oven while the rest cook.
  13. Serve with the slaw on top!
steps for making the pupusa
finished pupusa!
Black bean, cheese and potato pupusas with marinated slaw (curtido) on the side

Delicious!  Bring on pupusa jokes!


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