his tostada recipe will have everyone excited for tostada Tuesday – or any night you need a quick and easy dinner that everyone LOVES! Shatteringly crispy tostadas are piled with creamy beans, grated cheese, juicy Mexican ground beef or shredded chicken (plus TONS of other options included), fresh shredded lettuce, bright tomatoes, and creamy avocados – does it get any better?! This tostada recipe includes step by step instructions on how to achieve the crunchiest tostada shells (baked or fried), how to make the best beef or chicken for tostadas and all the best toppings. These tostadas can be prepped 100% ahead of time for a quick heat and eat meal that everyone will love! And bonus, the meat is freezer friendly so you can get dinner on the table in minutes. v
Servings Prep Time
12tostadas 15minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
12tostadas 15minutes
Cook Time
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • corn or vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
BEEF (see Notes for Chicken)
  • 1pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onionchopped
  • 4-6cloves garlic, mincedor 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tablespoon chili powder
  • 1tsp EACH ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 1/2tsp EACH smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt
  • 116 oz. can refried beans
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
  • 1/2cup salsa(use medium for more of a kick)
  • hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
TOPPINGS (pick your favs)
  • Grated Monterrey Jack or Cheddar
  • chopped lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped/sliced avocadoes
  • Guacamole
  • Avocado Crema
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • Homemade Salsa(or store bought)
  • hot sauce
  • pickled jalapenos
  • Pickled red onions
  • Queso fresco and/or cotija cheese
TOSTADAS (See Notes for Baking Instructions)
  1. PREP TORTILLAS: Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions; preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line tortillas in an even layer on two baking sheets then use a fork to poke the center of each tortilla 3 or 4 times (to prevent puffing when frying/more even cooking). Bake for 10 minutes to help them dry out and fry up crispier, switching sheet positions half way through. Meanwhile, prepare another baking sheet for fried tortillas by lining with several layers of paper towels. Don’t turn off oven.
  2. FRY TORTILLAS: Pour enough oil into a small cast-iron skillet so it reaches ¼-inch up the sides. Heat the oil on medium high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. Protect your hands/arms by wearing oven mitts.
  3. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, add to hot oil and hold down with a metal spatula to keep tortilla flat and submerged in oil. If the tortilla doesn’t bubble immediately, the oil is not hot enough. Fry until fairly stiff, crispy and lightly browned, 45-60 seconds, flipping halfway through. If the tortillas aren’t stiff and crispy, then the oil isn’t hot enough.
  4. Remove tortilla to the paper towel lined baking sheet using metal tongs, allowing excess oil to drip off. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Repeat with all of the tortillas, adding additional oil if needed and heating to 350 before adding the next tortilla. *To keep tostadas warm, transfer baking sheet to the oven at 250 degrees F until ready to serve.
  1. Brown beef and onions in a large skillet, breaking up clumps of beef as you cook. When almost browned, add all seasonings and garlic and continue to cook until beef is completely cooked through.
  2. Add refried beans, salsa and green chilies. Stir over medium-low heat until the beans are completely incorporated into the beef mixture. Taste and season with salt and hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste if desired.
  1. To serve tostadas, spread a generous amount of beef mixture over tostadas shells, sprinkle with cheese and top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado crema/sour cream etc.
Recipe Notes

Baked Tostada Shells:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Divide 12 corn tortillas between two rimmed baking sheets and lightly brush both sides with vegetable oil; sprinkle with kosher salt.  You can also spray with cooking but brushing with oil will produce crispier tostada shells.
  • Bake for 5 minutes then flip tortillas over, switch position of baking sheets in the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.


  • See post for TONS of Mexican protein options including chicken, beef and pork (& 10 Minute Mexican Chicken!)
  • If using any other protein (other than above ground beef recipe in which beans are added directly to the beef), heat 2 16 oz. can refried beans in a large skillet with 1/3 cup salsa until warmed through, stirring until smooth. 


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pound chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt, ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp EACH cocoa powder, sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 4 oz. can mild chopped green chiles 
  • splash of lime juice
  • 2 16 oz. cans refried beans
  • 1/3 cup salsa


  • Whisk together all of the seasonings; set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add all of the seasonings (through cayenne) and cook for 30 seconds.  Add tomato paste and cook one minute.  Stir in broth, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and green chiles. 
  • Bring to a simmer, add chicken, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until chicken is tender enough to shred 25-35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Keep an eye on it towards the end, adding additional chicken broth if it evaporates before the chicken is done.   
  • Shred chicken into bite size pieces and toss in remaining sauce/juices in the pan, and a splash of lime juice.  Add additional chicken broth if desired for saucier chicken.


  • Add beans and salsa to medium skillet and heat over medium heat until warmed through, stirring until smooth. 
  • To serve tostadas, spread a generous amount of beans over tostadas shells, sprinkle with cheese, top with chicken followed by lettuce, tomatoes, avocado crema/sour cream etc.

Tostada Tips & Tricks

  • Use correct tortillas. Look for fresh, 100 percent corn tortillas.  Some corn tortillas also include flour but these won’t get crispy.  Also, look for the thinnest brand your grocery store sells – this will also ensure they get super crispy.
  • Prep toppings first.  Prep all of your toppings before you begin making the tostada shells or protein so you can pile everything on warm, fresh tostada shells.  You don’t want to have to pause to do your chopping. 
  • Use correct oil.  Our goal of deep frying the tostada shells is to create a deeply golden, crunchy exterior.  To do this, you need an oil with a high smoking point (around 450°F/232°C) and neutral flavor.  If you select an oil with a low smoking point, not only will you have an incredible amount of smoke, but the oil will break down creating an unpleasant odor and unappetizing taste. Oils suitable for frying include: vegetable oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil and sunflower oil.
  • Use hot enough oil.  If the tortilla doesn’t bubble immediately once added to the oil, the oil is not hot enough. Also, if the tortillas aren’t stiff and crispy after removing from the oil, then the oil isn’t hot enough. Remove the tortilla and increase the heat and try again. 
  • Wear oven mitts.  You need to wear oven mitts to protect your hands and arms from splattering hot oil that the bubbles in the tortillas cause, especially because you will be in close proximity using the spatula to hold the tortilla down.
  • Use paper towels. Transfer fried tostada shells to a paper towel lined surface to drain. You don’t want them sitting in excess oil or they won’t be as crispy.
  • Don’t stack.  Don’t stack the tostada shells after frying or if they are at all warm or they will steam and you will lose that coveted crispiness. Line the tostadas in a single layer with a little breathing room in between each one.
  • Don’t pre-assemble.  Only assemble the tostadas once you are ready to serve for maximum crunchiness.  
  • Serve Chipotle style:  Create a toppings bar like they do at Chipotle and let everyone top their own tostadas for zero lag time.
  • Prep ahead.  Don’t worry about not being able to pre-assemble the tostadas; you can still prep ahead by making the tostada shells, protein and toppings then just reheat the protein when ready to serve.
  • Small bites.  Eating tostadas can be a delightfully messy ordeal but I find using small bites is the best way to keep everything intact.

Make Ahead

  • Make tostadas. The tostadas can be made up to 5 days ahead of time, cooled, then stored in an airtight container/freezer bag at room temperature.    
  • Make protein.  Make the ground beef, chicken or other desired protein and refrigerate for up to three days.  Gently warm in a skillet with a splash of water when ready to serve.  
  • Make beans. I don’t think you making the beans ahead of time saves much time because they need to be reheated anyway.  Still, you can combine the beans and salsa then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Toppings. The toppings can be chopped and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or small covered serving bowls.  The guacamole and avocado crema (if using) will keep for up to a day without changing color very much – just make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the guac/crema to prevent oxidation. 


Tostadas should not be assembled before storing, rather store all of the components separately.

  • Tostadas:  Store cooled tostadas in an airtight container/freezer bag at room temperature to keep them crunchy. I know they stay crunchy for at least 7 days but we’ve never had any leftover after that to test!  
  • Chicken, Beef or Pork:  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Beans: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Toppings:  Store in separate airtight containers or plastic bags for up to 3 days.

How to Reheat Tostada Shells

I honestly don’t usually reheat the tostada shells and just the meat, but you are welcome to reheat them if you wish.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spread tostada shells out in an even layer on 1-2 baking sheets.
  • Heat for 3-4 minutes, or until warmed, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn.


The ground beef freezes very well so all you have to do is thaw the meat, heat it up, add to the tostadas and dinner is served!   To freeze:

  1. Prepare tostada meat according to directions.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Add filling to a freezer size plastic bag.
  4. Press bag flat and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. When ready to use, defrost tostadas meat in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Transfer filling to a skillet and warm over medium heat. 
  3. If the filling seems dry, stir in some water or salsa.