Mexican dishes are well-loved in many parts of the world, and tostadas and chalupas are no exception! However, thanks to the similarities of these two Mexican dishes, many think that they’re the same thing.
Well, they’re not!
So, what’s the difference between a tostada and a chalupa? The key difference between the two dishes is that the base for the tostadas is usually a tougher corn-based tortilla while chalupa uses softer masa dough tortillas. Another difference is the shape. Chalupas are usually shaped like a boat and fried while tostadas are fried or baked flat.
In this article, we have compared all aspects of these delicious Mexican dishes. From preparation to ingredients, and from nutrition facts to how tostadas and chalupas are served and eaten, we have covered it all in this article.
What Is A Tostada?
Tostada, which translates to “toasted” from Spanish, is the collective name given to many Mexican dishes that use a toasted tortilla as a base. The latter can have many different ingredients as a topping.
Just like many other Mexican dishes, tostadas have become wildly popular in the US too. They are considered Tex-Mex food.
Tex-Mex foods feature a fusion of Mexican and American cuisines. Other popular Tex-Mex foods include fajitas and nachos.
The word “tostadas” also refers to plain toasted tortillas that are cut into triangles and served with guacamole, salsa, cheese, and so on.
How Is A Tostada Different From A Taco?
Another common misconception around tostadas is whether or not this little dish is just another name for tacos!
The concept of these two popular Mexican dishes is pretty much the same, to be fair. There is a corn tortilla topped with all kinds of ingredients: beef, beans, chicken, various vegetables, lettuce, salsa, and guacamole.
However, the key difference between a taco and a tostada is how they are served.
Tacos feature a folded tortilla that contains all of the delicious toppings. Tostadas are served open-faced. They feature a flat-fried tortilla that has all the fillings piled up on it.
Because of how these dishes are constructed, tacos are easier to hold and eat while tostadas can get rather messy as you can’t fold the fried tortilla. It will simply break.
What Is A Chalupa?
Chalupa is a popular Mexican street food often called “antojito”. The latter translates to “little cravings” and refers to street snacks and appetizers.
Chalupas are boat-shaped fried tortilla shells. The shells are filled with various toppings you will come across in other Mexican foods.
Is A Chalupa Considered A Taco?
People who eat chalupas in Taco Bell think that chalupa is a type of taco only because this fast-food restaurant chain serves it in a folded fried tortilla stuffed with a range of different fillings.
However, a chalupa is also not a taco and its shape is nothing like the shape of a taco! It is either shaped like a boat or served on a flat plate-like fried tortilla which makes it resemble a tostada.
Another difference between a chalupa and a taco is that the chalupa shell is usually crunchier than the shelf of a taco.
What Are The Differences Between A Tostada And A Chalupa?
As you have probably already noticed, tostadas and chalupas have a lot in common.
But even though you may think that these two dishes are the same, they are obviously different, with features that set them apart from the many other dishes in Mexican cuisine.
It’s already clear that chalupas and tostadas are both Mexican dishes. Hence the similarities. And it is also a reason why people think they are the same dish.
To be precise, chalupas originated and are most popular in the Hidalgo, Puebla, Oaxaca, and Guerrero states of Mexico.
Tostadas, on the other hand, come from Mesoamerica, a historic region that includes the modern central to southern parts of Mexico.
The tortillas used for tostadas are usually ones made from corn. But you can also use wheat tortillas to make tostadas.
When it comes to the toppings, there is a variety of them you can choose from for your tostadas. You can top them with different kinds of meat, such as shredded beef, pork, and chicken.
The second main ingredient for tostadas is beans. If you are vegan, skipping the meat and doubling the refried bean portion is the way to go for a healthy and filling tostada.
Shredded lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa are some of the other common toppings for Mexican tostadas.
Starting from the base, chalupas are made with masa dough. The thin layer of dough is pressed around a small mold that shapes it like a concave boat.
But we should note that you may also encounter chalupas that are not shaped like a boat and feature a simple round base very much similar to a tostada.
The most common ingredients in a chalupa are shredded pork, chicken, salsa (red or green), chopped onion, lettuce, and chipotle pepper.
The traditional Cholula version of chalupas, however, is very simple when it comes to the toppings. It only includes salsa, cheese, and lettuce.
People in other regions of the country top their chalupas with beans, chorizo, and shredded chicken along with the three abovementioned ingredients. In both cases, the tortillas are shaped like a boat.
But as we have already mentioned, Mexican chalupa is not always boat-shaped. It can also have a simple shape of a tostada and be topped with all of the ingredients just mentioned.
The tortilla for a tostada is deep-fried or toasted with gives it a plate-like shape. In certain cases, the fried tortilla may look like a shallow bowl that effectively holds all of the toppings.
Traditional boat-shaped chalupas obviously look very different from tostadas.
But if you make them with the tortilla fried flat, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a tostada and a chalupa unless the person who has made them tells you what tortilla base is used for each.
Flavor And Texture
If you put the same ingredients on your tostada and chalupa, they will taste very similar. It is only the base tortilla that will make the two taste slightly different.
Texture-wise, tostadas and chalupas are very similar. They feature the winning combination of a crispy tortilla and soft fillings.
Such ingredients as chopped onions and lettuce will add some crunch and freshness to the filling part of the tostadas and chalupas too.
When picking your ingredients for a tostada or chalupa, make sure you are not using too many wet ingredients. This will cause the fried tortilla to get soggy and the dish will lose its crispy appeal.
The basic steps of making tostadas and chalupas are very similar. You need to either fry or bake the base tortilla, prep the fillings, and assemble these delicious savory bites.
You can use corn tortillas to use as a base for tostadas. If you have run out of them, wheat tortillas will work too.
As for chalupas, you can use softer corn tortillas. But many chalupa recipes suggest making the tortillas from scratch.
This is certainly a better option if you want to be able to form authentic-looking chalupas. You can make tortillas from scratch for chalupas using masa flour.
When it comes to making tostadas and chalupas, there is one key thing to keep in mind: make sure to assemble your chalupas and tostadas right before eating them.
These are certainly not the kind of dishes you can make even half an hour before the arrival of your guests.
The wet ingredients in both chalupas and tostadas, such as the guacamole or salsa, will make everything watery and soggy.
Can You Make Tostadas And Chalupas Healthier?
You can make your tostadas and chalupa healthy by air frying or baking the tortillas instead of deep-frying them. The next step is choosing healthy toppings.
Luckily, the topping options for the two Mexican dishes are endless. You can choose the healthiest ones and omit the fried meat, unhealthy cheese, ingredient that are too high in sodium, and so on.
You can also make your tostadas and chalupas vegan, keto, paleo, gluten-free, and skip any ingredient you are allergic to.
How To Serve
Due to their small size, tostadas are typically served as an appetizer. But, depending on what you put on the toasted tortillas and how filling they are, tostadas can be a standalone meal or a snack.
You can serve tostadas alongside other Mexican dishes for a hearty Mexican-style dinner. They go well with such Mexican soups as pozole, birria, and menudo.
You can also serve tostadas with stews and seafood dishes. If you do this, consider how heavy the rest of the dishes in your dinner menu are and adjust your tostada toppings accordingly.
If you are going to serve tostadas as a main dish, you will need a side dish to go with them. Decide on the side dish for tostadas considering the toppings you will be using for them.
For example, if you are using beef as a topping, rice and beans will make the best combination as a side dish. But if you are serving a tostada topped only with veggies, serve it with beans or some guacamole.
As for chalupas, they are typically served hot as lunch or dinner. But again, depending on what you put on the chalupas, you can eat them as a snack too.
Similar to tostadas, you can serve chalupas as a side dish or make it the main meal pairing it with sides that complement the toppings you have used.
How Do You Eat Tostadas And Chalupas?
If you have ever eaten a tostada or a chalupa, you know creating a mess while eating them is nearly unavoidable. But this doesn’t mean you should try to eat these comfy Mexican foods with a knife and a fork.
You may start picking up and eating some of the toppings with a fork if the tostadas and chalupas are overly crowded with various ingredients.
Once you have done this for a little bit, it is best to continue eating tostadas and chalupas with your hands to be able to fully enjoy their deliciousness.
So, how should you eat a tostada? The fried tortillas are very crispy and crush easily. So, trying to fold it like a taco is not the best idea.
Try holding your tostada by pinching it with your thumb and pointer finger on one side and holding it without pinching on the other side. This way you will be able to control the toppings on the tostada if they try to fall.
There is also a working biting technique for tostadas that will help you avoid creating a mess all over your eating space.
Start with a small bite not in the center but where the tostada has less topping. Then work your way to the center part of the tostada. But even so, you will most likely need quite a few napkins.
As for the chalupas, they are easier to eat as they have a shape of a boat. Just hold it with your hands and start with small bites. If the chalupas have a shape similar to tostadas, eat them using the above-described technique.
With this said, you can eat your tostadas and chalupas however it works for you. After a few times of eating them, you will come up with a strategy that works for you.
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