Homemade Pupusas Recipe

Salvadoran papusas are made with masa corn flour and turn out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside — plus, they are absolutely delicious! You can fill papusas with your choice of cheese, refried or whole beans, shredded chicken, pork or beef. This easy, step-by-step tutorial brings inspiration to prepare the classic dish at home to share with family and friends.

Homemade Pupusas Recipe (Image: Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups instant corn masa flour

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water

  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons high temperature cooking oil (such as canola oil)

Make the Papusa Dough

Step 1

Add the dry ingredients to a stand mixer and mix until combined.

Add dry ingredients to a mixer or mixing bowl (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 2

Add the hot water and use the paddle attachment to beat the mixture until a thick dough forms.

Add the water and mix to form dough. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 3

Use your hands to form the dough into a large ball and place back in the mixer bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow dough to sit 15 to 20 minutes.

Form dough into a ball. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Form the Papusas

Step 1

Divide the dough into 6 to 8 portions (depending on the size of papusa you'd like). Roll each portion into a ball.

Roll the papusa dough into 6 balls. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 2

Press the dough to form a well. It should look like a small bowl with thick sides.

Form papusa dough into a well. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 3

Place 2 to 3 tablespoons grated cheese into the well, then press the cheese down to make it easier to fold the dough over the top.

Add the cheese (Image: Julia Mueller)
Press the cheese into the well. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 4

Using both hands, fold the corners of the papusa dough over the cheese filling. Keep pressing together until you're back to a ball of dough and the cheese filling is entirely enclosed.

Close the dough over the cheese (Image: Julia Mueller)
Keep folding dough over the filling until you have a ball. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 5

Press the dough into a disc, about 4 1/2 to 5 inches wide.

Press dough into a disc. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Repeat for remaining dough.

Repeat for all of the papusa dough. (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 6

Heat 2 to 4 tablespoons of high-temperature cooking oil (such as canola oil, avocado oil, or algae oil) in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Once the skillet is completely hot, carefully place two to three papusas on the hot surface. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, carefully flip, then cook another 2 to 3 minutes until papusas are cooked through and crispy.

Fry the papusas in oil (Image: Julia Mueller)

Serve papusas with choice of salsa, sauce, and/or bean dip!

Crispy cheese papusa (Image: Julia Mueller)
Serve papusas with salsa (Image: Julia Mueller)


Instead of grated cheddar cheese, you can use crumbled queso fresco/cotija cheese, or even mozzarella cheese.

Add 2 Tbsp refried black beans to the center of the papusas for a bean and cheese version.

Use shredded chicken, pork, or beef for a meat lover's version.