Vegan Pupusas (Salvadoran Masa Cakes)

Food Stories is a new column in which Best of Vegan community members share recipes from their cultures and personal stories connected to those dishes. Today, Eunice Reyes of Rated V shares her recipe for Vegan Pupusas – an iconic dish from El Salvador.

This recipe was featured in Eunice’s profile for the new weekly BIPOC Portraits series by Val and Mani Latifi, where they interview vegan creators and shed light on the unique challenges BIPOCs face in making the decision to embrace veganism. Click here to see the full article.

Vegan Pupusas (Salvadoran Masa Cakes)

Pupusas are literally everything if you’re Salvadoran. It’s what we’re known for! I grew up eating this once a week, at family gatherings, every year for my birthday, and at church fundraisers—you name it—pupusas were there. So there is no way I could go vegan and not have vegan pupusas.

This is a vegan pupusas recipe from SCRATCH! So if you’re serious about good pupusas, you will give it a try. It may seem like a lot of prep work, but the assembly of the pupusa is actually fast and it will be worth it!

Published with permission from Rated V.

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Vegan Pupusas (Salvadoran Masa Cakes)

Vegan Pupusas (Salvadoran Masa Cakes)




  • 2 cups of dried beans (soaked in water overnight) 
  • ½ white onion + ¼ white onion, divided
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • ½ green bell pepper 
  • 1 serrano pepper, deseeded
  • 12 tsp salt 

Curtido, a.k.a. fresh pickled cabbage slaw

  • 1 small head of cabbage, finely shredded 
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste 
  • ¼ to ½  tsp dried Mexican oregano


  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • ½ large white onion 
  • 67 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 chile guajillos, deseeded
  • 4 chile de árbol (or adjust to preferred spice level)
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • ¼ tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • pinch of cumin (optional)
  • olive oil for drizzling 

Cheese Filling Mix

  • 1 lb vegan shredded mozzarella cheese (I like using The Happy Pear brand of Vevan Foods brand)
  • 1 bag of lorocco (lorocco can be found in most Latin stores in the frozen section), or substitute 1 large bell pepper, shredded
  • ½ cup crumbled vegan feta


  • Maseca and water (according to instructions on the maseca bag)



  1. Put soaked beans in a pot with water (enough water to cover beans by 1″). 
  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Then bring down to low heat. Add ½ onion, garlic, and salt (taste the soup for salt amount).
  3. Cover pot and cook on low for about 30-40 minutes, or until beans are tender. 
  4. In a pan with some oil, sautée the ¼ onion and ½ green bell pepper until lightly charred. 
  5. In a blender, add beans and cooked onions and garlic with very little soup (only enough to make it easy to blend) and add the sauteéd onion and bell pepper. Blend until smooth.
  6. Add blended beans to a pan with 1 Tbsp of oil on low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until beans become firm and lose the liquid. They should be moldable and have a similar consistency to the masa. 


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and massage down until cabbage softens. Let sit for as long as possible. The longer it marinates the better. (I like to do this the night before, if possible). 

Cheese Filling Mix

  1. Mix all the cheese together and crumble well with your hands to form a cheese masa. The cheese should be soft, so the masa dough doesn’t break when forming the pupusas. 


  1. With a couple Tbsp of water, steam tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chiles in a pot until the skin of the tomatoes peel off easily. Then peel tomato skins to make a smoother sauce (it’s okay if some of the skin remains on the tomatoes). 
  2. Place tomato mixture in a blender but don’t add the liquid (extra liquid will make it runny). Blend with salt. 
  3. Once blended add the oregano, cumin, and olive oil. If you want, you can add a bit of sugar. Adjust seasoning to taste. 


  1. Use enough water until masa is soft to handle (follow instructions on bag).

To Assemble: 

  1.  Heat comal to medium-high heat or griddle to 400°F/200°C.
  2.  Form masa into balls the size of a tennis ball (Tip: adding a bit of water and oil to your hands will keep the masa from sticking to your hands)
  3. Flatten each masa ball into a disk with a bit of a dip and stuff with 1 Tbsp of beans and approximately 2 Tbsp cheese mixture. 
  4.  Then with your hands, close back up into a ball and then move around a bit, so the inside mixture is even. 
  5.  Then with your hands flatten back into a disk. (Tip: If you’re new to making pupusas,  you can also put the ball between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and use the bottom of a medium plate to form the disk). 
  6.  Then add to the heated comal or griddle and turn every 1 minute, until edges are cooked. Serve with curtido and salsa and enjoy!


Find more of Eunice’s recipes on her website & Instagram.

Text, recipe & photography by Eunice Reyes.


Vegan Pupusas (Salvadoran Masa Cakes)

If you loved this Vegan Pupusas recipe, you might also like…

BIPOC Portraits: Rated V (An Interview with Eunice Reyes)

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