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 Homemade Pupusas Recipe Image Credit: Julia Mueller

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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.

corn masa, salt and cumin in a mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to a mixer or mixing bowl Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Step 2

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

Water pouring into mixer Add the water and mix to form dough. Image Credit: 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.

papusa dough in mixing bowl Form dough into a ball. Image Credit: 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.

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

Step 2

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

papusa dough with a well Form papusa dough into a well. Image Credit: 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.

papusa with cheese in the center Add the cheese Image Credit: Julia Mueller papusa dough with cheese pressed in Press the cheese into the well. Image Credit: 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.

Folding papusa dough over cheese filling Close the dough over the cheese Image Credit: Julia Mueller Ball of cheese-filled papusa dough Keep folding dough over the filling until you have a ball. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Step 5

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

Papusa ready to cook Press dough into a disc. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Repeat for remaining dough.

raw papusas on a baking sheet Repeat for all of the papusa dough. Image Credit: 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.

Papusas cooking in a skillet Fry the papusas in oil Image Credit: Julia Mueller

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

holding a cheesy papusa Crispy cheese papusa Image Credit: Julia Mueller Cheese papusas on a plate Serve papusas with salsa Image Credit: 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.


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