Making homemade tostada shells couldn’t be easier. In this tostada shell recipe, we’re making large and small tostada shells by baking them. They’re perfect for these Black Bean Vegetarian Tostadas! Make em’ ahead for easy meal prep, they have a long shelf life and are so crispy. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and easily gluten free.
Table of Contents
Why Homemade Tostada Shells?
At the store, I’d see tall packages of tostada shells, but I’d never buy them. First, there’s too many in the package for my needs and I wouldn’t eat them all before they go stale. Second, I prefer organic tostadas whenever possible, and prepackaged doesn’t offer this. But my cravings for crispy tostadas remained. So, I started experimenting with baking corn tortillas to make tostadas at home.
I first tried making tostadas by baking corn tortillas at a high heat, but that resulted in the edges getting too dark before the interior was done. This also made the tortillas chewy/crisp rather than crispy. Then I lowered the temperature slowly from 400F, to 375F, then down to 350F. Awh, now I was getting somewhere! This resulting tostada shells recipe produces crispy tostadas all the way through and around.
How to Make Tostada Shells From Corn Tortillas
These crispy shells are super easy to make with just a few ingredients: corn tortillas, olive oil, lime and salt. They can be made up to a week in advance or while you’re whippin’ up other components that you’ll top the tostadas with. In summary, here’s how to make tostadas from corn tortillas (see recipe card for details):
- First, whisk the lime and olive oil together.
- Next, brush a light layer of oil over the corn tortillas, front and back.
- Last, bake the tortillas. Flip at the half way mark, bake until golden. Flip one last time and check to see if the tostada is rigid. If not, bake a few minutes more.
Sprinkle the tortillas with salt right out of the oven. They’ll become crispier as they cool.
Are Tostadas and Tortillas the Same?
Tostadas are not the same as tortillas, but they’re related!
- A corn tortilla is flimsy and smooth, has more of a chewy texture, and made from masa harina. Corn tortillas are the star ingredient for making tostada shells.
- A corn tostada shell is flat-ish, crunchy, has a sturdy structure and a rough texture. It has the same texture as a tortilla chip. Tostadas are made from baked or fried corn tortillas.
Tortilla Shell Size
There are many to choose from! Here are some ideas to consider for choosing the right size tortilla for making the perfect tostada shells.
Small Tostada Shells
- For an appetizer, snack or kid size tostada shells, I opt for the mini 4 1/2″ (11.4cm) corn tortillas. This size is also fun for social gatherings or tailgating.
Larger Tostada Shells
- These are a perfect dinner size. Look for 6″ – 71/2″ (15cm – 19cm) corn tortillas. I can only eat one topped with all the things, Rob, about 1 1/2. The tortillas will shrink a bit as they bake, so keep that in mind.
I tested Mission, Mi Rancho, and La Burrita brands for this recipe and found they all require just about the same bake time. They’re also all about the same thickness. The only difference I found was that the smaller 4 1/2″ tortillas take about a few minutes longer (yes, longer!) to bake.
What Do You Eat with Tostada Shells?
Tostada shells serve as a base for so many delicious ingredients to pile on top, all of course with Mexican flavors in mind. You can make tostadas as fancy or simple as you like, vegetarian or vegan! Here are some ideas:
- Start with the tortilla shell as the base
- Top with any of the following:
- refried beans or lightly mashed whole slow cooker pinto beans or black beans
- cheddar, Monterey jack cheese or dairy free cheese
- these black bean vegetarian tostadas fixins’
- roasted or sautéed bell peppers and onions
- finely shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce or Mexican slaw
- guacamole or avocado slices
- sour cream, dairy free sour cream or chili lime pepita crema
- Mexican salsa, corn salsa, salsa verde or pico de gallo
- fresh cheese like cotija or queso fresco
- finish with a generous sprinkle of fresh cilantro
How about a breakfast tostada with refried beans like these Taco Rancheros, with cheese and an egg on top?
- When baking the tortillas, make sure they do not overlap. Use two sheet pans if needed.
- Use only a light coating of oil, otherwise they won’t get crispy.
- Store tortillas stacked in a zip style bag in the pantry for up to eight days.
- This tostada shells recipe was made with store bought corn tortillas, so I’m not sure if homemade corn tortillas would take the same amount of time to bake. They tend to be a little thicker than store bought.
What to Top Your Tostadas With
- Creamy Sour Cream Guacamole
- Refried Black Beans
- Chili Lime Pepita Crema
- Homemade Black Beans
- Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
- Mexican Corn Salsa
- The Easiest Chipotle Blender Salsa
- Charred Jalapeno Lime Guacamole
- Pickled Jalapeños
How to Make Tostada Shells Recipe
- Preheat oven to 350F (178C). Arrange oven racks in center and just below center. Line one or two sheet pans with parchment paper (depending on how many tostadas you're making). Set aside.
- Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with the olive oil/lime mixture (note lightly... too much oil and they won't crisp, rather, they'll be tough/chewy). Place tortillas on the sheet pan, spread evenly, not overlapping.
- Bake tortillas for about 8 minutes, flip (they'll still be flimsy at this point), then bake for an additional 8 minutes until the tostadas are golden and sturdy. Flip again and test to see if an additional 1-3 minutes are needed by using a pair of tongs to gently 'flex' the tortilla, just enough to see if slightly bends (or curves) a little. If so, give the tostada a few minutes longer to bake. I found the smaller, 4 1/2" tortillas to need an extra few minutes to become more rigid (Mi Rancho brand).
- Remove the tortillas from the oven and sprinkle with salt. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the sheet pan. They're now ready to use with your favorite Mexican food toppings.
- Store in a zip style bag, stacked, in the pantry for up to 8 days.