Don't have tostada shells for that recipe you want to try out? Then it's time to whip up your own batch!
Sure, you can always run out to buy some at the store, but once you make your own you'll always have a more convenient option.
All you need is corn tortillas and some oil, and since you love Mexican food you've already got corn tortillas in the kitchen, right?!!
Homemade Tostada Shells
You've got two options for making your own tostadas at home. Let's look at the old school method first -- frying them.
Heat up a 1/4 " of oil in a skillet or saucepan and bring it up to 360F or so -- this is usually a bit over medium on my stove.
Use tongs to add a corn tortilla to the pan. You'll know the oil is hot enough if the tortilla sizzles immediately.
Fry each side of the tortilla until it is turning light golden brown. This will probably be around 30 seconds per side but it will depend a little on the thickness of the tortilla.
Once they turn golden brown you can remove them from the pan and set aside to drain on some paper towels.
Hello tostadas! No mystery there -- just plain ol' corn tortillas fried in some oil.
But to be honest I try to limit the amount of frying I do in the kitchen. Luckily there's a great alternative when it comes to tostada shells -- you can bake them and get an equally good result!
Baking them will give you a batch of so-close-it's-close-enough tostadas, and this is a much more sustainable method for me.
Spread out 5-6 corn tortillas on a baking sheet and give each side a thin layer of oil. You can use an olive oil sprayer if have one, but it's just as effective to drizzle some oil on the tortillas and use your fingers to spread it around. Be sure to do both sides.
I usually eyeball it, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon oil per side as a starting point. In other words, in the above pic a heaping teaspoon of oil was enough to coat all six of those tortillas on both sides.
Plop them in a preheated 400F oven and give them about 4-5 minutes on the first side, flip, and then cook the second side for 4-5 minutes.
You'll end up with some golden brown, crispy tostadas that do a remarkably good job of impersonating fried tostada shells -- with no messy oil leftover!
Note that thinner tortillas will crisp up the easiest. If your tortillas are thicker then they might need a couple extra minutes in the oven.
You might find tortillas in your area that are labeled "for frying" -- if so these will typically be thinner and have less moisture than standard store-bought tortillas. Here's how they are labeled in my area:
And here's how they look next to a standard tortilla, with the thinner "for frying" tortilla on top in this pic:
When available, I always use these thin tortillas for baked tostadas -- they crisp up so easily and it only takes about 4 minutes per side. You can still get a good result with thicker tortillas, but keep in mind that it might take an extra minute or two per side and sometimes the center won't crisp up as much.
Once baked you can set them aside until you need them. I tend to make these to order, but you could always make a bigger batch if you want -- just put them in a Ziploc in a cool pantry and they should keep for a few days.
So now that you're an expert on making tostada shells how should you use them?!
The crunch of a tostada seems to be a natural fit for certain dishes, with shredded chicken and beef being at the top of the list for me.
Over the last couple months I've been munching on these Tinga Tostadas:
And these Chicken Chile Verde Tostadas:
And if you tend to keep some refried beans in the fridge (bonus points!) then you are always just a few minutes away from a satisfying meal like these Black Bean and Guac Tostadas:
And last I want to mention one final endearing trait of tostadas....
You can get a much higher fillings-to-tortilla ratio compared to traditional hardshell tacos, so feel free to load them up with whatever sounds good to you! Shredded lettuce or cabbage, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, Pico de Gallo -- you can literally make a meal within minutes just by opening up the fridge and giving it a quick scan.
And yes, when you load them up with a truckload of fixings they tend to get a little messy when you take a bite, but that gives them a bit of personality 🙂
Okay let me know if you have any questions about making your own tostada shells at home. Baking them is such an easy technique and it will instantly expand your kitchen repertoire so I hope you try it!
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Baked Tostada Shells
- 5-6 corn tortillas
- olive oil
- salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Spread out the corn tortillas on a baking sheet. Drizzle some oil across the tortillas and use your fingers to spread it around, creating a thin layer. Do the same on the second side. I usually eyeball the amount of oil, but a heaping teaspoon is usually enough to coat both sides of all six tortillas.
- Bake the first side in the oven for 4 minutes. Flip the tortillas and bake for an additional 4 minutes or until they are turning golden brown. If using thicker tortillas they will probably need to bake for an additional 1-2 minutes per side.
- Serve immediately.
Our latest recipe is this Express Carne Asada:
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I actually loved the commentary. It was informative, to the point, and full of personality! Thank you so much and we loved them!
Thank you for posting this. I can’t find tostada shells anywhere in the grocery store. I tried Moe’s stacks a few years ago and I was in love with them. I’ve been wanting to try to make one at home but I can’t find flat hard shells in stores, so need to make them at home.
Yeah go for it Carina, I make these quite often and always have the best success when starting with thin tortillas. Cheers.
I made them and my first time i cooked them to long, but OMG it was still good! I put refried beans cheese and a fried egg with Pico on top and 😋😋!!
Hey sounds great Mary, I make meals like that all the time! Cheers.
SHAWN M TURPEN
I made these using the small street taco size corn tortillas. Sprayed with Olive Oil but they are pretty thick so took a good 12-15 minutes in the oven. Smeared spicy refried beans, red chile sauce, onions, lettuce and tomatoes....Yummy.
Ahh good to know, thanks much for mentioning your adjustments Shawn. Cheers.
I grew up frying tostada shells..a bitter sweet experience as we were a family of 12, old school..that's a lot of shells to fry...I wish I'd learned the baking technique back then...thanks!
Ha that's a lot of shells to fry Jude! I hope the baked version is just as satisfying for you. Cheers.
I read your recipe about making it homemade and agree. It is always better. And more crunchy. I like some of the suggestions on the toppings. I will try them next time I make it. Thanks. If you have any more suggestions please let me know
So much better than store bought.
Personally, I like thicker tortillas if using "heftier" toppings. IMO, they stand up to the weight much better. But, thinner tortillas won't stand between me and a tostada!
Hey thanks much for mentioning this Esther, that's a good point about thicker tostadas giving you permission to load them up 🙂
Phyllis K Kinder
Thanks for your recipe ! I use olive oil spray . . .it covers better and uses less oil . . .
Cheers Phyllis thanks for mentioning that.
I love how explicit your instructions are, including pictures. No guesswork—thank you!
Thanks much Sarah! I make these tostada shells all the time -- I hope they treat you well! Cheers.
I've tried this and I love it! Healthy & easy - can't wait to try Tinga Tostadas