Vegan Salvadoran Pupusas

If you are a fan of pupusas, you will love these vegan Salvadoran pupusas! If you’ve never had them, you’ll love them, too!! After being vegan for a year and a half, I remembered an amazing meal I had at a local restaurant: a Cubano sandwich, curtido (Salvadoran slaw), cheese pupusas, and Latin tomato sauce. Heaven! I was in love. Once I decided I was going to make a vegan Cubano, I knew I had to have all the sides, too. After a lot of research and a couple of days of cooking, we had Cuban/Salvadoran/Honduran food for three dinners – it was glorious.

vegan salvadoran pupusasThere is a very slight learning curve when making pupusas, but with each pupusa it gets easier to form and shape them. I’ve seen two schools of thought on shaping the pupusas. One group says you take the dough ball in your hand, shape it into a small bowl, place the filling into the center, then fold the sides over to cover the “back” of the pupusa. The other group likes to make each dough ball into a round flat circle, like a pancake, put the filling in, and fold over the sides to cover the back. Either way works, but the dough cracks a little when you fold it over, so if you start out already curved a little, I think you’re ahead of the game. Using both methods, you then pat the filled pupusa to remove any cracks or gaps and shape it into a sort of filled pancake shape. You can try both methods and see what you think.

When I make my dough, I usually add a little bit more water. The dough can tend to be sort of sandy in texture. The extra water makes it feel closer to Play Doh and easier to shape. Some people also recommend letting the dough sit for 10 minutes before shaping. I didn’t do this, but after I cooked my first batch of pupusas (which took 12 minutes) and went to shape the second batch of dough balls, I noticed they were somewhat easier to manipulate and didn’t seem to crack as much. So maybe give that 10 minute rest a try when you make them and see what you think.

I recommend having two clean damp kitchen towels ready for this project: one to cover the filled shaped pupusas waiting to go into the skillet and one to cover the dough balls waiting to be shaped into pupusas. Keeping all of the dough moist is the key to success.

You can totally play around with any fillings for these! I prefer plain vegan cheese pupusas, but I tried some seasoned beans this time, too. I made plain vegan cheese vegan salvadoran pupusaspupusas, and vegan cheese and beans together, then plain bean pupusas. All of them were equally good. For each pupusa, you only need about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon of filling, so plan accordingly. I used a sliced vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart brand Smoked Gouda Style Slices), breaking off two 1-1/2 inch by 1-1/2 inch pieces for each pupusa. You can use a shredded vegan cheese, too. For the beans and vegan cheese, I added a tablespoon of beans and one of the broken off pieces of vegan cheese. I seasoned my beans with a sprinkling of cumin and oregano.

All of this might sound intimidating, but honestly, you’re just making a very simple dough, shaping it into balls, making a patty or small bowl of dough, filling it, folding it, then browning it on both sides in a skillet. It’s super easy!

If you make pupusas, you should make Latin Tomato Sauce and Salvadoran Curtido to serve with them. You’ll be so glad you made all three.

 

Print Recipe
Vegan Salvadoran Pupusas
A centuries old recipe that is the national dish of El Salvador. Delicious as a part of any Cuban, Honduran, Salvadoran, or Latin meal.
vegan salvadoran pupusas
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Servings
pupusas
Ingredients
  • 2 cups instant Mexican style masa harina
  • 1-3/4 cup water or more
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • beans any kind, for the filling, or another filling of your choice
  • vegan cheese for the filling, or another filling of your choice, I use Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Slices
  • sprinkling of cumin optional, for seasoning the beans
  • sprinkling of oregano optional, for seasoning the beans
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Servings
pupusas
Ingredients
  • 2 cups instant Mexican style masa harina
  • 1-3/4 cup water or more
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • beans any kind, for the filling, or another filling of your choice
  • vegan cheese for the filling, or another filling of your choice, I use Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Slices
  • sprinkling of cumin optional, for seasoning the beans
  • sprinkling of oregano optional, for seasoning the beans
vegan salvadoran pupusas
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together all three ingredients. The dough will be sandy and crumbly, but work at getting it to hold together. If necessary, add a small amount of water. If the dough gets too sticky, add more masa.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equal sections, then shape each section into a ball. Place into a medium mixing bowl and cover them with a damp clean kitchen towel.
  3. Take a ball of dough from the bowl and shape it into a bowl in the palm of your hand, with the middle hole the size of 1 or 1-1/2 tablespoons of filling. Or you can shape the dough into a pancake shape about 1/4-inch thick.
  4. Add your filling to the center of the dough bowl or pancake. Carefully fold the sides of the dough up over the filling, and press firmly to make the dough solid.
  5. To shape the filled pupusa, push the dough gently down and out, to make the pupusa thinner and to get it to about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. If you get any cracks around the edges or bare spots over the filling, try to manipulate the dough to smooth it out or make it thicker in spots. You are forming a filled patty.
  6. As you make each filled pupusa, place it on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper, and cover them all with a damp clean kitchen towel.
  7. Lightly oil and heat a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet over medium heat. Brush both sides of the pupusas with a little bit of neutral oil, such as sunflower or grape seed oil.
  8. Grill four pupusas at a time in the skillet, leaving each pupusa on the first side for 4 to 6 minutes, checking it for brownness, then carefully flipping and cooking 4 to 6 minutes again on the other side. The sides should be at least lightly browned. You can occasionally press down the pupusas with your spatula during cooking, to get the entire surface of each pupusa browned. During the cooking, heat may be reduced to a level 3 or 4, a low-medium setting.
  9. Remove the cooked pupusas from the skillet. To keep them warm for serving, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in your oven set on a low warming temperature.
  10. Grill the next four pupusas. Serve warm with Latin tomato sauce and curtido (Salvadoran slaw).
Recipe Notes

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Leave any feedback in comments below. Also, share your comments on Instagram: @key_lime_coconut or on Twitter: @keylime_coconut. We love seeing hashtags #keylimecoconut #keylimecoconutblog and #beachbumvegan when you try our recipes.

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