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These Tostadas with Chicken are an absolute must for busy weeknights. This Mexican classic is a great alternative to tacos and works well with almost any protein including rotisserie chicken, Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga, and Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas.
Chicken tostadas have been at the top of my list of easy meals for years. In fact, the first memory I have of making tostadas didn’t actually involve any cooking at all. I was tasked with bringing a main dish to a pool party and completely forgot until the morning of the party. With no time to cook, I headed over to a local Mexican grocery store that had amazing prepared foods with the intention of grabbing some taco meat, tortillas, and salsa and calling it a day. Then when I saw the tostada shells, inspiration struck.
I grabbed all the essentials for making the perfect tostada – crunchy tortillas, creamy refried beans, shredded chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, avocados, and a few salsa choices. I got home from the store, packed everything into my own containers, and set up a little tostada bar at the party. It was a huge success. People were raving about these essentially store-bought tostadas. Ever since then, tostadas are a staple for quick weeknight dinners and easy party food.
Now when it comes to making your own tostadas, you get to decide how homemade you want to make them. You can go all out and make everything from scratch including the beans, salsa, and chicken. You can also go all store bought and simply assemble things at home. Usually, I end up somewhere in between. I almost always use a rotisserie chicken and jazz that up with some lime juice, cilantro, and spices. Then I make these quick shortcut refried beans and grab everything else at the store.
The only exception to this is that I always, always, always make my own baked tostada shells in the oven. They are so much healthier than buying fried shells at the store and are so easy. While they cook, I prep everything else, and dinner is ready by the time they are out of the oven.
How to Bake Tostadas
To make your own tostadas at home, start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Then you can place the corn tortillas on a baking sheet or directly on the oven rack. Bake for 4-5 minutes per side until they are nice and crispy. If you want to add some seasoning to your tostadas, you can spray the tortillas with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil before baking. Then sprinkle with cumin and garlic powder and then add a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
If you want the traditionally fried tostada shell, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet. Add the tortilla and cook for 1-2 minutes per side until it is bubbly and crispy. You will know the tortilla is ready to flip once it doesn’t bend at all when you pick it up with tongs. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove and set on paper towels to drain the excess grease. However, remember that the dish won’t be as healthy if you fry the tostada shells.
How to Make Mexican Tostadas
Tostadas are one of those meals that can be made a hundred different ways, using all kind of ingredients. You can switch out the beans, protein, veggies, cheese, and salsas/sauces to literally create endless combinations. However, every good tostada includes the following elements.
- Crispy tortilla: A good tostada always starts with a crispy baked or fried tortilla for the base. We recommend baking your own tostadas in the oven using corn tortillas.
- Add Beans: Next up is a layer of beans. Personally, we like to use refried or mashed beans so that they stick to the tortilla and aren’t rolling off in every direction. There is no need to limit yourself to traditional pinto beans. Use black beans, white beans, cannellini beans, and even chickpeas. Simply mash them with a fork lightly before spreading them on the tortilla. If you like a really creamy bean, toss them into the blender first. If you don’t want to include beans, I recommend adding a layer of guacamole so that your toppings have something to stick to.
- Pick a Protein: Pretty much any protein is fair game when it comes to tostadas. You can use chicken, ground turkey or beef, grilled beef, shrimp, fish, or pork. Cook it any way you like and chop it into smaller pieces so you can get some in every bite. For a non-meat protein source, you can use vegetarian meat products, tofu, or tempeh. You can also leave out the meat completely.
- Colorful Veggies: Traditionally tostadas include lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, and avocado. Don’t let this limit you. We love adding grilled veggies to our tostadas or some cooked onions and peppers. Nothing is off limits here!
- Everything Needs Cheese: Since we can’t get enough cheese in our house, our tostadas always feature some queso. Traditionally a crumbly queso fresco is used for tostadas but any cheese will work. Kiddos usually prefer shredded cheddar or jack cheese. If they like it melted, add it after the beans so the heat from the beans can melt the cheese.
- Salsa and Guac: A Mexican meal isn’t complete without some salsa and guacamole. You can use your favorite homemade or store-bought salsa and either fresh avocado or guacamole.
Meal Prep Chicken Tostadas
If you know you have a busy week coming up, tostadas with chicken are really great for meal prep. Start by cooking the chicken or shredded a rotisserie chicken. Toss it with the lime juice, cilantro, and spices and store in the fridge. If you are making refried beans, make those and store them in another container. Then prep the veggies by chopping the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. On the night you will be eating the chicken tostadas, toast up the tortillas in the oven while you warm up the chicken and beans. Slice the avocado and then just set everything on the counter. Everyone can assemble their own.
Looking for more Tostada recipes? Here are some of our favorites.