Freshen up your dinner rotation with fast and easy tostadas made from whole grain flour tortillas and cheesy refried beans with a crunchy cabbage topping. This recipe is super popular with our meal plan subscribers, so we’re sharing it here!
Move over, tacos! Tostadas have arrived. Creamy, crunchy, fresh, and fun, these super simple tostadas are doable and delicious when you need a good meal in a hurry.
For a quick throw-together dinner, these tostadas really pack in the nutrition. Beans! Whole grains! Fresh veggies! Dairy! So many boxes checked, and with you barely lifting a finger.
So join us for Tostada Tuesday. OR, pick your busiest run-around day this week, and plan this recipe for that day. Your family will be impressed you pulled off such a good dinner in so little time (even if their mouths are too full to say so.)
What Are Tostadas, and What Do You Put on Them?
Tostadas are basically a crispy Mexican pizza, piled high with flavorful toppings like beans, cheese, meat, and vegetables.
We love refried beans as the base and protein for these tostadas, because they’re so tasty and nutritious. And since all you need to do to get them ready is open a can, refried beans are one of the secrets to making this recipe a 15-minute dinner.
Speaking of the beans, we recommend fat free refried beans. NOT because we believe that low-fat products necessarily benefit kids, but because the ingredients list in the fat free varieties tends to be shorter, simpler, and less processed. This brand is excellent, and Trader Joe’s also carries one that’s good.
As for toppings, you’ll love the simple trio of shredded cabbage, bright carrots, and zesty cilantro for this recipe. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over these veggies, and you’ll wonder how it’s possible to get so much freshness and flavor from three little ingredients.
How to Make Tostada Shells
Making tostata shells is so easy, you can practically do it in your sleep. (But please don’t. There are ovens involved.)
While traditional tostada shells are made from corn tortillas (and sometimes fried in oil), we use whole wheat flour tortillas for this recipe because it totally works, and kids just love them. Follow these steps to turn your tortillas into tostata-ready shells, without the need for added oils:
- Lay whole wheat flour tortillas on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 4 minutes.
- Flip, and bake 4 minutes more.
That’s it! The consistency of your shells should be crispy, but don’t worry if they still have a little give to them. Crispy edges + crispy/chewy middles make for excellent tostada that remind kids a little of pizza.
No need to sit around while your shells are cooking. Use the eight minutes your tostada shells are crisping up to open a can of refried beans, shred your cheese, and toss together the simple cabbage/carrot/cilantro topping.
You’re just minutes from dinner, isnt’ that cool?
Serving Tips for Kid-Friendly Tostadas
If you’re not in a hurry, try making this recipe with the kids. Spread out an assembly line of tostada shells, beans, shredded cheese, cabbage topping, jarred salsa, and lime wedges.
Show your kids how to spread the beans on the shells using the back of a spoon, then let them sprinkle their own cheese on top. Bake until the cheese gets all melty, then let them pick the rest of their toppings.
Think they’ll shy away from the cabbage mixture? Don’t feel like you need to pressure them to add it. It’s truly delicious, and you can trust that someday they’ll want to try it.
For now, let them have their tostada how they like it, and let them see you enjoying the whole meal, piled high. You can still feel confident that your kids are getting good nutrition from whole grains, beans, and dairy.
You can also totally customize the toppings for these tostadas, depending on your family’s tastes. Avocado, diced tomato, or shredded lettuce all work well.
More Mexican-Inspired Dinners
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 3 minutes per side until browned.
- Meanwhile, shred cabbage, grate carrot, and chop cilantro finely. Toss until combined. Squeeze the lime over the veggies.
- Grate the cheddar and set aside.
- Remove browned tortillas from oven and spread each with beans and cheese; bake again, just until cheese has melted.
- Add shredded veggie topping, and serve hot.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie