Go Back
+ servings
pupusas with salsa roja on a white plate with a dish cloth in the background
Print Recipe
4.50 from 4 votes

Papusas With Salsa Roja

Thick circles of toasted Salvadorian flat bread are stuffed with rich melted cheese. They're delicious all by themselves, but even better when dipped in a simple thin red salsa. It's an El Salvadorian classic dish that's easy to make, and akin to the American combination of grilled cheese & tomato soup.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: American, El Salvadorian, Hispanic
Servings: 6
Calories: 319kcal


For The Papusas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • ½ tsp. salt

For The Filling

  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup cotija cheese crumbled or shredded

For The Salsa Roja

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper chopped
  • 2 cups tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped


To Make The Papusas

  • In a large bowl, mix the masa, salt and 1 ½ cups water together with your hands to make a dough.
  • Dump the dough onto the counter. If you press it and it cracks, you need to knead in more water.
  • You’ll know you have enough water when you press it and it looks smooth.
  • Break off a handful of dough and roll it into a ball. Slightly flatten the ball and make an indention in the dough. Add about a tablespoon of the cheeses that have been mixed together.
  • Fold the dough like a taco and press together. Fold in the opposite ends and press together.
  • Set the dough on the counter and press the dough together to cover the filling. Carefully flatten it out into a ¼-inch thick disc. Don’t press too hard or the filling will poke through the dough.
  • Continue with the remaining dough.
  • Heat a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Place pupusas on the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, until brown.
  • Flip. Continue cooking 5 more minutes. Remove from skillet and cook remaining pupusas. Serve with Salsa Roja for dipping.

To Make The Salsa Roja

  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and the oregano and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool a bit.
  • Once the mixture has cooled, puree the tomato ‘sauce’ in a blender until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.


Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 405mg | Potassium: 259mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 774IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 3mg