Salvadoran Chuletas


When I say “chuletas” you may think of lamb chops or pork chops and their distinctive shape, but Carlos asked me to make Salvadoran Chuletas which are something entirely different.

At first I thought Carlos was playing a trick on me because the food he described sounded really strange. He said Salvadoran Chuletas look like a meatball wrapped around a strip of tortilla. I questioned him further. “Are you sure this isn’t something your mother invented? Is this really a Salvadoran dish that other people will recognize?” – He assured me this is a real Salvadoran dish. I asked if the meatball part goes on the end of the tortilla strip so that at least it’ll look more like a lamb chop, but he insisted it goes in the middle.

With Carlos’s descriptions and encouragement, I gave it a try, and he says I hit the jackpot – so I present to you Salvadoran Chuletas, (or “Chuletas de Carne Molida.”) I have no idea how this dish came to exist in El Salvador but I imagine a hungry husband telling his wife that he wants chuletas for dinner. The wife goes to the kitchen, knowing full well that they don’t have such an expensive cut of meat, and she creates these fake “chuletas” out of day old tortillas and carne molida in the hopes of tricking her husband.

If you know the real story or anything else about Salvadoran Chuletas de Carne Molida, be sure to leave a comment! For now, here is my recipe.

Salvadoran Chuletas


2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey or chicken)
1 handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 a medium green pepper, chopped fine
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1 heaping tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

canola oil (for frying)
5 thick corn tortillas


1. Fry the cooked tortillas in a little oil until slightly crunchy. Remove and cool. Cut into thick strips. Set aside. (Leftover handmade tortillas work best for this.)
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the tortilla strips and oil. Mix by hand.
3. Take a small handful of the meat mixture, (a little larger than a golf ball), and a strip of tortilla. (Choose the longest strips of tortilla. The short strips can be discarded or reserved for a different recipe.)
4. Mold the meat mixture around the strip of tortilla so that you have tortilla poking out at each end with a meatball-like shape in the middle. Make sure you don’t make the meatball too rounded or big or they won’t cook through when frying.
5. Fry in oil over medium heat, turning to brown on each side. Do this in batches, removing to drain on paper towels when finished.
6. Serve with rice and fresh salsa. Makes approx. 15 to 20 chuletas.


  1. Baya! Pense que esta receta era un invento de mi mama! jajaja. I have these at my moms sometimes. They are definitely Salvadoran and not chuletas! jajajaa But the combination de carne molida con tortillas echas a mano is good! Fresh tortillas are good, pero day old tortillas fry better and are tastier for this meal. (Digo yo… no

  2. Tracy, I loved your recipe! It’s better than mine LOL. This is one of the dishes I have to make at least once a month, specifically requested by my husband. Also, have you tried carne deshilada o carne deshebrada con huevo? That is another must in my house.

    • Oh my gosh, dishilado sounds so good. The first time I ate this, was at a restaurant called Mex/Sal. Salvadoran and Mexican restaurant. I immediately got hooked on this dish. Please share how.

  3. My grandmother made this and my mother still makes this..not regularly though. They mostly used chicken and referred to it as “Chuletas de Pollo.” But instead of having the “meatball” be round, my grandmother formed it into an oval shape. I also thought this was a dish made up by my mother’s family! My mother assumed it was my grandmother’s recipe because she doesn’t know anyone else who made this while growing up. I can’t find an explanation…it’s a mystery, but I really enjoy it. Anyway, yours turned out scrumptious looking.

    I learned that my grandmother was the cook for a small all-female housing complex…she learned recipes from her god-mother including fried sesos spread on a slice of pan Frances that was also quickly fried. She also took a thick tortilla, cut it in half. Then opened up one half like a pita and stuffed it with scrambled egg mixture or whatever meats she had…then dipped the stuffed tortilla halves in an egg wash and deep-fried them…sort of like a Salvadoran version of a Monte Cristo sandwich..heheheh.

    I’m glad to know others have memory of this chuletas dish. Great post!

  4. Aunque usted no lo crea, todos Los Salvadoreños comemos chuletas (poor man’s lamb chops)¿ Como se originaron? Seria como el eslavon perdido de la evolución.
    Agree it must to be a wife getting the best for her husband out bits and parts. LoL

  5. I just found your blog and I love it!! My grandmother used to make these all the time. I need to make them again. :)

    • Hola Kathya – Welcome! Glad you found us and look forward to seeing you around. Let me know how your chuletas come out :)


    • Hola Ana! Gracias por tu comentario! No tengo problema por compartir mis recetas entre amigos de esta manera. Me da mucho gusto que más personas disfruten de la comida muy deliciosa de El Salvador.

      Lo único que siempre pido es que las personas no pongan estas recetas, mis fotos, etc., en otras páginas de web sin mi permiso y que no traten de venderlas.

      Te agradezco mucho por compartir mi blog con tus amigos y buen provecho!


  7. I’m from El Salvador and currently living in Canada, I have read all your recipies and laughed with your intro’s, thanks for sharing all these and reminding me of many of my mom’s dishes which I never learnt to make, but now I’ll venture on them!

    This recipie my mom called Croquetas and sometimes she substituted the tortilla strip with a potato strip.

  8. when I was a boy (now I am 73 years old,) my mother made a Salvadoran dish called “Indio vejo/ancient indian ” It consisted of fine ground beef with a sweet taste, fried sweet bananas, rice cooked in bean broth and cooked/refried beans. For many years I have tried to find this recipe without and success. We were born in La Union, El Salvador this may be a meal made only in La Union. If you know of this dish I would love to cook it in my home.
    Kind regards,
    R. Lainez

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