My daughter made pupusas tonight! I had been looking forward to them for a long time. One of her roommates was Salvadoran. I remember the phone call when they had been made for dinner..."Mom, we have to make these! They are fantastic." Needless to say, I had high expectations for dinner tonight!

When she first called, my first question was, "What is a pupusa?" A papusa (pronounced poo-poo-suh) is a popular El Salvadoran dish made of a thick, corn tortilla filled with anything from meats to cheeses to refried beans to pork rinds. (I will pass on the pork rinds.) They are usually served with a spicy coleslaw, a Salvadoran cabbage salad, which is allowed to ferment at room temperature before serving. It is known as cortido. The pupusas are topped with red salsa.

They are sold by street vendors in El Salvador. The pupusa is such a part of the cuisine of El Salvador that the country even declared November 13th "National Pupusa Day!"

When my daughter wanted to make the pupusas she found a recipe on Whats4Eats that she used to prompt her memory. She tweaked the recipe in preparation.


Chicken Filling
About 8 chicken thighs, skin and fat removed.
1/2 envelope Lawry's Taco Seasoning
Chicken broth and water (equal portions to cover the chicken)
1/2 can refried beans
1/2 package Queso Fresco
1/2 can chopped green chiles

Simmer until chicken is done and easy to shred.
Remove chicken from the broth. (Reserve broth to make tomorrow's Tortilla Soup.)

Shred chicken. (Reserve half for tomorrow's Tortilla Soup.)
Place half of the chicken and remaining ingredients in a bowl.


2 cups Masa harina
1 cup warm water

1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in additional water, one tablespoon at a time, if needed to make a moist, firm dough.
2. Form into a log. Cut into eight equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

3. Press a hole in the ball and fill it with the chicken filling (about 1 tablespoon). Fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out in your palms to form a disc. Be careful that the filling does not come out!
4. Heat an ungreased skillet over medium. Cook each pupusa for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered.
5. Remove to a plate and keep warm until all pupusas are done.

1/2 head shredded cabbage
1 carrot peeled, grated
4 cups boiling water
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 jalapeno or serrano chile pepper, minced
1/2 tsp salt

1. Place the cabbage and carrots in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the boiling water into the bowl to cover the cabbage and carrots. Set aside for about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out as much liquid as possible.
2. Return the cabbage to the bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Chill and serve on pupasa, or as a side dish.

Serve the pupusa with cortido and salsa on top!


These were great! I enjoyed trying something totally new and different.


  1. I would love to try that pupusa. It looks sooo delish!

  2. Oh, I love dishes that have such funny exotic names. I always try to imagine who and why christened it so! :D Beautiful dish!

  3. One of my market vendor friends is from El Salvador and makes these on occasions. I'm so happy to have the recipe. Thanks, Kate, for sharing.

  4. Sounds delicious! I love trying new things. I recently bought some masa harina to try and make tamales. Now I have another use for it! Thanks for sharing...your daughter must take after you in her love of cooking.


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