Pu-pu-sas? Pupusas! From El Salvador!
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Before we really dig in here, on this Monday morning, we need to talk about something. Like, for real. There is something I have wondered, and I thought to myself, … more »

Gluten Free Pupusas

Before we really dig in here, on this Monday morning, we need to talk about something. Like, for real.

There is something I have wondered, and I thought to myself, “We’re tight. We can talk about this.” Am I right? I’ll pretend you encouraged me. ‘Cause I think you would.

Here it is:

What is with this Guy Fieri guy? First off, the bio on his website totally whitewashes the fact that he got his start in TV not so very long ago as the winner of Season 2 of The Next Food Network Star. Yeah, Guy Fieri, that was on TV. So we know. And, anyway, why gloss over it? You won the American Idol of the food world. Just a few short years later, & you’re Howie Mandel with hair. Embrace it! Seriously, what I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall for that discussion at NBC, when they decided to cast Food Network Star Guy Fieri as host of their new game show, Minute To Win It.

Admittedly, I’m not a good judge, though, since game shows kinda freak me out. Except Jeopardy, ’cause I used to watch that with my Grandma, and she used to call it “The Jeopardy.” And then we’d eat chocolate chips out of little Dixie cups. What’s not to like?

Second, I tend to be suspicious of the Flavor of the Month. I don’t know why. I know that there must be a reason he’s everywhere. If people didn’t like him, he wouldn’t be everywhere, right?

Since he was on Season 2 of the Food Network Star, I had an unpeaceful, uneasy feeling that Guy Fieri was everywhere, but I had no idea why. Then I stumbled upon him as a game show host. On a show that, near as I can tell, has nothing to do with food. Will wonders never cease.

I know when I’m beat. So I did the only sensible thing I could think of. Lately, I have been hanging out on The Food Network anyway, watching “The Next Food Network Star.” I was in the neighborhood and stuff. So I watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. And they were making pupusas.

Guy Fieri was actually pretty cool. He seemed to get the idea that it ain’t cool to disrespect other people, and he appears to be genuinely interested in learning from the cooks in these diners (drive-ins and dives). So now I like him. Really, I do. He can rest easy.

Did you know that pupusas, these El Salvadoran corn cakes made with masa and stuffed with yummy stuff like garlic, onions, cheese, and often pork, are naturally gluten-free? I was familiar with arepas {there’s a recipe for them in my cookbook}, which are similar, but I had never heard of pupusas before my good friend Guy schooled me. And, anyway, I have a special place in my heart for Latin American cuisine, since so much of it is naturally gluten-free. They’re not wheat junkies like we Americans are.

So let’s make some pupusas. You can fill them with cheese alone. I filled them with beans, cheese and some spices, since that is what I had on hand. They’re awesome with pulled pork, if you happen to have some of that lyin’ around. If you watch the video I linked to above with Guy Fieri learning how to make them, the cook makes pupusas with two pancakes, which yields a more doughy result – one I don’t particularly care for, since masa harina (a cured cornmeal) alone tends toward being bland. In the episode that I saw, Guy also watched them being made by a woman with only one flat pancake, filling it, and then shaping the masa around the filling. That is my preferred method.

Keep in mind that this is like any other new cooking technique: the first few turn out like garbage, and then you hit your stride soon before the batter runs out. Next time, you hit your stride a little sooner. But any which way you go about it, and whatever they look like, they taste really savory, and they’re easy, cheap to make, versatile, and naturally gluten-free. Comemos!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Pu-pu-sas? Pupusas! From El Salvador!
By: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Naturally gluten-free Pupusas
Ingredients
  • 2 cups masa harina (Bob's Red Mill makes a certified gluten-free version - thank you, Bob)
  • 1½ cups warm (tap) water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (or your cooked beans of choice - anything goes), drained and rinsed
  • Ground cumin, chili powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups freshly grated melting cheese, like monterey jack
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina, water and (optional) cumin until a thick dough forms. The dough should not be sticky, and not dry, but should be a bit tacky to the touch. Don't be afraid to add more water by the tablespoonful, or more masa harina, 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-sized bowl, place the beans. Add the ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste, and mix to combine. Place the cheese in a small bowl beside the beans. Place a small bowl with warm water 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 even parts. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball with wet hands. Then, a rhythmic motion, pat the dough between wet palms until it flattens. If it splits along the edges, just press it back together. Unlike arepas, pupusas are not meant to rise when cooking, so a tight seal around the edges is not necessary.
  4. Press the center of the flattened dough gently into the palm of your hand to create a well for the filling. Add a couple 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. Place the pupusa on a hot griddle (a cast iron pan works great; a nonstick pan will work, too, but be careful not to run it too hot or you will ruin the pan), and cook until firm, about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining bits of dough and filling.
  5. Serve warm.

 

Love you. Mean it.

xoxo Nicole

 

P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of each of My Cookbooks! You + Me = Gluten-Free on a Shoestring blog forever.

  • Dana P

    Pupusas are a big deal around here. LOVE THEM!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Dana,
      Big deal! I love it! Do you make them often?
      xoxo Nicole

  • Janet

    I had never heard of these, but they look soo good! Thanks!

    • Nicole

      Thank Guy Fieri, Janet! Seriously, though, neither had I ever heard of them. I love being able to adopt another culture’s classic foods. Have fun!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Janet

        Going to visit a close friend in a couple of weeks and she said we are definitely making these! lol

    • Nicole

      Hi, Stephanie,
      “Thingamajiggy” does have a nice ring to it. But it’s not really Spanish, I don’t think. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • http://glutenfreefun.blogspot.com Erin Smith

    I am totally making these over the holiday weekend. Thanks!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Erin,
      It’s great to hear from you! I would love to hear how your batch turns out. I love that Bob’s Red Mill makes a certified GF version of masa harina. I have to admit, though, I’ve taken my chances in the past with Harina PAN brand. I much prefer the certified option!
      xoxo Nicole

  • http://www.laughingatchaos.com Jen

    Squeeeee!!!!! I love pupusas!!!! LOVE! THEM! I’ve only ever had them at the Boulder Farmer’s Market in Colorado. So good. Painfully good. And now I DON’T HAVE TO FIGURE OUT A RECIPE! LOL! :) Mwah!!!!
    Oh, yes, I’ll be making these. :)

    • Nicole

      Hi, Jen!
      How great that you’re already primed for this recipe, all ready to go?! I have never been to Boulder Farmer’s Market, but I’m jealous of your ability to go there all the same. :)
      Let me know how they turn out! Thanks for posting…
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sarah

    Thank you! Pupusas are pretty much my all time favorite snacks.

    • Nicole

      Hi, Sarah,
      Yay! What do you usually fill them with? I’m always looking for new ideas!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Peggy

    First I want to thank Nicole for creating & maintaining this blog. I just discovered it 3 wks ago & I’m in love—with the recipes. lol I am liking Nicole’s style of writing as well. I feel as though we are sitting at the kitchen table talking about food & other good things! Second, I really like Guy & have followed him from when he won the 2nd season of the next food network star. I understand he co-ownes a restranent in Sacramento were I currently live. (BTW I lived in Boulder, CO for 9 yrs, loved the farmers market in the summer.) I want to try all the recipes!!! Love desserts! I bought your book & downloaded to my kindle but I’m thinking I may have to buy the hard copy as well. Nicole, thanks again & keep up the good work.

    • Nicole

      Hi, Peggy,
      Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog, and the book! I’m glad I gave Guy Fieri a chance. He seems like a pretty cool guy. I still don’t get the game show, but maybe that’s just me. :)
      I hope you’ll keep reading the blog, and thank you for commenting. The comments are the lifeblood of any blog!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anneke

    Hey Nicole — These have potential, when I find a source for the mesa harina, the first place I looked today didn’t have it. Also, went back to using the Jules flour for my sourdough today, and it rose right up! My plan is to use Jules for the bread and Better Batter for everything else, because I do like the BB, and I can get it much cheaper, but I like bigger bread slices, too. Finally organized some of my recipes today, it was ridiculous, but at least I am feeling less behind. Found some of your recipes that I printed, it might be time for muffins again! Best, Anneke

    • Nicole

      Hi, Anneke,
      I wonder if it is the Expandex in Jules’ flour that gives you that great rise. I really wonder. I think I’ll ask Naomi Poe of Better Batter what she thinks of Expandex. I have also wondered about Orgran Gluten Substitute for a long time, and I’ve been thinking of asking Naomi about that, too, since I can’t tell what’s in it!
      About organizing the recipes, I wonder if it would make sense for you to copy and paste the ones that you like into an e-book of sorts of your own? Then you could print out a copy, or just keep it online. Just a thought. But then again you seem to have it all worked out. I’ll mind my own business…. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Anneke

        Hi Nicole! While I find the word Expandex somewhat alarming, I like the rising quite a bit better, so I am going to go with it. I am sort of a pseudo healthy/organic person — my summer veg comes from a “morganic” farm (they aren’t certified for a number of reasons, but they guarantee no pesticides) and I don’t use anything on my own garden, I am attempting to make the switch to some organic meats, I avoid HFC where possible, which seems to be getting easier, I don’t buy milk with hormones, but I don’t buy organic milk, either. I stay away from packaged GF products, which makes your cookbook a must! I would love to do more, but with six people, mutiple food and medical issues that are expensive, and the feeling already that all I do is cook, this is the best I can manage. So, Expandex it is! Curious to hear what you find out about it, so please let me know. Beautiful day here, hope yours is as well! Anneke

        • Nicole

          Hi, Anneke,
          I love “morganic.” I just sent an email to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that actually delivers to your door (which seems kinda wrong, but also kinda right), to see if I can get a “half share” for Spring/Summer, since Spring has, well, sprung. And we do our own vegetable garden, no pesticides (none on my grass either, which is why it’s mostly weeds, but if they’re green, they count). I do buy organic milk, since we don’t use much (no drinking it, just baking with it), but it’s all a little cheat here, a little off the top there. It’s all a compromise. You make fresh sourdough bread, like, every day! You can’t do more. You’re already doing more!
          Yeah, Expandex. Blech. Sounds like pantyhose for your bread. But what are you going to do, right?
          I will definitely let you know what I learn about Expandex.
          Enjoy the weather. It’s nice here, too. Well, nice for Summer, since you know how I feel about that….
          xoxo Nicole

  • Nicole

    Hi Nicole!
    I’m relatively new to this gluten free lifestyle as a recently diagnosed Celiac. A friend gave me your cookbook and I LOVE It! The Pupusas look really fun, I like the versatility of them. I’ve loved Guy since he WON food network star and am happy to see you are a convert. I DID watch the most recent episode of FNS and totally agree with your thoughts on Justin leaving. Also, what is the deal with Penny? Does she not realize that she has to be likable to the public to win this thing? Is it just me or is she a “mean girl”??? Not a fan! I’d like to see a gluten free show on Food Network, maybe YOU should be on that show!

    • Nicole

      Hi, right back, Nicole!
      What a good friend you have, to buy you a GF cookbook right off the bat. She’s a keeper. :) I’m really glad you’re enjoying it.
      I’m so glad you’re into the FNS (love the shorthand, by the way). Penny is so mean. I think they must keep her around because she is mean, and makes for good TV. I always wonder how much nudging of the judges is done by the producers, based upon which contestants make for good TV. Q ratings and all that. I like the one who Penny hates. She seems like she has a good chance of winning.
      Wasn’t there a contestant on one of the Food Network Shows in the last couple years who made gluten-free cupcakes, and won? Or was it vegan cupcakes? I can’t remember. I just want GF to have a seat at the table. Team Gluten Free!
      Thanks so much for posting (and gossiping about FNS – it’s almost embarrassing how much I love to chat about that sort of stuff). Keep reading!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Carrie

    Yummy! These are so delicious! I made them last night for dinner, and I wanted to eat them all. But I had to share with all those people that are called my family. And since I can finally have dairy again, I used quite a bit of cheese. They were SO good! Now I’m starving… Thanks for the recipe :)

    • Nicole

      Hi, Carrie,
      Thanks so much for letting us know how they turned out! I’m so happy for you that you can have dairy. What a relief!
      You’re welcome for the recipe. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Carrie

        I’m pretty happy I can have dairy too. I celebrated the first day with a milkshake. A big one. It was lovely.
        I was told to add dairy and eggs back first, instead of potatoes. But I’ll be adding potatoes back in a couple of weeks, and then I can use Better Batter for all of your recipes I’m dying to try! (Just in case you forgot, I’m the same Carrie with the potato allergy from the flatbread recipe from a couple of weeks back) Experimenting with different flours is tiring, (and disappointing most of the time) so I can’t wait to be able to use flour I know will work.
        And you are my hero. My gluten-free hero. All of your recipes that I’ve made so far are amazing. I barely miss eating gluten-ous things anymore. It’s great!
        xoxo

        • Nicole

          Hi, Carrie,
          Of course I know who you are! That’s how I knew to tell you how happy I was to learn that you were able to add back dairy into your diet. Silly.
          That must have been one awesome milkshake. Honestly, if I had to choose between dairy and potatoes, I would choose dairy. It’s so hard to work around that. As many dairy-free substitutes as there are today, nothing is quite the same. Dairy is kinda unique like that. So hooray for milkshakes!
          I know what you mean about wanting to be able to just use one all-purpose gluten-free flour blend that you know you can count on, like Better Batter. It really opens up a whole sense of possibility and optimism. Fingers crossed for potatoes!
          Aw, shucks. You’ll be your own hero as soon as you get your hands on that fine grain, white as snow Better Batter! Team Gluten Free!
          xoxo Nicole

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  • Sarah D

    Okay, I tried these again and they were amazing this time! I made a couple extra to try freezing and re-heating in the toaster. They were a huge hit, too! I think I’m going to fill up my freezer with these yummy snacks to have as “meals on the go”. I love quick and easy!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Sarah,
      Congratulations! You have mastered the pupusa. Now that you’re such a whiz with masa harina, you’ll be happy to know that we’ll be using it again this week — for soft corn tortillas. Deliciosos! Great idea to stock the freezer with these. I hear you on quick and easy!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G

    Well….i confess. I call him my ‘next ex-husband’….don’t know what it is, but he is the bomb in my book!
    I just came across this post – we were on vacation then. YUMMO>>>>>trying this recipe! :)
    Thank you, love!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Pamela,
      You mean Guy Fieri is your next ex-husband? I like your optimism. :)
      You’re very welcome. Enjoy!
      xoxo Nicole

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  • Pamela G

    OMG!!! I finally had the time to make these last night. I thought for sure it woud take longer to assemble and NO…they are a snap! Although I wouldn’t wet my hands net time – I ended up STICKYYYY- then rolled them between dry hands and had more luck. I am impressed! I made crockpot pulled pork & pupsas & it was delish!

    • Nicole

      So glad they turned out well, Pamela!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Teresa Caffin on Facebook

    I have had pupusas IN El Salvador…yummmm! Of course they were cooked over an open fire on the side of the road…prepared in modern kitchen may be a bit different! Gonna have to make these and find out!

  • Nancy Derby on Facebook

    I have Masa, I just made pulled pork today, and yesterday I slow cooked northern white beans, so…guess what we’re having for dinner tomorrow?

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This recipe was brought to you by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/pu-pu-sas-pupusas-from-el-salvador/
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