Spiced Bean and Cheese Pupusas

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It’s the day after America’s birthday, so I’m doing what any other American would do: posting about another country’s food.

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After having the typical “American cookout meal” or hot dogs, chips, and brownies last night, I’m okay with the idea of not having another hot dog until this time next year.

I’d rather spice things up and go for something different…and way less processed.

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Before our trip to Honduras 2 summers ago, I had never had a pupusa. I didn’t even know what they were when we showed up to the little restaurant in Tegucigalpa and sat down to order. But after one bite, I decided they were my favorite thing we had eaten in Honduras – ever. Well, maybe not better than the fresh mandarin oranges, BUT way better than every other savory dish.

Pupusas are like little corn dough pillows, filled with beans or meat or cheese or all three!

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And last month, I finally got it together and made my own, with the help of my sister.

For the first time, we kept things pretty simple: spiced beans for the filling and a layer of cheese on top (totally NOT the way to do it, but we didn’t want to risk the pupusas falling apart by stuffing them too full).

The masa dough gets crispy on the outside but stays tender in the center around the bean filling…it’s just a good idea.

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Spiced Bean and Cheese Pupusas

Makes: 12 medium pupusas

Ingredients:

Pupusa Dough:

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling and Topping:

  • 15 oz. fat free refried beans
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Pour the masa harina into a large bowl and stir in the water and salt until a soft dough forms. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. The dough will have thickened into a soft texture. If it seems sticky, add a little more masa.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. While the dough is resting, mix the beans with the chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Take one piece of dough, roll it into a ball, use your fingers to make a well in the center dough and work it until you form a cup that has sides that are about 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Scoop about 2 Tbsp of the bean mixture into the well of the masa, pull the sides of the dough over the bean filling and seal the edges carefully.
  6. Place the pupusa on a cutting board or flat surface and gently roll or pat it out (using your hands or a rolling pin) until the pupusa is about 1/2-inch thick, being careful to not burst it open and let the filling come out. Repeat this until all your pupusas are filled and rolled out.
  7. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 pupusas at a time and let them brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes.
  8. Flip the pupusas onto a baking sheet, top with the shredded cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the pupusas are hot and the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
  9. Serve warm.

21 comments

  1. I absolutely adore these, and Mexican food. I’ll eat it any day. And masa dough is so much trouble, but cover it in cheese and beans and I’m done for. I love these Brandi!

  2. I’ve never heard of pupusas but I’m sold! And I’m pretty sure Masa Harina is gluten free isn’t it? Perfect summer bites then!

  3. Oh heck yes. Those look INCREDIBLE.

  4. “YES!!!” – That is what my pupusa-loving fiance said/shouted when I showed him this recipe this morning.

    I’m also looking to make carnitas soon, so I’ll probably do half the batch with beans and the other half with carnitas. Thanks for the recipe!

    (He’s gonna be a happy man)

  5. These look AMAZING. I’ve always wondered what exactly makes a pupusa, and this looks like something I might actually be able to do myself! Thanks for the fun recipe. :)

  6. you are my hero. i am making these. the manfriend and i just had an entire conversation about pupusas. your timing is impeccable :)

  7. I have never had a pupusa! These look so simple. I need to give it a shot.

  8. These look fantastic. Living in LA, we get a lot of great mexican food being so close to the boarder. I’ve never made these, I’ll have to give it a try, your recipe looks amazing.

    • thanks! when you don’t have many mexican/southwestern restaurant choices around…you have to suck it up and make your own. but these turned out great!

  9. These look awesome!! I’ve never had anything like these before, that I remember… but I’m going to try these for sure. Yum :D

  10. Oh YUM. These look great. I’m in Oz and have never heard of masa harina, though – wonder what I could substitute?

    • if you can find really fine ground corn meal OR take regular corn meal and throw it in the blender for a few minutes, that might work. Masa has a much stronger sweet corn smell and flavor. Try just looking for corn flour, too!

  11. These look so yummy! I want to make them just so I can say “papusa.” Of course, I shall call them pap-U.S.A.s just to tick my husband off. (see, they were more patriotic than you thought!)

  12. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at pupusas for a long time–yours look amazing! I really need to give these a try!

  13. I love pupusas!!! I’ve made them at home but didn’t melt the cheese on top like you did, I really like that idea. These look fantastic! :)

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