Pupusas are a delicious Salvadoran dish that is gaining popularity all over the world. They are simple to make and consist of corn masa filled with various ingredients like cheese, beans, or chicharron.
They’re incredibly delicious and can be served as a main course. However, when it comes to pairing pupusas with side dishes that will really bring out their flavor, it can be tricky.
Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! From curtido to Ensalada de aguacate to mango salsa and beyond—there’s something for everyone here, regardless of what kind of flavors you prefer in your meals.
Let’s dive into some great options that will take your pupusa dinner to the next level.
In A Rush and want to know What to serve with Pupusas- Salad, Guacamole, Rice & Beans, Curtido, Frijoles Negros, Ensalada De Aguacate, Mango Salsa, Tostones, Tomato Salsa, Cilantro Lime Cream, Coleslaw, Sauerkraut, Mexican Rice, Korean Kimchi, Plantain Chips, Tomato-Cucumber Salad, Salsa Roja, Pickle, Grilled Veggies, French veggie, Refried Beans and Rico De Gallo.
21 Perfect Side Dishes to Serve with Pupusas
Salads are always great for something fresh, light, and nutritious to serve alongside your pupusas. A simple side salad filled with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots is sure to delight the taste buds of your dinner guests.
You can also add some extra flavor by seasoning it with olive oil, vinegar, or a splash of lime juice. Try throwing in some cooked quinoa or black beans for an even heartier option.
Adding Guacamole classic condiments to your meal is an absolute must! There are so many different kinds of salsas available – from mild to hot – so make sure to pick one that suits everyone’s tastes.
If making your own guacamole sounds intimidating, don’t worry – plenty of delicious store-bought varieties are also available!
3. Rice & Beans
Rice and beans make the perfect accompaniment to pupusas because they have similar flavors and textures. Whether you choose white rice or brown rice is entirely up to you.
For maximum flavor, try cooking the rice in chicken broth instead of water or adding some cumin while it cooks.
As for the beans, black beans or pinto beans both work great here! Just make sure to season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder – whatever spices suit your fancy!
4. Cilantro-lime Crema
Cilantro-lime crema is a great topping for tacos, burritos, and Pupusas. It’s a delicious combination of cool creamy cilantro with a hint of tart lime. The perfect addition to any Mexican-inspired meal!
Made with yogurt, sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro, this easy crema is sure to be a hit at your next gathering. Serve it alongside tacos or as a dip for chips.
For a thinner consistency, you can whisk in up to 2 tablespoons of water or olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Curtido is a type of spicy cabbage slaw that is popular in El Salvador. It’s made with red or green cabbage, carrots, onions, jalapenos or serranos peppers, limes or lemons, and cilantro.
This tangy and crunchy slaw pairs perfectly with pupusas’ savory fillings and makes for a great accompaniment to any meal.
Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make! All you have to do is mix the ingredients in a bowl and let them sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.
6. Korean Kimchi
Korean kimchi is another best food to serve with pupusas. The kimchi adds a nice crunchy texture and its spiciness perfectly complements the mellow flavor of pupusas.
It is also a great source of probiotics, so it’s an added health benefit to any pupusa dish. For extra protein, try adding some tofu or tempeh to this combination.
A smaller portion of cooked, diced chicken or beef can also be added to the mix. To round out the meal, serve with a side dish of coleslaw or some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Adding kimchi will make it even more delicious if you are making pupusas, tacos, or any other dish.
7. Pico de Gallo
Pico de gallo is a bright and colorful dish that originated in Mexico; it consists of tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, lime juice, and cilantro mixed together.
It robustly complements the traditional flavors of pupusas, adding brightness from the tomatoes and an extra layer of spiciness from the jalapenos that brings out the flavors in this delicious Salvadoran dish.
Additionally, using only fresh ingredients, you can easily customize the spice level to your liking for a unique flavor profile every time.
If you’re looking for an extra zing at your next get-together, Pico de gallo is the perfect side to serve with pupusas.
8. Frijoles Negros
Frijoles Negros or Black beans are an excellent choice for serving alongside pupusas because their unique flavor complements the savory ingredients inside the masa perfectly.
Add some diced onions and garlic while cooking your black beans to make this side dish even more flavorful. Then top them off with fresh cilantro and serve!
9. Creamy Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Serve it with a creamy tomato and cucumber salad for a great twist on the traditional dish.
The creamy dressing enhances the pupusa filling and tortilla. Still, it also adds a freshness that helps to balance out flavors.
Creamy tomato and cucumber salad are ideal for an outdoor picnic or a family meal. They are sure to bring everyone to the table with their appetizing presentation.
Make sure to be generous when adding off the dressing so you can take in all its flavorful complexity.
Coleslaw is an excellent pair for Pupusas. It is a classic combination that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Not only does Coleslaw complement Pupusas well in terms of flavor, but it also provides a nice crunchy contrast to the softness of the pupusa.
Coleslaw is typically made with cabbage, carrots, and mayonnaise as its base ingredients. However, some recipes call for additional ingredients like red onion or even Greek yogurt.
It’s simple to make and requires minimal preparation time, which makes it ideal for busy weeknight meals. Furthermore, Coleslaw is incredibly nutritious and packed full of vitamins A and C from the cabbage and carrots and healthy fats from the mayonnaise.
In addition to being delicious and nutritious, Coleslaw is also an economical side dish when served with Pupusas.
It’s important to remember that Pupusas are already quite filling on their own, so you don’t need too much extra food to go along with them.
You can save money without compromising on taste or nutrition by serving Coleslaw instead of a heavier side dish like a salad or fries.
11. Ensalada de Aguacate
Avocados are a beloved staple of Central American cuisine—so why not add them to your pupusa dinner?
Ensalada de aguacate is an easy-to-make avocado salad that accompanies pupusas well, thanks to its creamy texture and mild flavor.
To make this salad, mix ripe avocados with chopped tomatoes, onion, lime juice (or lemon juice if you prefer), oregano leaves (optional), salt, pepper, and olive oil.
12. Fresh veggie chow chow
Fresh veggie chow chow is the perfect side to serve with pupusas, the traditional Salvadoran dish of corn tortillas filled with cheese and beans.
Chow chow, an El Salvadorian relish made of cabbage, carrots, and other fresh vegetables, provides a crunchy yet subtle flavor that pairs perfectly with pupusas.
Adding condiments such as hot sauce or salsa enhances the flavor combination and elevates this simple side to something special.
Enjoy a night of authentic Salvadoran cuisine by serving fresh veggie chow chow alongside your favorite pupusas!
13. Mango Salsa
Mango salsa is another excellent way to add some sweet-and-spicy flavor to your pupusa dinner!
Mango salsa requires only four ingredients: mangoes (ripe but firm), jalapeños (or serrano peppers), onions (red or white), and limes (or lemons).
Simply dice up all the ingredients finely, then mix them together in a bowl for about 10 minutes before serving—it’s as easy as that!
The sweetness from the mangoes pairs nicely with the savory flavors from the pupusas while still providing a bit of heat from the jalapenos or serranos peppers.
14. Tomato Salsa
Tomato salsa is often used as a condiment to various dishes, such as tacos, burritos, empanadas, and quesadillas.
It can also be served as a complement to grilled meats or seafood. Popular ingredients in tomato salsa include tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos or other chili peppers, lime juice, and salt.
Variations may include additional ingredients such as corn kernels, black beans, avocados, and fresh herbs like oregano and parsley.
Tomato salsa is often served with chips for dipping or as a dip for raw vegetables. The versatility of tomato salsa makes it suitable for breakfast dishes like huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos; lunchtime options like salads, sandwiches, and wraps; and dinner entrees like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas.
It can also be used as a topping for fish or chicken dishes or as an ingredient in sauces to give them an added kick of flavor.
With its bright color and bold flavors, tomato salsa can bring life to any meal!
Tostones—fried plantains—are a classic Puerto Rican dish that can also be enjoyed with pupusas as well!
It is super simple; just cut two green plantains into slices about 1/2 inch thick, then fry them in oil until they’re golden brown on both sides.
Once they’re finished frying, simply sprinkle some salt on top and enjoy! The crunchiness of these fried plantains adds an extra layer of texture to your pupusa dinner while still maintaining its traditional Latin American flavor profile.
Plantain chips can also be used to top pupusas, replacing traditional ingredients like cheese or beans. This adds a bit of crunch to the dish and creates new flavor combinations for you to enjoy.
Sauerkraut is a traditional condiment that goes perfectly with pupusas. The unique tart flavor of Sauerkraut provides a great contrast to the savory, thick, and hearty texture of pupusas. It’s an exciting combination that will tantalize your taste buds unexpectedly.
Originally from Germany, Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage. The fermentation process involves adding salt to the cabbage, which acts as a preservative and allowing it to sit in an airtight container for several weeks. This results in a sour taste and crunchy texture that is unlike anything else.
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17. Mexican Rice
Mexican rice is another option to choose as a side dish for Pupusas. It is easy to make and goes great with the flavors of the pupusas.
To make Mexican rice, start by heating a pan over medium-high heat and adding in some oil. Once the oil is hot, add some white onions and sauté until they are soft.
Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds before adding some long-grain white rice. Sauté the rice for about two minutes, stirring often. Then add some tomato paste and stir until it is combined with the rice.
Pour in chicken stock or vegetable stock, depending on preference, along with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat and leave uncovered until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft. Serve alongside your pupusas for a delicious meal!
18. Salsa Roja
Salsa Roja, a traditional sauce, is made with fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, and garlic, all roasted on an open flame and blended together to give it its signature flavor.
The result is a zesty sauce that perfectly complements the mild masa of pupusas. Best of all, salsa Roja can be easily adjusted to suit one’s desired spice levels.
Feel free to leave out the jalapenos if you prefer less heat, or add more if you like things extra spicy!
Pickles make for a fantastic side, offer a unique crunch that contrasts perfectly with the pupusa’s soft texture, and provide an unexpected burst of acidity that enlivens the salty and savory flavors in the pupusa itself.
Plus, it’s just so satisfying to bite into a warm pupusa while tangy pickles provide balance. Thank goodness pickles are a common condiment – they can add so much interest to any meal!
20. Serve Grilled Veggies with Pupusas
Grilled vegetables make the perfect smoky and charred flavors of grilled vegetables, effectively complementing the savory goodness of pupusas.
Add a flavor-filled addition to your meal. Fire-roasted peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and onions are just some delicious vegetables that can be grilled up as a side dish with pupusas.
21. Refried Beans
Refried beans are flavorful and easy to prepare. Still, they can also be cooked with various seasonings and spices for a unique twist.
Additionally, refried beans are a great source of protein and fiber that can complete any pupusa meal.
Are pupusas the main dish?
In El Salvador, pupusas are typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is common to see them sold on street corners early in the morning.
While pupusas may not always be the main course of a meal, they are a beloved staple of Salvadoran cuisine.
Pupusas are filled with various ingredients such as pork, chicken, cheese, beans, or chicharrón (fried pork rinds).
Are rice or corn pupusas better?
Both rice and corn pupusas have their own unique flavor and texture, so it’s up to you to decide which one you like best.
Corn pupusas tend to be slightly sweeter, while rice pupusas are savory and earthy in flavor. Rice pupusas also tend to be thicker in texture than the lighter texture of corn.
Are pupusas and tamales the same?
No, pupusas and tamales are not the same. Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish with thick masa dough filled with cheese, beans, or pork and then fried or grilled.
On the other hand, tamales are Mexican dishes made with a corn-based dough that is steamed in corn husks or banana leaves and filled with various ingredients. They are often served with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.
Both pupusas and tamales can be made in different ways and with different fillings, but they are different dishes.