Pupusas with Refried Beans and Salsa

This was my first time using masa harina, a kind of very fine, de-hulled cornflour that is often used in Central American cooking. Think tortillas, tamales, empanadas, and pupusas.

Pupusas are like a stuffed corn tortilla/pancake with a filling of refried beans (and usually cheese or vegan cheeze).

They make a hearty snack with a side of salsa.

Ingredients (for 4 pupusas)


  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, for a bit of cheesiness)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ⅔ cups cold water

Filling and toppings

  • 2 Tbsp refried beans, storebought or this recipe
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the masa harina, nutritional yeast, and salt.

Slowly add the cold water in, mixing with a spatula until it gets too hard to mix, then knead it with your hands for a minute or two until it is smooth and thick. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes while you get the refried beans and salsa ready.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and press it into your palm to flatten it out. Put 1-2 tsp of refried beans (not too much!) into the center, and fold the ends up around it. Press it gently into a ball again and flatten it into a thick disk shape. If some of the beans leak out, just take a piece of dough from another part of the pupusa and cover it up.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. You can brush a little bit of olive oil on it, but I just cooked them straight in the pan.

Once the pan is hot, add the pupusas and cook them for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are crisp on the outside with blackened dots on the crust.

They are best served hot from the pan, dipped in salsa or guacamole.


Here are some thoughts that are guiding me today. May you find moments of peace and stillness in the chaos.

“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.” – Paulo Coelho

“After all, the wrong road always leads somewhere.” – George Bernard Shaw

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

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