Gluten-free Bean and Cheese Pupusas

These Bean and Cheese Pupusas are a gluten-free take on an El Salvadoran favorite. Made using gluten-free flatbread dough and filled with a generous portion of black beans and cheese, this is the perfect date night or anytime snack.

a stack of four pupusas

Known as the national dish of El Salvador, the pupusa is traditionally made using masa (a corn flour) filled with refried beans and cheese, like Oaxaca. Although the more classic preparation keeps things simple, pupusas can also combine chicken or beef and other vegetables for a heartier version. Pupusas are very similar to arepas and gorditas.

My wife is a fan of pupusas (AKA corn cakes) from the many trips she’s made to New York City over the years. She has shared stories of enjoying this delicacy from neighborhood shops, restaurants, and food trucks. So when it was time to make a quick and easy date night treat for an upcoming stay-at-home movie night, this was the first thing that came to mind.

a full plate of pupusas ready to serve

To create my own variation of their popular dish and make a gluten-free version, I opted for a flatbread dough using a grain-free flatbread mix. It offers a similar texture that you come to expect from pupusas minus the actual grains. With just four ingredients, your dough can be ready to be filled with whatever you like.

Ingredients you’ll need to make pupusas:

Honey-mustard glazed salmon is baking dish
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gran-Free Flatbread Mix is really simple and takes no time to prepare and cook. A simple combination of the mix, water, butter, and eggs, is halfway to the finish line.
  • For the filling, you’ll start with a can of organic black beans, and you’ll smash and blend them with cilantro, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  • I opted for a cheddar cheese because of the sharp flavor it provides, but Oaxaca cheese is a perfect alternative if you have it on hand.

A few tips when making pupusas:

  • The pupusa itself can vary in thickness, and it really depends on how much filling you add. It’s not a perfect science, so have some fun with it.
  • The dough is very forgiving, so you can always create your initial “ball” of dough, and if it’s too large or too small (you are looking for a palm-sized ball), you can add to or take away from it.
  • Experiment with the filling! Start with beans and cheese and go from here. Just make sure the ingredients are chopped small or blended enough to fit in the center of the pupusa as you are forming the corn cake.
  • While working with the dough, have a little oil and water available. As the dough sticks to your hands (and it will), just place a little water on your hands to keep it from sticking.
  • Because the flatbread dough can soak up any excess oils, you actually don’t need to add any oil to the pan itself when cooking the pupusas. Place a light coating of the same oil and water mentioned above to one side of the pupusa before adding it to the pan. This is all the moisture you will need

How to make bean and cheese pupusas:

For the pupusa:

  1. You will begin making the pupusa by adding a package of grain-free flatbread mix to a large bowl. Whisk (paid link) your eggs, water, and melted butter combining it with the flatbread mix. Finish blending the ingredients together using your hands if it becomes too sticky to whisk (paid link). Allow the dough to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. While the dough is resting you can add the black beans and the seasonings to a food processor (paid link) and blend until smooth. Add the beans to a bowl and fold in the cheese. You can also add the cheese on top of the beans when forming your pupusas in the next step.
  3. Form your dough into a golf ball size then flatten with hands. (You will need to have a separate bowl of water and oil to keep your hands wet so the dough won’t stick.)
  4. Add around 2 tablespoons of the bean and cheese mixture to the center of the flattened disc of dough. Bring all edges together and close off the top forming a ball again. Carefully flatten dough for the second time.
  5. Heat a non-stick cooking pan to medium heat and cook pupusas for 3 minutes per side. (Before placing the pupusa in the skillet, lightly coat one side with your leftover water and oil mixture.)

For the curtido:

  1. You’ll begin the slaw by cutting the red cabbage and red onion into thin slices. Add the sliced red cabbage, sliced red onions, and shredded carrots to a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of boiling water. Allow it to sit in it for 10 minutes then drain.
  2. Add the oregano, salt, and red wine vinegar over the cabbage mixture then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. The slaw gets better as it sits so you can make this a day in advance for the best flavor.

What can I serve with pupusas?

Pupusas are typically served with some type of condiment. Homemade curtido, a fermented, crunchy, and tangy cabbage slaw is the most common choice, but you can also serve with simply a side of red salsa. I’ve included a bonus recipe for curtido that I made using red cabbage and red onion, carrots, red wine vinegar, oregano, Himalayan Pink Salt, and water.

a stack of four pupusas

This recipe is an awesome option for date night and when you want to sample an international menu at home! Give these gluten-free Bean and Cheese Pupusas a spot on your dinner table — or on a plate in between you and your date while you both enjoy a great meal with a movie. 🙂

bean and cheese pupusa split in half so you can see the inside
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a stack of four pupusas

Bean and Cheese Pupusa

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  • Author: Eric Jones
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


These Bean and Cheese Pupusas are a gluten-free take on an El Salvadoran favorite. Made using flatbread dough and filled with a generous portion of black beans and cheese, this is the perfect date night or anytime snack.


Units Scale

For the Flatbread: 

  • 15 oz organic black beans, drained
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cilantro flakes
  • 1 package of grain-free flatbread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

For the Slaw: 

  • 1 whole red cabbage head
  • 1 whole red onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 cups water


  1. Add drained black beans, garlic powder, onion powder, and cilantro to a food processor (paid link) and blend until smooth. 
  2. Add grain-free flatbread mix, eggs, melted butter, and water into a large bowl. Mix ingredients with hands and allow the dough to sit for 5 minutes. 
  3. Form a palm-sized ball and flatten it into a disc. (Place an oil and water mixture on the palm of your hands to keep your hands from sticking.) 
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of black beans and shredded cheese into the center of the dough. Bring all edges to the top and close the dough around the filling. Close off with edges to form a ball again. Flatten the ball with your hands to seal the ingredients inside the dough. 
  5. Heat a non-stick cooking pan to medium heat and cook each pupusa for 3 minutes per side
  6. Serve with curtido or red salsa.
  7. For the curtido, cut the red cabbage in half to remove the stem. Cut cabbage into thin slices and place it into a large bowl. 
  8. Cut your red onion into thin slices. Add onions and shredded carrots to the bowl with the cabbage. Cover with 4 cups of boiling water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then drain. Fold in red wine vinegar, salt, and oregano. 
  9. Add all ingredients into a container, top, and allow it to sit refrigerated for 30 minutes or more. 


The mixture of water and oil will help to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Comfort Food
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Spanish


  • Calories: 605
  • Sugar: 4.5g
  • Sodium: 195mg
  • Fat: 11.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 93.2g
  • Fiber: 15.6g
  • Protein: 31.8g
  • Cholesterol: 98mg

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