Mastering the Art of Tostada Consumption: The Right Way to Enjoy a Tostada

How to Eat a Tostada – The Right Way

Traditional Latin American cuisine is known for its fresh flavors, vibrant spices, and delightful combinations of textures. One dish that embodies these characteristics is the tostada – a Mexican delicacy that offers a symphony of sweet, savory, creamy, spicy, crunchy, and succulent flavors in a single bite. However, mastering the art of eating a tostada without making a mess can be a challenge. In this article, we will give you step-by-step instructions on how to eat a tostada properly and gracefully.

What is a tostada?

A tostada is a popular Mexican dish that starts with a toasted tortilla and can be filled with a variety of ingredients. The term “tostada” translates to “toasted” in Spanish, although the tortilla base is often fried rather than simply toasted. Tostadas were originally created as a way to use ingredients that were nearing the end of their shelf life. Toasting or deep-frying a tortilla that has begun to go stale helps to revitalize its flavor. Tostadas can be topped with almost anything you have on hand, making them an ideal solution for using up small amounts of vegetables, sauces, cheeses, or proteins. Just layer your favorite ingredients on a tostada and enjoy!

Tostada vs. Taco – What’s the difference?

While tacos and tostadas have similar ingredients, the main difference is in the “shell”. Tacos can be either hard, folded corn shells or soft, folded wheat or corn tortillas. They are designed to enclose the toppings, allowing for easy and clean consumption. A tostada, on the other hand, is an open-faced dish that resembles the sandwich version of a taco. The tortilla shell in a tostada serves as an edible plate for the toppings, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing presentation. However, due to the nature of the shell, tostadas can be messy to eat as they are prone to cracking and toppings falling off.

How to make a tostada

Making a tostada is a relatively simple process. While it is difficult to go wrong when making a tostada, we will walk you through the steps to ensure a perfect result. In addition, we will provide you with a list of possible toppings to enhance your culinary experience.

How to make tostada shells

You can buy pre-toasted, hard, flat corn tortilla shells at the grocery store, similar to pre-formed taco shells. However, making your own tostada shells at home with fresh corn tortillas gives you an incomparable taste. When making tostada shells, keep in mind that larger tortillas tend to be harder and messier to eat. Opt for smaller tortillas if you plan to toast them for your tostada feast.
To fry the tostadas:
1. Spread some paper towels on your countertop and place a cooling rack on top.
2. Heat about ¼” of the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
3. Using tongs, carefully place a corn tortilla in the pan.
4. Cook until the tortilla begins to turn golden brown, then flip and repeat. This should take about 30 seconds per side.
5. Remove the tostada from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
6. Repeat the process until you have enough tostadas for your meal.
To bake tostadas:
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat for easy cleanup.
3. Place a rack inside the baking sheet to allow heat and air to circulate under the tortillas for quick and even crisping.
4. Place your tortillas in a single layer on the rack.
5. Lightly coat both sides of the tortillas with cooking oil.
6. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, then flip.
7. Check after 3 minutes, but continue to cook until both sides are golden brown.
8. Once the baking sheet is removed from the oven, allow the tostadas to cool before serving.

What to put on a tostada

As mentioned earlier, tostadas offer endless possibilities for using leftover ingredients. You can put almost anything on a tostada, and as long as you match your flavors well, the result will be a delicious culinary creation. Traditionally, tostadas are topped with beans, ground beef, diced chicken or pork, and fresh vegetables and salsa. In coastal regions, seafood tostadas are more common, with ceviche, shrimp, crab, or tuna complementing the crispy tortilla base.
For those who prefer vegetarian or vegan options, consider topping your tostada with ingredients such as black beans, refried beans, grilled vegetables, avocado, salsa verde, or a spicy cilantro-lime dressing. You can also add a variety of cheeses, such as queso fresco or crumbled feta, for an extra burst of flavor.
To enhance the flavor and texture of your tostada, consider incorporating different elements, such as

  • Creamy: Sour cream, crema, guacamole, or a drizzle of Mexican crema.
  • Crunchy: Shredded lettuce, thinly sliced cabbage, or radish.
  • Spicy: Pickled onions, pickled jalapeños, or a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Hot: Salsa roja, salsa verde, or hot sauce.
  • Fresh: Chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, or diced onions.

Remember, the beauty of tostadas is their versatility, so feel free to experiment with different flavor and ingredient combinations to create your own unique tostada masterpiece.

How to eat a tostada properly

Now that you’ve prepared your tostadas with delicious toppings, it’s time to learn how to eat them without making a mess. Follow these steps to enjoy your tostada with grace:

  1. Use both hands to support the tostada shell. This will prevent it from crumbling or breaking when you take a bite.
  2. Take small, manageable bites to avoid overloading your mouth and risking a messy experience.
  3. While eating, lean over your plate or a napkin to catch any falling toppings or crumbs.
  4. If the tostada gets too big, you can break it into smaller pieces and eat them one at a time.
  5. Enjoy every bite, savoring the myriad of flavors and textures the tostada offers.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if you encounter a few challenges at first. Over time, you will develop your own technique and find the most comfortable way to eat a tostada.


Eating a tostada properly requires a delicate balance of technique and enjoyment. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can enjoy this delicious Mexican dish without making a mess. Remember to prepare your tostada shells with care, choose a variety of flavorful toppings, and eat with intention and mindfulness. Whether you’re a fan of traditional meat-based tostadas or prefer vegetarian or vegan options, the tostada offers a canvas for your culinary creativity. So go ahead, gather your favorite ingredients, and embark on a flavorful journey as you discover the joy of eating a tostada-the right way.


Can I use store-bought tostada shells instead of making them from scratch?

Yes, you can certainly use pre-toasted, hard, flat corn tortilla shells from the grocery store as a convenient alternative to making your own. However, making your own tostada shells at home with fresh corn tortillas adds a unique flavor and texture to your dish.

Are tostadas just for savory toppings?

No, tostadas can be topped with both savory and sweet ingredients. While savory toppings like beans, meats, and vegetables are more traditional, you can also experiment with sweet variations using ingredients like sliced fruit, honey, or chocolate drizzle.

How do I keep the toppings from falling off when I eat a tostada?

To prevent toppings from falling off, use both hands to support the tostada shell as you take a bite. This will help maintain its structural integrity. You can also break the tostada into smaller, more manageable pieces to minimize the risk of toppings falling off.

Can I make tostadas ahead of time?

While it’s best to assemble and eat tostadas immediately to maintain their crunch, you can prepare the individual components in advance. Store the tostada shells in an airtight container to keep them crisp, and store the toppings separately in the refrigerator. Assemble the tostadas just before serving to ensure optimal freshness.

Are there vegetarian or vegan options for tostada toppings?

Absolutely! Tostadas can be adapted to vegetarian or vegan diets. Consider using ingredients like black beans, refried beans, grilled vegetables, avocado, salsa verde, and spicy dressings to create delicious plant-based tostadas. You can also incorporate a variety of vegan cheeses or skip the cheese altogether.

Can I enjoy tostadas if I have dietary restrictions or allergies?

Yes, tostadas are very versatile and can be adapted to accommodate various dietary restrictions or allergies. For gluten-free options, use corn tortillas instead of wheat tortillas. If you have specific allergies, simply choose toppings that are safe for you and avoid any ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction.