This is a fairly authentic version of the popular Salvadorean dish. It does take some time, however it is well worth the effort! You can purchase pre-made chicharron at specialty markets, however this recipe tastes just like it. I also make the salsa roja and curtido ahead of time (the salsa freezes very well, and the curtido can stay in the fridge at least a week).

Prep Time:
1 hrs
Cook Time:
39 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 54 mins
30 pupusas


Salsa Roja:

  • 4 cups plain tomato sauce

  • 1 cup water

  • 4 bunches fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (Optional)

  • 1 cube chicken bouillon

  • salt to taste


  • ½ head cabbage, shredded

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated

  • ½ cup white vinegar

  • 3 scallions, minced

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes


  • 1 (12 ounce) package bacon, or to taste

  • 4 tomatoes, halved, or more to taste

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and quartered

  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (Optional)

  • salt to taste

  • 4 cups masa harina, or more to taste

  • 2 cups water, or as needed

  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying


  1. Combine tomato sauce, water, cilantro, green bell pepper, onion, crushed garlic, bouillon cube, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Let salsa roja cool for 10 minutes.

  2. Fill a blender halfway with the salsa roja. Cover and hold lid down with a potholder; pulse a few times before leaving on to blend. Pour into a bowl. Repeat with remaining salsa roja. Return to saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes more stirring occasionally. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, and refrigerate.

  3. Place cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Add 4 cups boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain well. Mix in vinegar, scallions, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Chill curtido until serving.

  4. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until almost fully cooked and not yet crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer bacon and grease (if desired) to a food processor. Add tomatoes, quartered green bell pepper, Monterey Jack cheese, and minced garlic. Puree and season the chicharron with salt.

  5. Mix masa harina and 1/2 cup water together in a bowl by hand. Add the remaining water slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition, until dough is moist but still firm. Cover with a wet towel.

  6. Heat 1/2 cup oil a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  7. Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll into a ball in your hands. Make a hole in the dough ball with your thumb; put a small amount of chicharron inside the hole, close it up, and flatten the ball with your hands into a thick tortilla shape. Place pupusa in the skillet and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining dough and chicharron.

  8. Serve each pupusa topped with 2 tablespoons of curtido and 1 tablespoon of salsa roja.

Cook's Note:

Mozzarella cheese can be substituted for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Editor's Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

234 Calories
8g Fat
34g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 15
Calories 234
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 676mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 42mg 210%
Calcium 157mg 12%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 655mg 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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