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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Salvadoran Pupusas Con Curtido

"Stealth tortillas," with a surprise filling, pupusas are fun to make, and a treat to eat.

The curdito can be made ahead of time, so the cabbage has a chance to pickle.

This recipe comes to us from Willy Palomo.

Considered to be the national dish of El Salvador, pupusas are stuffed corn tortillas filled with cheese, refried beans, seasoned pork, and other savory combinations. They’re typically eaten with curtido, a lightly fermented slaw of cabbage, onions, carrots, and other vegetables, and flavored with the flowers of the Central American loroco vine.

You can hear all about pupusa making, including Willy’s poem “Pupusas or Lucha“, in the February 23, 2018 episode of Earth Eats.

We recommend making pupusas with friends or family.

Willy Palomo's Pupusas con Curtido


  • Curtido (pickled cabbage topping)
  • ½ head cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 beet (optional)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • Masa (the pupusa dough)
  • 2 cups Maseca (or Masa, corn flour with added lime)
  • Water
  • Filling
  • ½ lb pork, fried (optional)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • ½ lb grated cheese (ideally a mix of queso and mozzarella)
  • Refried beans (optional)


  1. For the curtido, chop the cabbage, and grate or shred the other vegetables. Combine in a bowl, then fill bowl about half way with apple cider vinegar. Fill the rest with water and let sit up to a day.
  2. For the masa, mix Maseca with enough water to create a playdough-like texture.
  3. For the filling, blend the cooked pork or refried beans with the onion and tomatoes in a food processor.
  4. Preheat a frying pan or griddle on the stove. Once the fillings and masa dough are ready, it’s time to make pupusas.
  5. First, take a ball of dough a little smaller than a kiwi in one hand. Ball it up, then press or slap it between your hands to flatten it until it’s a circle about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Put about a tablespoon each of the meat/beans and the grated cheese into the center of the circle. Then wrap the flattened dough around the fillings. The edges should point up like flower petals.
  7. Pinch the edges closed so you have a ball of dough enclosing the fillings. Then, gently press or slap the ball between your hands again, until your dough is once again a flattened circle, between ¼ and ½ inch thick.
  8. The dough might tear, exposing fillings. Repair with more masa if you can, or enjoy the flavor of the fillings that fry when exposed to the pan. Place the pupusa on the hot frying pan, and fry until both sides are golden-brown.

Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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