Pastelitos de Hongos (Mushroom Pastelitos)

A favorite street food in El Salvador, these empanada-like snacks get an umami boost from chicken bouillon powder.

  • Serves

    Makes 12–16

  • Cook

    1 hour 15 minutes


By Karla Tatiana Vasquez

Published on May 29, 2024

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Pastelitos are a beloved street food in El Salvador, and there are countless versions of this empanada-like snack handmade by women across the country. This version stuffed with sautéed mushrooms and tender vegetables comes to us from The SalviSoul Cookbook author Karla Tatiana Vasquez. The dish gets its signature flavor from the subtly sweet corn base of the masa harina (you can find the Maseca brand at most grocery stories; our test kitchen is also a fan of Masienda’s heirloom offering), and from chicken bouillon powder, which ups the umami in both the filling and the dough. To make these pastelitos completely vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable bouillon powder.

Adapted from The SalviSoul Cookbook: Salvadoran Recipes and the Women Who Preserve Them by Karla Tatiana Vasquez. Copyright © 2024. Available from Ten Speed Press.

Featured in “This Salvadoran Cookbook Is Making History” by Jessica Carbone.


  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ medium white onion, finely chopped (½ cup)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 oz. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder, divided
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup finely chopped green beans
  • 3 small carrots (8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes (1 lb.), finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (1 lb.), peeled and finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 tsp. achiote powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups vegetable oil


Step 1

To a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the garlic, onion, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of the chicken bouillon, the oregano, and ½ cup of water, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid is mostly absorbed, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and wipe the skillet clean.

Step 2

To the cleaned skillet over medium-high heat, add the green beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, 2 teaspoons of the chicken bouillon, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the mushroom mixture. Set aside to cool completely.

Step 3

In a large bowl, stir together the masa harina, achiote, baking soda, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of the chicken bouillon. Slowly add 2 cups of water and knead until the dough holds together and does not tear when pressed, about 7 minutes. 

Step 4

Using your hands, divide the dough into 12–16 golf-ball-size balls (about 1½ ounces each). Using the fingertips of your dominant hand, flatten each ball, rotating slightly as you go, to create a thin and even tortilla. (If the dough is too sticky, flatten each ball between pieces of parchment.) Transfer the tortilla to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap while you repeat the flattening process.

Step 5

Spoon 1–2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture onto half of each tortilla, then fold the other half of the tortilla over the mixture and pinch the seam to close. (Don’t worry if the masa breaks slightly around the filling; the dough will seal up during frying.) Repeat with the remaining tortillas. (Reserve any leftover vegetable mixture for another use. In an airtight container, it will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.)

Step 6

To a large pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, add the vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium. When the temperature reads 350°F, add the pastelitos, two at a time, and fry, turning once, until they are deep golden brown, about 4 minutes total. Using tongs, transfer the pastelitos to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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