16 September 2021

Tostada translates to “toasted”. It was a technique to use leftover (possibly a little stale) tortillas, extending shelf life. It is thought to have developed about 2,000 years ago near the Monte Alban area.

Tacos are a corn tortilla that is fried and then bent to hold meat, cheese and vegetables. Tostadas are flat and were originally toasted in a dry pan or comal. Now most people fry them in very hot oil and drain, or bake in single layer on a cookie sheet after spraying with oil.

It is versatile because you can use most any type of protein, ground beef, combination of beef and pork, pulled pork, chicken, shrimp or other seafood. Cheese is whatever variety or combination you prefer. You can shave a few calories by using flour tortillas. If you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes, you can use canned, or opt for your favorite store-bought salsa or picante sauce. The protein can come from leftovers or even a rotisserie chicken. The bean layer is designed as a glue to hold the other toppings in place.

This is definitely a hand-held food, but you might want to include a fork for any spillovers. Include lots of napkins, because things can get a little messy. Set the tostada back on the plate after bites so that you can get a new grip and re-pile any toppings.

“Bean and Chicken Tostada” by Stef Noble is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You may want to experiment with different eating options like the outside in where you take a bite from the right side, then the left, and finally the middle. The center to side method is what it sounds like, just don’t go center, center, side.


2 large or 4 small tortillas

10 to 12 ounces of cooked protein (chicken, beef, pork, seafood)

1 cup refried beans

2 or 3 fresh tomatoes, small diced

1 green onion, minced

2 teaspoons cumin, divided

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped and divided

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheese


Crisp the tortillas either in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet for 2 minutes per side or fry in a skillet on the stovetop. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine refried beans with 1 teaspoon of cumin and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, green onion, 1 teaspoon cumin and garlic powder. Set aside.

Assemble the tostada starting with a tortilla and layering the refried bean mixture on it. Then a layer of protein. Next the tomato mixture. Top with shredded cheese. If desired, to the oven for 2 to 4 minutes until the cheese melts. Top with remaining cilantro.

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