Pupusas de Queso

Pupusas de Queso are a cherished traditional dish from El Salvador that combines the comforting qualities of stuffed bread with the gooey, irresistible allure of cheese. These thick, handmade corn tortillas are filled with a savory mixture of melted cheese and often served with a side of tangy curtido (a pickled cabbage slaw) and tomato salsa. Whether enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or a hearty meal, Pupusas de Queso offer a delightful taste of Central American cuisine.


For the Pupusa Dough:

  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Cheese Filling:

  • 2 cups grated cheese (quesillo or a combination of mozzarella and cheddar)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cooked and crumbled crispy bacon (optional)

For the Curtido (Pickled Cabbage Slaw):

  • 3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

For the Tomato Salsa:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preparing the Pupusa Dough:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and salt.
  2. Gradually add warm water to the masa harina mixture, kneading it until you have a smooth, pliable dough. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water; if it’s too sticky, sprinkle in a touch more masa harina.

Creating the Cheese Filling:

  1. In a separate bowl, combine the grated cheese with any optional ingredients like chopped green bell pepper, white onion, or crispy bacon. Mix well to create a flavorful filling.

Making the Curtido (Pickled Cabbage Slaw):

  1. In a large bowl, combine the finely shredded green cabbage, chopped white onion, chopped carrot, minced garlic, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  2. In a separate container, mix the apple cider vinegar, warm water, and salt until the salt is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the cabbage mixture.
  3. Toss the cabbage slaw well, ensuring that the vinegar mixture coats all the ingredients. Allow the curtido to marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally longer, before serving. Stir occasionally to ensure the flavors meld.

Preparing the Tomato Salsa:

  1. In another bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, chopped white onion, minced garlic, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and set aside.

Assembling and Cooking the Pupusas:

  1. Take a golf ball-sized portion of the pupusa dough and form it into a ball.
  2. Using your thumb, create a small indentation in the dough ball. Fill this indentation with a spoonful of the cheese filling.
  3. Carefully fold the dough over the filling, sealing the edges to form a stuffed tortilla.
  4. Gently flatten the filled dough ball into a thick tortilla, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and lightly grease it with oil.
  6. Place the pupusas on the hot griddle and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and have a slightly crispy exterior.
  7. Serve the hot Pupusas de Queso with the curtido and tomato salsa on the side. Encourage diners to add a generous spoonful of curtido and a drizzle of salsa on top of each pupusa for a burst of flavor.

Variations and Tips

  • Additional Fillings: While cheese is a classic filling, you can also make pupusas with other ingredients like refried beans, cooked pork, or a combination of ingredients known as “revueltas.”
  • Customize Your Curtido: Adjust the spiciness of the curtido by adding more or fewer red pepper flakes. Some variations also include chopped jalapeños or red bell pepper for added flavor and color.
  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Pupusas shine when made with fresh masa harina and cheese. Opt for high-quality ingredients to enhance the flavor.
  • Pressing Pupusas: If you have a tortilla press, it can make shaping the pupusas even easier.
  • Cooking Tips: Don’t overcrowd the griddle or skillet when cooking pupusas, as they need room to cook evenly.
  • Storage: Pupusas are best enjoyed fresh off the griddle, but you can store any leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat them in a skillet or microwave.


Pupusas de Queso are a delightful representation of the rich culinary heritage of El Salvador. These stuffed corn tortillas, filled with melty cheese and served alongside curtido and tomato salsa, are a treat for the senses. Whether you’re enjoying them as a snack, appetizer, or a full meal, Pupusas de Queso bring a taste of Central America to your table. Embrace the cheesy, savory, and tangy flavors of this traditional dish, and savor the delicious simplicity of Pupusas de Queso!

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