Vegan Pupusas with Refried Beans and Cheese

Vegan pupusas with red cabbage slaw on white plate. There is a fork and knife to the right of the plate. There are two small bowls filled with additional slaw and red peppers as toppings.

5 from 1 reviews

A honeymoon winner dinner! Savory cheese and bean-filled tortillas cooked on a griddle to perfect. Pupusas are a national treasure of El Salvador.


  • 1/2 head purple cabbage, shredded
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Masa Dough:
Fillings and Toppings:


  1. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir so cabbage and jalapeños are coated in salt and vinegar.
  2. Put bowl in refrigerator until ready to eat. The ingredients will get tangier with time so feel free to do this step ahead of time. If you make in advance, cover while in refrigerator.
Masa dough:
  1. Stir the dry ingredients together.
  2. Add the warm water and oil, and mix to combine. Knead for a few minutes.
  3. Once soft and moist, set dough aside for about 15 minutes.

To make the pupusas (look at pictures above for reference):

  1. Divide the dough into six balls. If you work with one ball at a time, keep the remaining dough covered while not in use so it does not dry out.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Dampen hands. Take a ball in your hands and flatten it between your palms. Put in a small tablespoon of refried beans and about a half tablespoon of cheese in the center.
  4. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, crimping in the center. Gently press the dough between both palms to create a flat circle. Keep pressing the dough gently while rotating to get a thinner circle.
  5. If the dough splits, pull a little extra dough to patch holes. It helps if your fingers are wet while patching dough. Small holes in the dough are ok; pupusas can be cooked even if they have small holes.
  6. Once you have a nice sized pupusa (roughly 6 inches diameter), add oil to the pre-heated skillet. I used grapeseed oil. Cook the pupusa about 2-4 minutes on each side. You’re looking for a  golden color and browning spots, with the dough fully cooked.
  7. Continue shaping and cooking the pupusas. Serve warm with curtido, guacamole, and salsa.
  8. Best served fresh. Can be kept in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pupusas will be drier after reheating so make sure to have some salsa and guacamole ready.


*Recipe is a guide. Adapt ingredients and measurements as desired. Adapted from The Curious Chickpea’s Vegan Jalapeno Cheese and Refried Bean Pupusas.

**Can be made gluten-free by substituting additional masa for the regular flour. We did this for our recipe which made the pupusas a bit drier but still very delicious!

Keywords: vegan pupusas, pupusa recipe, pupusas with curtido