Why Costco’s Pupusas Are My Favorite Low-Calorie Meal (Cook in Less than 10 Minutes)

Deal Real Food Birria & Cheese Papusas

Why Costco’s Pupusas Are My Favorite Low-Calorie Meal (Cook in Less than 10 Minutes)

Costco's Deli Section is full of wonderful meals that can be quickly cooked. Want excellent steak you can heat up in a few minutes? Try the Sliced Grass-Fed Sirloin. Then there are meal kits like Kevin's and breakfast specialties like Starbucks Egg Bites.

Yet, the prepared food I find myself reaching for the most recently when I want a quick dinner is the Del Real Foods Birria & Cheese Pupusa. It's ready in less than 10 minutes, can be a filling meal (or snack) at just 240 calories per serving, and I even have a “hacks” that can pump up the flavor of these already delicious treats.

Let's examine why Deal Real Foods Birria & Cheese Pupusas are an excellent low-calorie meal.

The Background on Del Real Birria & Cheese Pupusas

Birria is taking the world by storm. It's a flavorful stew that can be served with a variety of meats, but in these pupusas you'll find beef. The reason birria is becoming so popular is that it's extremely flavorful.

Here's where I need to be honest, I often get bored with beef in Latin American foods like empanadas or pupusas. That's due to a lack of flavor; beef pastries are often just bland (true of things like English beef pastries as well, in my opinion).

However, birria is anything but bland and adds a spicy and tangy zip to the beef. That's important because the outside of Costco's pupusa is corn, and it could dominate the flavor if the birria wasn't swimming with flavor.

In addition to birria, the pupusas also have mozzarella which adds substantial flavor.

What's the Best Way to Cook Costco's Pupusas?

How to Cook Costco Papusa
I often cook Costco's pupusas in an air fryer

©MomsWhoThink /Eric Bleeker

After I first tried Del Real's pupusas, I went online to see if others were as impressed with them as I had been. To be honest, I was surprised to find mixed reviews.

I believe part of that issue is preparation. On this front, I have a few suggestions:

  • Do NOT microwave them: Microwaving almost always provides marginal results and in the case of Del Real's pupusas I found that microwaving them created a very uneven (exterior hot, interior cold) experience and a soggier corn exterior.
  • They're good air-fried, but there's a “hack” to make them taste better: Most of the time, I air-fry Deal Real's pupusas. It's convenient, takes less than 10 minutes, involves no cleaning, and provides generally positive results. Here's my tip though: don't follow the instructions. They suggest air frying at 350 for 5 to 6 minutes. I normally put them in for 8 minutes and it doesn't dry out the pupusa while heating the interior significantly better.
  • Pan-frying is likely the best way to cook them: I've pan-fried Deal Real's pupusas and I believe this yielded the best results. Of course, they're an exciting product because they're so easy to make so perhaps you don't want to get a pan dirty (I often don't). In those cases, air frying is perfectly fine.

Deal Real Birria & Cheese Pupusa Nutrition: Why They're an Excellent Low-Calorie Meal

Costco Papusa Nutritinoal Information
Costco pupusas have 240 calories per serving

©MomsWhoThink /Eric Bleeker

The highlight of Deal Real's pupusas is that they have just 240 calories per serving. Now, you may want to dress them up with other ingredients (more on that in a moment) that add calories, but in general even if you eat two of them you're at less than 500 calories.

With each pack costing $11.79 at my local Costco and coming with 10 pupusas, that also means a quick lunch of two pupusas costs less than $3. That's an outstanding value.

Other Pupusa Options at Costco

It's worth noting that Deal Real sells a variety of pupusa options. While my local Costco exclusively sells the birria & cheese pupusa, there is also a carnitas & cheese I've seen posted online (see above). Two other pupusas you might find at other retailers are the bean & cheese and chipotle chicken & cheese.

I have seen reports of the bean & cheese at select Costcos, but have yet to see the chicken & cheese sold at any locations.

Great Ingredients to Add to Costco Pupusas

You'll likely want to enjoy Costco's pupusas with some toppings, so I'll suggest a few of my favorites that keep them low-calorie and delicious:

  • Cholulua Sauce: This versatile topping is delicious on almost everything, and pupusas are no exception. The sauce pairs well with the birria and gives it an additional zip. In addition, it effectively adds no calories and keeps the pupusas a low-calorie option.
  • Good Foods Avocado Smash: Select Costcos sell Good Foods Avocado Mash. Each box of Avocado Smash comes with 16 single containers that are about 90 calories each. It's a no-sugar-added topping that's also high in dietary fiber.
  • Curtido: I'm taking this suggestion directly from the Deal Real Foods' box. Curtido is a Salvadoran slaw you can pick up and provides excellent flavor and balance to a pupusa.
To top