These Chicken Tostadas aren’t like restaurant, food chain chicken tostadas, these are so much better and packed with flavor! My chicken tostadas are loaded with marinated grilled chicken, black beans, melted cheese, a zesty cabbage slaw and guacamole all on a crispy tostada shell served with an authentic habanero sauce. 🙂
Traditionally called Tostadas de Pollo, these chicken tostadas are made with authentic ingredients of the Yucatan like achiote for the bright red coloring.
Tostadas are crunchy fried tortillas, like hard taco shells but flat, layered with a variety of toppings like refried beans, shredded chicken, shredded iceberg lettuce, onion, salsa and Mexican crema.
Tostada Shells and Huaraches
In this chicken tostadas recipe I got some fresh masa huaraches (pictured below right) from my local Latino grocery store and fried them up. Huaraches are an oval shaped, thick masa tortilla named after a Mexican sandal. But if you can’t find huaraches, or making homemade masa tortillas isn’t in your skill set, pick up some prepared corn tostada shells (pictured below left) from the market is the way to go!
What is Achiote Paste?
To get that rich, deep red authentic color in Mexican cooking try to find achiote powder in the spice aisle or achiote seeds. If you can’t it’s OK, these will be just as tasty without.
You can find the musky, deep red achiote paste, ground from annatto seeds, also in the spice aisle or at a Latino grocery store. It’s ground achiote seeds and a few other ingredients.
To enrich the flavor and color of an oil – just steep the achiote seeds in heated oil, strain and discard the seeds, cool and use as you would oil in any Mexican flavored recipe. I use it in my Pollo Asado recipe as well.
What toppings go on a chicken tostada?
Aside from the marinated grilled chicken that gets shredded, my Yucatan tostadas have black beans instead of the usual refried pinto beans, a zesty cabbage slaw instead of iceberg lettuce and guacamole.
For that extra touch I love to top Mexican dishes off with marinated red onions. Super easy to make, see my Notes section on the recipe.
These chicken tostadas are reminiscent of panuchos, where black beans fill the inside of the masa tortilla and are a favorite dish of the Yucatán.
Panuchos are basically black bean filled fried tostada shells and take a little work to make, but are delicious and worth the effort.
To keep things a bit authentic I made a habanero sauce.
This very fruity, piquant, hot sauce is a fixture on the table like salt and pepper in Yucatan homes.
It was everywhere on my last visit to Tulum and on Cozumel.
These chicken tostadas will be the hit of your summer time dining, or really anytime. Enjoy!
- 2 lbs chicken breasts large, boneless
- 1 tbsp lime juice or white vinegar
- 3.5 oz achiote paste (See Note 1)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 green cabbage sliced thin
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes) or white vinegar
- 1/4 cup Mexican Crema (optional)
- 4 oz habanero chiles yellow or orange, stems removed
- 1/2 small white onion (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 avocado sliced or mashed
- marinated red onions (See Note 2)
- Monterey Jack cheese shredded (See Note 3)
- In a bowl add thinly slice cabbage and red onion along with chopped cilantro.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup water, the vinegar or lime, salt and crema (similar to sour cream). Pour over cabbage mix, tossing to coat. Chill until serving.
- In a small saucepan add 1 cup of water, habanero chiles, onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer until chiles are very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree chile mixture in a food processor with vinegar and salt until smooth. May keep refrigerated up to 1 week covered.
- In a medium bowl, combine vinegar or lime juice, achiote, oil, and salt; add chicken and turn to coat well. Allow it to marinate while you heat up the grill.
- Set grill to medium-high (325°F to 350°F). Grill, turning once, until chicken is cooked through or internal temperature is 165°F, about 10 minutes total. Let cool, shred and set aside.
- Set the tostada shells on a platter and top with black beans, chicken, cabbage slaw. Serve sauce on the side with optional toppings.
- Achiote paste is ground annatto powder mixed with masa and spices. It typically comes in a 3.5 ounce rectangle package. We will be using HALF of this paste. Keep remaining for another use. Annatto powder may be substituted, but use 1 tablespoon.
- For the marinated red onion, thinly slice half a red onion and in a bowl cover with rice wine vinegar or white vinegar, a pinch EACH of sugar (if using white vinegar only), kosher salt and Mexican oregano. Marinate for 15 minutes minimum.
- If you want a more authentic Mexican cheese, try queso quesadilla, also known as asadero cheese. It's a white cheese that melts beautifully.