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Cheesy Beef Pupusas

Cheesy Beef Pupusas with Pico de Gallo

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Recipe Details


With cheese-stuffed relatives throughout Latin America—see arepas and gorditas—El Salvador still proudly lays claim to pupusas. These addictive corn cakes are made with masa harina (lime-treated corn flour) and traditionally filled with cheese for goodness in every bite. Here, this popular street food gets a dinnertime upgrade with Monterey Jack, queso fresco, and chili and cumin-spiced beef. Do this dinner justice when you add fresh pico de gallo made with tomato, jalapeño, and lime.


  • Spicy
  • Stovetop Only

Quick facts

Serving size
Prep & cook time
Cooking Skill
By Chef Michelle

By Chef Michelle

Nutritional info

Ingredients & Equipment

What we send

  • red onion
    1 each
    red onion
  • Masa Harina Yellow (Bob's Red Mill)
    1 1/4 cup
    Masa Harina Yellow (Bob's Red Mill)
  • lime
  • plum tomatoes
    plum tomatoes
  • fresh cilantro
    1/8 ounce
    fresh cilantro
  • ground beef
    12 ounces
    ground beef
  • jalapeño
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1 ounce
    shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon
    dried oregano
  • chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon
    chili powder
  • ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon
    ground cumin
  • crumbled queso fresco
    1 ounce
    crumbled queso fresco

What You’ll Need

  • 12" large nonstick pan

Cooking Steps

  1. Make Pupusa Dough

    Make Pupusa Dough

    In a large bowl, stir together masa harina and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir in 1 cup warm water, a little at a time, until combined. Cover with a damp paper towel and set aside to stiffen at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Prepare Ingredients

    Prepare Ingredients

    While pupusa dough stiffens, halve lime. Rinse remaining produce. Cut tomatoes into ¼-inch dice. Roughly chop cilantro leaves, discarding stems. Pat beef dry with paper towel. Peel onion and mince ½. Halve jalapeño lengthwise and using a knife tip, discard seeds and finely chop as much as desired. Save remaining onion to add to some scrambled eggs tomorrow.
  3. Brown Beef

    Brown Beef

    Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add beef. Season with spice mix and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, discarding liquid in pan. Set aside.
  4. Form Pupusas

    Form Pupusas

    While beef browns, divide pupusa dough evenly into 6 pieces and form into balls, about 2-inches in diameter. Using your thumb, create a dimple in center of each. Stuff each indent with about 2 teaspoons cheese mix, reserving remainder for topping. Push dough back over cheese to cover. Gently stretch and pat down to form 2-3-inch wide patties. Don't worry if some cheese is exposed, it'll get brown and crispy in the pan.
  5. Sear Pupusas

    Sear Pupusas

    Wipe pan from beef clean and add 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add pupusas in a single layer and sear until golden on bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and sprinkle over remaining cheese mix. Sear until golden all over and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Spoon over beef and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute.
  6. Plate Beef Pupusas

    Plate Beef Pupusas

    In a medium bowl, stir together juice of 1 lime, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, and onion. Season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Dollop pico de gallo over beef pupusas and enjoy a taste of El Salvador.

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