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Timber 2 Table - Venison and Cheese Pupusas

Use seasoned ground venison and masa flour dough for this classic Mexican pan-fried treat

Venison and Cheese Pupusas

30 Min

Prep Time

20 Min

Cook Time



Easy, Medium


Pupusas are a traditional dish from El Salvador. They are basically a filled corn pancake or hand pie. Traditional fillings range from cheese, to seasoned meats, to beans, to vegetables. I like to use a mixture of seasoned ground venison, refried beans, and queso quesadilla cheese. This makes them perfect for a main dish, an easy appetizer, or just a handy snack when you are hungry and in a hurry.

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Seasoned ground venison and melted cheese are the perfect filling for these hand pies.

For the right texture and flavor, use masa harina corn flour. You can find it at most larger supermarkets or Mexican grocery stores. This is the same flour used for making corn tortillas. I like to add 2 tablespoons of melted lard to the dough for better texture, but you can omit this if you prefer. The dough will just be slightly more crumbly.

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Masa harina corn flour gives the dough a traditional flavor and texture.

To make the dough, add 2 cups of the masa flour to a large bowl. Add the salt, then drizzle over the melted lard. Slowly add the warm water, using your hands to mix as you go. You might not need all of the water. You will know you have the right consistency when you gently squeeze a handful of the dough and it squirts easily from the sides of your fist.

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The dough is the correct texture when it easily squeezes from your fist.

Brown the ground venison in a skillet over medium heat. Add your favorite taco or Mexican-style seasoning blend and 2 tablespoons of water. While the meat cooks, prepare the canned refried beans according to package directions. Turn both to low to hold warm while you assemble the pupusas.

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Brown the ground venison and add your favorite taco or Southwestern seasoning and a bit of water.

To build the pupusa, roll a slightly larger than golf-ball-sized amount of dough, around 2 ounces.

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Start with a ball of dough, then flatten it into a disc.

Flatten into a ¼-inch-thick disc. Place a small amount of the meat, beans, and cheese into the center of the pupusa, then fold and seal the edges. Place on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet while you continue the process with the remaining ingredients.

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Add filling to center of dough, then close and pinch the edges to seal.

Once you have formed all of the pupusas, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or lard in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the pupusas, gently turning after 2-3 minutes on the first side. Cook until both sides are crisp and the dough has cooked through. Work in batches so that you don’t overcrowd your pan.

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Fry in batches until the pupusas are golden brown and the dough is cooked through.

Serve by themselves or with sour cream and salsa.


1 pound ground venison

1 can refried beans, prepared

2 cups queso quesadilla or other melting cheese, grated

2 cups masa harina flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lard, melted

1 ¼ cup warm water, as needed

Oil or lard for frying

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