Chalupa vs. Tostada: 4 Differences Including Ingredients, Calories & Taste

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Chalupa vs. Tostada: 4 Differences Including Ingredients, Calories & Taste

When comparing chalupa vs. tostada recipes, you may be thinking that they’re too similar not to be the same. However, the differences between chalupa vs. tostada recipes come down to four things. They are served with different tortilla bases and have ingredient variations. They also have different flavors and a different calorie count. While chalupas can be mistaken for tacos, they have a tougher shell that’s traditionally made from corn masa dough. Tostadas are served open-face on toasted corn tortillas. Tostadas usually feature a piling up of wonderful flavorful ingredients. This can make them hard to compare to a taco because they can’t really be eaten with only your hands. If you want to learn more about chalupa vs. tostada recipes, you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’ll talk about the history of both the chalupa and the tostada. You’ll get some recipe ideas, and learn more about the different ways in which they are made. Whether you’re heading out for Mexican food in a restaurant, or making them at home, reading this will help. Never again hesitate about the differences between chalupa vs. tostada recipes, after this, you’ll be ready to conquer either recipe.

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Chalupa vs. Tostada: What Is The Difference?

The differences between chalupas and tostadas include the base tortilla on which they are served, as well as the chosen filling ingredients. These, in turn, affect the overall taste and calorie content of these classic Mexican, and Tex-Mex variation dishes. While you may be familiar with the recipes and process for making either chalupas or tostadas, this post will guide you through the history of each one.

What Is A Chalupa?

Chalupas are a traditional Mexican street food. “Chalupa” means boat in Spanish, and the base is traditionally made from Masa, a corn flour dough. In Mexico, they are shaped into a cup/boat and deep-fried before being filled with flavorful ingredients. In the States, Tex-Mex variations combine more American ingredients. Fast food restaurants the likes of Taco Bell have shifted the image of the “traditional chalupa” to resemble more of a hard shell taco (via Allrecipes).

History And Origin of Chalupas

Chalupa recipes are deeply rooted in the ancient civilizations of the region of Mexico. In its most traditional form, the chalupa draws ingredient inspiration from areas of south-central Mexico (these include Hidalgo, Puebla, Guerrero, and Oaxaca). The earliest mention of a chalupa recipe dates back to 1895, though it is very likely chalupas were being made before pre-colonial times. Its name alone is theorized as an offshoot of Azetician, or the Spanish term for “boat” combined with the Dutch word “sloep” referring to a sloop boat.

Chalupa Dinner at Restaurant Table High Angle View
Traditional chalupas feature all kinds of regional fillings and homemade sauces.


One of its main differentiations from tostadas is the masa corn flour base that makes up the boat of a traditional chalupa recipe. In this recipe, you'll find ingredinets like savory meats, cheeses, potatoes, and both red and green chile sauce, as well as crema. More Americanized versions of the classic chalupa may opt for a wheat flour tortilla as opposed to masa corn flour dough. Ingredients, especially through fast-food chains often include items like powdered chiles, sour cream, cheddar jack cheese, and more processed forms of meat (via Tasting Table).

While there are many variations on the chalupa recipe, the Delish version requires the following ingredients. For the salsa verde, you'll need husked tomatillos, jalapeños, white onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. For the ground beef mixture, you'll need a pound of ground beef, chopped garlic chili powder, Mexican oregano, ground cumin, coriander, kosher salt, and cooking oil. And finally, for the deep-fried boats themselves, this recipe calls for all-purpose flour and masa harina, baking powder, kosher salt, unsalted butter, and milk. You'll need frying oil, black beans, white onion, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro as a garnish.

The Chalupa Cooking Process

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit, and on a baking sheet lightly roast your tomatillos for about 25 minutes. Next, you'll blend them into your salsa with onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Prepare your ground beef by combining cooking oil, garlic, ground beef, and your necessary spices over a skillet with medium heat. Cook until the meat has browned (6-8 minutes). And finally for your boat shells, mix all-purpose flour, with masa and other dry ingredients. Combine the butter and knead with your fingers, stirring in milk until it reaches a dough-like consistency. Cover your dough in plastic wrap and allow it to settle for at least 10 minutes.

Deep Fried Gorditas in Mexico City
The process of deep-frying masa corn results in the boat shape of the traditional chalupas.


Now comes the deep-frying. Using a medium skillet, you'll need at least an inch of oil. Heat this until a thermometer reads 325° Fahrenheit. Divide your dough up into circles that can be cooked in the oil, using tongs, and gently place them into the oil. Let it fry until it holds a round shape, and when you pull it from the oil with your tongs, crease it slightly to form a boat shape for the filling. Put it back into the oil til it reaches a golden-brown coloration (2-3 minutes), and place on a paper towel to cool. Repeat for however many chalupa shells your dough can produce. Fill your homemade chalupa with your homemade salsa verde, cooked meat, and other fresh veggie ingredients.

What Are Tostadas?

The Mexican Tostada dish features open-faced toasted tortillas covered in toppings like refried beans, guacamole, and cooked vegetables. The most common tortilla type used for this recipe is corn, which creates a crispy base for savory toppings. Regional ingredient availability can influence the toppings for tostadas. Some may have cooked meats, or seafood. Most have some combination of fresh lettuce, cheese, vegetables, sauces, and sour cream. According to Brittanica, tostadas became popularized as a way to utilize tortillas that had gone stale. Simply toast and pile them up with your favorite ingredients.

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  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
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History and Origin Of Tostadas

Like chalupas, tostadas have a long history that dates back to Mesoamerican cultures in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. One of the main reasons for their invention is theorized to do with extending the use of stale corn tortillas, although modern recipes will toast perfectly usable corn tortillas to produce the crispy shell base of the tostada. Pick your filling ingredients, get creative, and enjoy (via Mexico Insider).

Tostadas Mexican style with chicken
Tostadas can be topped with all kinds of delicious ingredients including beans, meats, and veggies.


Once again, there are so many variations on the tostada recipe. This one from Delish features black beans, guacamole, and hot sauce as a garnish. You'll need a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, toasted corn tortillas, pepper jack cheese, avocado, and hot sauce of your choosing.

Refry your black beans with a cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for at least 10 minutes before allowing the mixture to cool. If the beans are whole while cooking, take a spoon, fork, or mashing tool to get them into a smoother consistency. Heat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit, and place your corn tortillas on a baking sheet with cheese. Bake these until the tostada base has crisped up and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven, Add your toppings, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Nutritional Value Comparison of Chalupa vs. Tostada Recipes

Due to the deep-fried nature of chalupas, the nutritional comparison of these two dishes has some big differences. As you can see from this handy chart, the chalupa is higher in calorie count, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fat, and saturated fat content. Depending on the filling, you can offset some of these numbers with high in protein ingredients, vitamin-rich vegetables, and other healthy options.

Chalupa vs. Tostada: Are They The Same Thing?

When comparing chalupa vs. tostada recipes, it's clear these two have some similarities and crossover. However, chalupas are served on a deep-fried corn masa flour tortilla, while tostadas are served with toasted corn tortillas. They can differ in terms of ingredients, and taste, and are very different in their overall health profile. Chalupas and tostadas are not the same thing.

Possible Alternatives To Chalupas And/Or Tostadas

For similar dishes with Mexican roots, try corn-tortilla tacos, either soft or with a hard shell. Sopes, an even thicker tortilla variant, nachos with toppings, quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos are also good alternatives. If you want to nix the base entirely, you can use lettuce, or crispy quinoa as a base for your toppings instead. Swap out meat or seafood ingredients in tofu or marinated jackfruit. There are so many ways to make these recipes your own. Change it up to fit dietary needs and preferences. Happy cooking!

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