It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the big question is: What is a pupusa? A beloved Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla and stuffed with a savory filling. You just mix together masa flour, salt, and water to make up the dough and then you can add in any kind of savory filling—typical options include beef, beans, cheese, and pork. These masa cakes are an authentic Salvadoran street food and are a great option for entertaining. Pupusas are often served with curtido, a fermented cabbage relish, which usually includes carrots, onions, spices, and garlic.
Pupusas are the national dish of El Salvador and can easily be made in advance. They’re best when fried up in some oil and served soon thereafter, still warm with a generous helping of curtido. Pupusas are found in neighboring countries of El Salvador, and it’s also argued that they originated in Honduras. Pupusas are also very similar in construction to Venezuelan and Colombian arepas, and the Mexican dish, gorditas.
But can you eat pupusas for Christmas? Our official answer is: Sure, why not? Pupusas are an excellent dish to make ahead of the big meal and you can change up the fillings to suit any taste—serve pork, chicken, or meat pupusas with a combination of bean and cheese fillings to appease any of your vegetarian relatives and you’ve got a flawless Christmas dinner ready to roll. You can even make vegan pupusas with beans or vegan cheese; they’re an incredibly versatile dish that you can spice up in any way you see fit. In fact, they’re an ideal vehicle for serving leftovers—if you’re making prime rib for Christmas Eve dinner be sure to save a portion for Christmas Day pupusas! They’re also great served as leftovers themselves, so if you make them for Christmas Eve dinner you’ll have a lovely snack ready to serve as a holiday lunch the next day.
Check out these recipes for classic pupusas and make this Christmas a pupusa-filled party. If you use red and green cabbage in your curtido, you’ve got the perfect Christmas combination.
Grated queso Oaxaca or salted mozzarella make these pupusas a must-have. Mixed with sautéed white onions and red kidney beans they’re a filling meal. Get the recipe.
Simple step-by-step instructions and an easy recipe for the accompanying cortido make this recipe an easy weeknight pick! Get the recipe.
For an extra filling pupusa, try this recipe for pupusas de frijoles, that are stuffed with refried beans and seasoned with ground cumin. Get the recipe.
If you’re trying to make a vegan dinner, pupusas are a great call—just use any type of vegan filling or vegan cheese (vegan mozzarella works great). Serve with beans and you’ll have a balanced meal. Get the recipe.