Turkey and Cheese Pupusas


Pupusas filled with turkey and cheese are a great snack or lunch—and are easy to make.

Overhead View of Three Turkey and Cheese Pupusas Served with Salsa Verde, Sour Cream, and Onions
Photo: Brie Passano
Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
50 mins
6 pupusas

Pupusas are a Salvadorian dish made from masa harina (a specific type of corn flour), stuffed with a variety of fillings such as meat, cheese, or beans, then pan-fried until golden brown and crisp. These turkey and cheese pupusas are great as handheld fare but even better loaded with a zingy salsa verde, pickled vegetables, or a fresh salad to balance their richness.


  • 1 ½ cups masa harina

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 ⅓ cups warm water

  • ½ cup shredded and chopped cooked turkey meat

  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 clove garlic, grated

  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

  • Salsa verde, for serving

  • Sour cream, for serving

  • Pickled red onions, for serving (optional)


  1. Mix masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add the water while mixing the ingredients with your hand. Knead mixture until all water is incorporated; dough will be sticky. Let rest about 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. Combine turkey, mozzarella, cumin, and garlic in a separate small bowl.

  3. With damp hands, roll dough into 2-inch balls (slightly larger than a golf ball). Hold one ball in a cupped hand and, with your other hand, press your thumb into the ball to make a large well for the filling. Add a heaping tablespoon of turkey mixture to the well and bring dough around filling to enclose. Gently shape dough back into a ball. Flatten into a disc about 4-inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining dough and filling; dampen hands as needed.

  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Gently place pupusas in skillet and cook until golden brown in spots, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining pupusas, adding more oil if needed. Drain on paper towels.

  5. Serve with salsa verde, sour cream, and pickled red onions.

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