Tostadas (3 Ways!)

published May 1, 2024
Tostadas Recipe

Three super-easy ways to prepare satisfyingly crunchy tostadas.

Makes6 tostadas

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

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tostada on plate with refried beans and cheese
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

“How do I eat this?” my soon-to-be mother-in-law asked when I hosted her for a late lunch. I was confused as I had been eating tostadas my whole life. Tostadas were a family go-to when making a quick and delicious lunch or light dinner. It was right then that I realized that in America many are not used to keeping tostadas in their pantry to make a meal in a pinch. Even today, unless you are in a specialty grocery store, you are hard-pressed to find them in the aisles like you would in Mexico. Crunchy shells, yes. Chips, yes. Tostadas, maybe.

Here is a secret: You can make them, and they will last for up to 2 weeks or more, sealed properly and stored in a dry spot. This way, they’ll be ready whenever you need them, whether it’s for a quick meal or in my case to feed hungry bears (I mean kids) so fast! Tostadas are endlessly versatile and have that oh-so-satisfying crunch. Top them with refried beans, shredded cheese, homemade guacamole, or shrimp ceviche, or serve with soups instead of crackers.  Move over toast — tostadas are here!

Why You’ll Love It

  • By calling out three ways — fried, baked, and griddled — to make tostadas, this recipe gives you the flexibility to make them exactly how you want!
  • You can use any type of corn tortillas you have on hand or are available at the grocery store. My recipe works with whatever you’ve got to yield the crunchiest tostadas.
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

What Sets Tostadas Apart from Tortillas?

The name tostada comes from the action of toasting the tortilla until crunchy. Unlike a tortilla that is warm and pliable, a tostada will be flat and crunchy.

How Do You Eat a Tostada?

No matter how loaded it is, start by picking it up with your hands as you would with a taco and take a bite. When fillings fall apart, you can eat those with a fork. 

What Type of Corn Tortilla Is Best for Tostadas?

Nowadays you can find several corn type varieties for tortillas.  All corn varieties work for making a great tostada, though depending on the corn type you will need to allow more time for it to dry out and consequently crisp up better. White corn works great, though yellow corn works best given its natural properties of starchiness. If opting for blue, red, purple or pink corn varieties, make sure the tortilla is dehydrated overnight in the fridge.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

What to Put on a Tostada?

Most of the time tostadas will be served with the first layer acting like the “glue,” such as mashed or refried beans and guacamole. Then add a protein or vegetable and top with lettuce, thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, radishes, cheese, sour cream, and avocados. If you are going the ceviche route whether fish or vegan, typically you will use a spicy mayonnaise (flavor your favorite mayonnaise by adding canned chipotle juices), then add ceviche and top with avocado slices.

3 Ways for Making Tostadas

There are three ways to make tostadas: fried, baked, or over a cast-iron griddle. When to use what technique will be up to you. Keep in mind that if you fry, they can be stored and will last for two weeks. I use all of these techniques at home, though my go-to is baked given its easy, clean approach.

  • Fried tostadas will be extra crispy and have a longer shelf life.
  • Baked tostadas are the best when eaten within a couple days, and their texture is usually a little harder to bite.
  • Over a cast-iron griddle yields the least crispiest tostada, though it’s a very practical way to make a quick tostada. The only issue with an over-the-griddle tostada is that it won’t be good for more than a day. In Mexico, griddle tostadas are typically used in taquerias as part of their repertoire. In Sonora, Mexico there is a famous taco that is really a tostada called Lorenza. The taquero griddles the corn tortillas until crisp, smears beans, adds steak, and tops with cheese. Then the taquero covers it until the cheese has melted and then serves immediately with cabbage, salsas, and guacamole.

Tostadas Recipe

Three super-easy ways to prepare satisfyingly crunchy tostadas.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Makes 6 tostadas

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6

    corn tortillas

  • 2 cups

    grapeseed or vegetable oil, if deep frying

  • Cooking spray, if baking

  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Dry out 6 corn tortillas by placing in a single layer on a work surface for 30 minutes, or placing in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerating uncovered overnight.

Option 1: Fried

  1. Heat 2 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Fry 1 tortilla at a time: Add to the hot oil and carefully press down on the sides and center of the tortilla with tongs to submerge in the oil and help it cook evenly. Fry, flipping the tortilla every 10 seconds, and crisp and lightly golden brown, 50 to 60 seconds total. Transfer to the paper towels and season with kosher salt.

Option 2: Baked

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Place the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly coat both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray.

  2. Bake until crisp and lightly golden brown, flipping halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes total. Season with kosher salt.

Option 3: Griddled

  1. Heat a griddle to medium-low heat (about 300ºF). Place as many tortillas as will fit in a single layer on the griddle. Cook, flipping every 2 minutes, until dry and crisp and smelling like popcorn, 8 to 12 minutes total. Season with kosher salt.

  2. Use the tostadas immediately or let cool completely and store in a plastic zip-top bag. Fried tostadas will last 2 weeks or more. Baked tostadas will last up to 1 week. Griddled tostadas will last 1 day, but they’re best eaten as soon as possible.