Black Bean “Pupusas”

Okay. I know what you’re thinking. “Pupusas”? Why the “quotation marks”? Let me head off by saying that I am just as wary, if maybe not more so, of questionable quotation marks as the average human. I look at this blog fairly regularly and laugh and cringe a lot.


“Pupusas”. Because these are, admittedly, bastardized pupusas. For one, pupusas are traditionally made with maize flour (masa de maíz). For another, pupusas are also made by putting filling in a small indent made in a ball of dough, pinching the indent closed, and then flattening the ball into a disk.

Well, I am a broke college student. I didn’t have maize flour, but I did have all-purpose flour. And honestly, I was all about what I was filling these with and wasn’t happy with the relatively small amount I could put in traditionally-made pupusas. And so this recipe happened. And it is sort of just bits and pieces of things I picked up from other sites or by trial and error. 

And the best bit is that this recipe is vegan so long as you don’t add any cheese or cook with butter! I’ve not made the tortilla dough with anything but all-purpose flour, but if you do it with the traditional maize flour, these would be gluten-free, too!

2013-11-30 20.33.30

*grabby hands*

Tortilla Dough

(recipe from Brokeass Gourmet)

Yield: 8 medium tortillas, 4 pupusas

Time: approx. 40 min with resting time


  • 2 cups flour + extra for kneading and rolling
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.75 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Slowly add olive oil while mixing. A mixer works well, but a form or your hands work just fine (I used a fork/my hands).
  3. Slowly add water and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4-5 min by hand.
  5. Move dough ball to lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest for 20 min.
  6. Move dough back to floured surface and cut into 8 pieces
  7. Use tortilla press or rolling pin (or some combination of the two) to roll out to somewhere between 6 and 8 inches.

Bourbon has been useful to me in many ways, lately.


Bean Filling

(There used to be a great little Mexican place near where I live and since they’ve closed, I’ve been trying to replicate their black beans by taste. This recipe is as close as I’ve gotten to them.)

Yield: Approx. 29 oz (this is like, a week’s worth of burritos for me)

Time: 10 min


  • 29 oz. can of black beans
  • 0.25 small red onion, chopped
  • Half a jalapeno pepper, minced
  • Half a habanero pepper, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Drain some of the liquid out of the can of beans. Add beans to a saucepan on low to medium heat.
  2. Using a food processor (or awesome knife skills!), chop up the onion, peppers, and garlic. Add to the saucepan.
  3. Add the spices to the saucepan and stir.
  4. Once the beans start to bubble a bit, turn heat to low. Stir occasionally.

That is literally it. You can cook these on low heat for as long as you want or need to. I usually get these started first and then leave them going until whatever else I’m making is finished.


Yield: 4 pupusas

Time: 20-30 min


  • 8 tortilla dough rounds
  • Bean filling
  • Cheese, optional (traditionally, a cheese called quesillo is used, but I just used the fancy shredded Mexican I had on hand. But try cheeses! Goat cheese, anything! Follow your cheese dreams.)
  • Really anything you’d like in a burrito (we made caramelized onions with kale. It was a solid option)
  1. Add butter or some oil to a skillet over medium heat (I personally went with butter because yes).
  2. Lay out one of the dough rounds (make sure to flour the plate!) and top with desired fillings, leaving maybe a quarter or half inch of space at the edges.
  3. Top with another dough round and roll and pinch the edges of the two together.
  4. Crimp the edges with a fork. This helps keep the two rounds together.
  5. Add pupusas one at a time to the pan. Cook until one side is golden brown then flip.
  6. Once the other side is golden brown, check the crimped edges. Are they really squishy? Cook for another minute or two. If not, it’s done!

Crimping is like, sooo 90’s.

Eat as is or topped with sour cream, salsa, or ~pickled onions~ (the recipe for which is below).


Pickled Onions

(Adapted from Shared Appetite)

Yield: Approx. 1 cup onions

Time: 20 min.


  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 0.5 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tsp whole cloves
  1. Slice onions really thin. A mandolin helps, so long as you don’t talk to your mom while using it and accidentally nearly slice the tip of your finger off because of the distraction.
  2. Put onions in a glass bowl and add enough boiling water to cover all the onions. Drain after 10 seconds.
  3. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and spices (the spices are really to your taste. Experiment a bit!) to a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add onions and pickling liquid to a glass storage jar. (I just used an old pickle jar. Using that has the added bonus of an excuse to shamelessly eat all the rest of the pickles. I mean, you need that jar…)
  5. Let the onions sit in the liquid at room temperature for at least an hour. Store in the fridge and allow to pickle for as long as you’re able to resist them for the best effect.

They’re so beautiful. *kisses jar*

I let these pickle for about 5 hours before eating. Top your pupusas with them! They’re also good on other things, like burgers. I will probably eat them in burritos and be really pleased with myself.

…So I picked a really large, multi-component recipe for my first post. But I promise you, these are awesome and keep really well. I packed these for a lunch to eat on a train to NYC, and I didn’t even pack any napkins. How many other Mexican food items could you say that about? If you don’t believe me, here is a direct quote from a pleased hungry person:

“so portable wow”

Well, there you have it.



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