Bean and Cheese Pupusas with Curtido



In NYC my boyfriend used to have an amazing Salvadorian restaurant near to where he lived which he used to visit from time to time for their pupusas. We were speaking about it last week and couldn’t stop dreaming about tasting them again, so we decided to try to make our own!


For those who have never heard of pupusas, they are a typical Salvadorian dish; cornmeal cakes typically filled with beans and cheese (in their vegetarian form) but you can also have cheese and jalapeño, or jalapeño and beans for a vegan version. They are generally served with an accompaniment of curtido – a pickled cole slaw – and salsa.


They’re pretty easy to make, they require a bit of practice to get the technique down of forming them in your hands, but I’ve added a video in the notes of the recipe which I found super useful. With its help I got these down on the first try, so if I can do it you can do it too! Of course, I’m still practicing on small sizes ones, as they are easier to handle.


Naturally gluten free, it’s also very easy to make a vegan version as I mentioned earlier. Don’t hesitate to try out this recipe as soon as you have the time, I assure you it’s REALLY good!


If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @meli.magpie, I’d love to see your recreations!




Bean and Cheese Pupusas with Curtido and Salsa

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min
Total time: 25 min


Masa Cakes

  • 2 cups masa, 228 g
  • 2 cups water, 470 ml
  • pinch of salt

Refried Beans*

  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans, 500 g
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tbsp chipotle flakes
  • 2 tbsp epazote (mexican oregano)
  • cumin and paprika, to taste
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil


  • 1 cup vegan or regular cheese of choice (I like cheddar and oaxaca), grated, 100 g

Hot Peppers

  • 2 hot peppers of choice, finely sliced. I usually have jalapeño or chipotle.


  • 1/2 head white cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 250 ml
  • 1,5 cup water 375 ml
  • 2 tsp epazote (Mexican oregano)
  • 1-2 jalapeño, finely sliced (optional if you like heat or not)



  1. Combine cabbage, carrot, jalapeño and onion in a large bowl.  

  2. Combine all the other ingredients in another bowl, mix and pour over the cabbage mixture and combine well.

  3. Transfer to some jars, seal well and let ferment overnight in the fridge. I find it taste even better after a day, but you can use it right away of course or after a couple of hours only.

Masa Cakes

  1. Add the water to the masa and add a pinch of salt.

  2. Knead to form a smooth moist dough.

  3. Form the dough into balls and let rest while you make the refried beans.

Refried Beans

  1. In a saucepan, sauté onions in grape seed oil until tender. 

  2. Add the cooked beans and continue to cook about 5-8 minutes. 

  3. Season with spices, mix and then mash with wooden spoon, potato masher or stick blender until desired consistency is reached. The smoother the better! 

  4. Let it cook for stirring occasionally until beans have darkened. 

Assemble the Pupusas

  1. Check the video linked below, I think it will truy help to break down the technique.

  2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.

  3. Flatten each ball of dough into a shallow cup.

  4. Add a spoonful of refried beans, then some hot peppers and top with a little cheese. Don't overfill the pupusas, as you need room to be able to seal them properly.

  5. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch off the top to seal.

  6. Pat the dough back and forth in your hands to flatten.

  7. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

  8. Serve warm with curtido and salsa.


* To save time, or if I'm just lazy I'll use a can of refried beans, usually already mixed with chipotle peppers.

For better illustration on how to form your pupusas check out this video.


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