Pupusas are a gluten free griddle cake from Central America. They originate from El Salvador and Honduras. Pupusas are basically the original Crunchwrap and they’re one of my favorite quick foods. They’re usually made of corn flour (masa harina), but can sometimes be made with rice flour (harina de arroz). Pupusas are filled with meats, beans, or cheeses.

A simple dough of masa harina, salt, and cold water make up the shell of a pupusa. The dough is then filled with refried beans, stewed meat, or cheese. It’s an easy recipe so you can go wild with the fillings and use whatever you like. Just make sure you don’t overfill, because keeping the fillings in during flattening and griddling is the toughest part. Curtido, a type of pickled cabbage slaw, is the standard accompaniment to pupusas. The tanginess of the slaw helps offset the heaviness of the griddle cake.

Corn-Based Pupusa Recipes:


Image from Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández via Unsplash


Image from Tribeza

Rice-based Pupusa Recipes:

Rice-based pupusas are usually only found in El Salvador (although the corn variety is popular there too!). The rice pupusas offer a more delicate flakiness and a sweeter-tasting dough. The process for making pupusas with rice flour is slightly different. For this type, boiling water is used instead of cool water when making the dough. This is done to cook the rice starch and make it easier to work with. Rice pupusas often include butter or oil in the dough to improve pliability.

Curtido Recipes:

The curtido served with the pupusa is an essential side, like kimchi is for korean food. The standard version is made of cabbage, onion, carrots, and jalapeno and is salt pickled. Quick-pickled varieties work in a pinch.


Image from Smithsonian

* Title image courtesy of Cooks Illustrated.

- Further Reading -