Chicken tostadas are a festive and delicious Cinco de Mayo party food (or any party or BBQ for that matter!). But they're also a great way to break out of a boring weeknight dinner routine. Fun to make and fun to eat!
Imagine five layers of flavor piled onto crispy corn tortillas. This version has refried beans, tender shredded chicken with Mexican spices, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and fresh cilantro. But it’s entirely versatile, swap in any ingredients you like!
When you make these, I recommend making your own Tostada Shells (recipe and step by step video). They're so simple, perfectly flat and crisp, and baked not fried! All you need are corn tortillas, a little oil, and a baking sheet with an oven-safe rack. Try them once, and you'll never go back to the store bought version.
Flavor and Convenience Tip!
For the chicken, you have lots of options. I've included my recipe for Chicken Tinga below (made in one pot with your choice of boneless skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts (bone-in skin-on or boneless skinless), Chicken Carnitas (made in the slow cooker) or rotisserie chicken / shredded chicken - see recipe notes for more.
If you can, I recommend making the chicken a day in advance. The flavor is even better the next day, reheats well, and is one less thing to do the day you make these tostadas. (Chicken Tinga also freezes well. We always have it on hand for Chicken Tinga Tacos, another weeknight dinner favorite.)
Chicken Tostadas for Parties
Full size tostadas are just right for dinner, but they can be tricky at parties. So how about a miniature version instead?
When we’re having friends over, I love to serve appetizers that are just a bite or two and don’t require silverware. I mentioned in this Pork Carnitas Tostadas post that with full-size tostadas, I tend to get carried away. Stacking them so high that taking a bite invariably means toppled toppings. Which is fine when it’s just Keith and I, but not great for parties.
That's where round tortilla chips come in. Pile on the toppings and you have bite size chicken tostadas! You can pop one into your mouth in one bite, sans mess, particularly if you can find 2-inch diameter tortilla chips. Just think of the possibilities!
I recommend a bottom layer of refried beans to help the toppings adhere, but from there you could layer the tostadas with seasoned ground beef or turkey, pork carnitas, carne asada, or a vegetarian version with roasted zucchini and peppers. And, for me, fresh cilantro, sour cream (or Mexican crema) and guacamole are a must! Make your favorite version of guacamole for this, or for a quick solution, make my Salsa Guacamole that’s just avocado, pico de gallo, fresh lime juice, and salt.
To serve these, you can assemble them ahead of time.
Or create a tostada bar for your guests to assemble their own.
Either way, these bite-size chicken tostadas will be a hit at your next celebration!
More Favorite Mexican Food Recipes
Chicken Tostadas Recipe Video
- 14 ½ ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
- 1 small white onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large avocado or 2 small, cubed
- ⅓ cup pico de gallo
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- kosher salt to taste
- Stir together tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chili powder in a large saucepan over medium heat; bring to boil. Add chicken thighs (or boneless skinless chicken breasts if you prefer) and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat chicken with tomato mixture then spread into an even layer. Reduce heat and cover; keep at a low simmer for 35-45 minutes, until chicken is tender and easy to shred. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Increase heat and return sauce to boil; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated (it should look like a very thick salsa), 8-12 minutes. Remove from heat.
- While sauce reduces, shred chicken into bite size pieces using two forks. (If making bite-size tostadas chop shredded chicken into pieces small enough to fit on the chips without hanging over the side.)
- Once sauce has reduced, return chicken to sauce and place over medium heat; cook and stir until heated through. (If it looks like more sauce than you want, transfer ⅓ to ½ of it to a separate bowl, stir the chicken into the remaining and add back sauce until you reach your desired consistency.)
- To make the guacamole: In a large bowl, mash together avocado, pico de gallo and fresh lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
- To assemble bite-size tostadas: on one chip, spread about a teaspoon of warm refried beans followed by a large pinch of chicken, pinch of cheese and a small dollop each of guacamole and sour cream. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if desired. Repeat with remaining chips. (You can also do this assembly style, adding the layers in order to a whole tray of chips.) Serve.
- To assemble full-size tostadas: spread on a thin layer of warm refried beans followed by a thin layer of chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and top with guacamole and sour cream. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if desired. Repeat with remaining tostada shells.
- Note that the nutrition information is for each bite-size chicken tostada. If you make 12 full-size tostadas (using the Tostada Shells) with the same proportion of toppings, they'll have ~250 calories each.
- If you prefer to use bone-in skin-on chicken breasts see my Chicken Tinga post for detailed instructions. To use Shredded Chicken, or rotisserie chicken for this recipe, follow the instructions for the sauce, but reduce the covered cooking time to 20 minutes. Then reduce the sauce uncovered until thickened to the consistency of a thick salsa. Stir in shredded chicken; reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes to reheat the chicken and allow it to soak up plenty of flavor.