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Delicious Pupusas Recipe

These gluten-free harina corn flour Pupusas are perfect for a quick bite or mid-day snack.

From "Gluten-Free Small Bites: Sweet and Savory Hand-Held Treats for On-the-Go Lifestyles and Entertaining
October 2017

Total Hands-On Time: 1 hr

Preparation Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 30 min

Yield: Makes 6 Pupusas

Pupusas are like stuffed fresh corn tortillas, as the shell is made of masa harina, salt, and water. Instead of being rolled flat, the simple, fragrant dough is wrapped around the filling. Here, the filling is as simple as can be, but still deeply flavorful and comforting: spiced beans and cheese. As long as you resist the urge to overstuff the pupusas, you can add cooked ground beef or cooked shredded chicken, or replace the seasoned black beans with refried beans. Let your tastes be your guide.


  • 2 cups (232 g) gluten-free masa harina corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) warm water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 10 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated


  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside. In a large bowl, place the masa harina and salt and whisk to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add about 10 ounces of the water, and mix until a thick dough forms. The dough should be a bit tacky to the touch but not too soft and not crumbly. Add more water by the tablespoonful and mix to combine to achieve the right consistency. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 5 minutes to allow the masa to absorb the liquid.
  2. While the dough is resting, in a separate, medium-size bowl, place the beans. Add the ground cumin and chili powder, and mix to combine. Place the cheese in a small bowl beside the beans. Place a small bowl with warm water, also beside the cheese.
  3. Check the dough. If it appears too dry, add a tablespoon of water; wet your hands in the water bowl, and work the water in to the dough. Once the dough is ready, divide it into 6 equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into a ball with wet hands. Then, in a rhythmic motion, pat the dough between wet palms until it flattens. If it splits along the edges, just press it back together.
  4. A tight seal around the edges is not necessary as they will not rise during cooking. Press the center of the flattened dough gently into the palm of your hand to create a well for the filling. Add a couple of tablespoons of grated cheese to the center, then top with about one-sixth of the bean mixture. The dough will be nearly covered with filling. Then, with the hand that is cradling the pupusa, begin to close the edges of the dough toward the center, rotating the ball in your hand as you work. Your free hand should help to thin the dough a bit to cover the filling. Once the filling is covered with the dough, pat the dough flat again between moistened palms and place the shaped pupusa on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Cover the shaped pupusas lightly with a tea towel so they don’t dry out.
  5. Heat a cast-iron pan or other griddle over medium-high heat. If using a nonstick pan, do not place over anything other than medium heat. Place the pupusas on the hot pan in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and cook until firm, about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining shaped pupusas. Serve warm.
  6. Make-Ahead Option: These can be made and cooked ahead of time, then wrapped individually with freezer-safe wrap and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature and reheat in the microwave or, after blotting dry, in a hot, dry skillet for about 30 seconds on each side.

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