Pupusas – a delicate rice flour version

harina de arroz

Harina de arroz (rice flour)

Pupusas are rice flour gorditas stuffed with all manner of tasty fillings.

Yield: Makes 4 pupusas
Preparation time: Not fast, but a fun family activity, especially for kids. 20 minutes prep, 10 minutes cooking. Be sure to read all instructions below before starting.

• Harina de Arroz – 2 cups
• Warm water – 1 cup
• Filling (see below) – 1 cup
• Small amount of oil and butter to fry in – 2 tablespoons or less.


1. In a large bowl, mix together the harina de arroz and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should be firm enough to form patties or roll into balls, but moist enough not to crack at the edges when you form patties.) If the mixture is not right, you will have to add one tablespoon at a time of water, or more harina de arroz. If it appears too dry, don’t think you can get away with adding a whole quarter of a cup water. Stick with one tablespoon at a time until consistency is right. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes for the dough to expand.

2. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

3. Press each ball out between your hands, smoothing the edges to keep it roughly round, and about 4 inches across. Put about 2 or 3 heaping tablespoon of filling into the middle of four of the patties. (See below for filling options.) Place a second patty on top of the filling so that there are four plump patties. Crimp the edges slightly so the filling stays inside and then pat out each between your hands so that each patty expands to 5 or 6 inches across and flattens to be about a quarter of an inch or half an inch thick. Be careful that the filling doesn’t spill out, and fix any holes or thin spots in the dough. Now is NOT the time to display your tortilla spinning and slapping expertise – rice flour pupusas are delicate and can fall apart much more easily than tortillas.

4. You can also use a tortilla press, but this takes practice to keep the filling inside. Line the tortilla press with waxed paper or parchment paper and if needed, a little more rice flour. You can also roll it out with a rolling-pin, between waxed paper, but this takes practice. It is easier to start by flattening it by hand.

5. Heat a lightly greased skillet over high flame. Cook each pupusa for about a minute on each side. After you first flip it, rub a stick of butter over the freshly browned side. Flip it and then rub the stick of butter over the other side. Grill for another two minutes on each side until golden brown. Keep warm in an insulated tortilla warmer or wrapped in kitchen towels until all pupusas are done.

Traditionally served with curtado and salsa roja. In a pinch you can use sauerkraut, which is the next best thing, but it is really not the same thing as freshly made curtado! Also delicious with bean dip and salsa, or sautéed vegetables spread on top.

Filling options – Make 1 cup total

Pupusas de Queso: Cheese filling. Use grated cheese of any kind, add a little bit of minced chiles (to taste), or salsa if you like. Or, you can add beans, drained of liquid, or minced vegetables, to the cheese mixture.

Pupusas de Frijoles Refritos: A savory “bean dip” filling. (Four parts refried beans to one part salsa. Or, one can refried beans, half a cup salsa, and two individually wrapped slices cheese. Heat and mix until cheese is melted.)

Pupusas de Papas: One cup cooked potatoes, either diced or mashed. Cooked and seasoned to your preferences, for example a quarter cup of fresh onions and garlic sautéed, then mixed with the potatoes and a little (one eighth to one quarter teaspoon) curry powder, or, mild chipotle powder, or fajita powder. Cooked diced bell peppers (a quarter cup) are great mixed in as well. Then add several tablespoons of fresh cilantro.

Pupusas de Chicharrones: Mix the chopped or crumbled chicharones with a little salsa to taste. This filling can also be made with cooked bacon crumbles + salsa. Or mixed with chili powder and tomato sauce.

I give credit to this recipe, which I have adapted into its current form above.

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3 Responses to Pupusas – a delicate rice flour version

  1. Balvinderb\ says:

    Someone once commented on my (gobhi paratha post in a google+ community) that it reminds him of Pupusas. At that time I didn’t know that the stuff I sometimes make with masa harina flour dough was called pupusas. I am loving all your variations for the filling and want to try some. One thing that he mentioned is not included in your list — a flower bud called loroco. Is it really a flower bud or a vegetable named like that?

  2. Hi Balvinder. Yes, it really is a flower bud. I’d imagine that it would be called a vegetable since it is a plant, rather than meat or dairy. If you order it in restaurants, it is mostly green since part of the tender plant stalk leading up to the bud is included. Thanks for writing – I will be trying many of your very cool recipes soon!

  3. nancypeterman says:

    I am anxious to try these with rice flour ( my husband is gluten intolerant). Minor note: the cabbage salad is curtido, with an “I”, not curtado. I have made it and it couldn’t be easier. Thank you for posting the re ioe and instructions.

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