[Spanish] plural pupusas

A pupusa is a thick stuffed tortilla made from masa de maíz, filled with many different kinds of ingredients, and grilled with no oil, typically eaten by hand. 

It originates from El Salvador and received its name from pupushashua, a word in the Pipil language, spoken by the natives of El Salvador prior to the Spanish Conquest. In the Pipile’s language the pupusa was actually called puputsa, meaning mixed bulk (“What Is a Pupusa?”).

Pupusas are typically served as a main dish, filled with a variety of possible ingredients.  A traditional pupusa is the pupusa revuelta with cheese, beans, and chicharron; however, many pupusas contain loroco flowers—a kind of edible flower that tastes similar to broccoli—mixed with the cheese (Morton, Alvarez, and Quiñonez 306). The kind of cheese often used is quesillo cheese, which is similar to mozzarella. On the side, you can often expect to have curtido, a pickled cabbage relish primarily eaten in El Salvador.  It often is very similar to a spicy slaw (Spector).

There are many recipes to make pupusas, although some are more complex than others. One simple recipe calls for a 2:3 water to corn meal ratio to make the corn dough. Once the water and corn meal are mixed up and formed into a ball a depression is made in the dough ball. Pork, beans, cheese, or many other toppings are put into the depression and covered with the dough. Finally the pupusas are cooked on a grill for about five minutes on each side (Gross 49). 

Pupusas share many similarities with other Central and South American food.  Arepas and pupusas are essentially the same.  They are also very similar to the gordita, the Mexican counterpart to the pupusa.  The gordita, however, is more stuffed, has one side that is open and often has a larger variety of ingredients.

The spread of Salvadoran cuisine, like pupusas, can be largely attributed to the immigration of Salvadorans. Salvadoran immigrants were very careful to hold on to their culture after moving, often to resist pressure from their surroundings to change their lifestyle.  Mercedes Garcia noted that “pupusas are to Central Americans what burgers are to Americans” (“How to Stuff”). As a result, Salvadoran immigrants cook traditional dishes like pupusas, frequently. (Stowers) As more and more Salvadorans move into the United States, pupuserías are becoming more and more common. In the early 2000’s, they became a widely accessible food in North America.


Lexicographers: Sarah Haensly and Alex Maurer, Tulane University

Work Cited 

Gross, Liza. "Pupusas and Potpourri." Americas 45.5 (1993): 49. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. 

"How to Stuff a Wild Pupusa." Tampa Tribune. Business Insights: Essentials, 11 May 2005. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. 

Morton, Julia F., Ernesto Alvarez, and Clelia Quiñonez. "Loroco, Fernaldia Pandurata (Apocynaceae): A Popular Edible Flower of Central America." Economic Botany 44.3 (1990): 301-10. Print. 

Spector, Amy. "Central American cuisines: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras: Mexico's neighbors close, but yet so far on the culinary map." Nation's Restaurant News. Business Insights: Essentials, 15 Sept. 2003. Web. 5 Oct. 2013.

 Stowers, Sharon "Hungry for the taste of El Salvador: Gastronomic nostalgia, identity, and resistance to nutrithink in an immigrant community.” Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst, 1 Jan. 2003. Web. 5 Oct. 2013

"What Is a Pupusa?" Grupo Salvatex. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.



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