Today you will learn how to prepare pupusas step by step. Creating Pupusas – These thick and chewy corn tortillas are filled with beans and cheese before being pan-fried and topped with a fresh cabbage slaw. Our simple pupusa recipe is ideal for a snack or a light dinner!
What exactly are Pupusas?
Pupusas (also spelled papusas) are stuffed pan-fried corn tortillas with beans and cheese. They are served throughout Central America and are sometimes made with wheat flour. On the other hand, the most traditional and popular varieties are made with masa harina, an instant corn flour.
To make a soft, pliable dough, combine the flour, water, and a pinch of salt. Then, add a few of your favorite fillings, shape and flatten the papusa, and pan-fry until golden.
Making Pupusas is a lot of fun and a great way to get started with authentic Latin American cuisine. Include the entire family in the process!
Pupusas are a lot of fun to make and customize with different fillings. The most traditional version is made with just beans and cheese and served with a simple cold cabbage slaw on the side.
Feel free to substitute leftover taco meat, carne asada, or shredded rotisserie chicken in the filling. It was stuffed with stewed chicken, shredded pork carnitas, or other cooked ingredients such as pickled jalapenos or diced vegetables!
Ingredients You Need
FOR THE CURTIDO SLAW
- Cabbage slaw mix – either packaged or freshly prepared with finely shredded cabbage and carrots
- Juiced lime
- Just a pinch of salt to taste
- DUE TO THE PUPUSA DOUGH
- Masa Harina is another name for corn flour.
- For flavor, add salt.
- Water – to make a smooth dough
- FILLINGS CLASSIC
- Low-sodium refried black beans are preferred.
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Avocado, olive, or canola oil
- Additional fillings are available as an option, including stewed chicken, carnitas, ground beef, chorizo, chopped pickled jalapeno, roasted squash, or pico de gallo.
How to Make a Simple Curtido Slaw
Prepare a medium mixing bowl. Combine the cabbage slaw mix, lime juice, and 12 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, covered.
Pro Tip: I recommend making the slaw no more than a few hours ahead of time. If it sits for too long, the cabbage will lose its delightful crunchiness.
How to Make Pupusas
Set out a large mixing bowl. Add the masa harina, salt, and water.
Hand-mix until the mixture is very soft and smooth. Place aside.
Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place the refried beans, shredded Monterey jack cheese, and any other fillings on a clean work surface.
Using a scoop, make 3-4 tablespoons balls of pupusa dough. They should be about the size of golf balls. To keep your hands dry, rub them with more masa.
Press the masa balls into flat discs about 5 inches wide, or the width of your palm, one at a time. One of my favorite aspects of this simple pupusa recipe is that they don’t have to be perfect or look pretty!
Now, in the center, place 1 teaspoon of refried beans and 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Add a small amount of any other filling you want. If you overfill the pupusas, they will be difficult to seal.
Fold the sides of the dough up and pinch over the fillings. Then pinch the dough along the sides to form a clamshell shape. To make a ball, rotate the closed papusa in your hands.
Repeat the filling, shaping, and frying until all of the pupusa dough has been used. As needed, add oil to the skillet.
Serve right away, or keep warm in a low-heat oven until all of the pupusas are cooked.
These are ideal for a filling snack or lunch. Serve the pupusas warm, with homemade slaw on the side. Eating with your hands is common, so don’t be afraid to tear and scoop!
Place your preferred toppings on the table! Guacamole, avocado slices, avocado crema, fresh salsa, and sour cream are all favorites.
- Cooked meats such as stewed chicken, carnitas, ground beef, chorizo, or other cooked meats can be added.
- Keep it vegetarian by adding hearty vegetables like roasted squash or sweet potatoes.
- If you prefer, replace the refried black beans with refried pinto beans.
- We enjoy the tangy yet mild flavor of Monterey jack cheese. However, any melty shredded cheese will suffice! Sharp or medium cheddar, Colby jack, or cotija cheese are all excellent choices.
- By leaving out the cheese, you can make this a completely dairy-free and vegan pupusa recipe. Serve with a dollop of Magical All-Purpose Cashew Cream!
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUPUSAS, GORDITAS, AND AREPAS?
Papusas and Gorditas are frequently confused. Both of these dishes, however, are made with thick corn tortillas that are cooked first before being sliced and filled. Before cooking, pupusas are always filled.
Gorditas and Pupusas are very similar because they both use the same type of corn flour. Arepas, on the other hand, use separate precooked corn flour, which results in a different overall texture.
CAN I FREEZE-COOKED PUPUSAS?
I don’t recommend freezing them after they’ve been cooked. The dough will become dry and crumbly after freezing, thawing, and re-cooking.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO REHEAT THEM?
Lightly pan-fry on the stovetop until warmed throughout. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a microwave. Wrap each individually in a slightly damp paper towel, and cook in 20-second intervals at 50% power.
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How to Prepare Pupusas
Corn tortillas are thick and chewy, filled with beans and cheese, pan-fried, and topped with a fresh cabbage slaw. This simple pupusa recipe is ideal for a snack or a light dinner!
- For the slaw: Set out a medium mixing bowl. Combine the cabbage slaw mix with the lime juice and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- For the Pupusa dough: Set out a large mixing bowl. Combine the masa harina, salt, and water. Mix by hand until the mixture is very soft and smooth. Set aside.
- Set a large cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. Set the refried beans, shredded Monterey jack cheese, and any other fillings you would like to use on a clean work surface.
- Use a scoop to measure out 3-4 tablespoon balls of pupusa dough. They should be slightly larger than golf balls. Rub your hands with additional masa to keep them dry. One at a time, press the masa balls into flat disks about 5 inches wide, or the width of your palm. Place 1 teaspoon of refried beans in the center then cover with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Add a scant amount of any other filling you would like. Be careful not to overfill the pupusas or they will be hard to seal.
- Gently fold the sides of the dough up over the fillings and pinch. Then pinch along the sides of the dough creating a clamshell shape. Rotate the closed pupusa in your hands to create a ball. Then gently flatten it into a thin disk, about 4 inches across. Check the sides and pinch to seal any areas where filling might be coming out. It’s ok to see a few black beans peeking out here and there, but you don’t want fully open areas.
- Heat the skillet over medium and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot add 4 to 6 pupusas to the skillet at a time. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden. Repeat the filling, shaping, and frying until you have used all the pupusa dough. Add oil to the skillet as needed.
Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low-heat oven, until all the pupusas are cooked.
- Serve the pupusas warm with a side of slaw to top them. You can also top them with salsa and sour cream if you like!