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Cheese Pupusas w/Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

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About three weeks ago when the weather was abnormally nice here in DC, Jason and I went to this really big farmers market called Eastern Market in downtown DC. It reminds me of a really small version of the San Francisco Pier. We try to go to Eastern Market at least twice a year. It’s just so fun and the vendors are all so unique. There’s always good food and produce too! When we went this past month, we decided to go to this Salvadorian restaurant called Tortilla Cafe. It was actually featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives so we wanted to check it out to see if it was worth the hype. Um, yes it was. We ordered pork pupusas, beef tacos, and a tamale. The portions weren’t small so we were definitely stuffed. The one thing we could not stop thinking about were the pupusas. I really wanted to remake them at home but I never got around to it and then the talented Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking released her Absolutely Avocados cookbook and guess what I KNEW I had to make?? The cheese pupusas with tomatillo avocado salsa!!

I could’ve drank the tomatillo avocado salsa – Jason SLATHERED it all over his pupusas. He thought the salsa really made the entire dish. It was my first time cooking with tomatillos (I know, I know) and I definitely don’t think it’ll be my last! They’re so good and tangy! Grab the recipe below!!

This book is BRILLIANT. I adore avocados but I think Gaby wins with her obsession. I just love the concept of the book and there is no other book on the market quite like it. There’s 80 avocado recipes in this book and each and every one of them, you could totally see a piece of Gaby in it. It’s just totally her and her style, flavors, infusions. I couldn’t stop flipping through it.

Also, what I love about the book is, she has all these fun facts about avocados scattered throughout the book and then she has this section on the different varieties of avocados. I honestly did not realize how many there were and how you could tell which was which! This is an educational book AND a delicious book :)

If you love avocados as much as I do and love cooking with them, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of this book!! You can find it at your local Barnes and Noble, order it on Amazon, or check to see if your local independent bookstore has it in stock!

Cheese Pupusas w/Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

These pupusas topped with the tomatillo avocado salsa are the best appetizers to have!!
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Julie Chiou
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For the pupusas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 ¾ cups warm water, up to 2 cups of water, if needed
  • 2 tablespoon cold water
  • ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the tomatillo avocado salsa

  • 6 medium tomatillos
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Hass avocados
  • ¼ cup diced white onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper, split open and de-seeded
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • Preheat oven to 450 °F. Remove husks from the tomatillos. Rinse under warm water and wipe clean. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Cut the tomatillos in half and put them on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes, until they are tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Cut each avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin and place avocado flesh in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the cooled tomatillos, onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, honey, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes until creamy and smooth. Adjust the salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, the warm water, and the salt. Stir together until smooth.
  • Using the palms of your hands, knead the dough together until it becomes on mass. You want the dough to be similar to Play-Doh. If it feels too dry, add the more warm water and knead again. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  • Add the 2 tbsp. of cold water to the rested dough and knead the dough for 2 minutes until the water is fully incorporated.
  • Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, about 2 ounces each, and roll into balls the size of golf balls.
  • Hold one of the balls of dough in the palm of your hand. Gently press your free thumb into the center of the ball to form an indentation. Then start to flatten the dough to form a larger disk so it looks like a small bowl. To the center of the disk, add 2 tsp. of the cheese. Bring the edges of the disk over the cheese and squeeze together to form a ball shape of dough so the cheese is secured inside. Gently work the ball of dough into a flat disk about 3 inches in diameter. Brush the disk with olive oil, place on plate, and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Repeat this process for the remaining pupusas.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Lay 2 pupusas in the skillet at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the outsides are golden brown and the dough has slightly puffed.
  • Serve immediately with the tomatillo avocado salsa.

Recipe Notes

Source: Absolutely Avocados by Gaby Dalkin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, April 2013


Serving: 1 pupusa | Calories: 207 kcal | Carbohydrates: 23 g | Protein: 4 g | Fat: 12 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8 g | Cholesterol: 3 mg | Sodium: 257 mg | Potassium: 327 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 2 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Latin America
Keyword: pupusa recipe

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Recipe Rating


Thursday 19th of March 2015

This looks so good! Thanks for sharing!


Sunday 12th of May 2013

hi I just printed my first recipe Honey Soy Chicken but the recipe part doesn't print well because it is to light it should be in black like the rest of the words then it would print up black so now I need to write it out, printing it is better. thank you


Monday 13th of May 2013

Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely take that under consideration. Have you thought maybe it's also your printer ink running low? I haven't gotten any complaints about this before so just checking!

Britney Hibbs

Monday 6th of May 2013

My husband and live in El Salvador (the home of the pupusa!) and we eat them several times a week. They are so yummy! I know this récipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese (which I love), but Salvadorans only ever use Quesillo in their pupusas. If you find Quesillo in a local ethnic foods market, you should try making your pupusas with this authentic Salvadoran cheese! They also eat their pupusas with curtido (Salvadoran slaw) which adds a nice flavor to the pupusas as well and is super easy to make :) Blessings to you and your husband in your marriage!

Ja Khushi

Saturday 4th of May 2013

You always inspire me... this looks so yummy, I have to try it out. BTW, we went to a Salvadorian place last night and had pork pupusas, and I kept thinking about this post!!

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