Pupusas are a staple in Salvadoran homes and Salvadoran-American homes. With their delicious fillings, tomato sauce, and curtido (fermented cabbage, carrots, and onions to taste), it’s no wonder they’re an addictive crowd-pleaser. But they’re not the only Salvadoran food that will satisfy your palette.
Salvadoran food is diverse and includes soups, tamales, desserts, and drinks that everyone can enjoy. And prior to colonization, the country was populated by Indigenous peoples, including the Lenca, Pipil, Cacaopera, and Mayans. Contact with Europeans forever changed cuisine in the entirety of the Americas, including El Salvador. And today the country’s food is a rich mix of Indigenous, Black, and Spanish influences.
While I’m of the opinion that you should still continue only eating pupusas and drinking coffee, it’s always a great time to try new dishes, desserts, or drinks and expose your palette to delicious new eats!
Additional Resources: If you’d like suggestions with other meats, SalviSoul covers omnivore options. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, The Salvi Vegan is known for veganizing Salvi classics and offering classes. Both of these cooks also upload fun, educational content.
There’s something for everyone in Salvi cuisine if you know where to look. ¡Provecho!
Tamales de elote con crema
Corn is important in many Latin American and is the main ingredient in tamales de elote con crema — a simple dish that packs a lot of flavor. Tamales de elote con crema can be eaten boiled, fried, or toasted. Typically they’re served with crema salvadoreña, a thick sour cream that’s often off white in color. Some people like to add a pinch of salt to their cream so they can hit all of the right umami notes.
If you love seafood, look no further than a mariscada. Every restaurant or home chef includes different ingredients depending on their personal taste or whatever is in season. This decadent soup often includes crabs, shrimp, octopus, and oysters. Some cooks or restaurants also include lobster. It’s typically seasoned with white onion, garlic, and cilantro. These ingredients are thrown into a large pot and cooked until they’re ready. You’ll likely be given a tortilla or two, lime, and minced onion and cilantro so you can garnish your mariscada to taste.
Quesadilla salvadoreña is made of cheese, butter, flour, milk, sour cream, sugar, and a pinch of salt. In El Salvador, quesadilla is made out of cuajada or queso duro blando.
These can be hard to find in the U.S., so some people substitute these for parmesan. It’s usually topped with white sesame seeds and is both sweet and savory. It pairs well with a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Budín is often compared to bread pudding. It’s usually made of old sliced bread, pan francés (a Salvadoran bread that’s similar to a baguette) and includes raisins, egg, milk, butter, and sugar. The recipe is often different depending on the person making it. Some chefs are also coming up with creative spins on budín, adding ingredients such as chocolate, banana, carrot, or apple.
Offerings may vary depending on your location, but it’s always great to start with traditional classics and go from there. This tasty bread makes a great after-dinner dessert or pick-me-up when your energy is low.
This bright pink drink was once made of barley (cebada), but is now usually made with wheat flour, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice (pimienta de jamaica). Sold on the streets of El Salvador, you can find it in many pupuserías and Salvadoran restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. Drink it alone or after a delicious Salvi meal.