Chalupa vs Tostada differences

Chalupa vs Tostada: Differences and Similarities Explained

Chalupa and tostada are Mexican dishes that have penetrated the United States. They have become part of American cuisine, giving them a Tex-Mex tag. Though similar in many ways, chalupa and tostada have significant differences.

Chalupa is an open boat-like crispy yet soft textured tortilla topped with soft fillings. Tostada, on the other hand, is a flat-shaped tortilla with various toppings. Chalupa is tiny, whereas tostada can be as large as a pizza and is divided into small triangle pieces. In this article, we look at the differences and similarities between chalupa and tostada.

Chalupa vs Tostada differences

Chalupa vs Tostada: Overview


Chalupa originated from Mexico in the Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Guerro, and Puebla regions. Chalupa is a Spanish name for a boat, thus the shape of the tortilla used in its preparation. Tostada was first invented in the Mesoamerica region that runs through Central Mexico from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and northern Costa Rica. Tostada literally means toasted in Spanish.

Texture And Appearance 

Chalupa is made of masa dough tortillas, crunchy yet soft. Masa is a maize dough made from corn that has gone through the process of nixtamalization. Dry corn is soaked in lime to remove the husk and is ground into fine flour. This flour is finer than regular corn flour and thus makes the tortilla in chalupa soft. Tostada is made from corn or wheat flour that makes a thicker and tougher tortilla.

The traditional chalupa popularly found in Cholula and Puebla states of Mexico is made of salsa, cheese, and lettuce. In more modern variations, additional ingredients. You can top your chalupa with shredded beef, chicken, pork, lettuce, chopped onion, beans, chorizo, and chipotle pepper. Tostada toppings are close to those used in chalupa. You can add grounded beef, chicken, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. The base of tostada can be made of wheat flour when corn is not available or if you want to have a different flavor. 


The flavor of chalupa and tostada depends on the toppings used. For a spicier dish, you can add spices and herbs of your choice. The ingredients of the base also influence the flavor of your dish. The tortilla will taste different when you use corn flour than when you use wheat flour. You can vary flavors as per your preferences. 


To prepare chalupa, you make a dough and shape it like a boat. You can make it flat if you don’t want to make it into a boat shape. The dough is then deep-fried. For a healthier base, you can air-fry, bake, or grill.

Next, you add your favorite toppings to the base. You should avoid wet ingredients as they make the tortilla soggy and uncomfortable to handle. A tostada is prepared by making a dough and deep-frying, air-frying, grilling, or baking it. You then add your desired toppings. Consider making your tostada and chalupa when you are ready for the meal. If you prepare them earlier, they will be soggy and cold. 


Chalupa is a popular street dish in Mexico. It is tiny enough to be eaten while standing with a food vendor. It is mainly served as a snack or side dish but can be the main dish as well. While serving it, consider the toppings and serve with a complementing dish. You can serve with meat dishes, beans, steamed veggies, vegetable salad, and soups. 

Tostada, on the other hand, can be tiny tacos, or the base can be as large as a pizza. It can be served as a main dish or sliced into triangle shapes and served as a side dish or snack. You can serve it with soups, chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, salads, and beans. 

Similarities Between Chalupa And Tostada

  • Both originated from Mexico and have been adopted in America and are referred to as Tex-Mex dishes.
  • They are corn-based, and similar toppings are used. You can vary the toppings according to your preference.
  • To make them healthier, avoid deep frying. You can air-fry, bake, or grill. You can consider healthier toppings and limit the unhealthy options such as cheese.
  • Both are assembled just before eating. 
  • Wet ingredients make chalupa and tostada soggy and might mess them up.
  • Both are best eaten by hand without any cutlery. You hold the tips in between your thumb and pointing finger. Start by bitting the corner with fewer fillings and moving towards the center. This way, you won’t mess up a lot but still, expect some little bit of mess.
  • They are open-faced dishes. Chalupa and tostada are served without folding.
  • They can be used as a snack, side dish, or main dish.
  • They can be made from scratch at home. Alternatively, you can buy ready-made dough. You will be required to fry the base and add toppings.
  • They are closely related to a taco but are not similar.
  • They have high levels of fats, calories, and sodium. The base is usually deep-fried, and beans and other toppings are often refried. To make them healthier, opt for healthy toppings and cooking methods.

Chalupa vs Tostada differences

Summary Of Differences Between Chalupa And Tostada


Description Chalupa Tostada
Origin Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Guerro, and Puebla regions Mesoamerica
Size Small  Often large sliced into small pieces
Texture of base Soft and crunchy Tough and crunchy
Ingredients Traditional ingredients; salsa, cheese, and lettuce Original ingredients were diverse; beans, lettuce, guacamole, and onion
Shape Boat shaped or flat Flat or plate shaped
Popularity More popular in Mexico More popular in Southern America

In conclusion, chalupa and tostada are Mexican dishes popular in Mexico and South America. Chalupa is boat-shaped, while tostada is flat. Excessive consumption of chalupa and tostada is not healthy. They contain a lot of fats, sodium, and calories which can be harmful if not eaten in moderation.