Spicy Cheese Pupusas or El Salvadoran Corn Cakes

pupusas, cheese, el salvadoran corn cakes, Spicie Foodie

Pupusas are stuffed round corn cakes, or patties, from El Salvador. They are made from masa harina dough, like corn tortillas, that is shaped into a disc and stuffed with a variety of ingredient. Pupusas can be stuffed with cheese, meat, beans or vegetables. If you’re familiar with Hispanic food think of Pupusas as a relative to Mexican gorditas or South American arepas. Additionally pupusas are served alongside a traditional fermented cabbage salad called curtido.

As you can see from the photos my pupusas aren’t quite authentic El Salvadoran pupusas. These are more of a gordita-pupusa Spicie Foodie fusion… Or something like that. For starters the dough I used was fine yellow corn flour not the white masa harina called for. I’ve run out of masa harina and when I do yellow corn flour makes a great substitute. The cheese, I’ve used Feta, my queso fresco substitute, instead of a melting white cheese. To give the pupusas that special Spicie Foodie touch I added red pepper flakes to the dough. Lastly instead of serving alongside curtido I choose refried beans and Mexican salsa.

If any Salvadoreños are reading this please no angry comments or emails telling me these aren’t traditional or authentic. I’m not claiming them to be so. But what I will tell you is that regardless of authenticity these pupusas are also very good. In the past I’ve made my pupusas in the traditional way but every once in a while it’s good to change up recipes.

pupusas, cheese, el salvadoran corn cakes, Spicie Foodie

(If you would like to publish my recipe on your website please quote Spicie Foodie as the recipe creator, and place a link back to the recipe.)
Spicy Cheese Pupusas or El Salvadoran Corn Cakes
(yields 9-11 depending on size)
1 1/2 cup corn flour + 1 cup white flour OR
2.5 cups Maseca Instant Corn Masa (masa harina)
red pepper flakes to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp sunflower or corn oil
1 cup or 250 ml lukewarm water
200 gm or 7 oz crumbled/grated feta or queso fresco or any melting white cheese

comal or griddle

To serve:
beans, salsa, avocado or your favorite sides and toppings

Heat a comal or griddle. In a large bowl combine the flours or masa harina, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour oil and water. Stir until a wet dough is formed. The dough will not have elasticity like that of other breads.

pupusas, cheese, el salvadoran corn cakes, Spicie Foodie
1. Divide the dough into even sizes. 2. Make a flat disc between your palms. 3. Place crumbled/grated cheese in center of disc. 4. Gather all sides up to make a round pouch and form back into a ball. 5. Once shaped into a ball flatten between your palms into a disc.

Place the shaped pupusas onto the heated comal or griddle, and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Serve along any of suggested items above.

*Tip: If you would like a little extra help in shaping the pupusas try using a tortilla press. Read over my post on gorditas to see how you can do it.*

pupusas, cheese, el salvadoran corn cakes, Spicie Foodie

Every time I make pupusas they take on a new look. It really depends on what we are craving or what I have in the refrigerator. This particular night our pupusa dinner consisted of spicy cheese filled pupusas, refried beans, homemade salsa and some avocado slices. Pupusas are so great because you can have fun and experiment with the fillings and side dishes. For example you can easily make this into a vegan meal by using beans or vegetables as the filling. I hope you give pupusas a try soon, Buen provecho.


  1. says

    I love pupusas! Many fond memories of enjoying them when I lived in Washington DC, where there’s a big Salvadoran community. I always loved them with the curtido, crema and some frijoles. Love the adaptations that you’ve made to make them doable for those of us who live outside of the States or Latin America!

  2. says

    I love that “step-by-step side-by-side photo” with all the stages in one plate – so frugal and informative :-). And I love the other photos too of course, for more esthetic reasons :-). Great recipe!

  3. says

    Yum! My husband loves loves pupusas, but have been a little to scared to try… definitely giving this recipe a go soon :) Thanks!

  4. says

    I have never tried these but I can certainly imagine all sorts of fillings for them – probably not quite in keeping with the El Salvador cuisine, of course. But, part of the beauty of the easily accessed information on the cooking of other countries is that we can adapt recipes to suit us and so enrich our experiences in the kitchen.

    • says

      Hi Suzanne,

      Yes, really whatever you’re craving stuff it into the patties. We all make do with whatever local ingredients we have. That’s why I don’t claim many of my dishes to be authentic. Thanks!

  5. says

    Wonderful recipe. I have heard of these… but didn’t know much about them. Now I may have to give them a try because who doesn’t like cheese inside a spicy corn cake? YUM! :)

  6. Eha says

    Looking at this appetizing post I realize there really is an ocean twixt us :) ! Had never heard of pupusas before, never mind cheese-filled ones . . . I think I’ll look into this: what an interesting lesson!

    • says

      Hi Eha,

      That is why the food blogging community is so great, we share our knowledge and introduce others to the many foods around the world. I hope you do give it a try. The ingredients are ones you should be able to get your hands on.

  7. says

    oh my goodness i love pupusas! now i just want them stuffed with squash flowers and huitlacoche…is that too much to ask? :)

  8. says

    I never hear about pupusas, but living in South America I do on arepas, I had the opportunity to eat a lot when I traveled to Venezuela. It’s curious how our countries here have similar dishes, we don’t have something like this on Peru, so I guess it should be a Caribbean recipe.

  9. says

    I love this. It’s so fun to have a dish that can take on different “moods” when you make it. Those are my fave things to make. These are really gorgeous.

  10. Ryan says

    Would you be able to form the pupusas a couple hours ahead of time and refrigerate them? Or would it perhaps be better to cook them and then reheat in a toaster oven?

    • says

      Hi Ryan,

      I don’t see why not. I would just make sure that the cheese or stuffing wasn’t too moist or watery. The reheating will also work, I do it on a griddle or frying pan, sometimes even a microwave but the others work better. Enjoy:)

  11. says

    I came across your pupusa recepy and my siblings love it!And for me they were the most soft and delicious pupusas.I made them today.I made it with pico de gallo, rice,carne molida with bits of carrot and potatoes.Thank you.Great recepy!Enjoy.


  12. Lauren says

    This recipe looks delicious! I plan on making them the day before serving and was wondering how to store and reheat them.

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