Chalupa vs Tostada: What’s the Difference?


In today’s bustling world, taking the time to enjoy a good meal can be a cherished moment of respite. And when it comes to rich, diverse, and flavorful food, Mexican cuisine is often a top pick. Its popularity spans globally, with dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas being household names. But what about those lesser-known yet equally delicious dishes like Chalupa and Tostada? Let’s dive in and explore the differences between these two scrumptious offerings.

Chalupas and Tostadas are both popular Mexican dishes but they have a distinct difference. A Chalupa is a fried tortilla shell typically filled with meat, cheese, and salsa, while a Tostada is a flat, crispy fried tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and other toppings. Thus, the main difference lies in the shape and the way the tortilla is used in each dish.

chalupa vs tostada

Understanding the Basics

What is a Chalupa?

A Chalupa is a popular street food in Mexico and has a rich history dating back to the time of the Aztecs. The term ‘Chalupa’ means ‘boat’ in Spanish, and true to its name, this dish resembles a small boat. It’s made by deep-frying masa (dough made from cornmeal) into a semi-circular shape, which is then filled with various toppings such as meat, salsa, cheese, and lettuce.

What is a Tostada?

On the other hand, a Tostada is a flat, crispy tortilla that’s usually fried or baked. The word ‘Tostada’ translates to ‘toasted’ in Spanish. This dish’s history is believed to have originated from the need to use stale tortillas instead of wasting them. The stale tortillas are cooked until crispy and then topped with similar ingredients as chalupas – beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, and salsa.

Difference Between Chalupa and Tostada

Ultimately, both Chalupas and Tostadas offer a delectable taste of Mexican cuisine, and the choice between the two depends on personal preference, texture preference, and dietary requirements.

DefinitionDeep-fried masa dough shaped like a boatCrispy, toasted or fried flat tortilla
TextureSoft and chewyCrispy and crunchy
ToppingsMeat, salsa, cheese, lettuce, etc.Beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, etc.
Calories and NutritionTypically higher in calories and carbohydratesGenerally lighter and lower in calories
Customization OptionsCan be customized with various meats and toppingsAllows for versatile vegetarian or non-vegetarian versions
Serving SuggestionsOften served with salad or Mexican ricePaired with guacamole or salsa; served with agua fresca or cold beer
SpicinessCan be customized with varying levels of spicinessToppings like salsa can add spiciness

The primary difference between a Chalupa and a Tostada lies in their preparation and form. Chalupa has a soft and chewy texture due to the deep-fried masa dough, while Tostada is crispy from being toasted or fried.

The ingredients used in both dishes are generally similar but can vary depending on regional preferences or personal taste. However, traditionally, chalupas are more likely to be filled with shredded meat while Tostadas often have a layer of refried beans as the base topping.

Taste-wise, Chalupas offer a blend of flavors soaked into the chewy masa dough base, while Tostadas offer a contrasting crunch with each bite.

Nutritional Differences

In terms of nutrition, Chalupas tend to have higher calories due to being deep-fried. They’re also typically larger than Tostadas, leading to higher carbohydrate and protein content. However, if loaded with lots of high-fat toppings, they can be quite heavy.

Tostadas are usually lighter due to their smaller size and because they’re often baked rather than fried. However, their nutritional content can vary greatly depending on the toppings used.

Both dishes provide dietary fiber from the beans and vegetables used as toppings. They also offer protein from the meat or cheese included. However, it’s worth noting that both can be high in sodium due to the sauces and cheeses often used.

See Also: Naan Vs Pita: What’s The Difference


While both the Chalupa and Tostada are tantalizing Mexican dishes that feature a variety of ingredients, the way these ingredients are assembled creates a unique culinary experience for each.

The Chalupa, with its boat-shaped fried tortilla, often cradles shredded meat, cheese, and occasionally beans, along with a sprinkle of lettuce and diced tomatoes.

On the other hand, the Tostada, flaunting a flat, crispy fried tortilla, typically hosts a layer of refried beans, topped with meat, cheese, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. Both dishes invite the addition of salsa and sour cream, based on individual preference.

However, these are just the traditional versions. The beauty of these dishes lies in their versatility, as the ingredients can be customized to suit personal tastes and dietary needs. Now, let’s delve deeper into the key ingredients of these two dishes:

TortillaYes, fried and shaped like a boatYes, fried and flat
MeatUsually shredded beef, chicken or porkOften ground beef or shredded chicken
CheeseYes, typically shreddedYes, typically shredded
BeansSometimes, can be refried or wholeYes, typically refried
LettuceYes, typically shreddedYes, typically shredded
TomatoesYes, typically dicedYes, typically diced
SalsaOptional, can be added on topOptional, can be added on top
Sour CreamOptional, can be added on topOptional, can be added on top

Varieties and Customizations

Chalupas and Tostadas both offer endless possibilities for customization according to your preference. For Chalupas, you may want to experiment with different types of meat or even try adding some guacamole or sour cream for extra flavor.

Tostadas can also be customized easily. You could opt for vegetarian or vegan versions by using beans as the primary protein source and adding plenty of fresh veggies on top. Alternatively, you could try different types of meat or seafood for non-vegetarian versions.

Pairings and Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving suggestions, Chalupas pair well with a fresh salad or some Mexican rice on the side. For beverages, try some traditional Mexican drinks like horchata or tamarindo.

Tostadas are often served with a side of guacamole or salsa for extra flavor. They also pair well with refreshing Mexican beverages like agua fresca or even a cold beer.

Different Types of Chalupas

  1. Traditional Mexican Chalupa: A small, thick, boat-shaped fried tortilla topped with ingredients like salsa, cheese, and shredded lettuce.
  2. Taco Bell Chalupa: A deep-fried flatbread filled with meat, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.
  3. Pueblan Chalupa: Originated from Puebla, Mexico, this version is a thick tortilla topped with salsa, shredded meat, and chopped onions and radishes.
  4. Sinaloa-style Chalupa: This version from Sinaloa, Mexico, is a thin, crispy tortilla filled with seafood, often shrimp or fish.
  5. Chalupa Compuesta: A variation with a layer of refried beans between two tortillas, topped with meat and other ingredients.

Different Types of Tostadas

  1. Shrimp Tostadas: This seafood variation of tostadas features cooked, chilled shrimp as the star ingredient. It’s typically topped with fresh vegetables, avocado, and a tangy dressing.
  2. Chicken Tostadas: These tostadas are topped with shredded chicken, usually seasoned with spices like cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Additional toppings may include refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.
  3. Beef Tostadas: Using ground or shredded beef as the main protein, this type is often paired with traditional toppings like refried beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.
  4. Vegetarian Tostadas: This plant-based version includes beans as the primary protein source and is loaded with a variety of veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and onions.
  5. Breakfast Tostadas: A morning spin on the classic, these tostadas are topped with breakfast staples like scrambled eggs, avocado, and sometimes bacon.
  6. Ceviche Tostadas: Popular in coastal regions, these tostadas feature marinated raw fish or seafood, combined with fresh herbs, tomatoes, onions, and often a splash of citrus.
  7. Tuna Tostadas: Similar to ceviche tostadas, these use raw or seared tuna as the main topping. They’re often garnished with avocado, cilantro, and a drizzle of soy sauce for an Asian twist.

Remember, the beauty of tostadas lies in their versatility. Feel free to experiment with different proteins, vegetables, and sauces to create your own unique version!

See Also: Different Types of Squash


In the great Chalupa vs Tostada debate, it really comes down to personal preference – whether you prefer something soft and chewy or crunchy. Both dishes offer an explosion of flavors that perfectly embody what Mexican cuisine is all about – rich, diverse, and utterly delicious.

So why not try both? After all, variety is the spice of life. So go ahead and dig into these delightful dishes!


What is healthier – a Chalupa or a Tostada?

It depends on the toppings used but generally speaking, Tostadas may be healthier as they’re often baked rather than fried.

Can I make vegan versions of Chalupas and Tostadas?

Yes! You can easily replace meat with beans or other plant-based proteins and use vegan cheese.

Are Chalupas spicy?

While traditional toppings include spicy salsa or sauces, you can customize your Chalupa according to your taste preference.

Chalupa vs Tostada: What’s the Difference?

Chalupa vs Tostada: What’s the Difference?

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman


  • chalupa

  • tostada


  • Choose your favorite
  • Serve it up with your selection of side dish
  • Serve and enjoy

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