This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Latin American Cooking Across the U.S.A., by Himilce Novas and Rosemary Silva.

2008 Mar/Apr

Pupusas are corn patties stuffed with refried beans and Monterey Jack cheese. These are typical fare from El Salvador. They are fabulous and so much easier to make than you might think. Use Monterey Jack with jalapeños for a little extra kick.


  • 3 c. masa harina de maiz (corn masa mix, available at Latin American markets and Superstore)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tin refried beans
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese


Combine the masa harina and water in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Dough should have the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough. Roll the dough into balls and pat into patties about 3-inch across and about 1/8-inch thick. Do this onto waxed paper or a silpat sheet, or other non-stick surface. You won’t use all the dough at once, so cover the remainder in the bowl with a cloth.

Using a spatula, scoop one patty onto a plate, dollop some refried beans in the middle, top with some grated cheese, and cover with another patty.  Press the edges together and flatten a bit with the spatula. Don’t put too much filling in because you don’t want it oozing out the sides (which isn’t a big deal if it oozes a bit when cooking).

Make 3 or 4 filled patties, then cook them in a little heated oil in a preheated non-stick frypan over medium-high heat, turning once, about 4 minutes per side, until golden on both sides. Keep pupusas warm in the oven while you make and cook the remainder.

Keep pupusas warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve with your favourite salsa or a salsa verde and curtido, an invigorating Salvadoran carrot and cabbage slaw laced with hot chiles. Traditionally, pupusas are topped with salsa and curtido and eaten out of hand. Make your favourite marinated cole slaw and add a pinch of dried hot chiles. Yum. Makes about 12 pupusas.