Tostada Vs Empanada: Can You Spot These Differences?

tostada vs empanada

Both central to the food repertoire of many Latin American countries, tostadas and empanadas are the first names that spring to mind if you want to have a taste of their pastries. But are these two dishes the same?

Today, let’s have a look at tostada vs empanada and see how they differ from each other in several categories.

Quick Facts


  • Country of origin: Mesoamerica.
  • Shape: Flatbread.


  • Country of origin: Presumable Spain.
  • Shape: Turnover. 

Related: My favorite list of the top 30+ Mexican foods

3 Similarities Between Tostada & Empanada

1. Main ingredients

Both being considered bread, these two dishes rely on the mixture of flour, milk, water, sugar, and salt for the outer layers. Undoubtedly, the dough has given tostadas and empanada their starchy binder.

Furthermore, they resemble one another in the extra toppings. Anything including cheese, tomatoes, sliced avocado, shrimps, corn, meat, etc., can be served alongside them two, creating a perfect savory dish.

2. Cooking techniques

Tostadas and empanadas can either be baked in an oven or deep-fried in a cast-iron frying pan. Now, some modern cooks even experiment with preparing the two culinary using an air fryer.  

3. Texture

As they all go through the same cooking process, the resulting texture is pretty much the same. The 2 dishes both have a crispy, crunchy wrap that complements nicely with the soft proteins.

2 Main Differences Between Tostada Vs Empanada

1. Country of origin

Tostadas are believed to have originated from Mesoamerica, a historical and cultural region that thrived for more than a thousand years before the colonization of the Spanish. If still existent, Mesoamerica will cover the entire area of North America’s southern part, including central Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and parts of Costa Rica.

Scientists have yet to reach an agreement on the origin of empanadas, but most people believe it was a dish native to northwest Spain. However, empanadas are also associated with Latin American and Southeast Asian cuisines, as there have been multiple records of their recipes among local people.

2. Shape 

Tostadas often refer to the flatbread used as a base, on which multiple toppings will be added. In some ways, the idea behind eating them is very much the same as tapas. You have a piece of bread as the starchy binder, and you start putting everything on top for a quick yet nutritious snack.

Empanadas – on the other hand – are a turnover. It means you put the savory fillings inside the dough, folding it over until the fillings are all wrapped, then you seal the dough before baking or deep-frying it.

What Goes Well With Tostada?

A traditional tostada usually comes with ground meat (anything from beef to pork or chicken will suffice), fresh veggies like sliced tomatoes and avocado, and baked beans. In coastal areas, seafood tostadas are more popular with their shrimp and tuna toppings. However, if you are looking for a general recipe, make sure each piece of it has a balanced portion of protein and green for the tastiest flavor.

Are Tostadas Healthy?

Yes, tostadas are a great choice for people with weight control issues. They are high in protein but low in calories, thanks to the thin flatbread. You can even use oatmeal for the tostada base and bake it in the air dryer to minimize the amount of oil involved. 

As far as the fillings are concerned, try to eliminate anything fatty and put in healthy ingredients like boiled chicken breast, black beans, lettuce, cilantro leaves, etc.  

Are Empanadas Snacks?

Empanadas are very versatile in their usage. Some people eat them as a snack, and bite-size empanadas are widely common as street food in Spanish-speaking countries. 

In some regions, they are filled with sweeteners like fruit jam, making them an ideal dessert. Or you can even bake them packed with protein and serve with vegetables and sauce for a hearty meal.  

Is It Better To Bake Or Fry Empanadas?

Between the two options, baking definitely has more advantages. First of all, you can put multiple empanadas in the oven and get them cooked simultaneously, saving lots of time and effort. Secondly, baking means less oil involved, so your dish is much healthier to consume.

Still, many people complain that baked empanadas are not as crunchy as fried ones. So at the end of the day, it is your choice whether to prioritize your health in the long term or the immediate reward of having delicious food.

How Long Are Cooked Empanadas Good For?

Cooked empanadas should only be stored in the fridge for a week. Remember, you should keep them in the fridge crisper and under no circumstances freeze these baked goods.

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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