Tostada Vs Taco: Can You Spot These Differences?

Tostada Vs Taco

Both tostada and taco have a flavorful taste, with overflowing toppings covered by a crispy shell. However, due to their similarities, many people unfamiliar with Mexican cuisines often scratch their heads when telling them apart. 

If you have a similar concern, don’t skip this article. We will put together some differences between tostada vs taco to help you know their distinctive characteristics and tell these dishes apart.

Quick Facts


  • Shell: crispy flat tortilla
  • Filling and toppings: including beans and meat (are not required)
  • Serving method: serve on a plate


  • Shell: crispy or soft folded tortilla
  • Filling and toppings: including meat and no beans
  • Serving method: easy to eat with your hands

Related: Popular Mexican dishes everyone should know about

Tostada & Taco Similarities

These two recipes have a lot in common. This is the reason why many people have difficulty distinguishing one from another. 

Both are popular snacks in restaurants or small eateries and use tortillas as the shell. They have a unique meaty smell and flavorful toppings, along with a crispy shell. In addition, the ingredients to make tostada and taco are almost the same, including lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and proteins like beef and chicken.

The Main Differences


The apparent difference between tostadas and tacos that you can notice is the shell. 

Tostada is made from a crispy flat tortilla that has been toasted. Keep in mind that its shell is always crispy and flat. 

Some tostadas include one or two layers of tortilla, which is toasted to create a sandwich-like dish. Also, their shell is usually made from fried corn tortillas only.

Meanwhile, the shell of tacos is created by tortillas that are made with both flour and corn. The shell of the dish can be a soft-shell tortilla that is folded or wrapped around the ingredients. 

Alternatively, the wrap can be a toasted tortilla that is crispy and brittle, served as a form holder to keep hot or cold ingredients.

Fillings And Toppings

The next main difference between tostadas and tacos is the filling and toppings. Tacos are a unique combination of meat filling and other ingredients such as lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sauce. 

Meat used to make tacos can vary from beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and fish. You can change them flexibly according to your preference. The difference here is that in the composition of tostada, there are beans, a key ingredient that is not used in tacos. 

Instead, fried beans are often used on tostadas. When it comes to the meat, tostadas can feature a wide variety or even none at all. Indeed, it can be made without meat but still tastes great, making for a great vegetarian dish. 

Tostada’s toppings are made with lettuce or greens along with guacamole or even simple slices of avocado, which can tailor to any person’s taste. In general, tostada is a great-tasting and healthy Mexican dish, which separates itself from the taco.

How To Serve And Enjoy

The way you enjoy the two dishes is also a little different. If you love open-faced sandwiches, then tostada is what you’re looking for. Take a bite and enjoy it the way you would with a pizza. 

Tostadas can be a bit messy, so it will be better if you serve them on a plate. This will be more polite and delicate when eating. Keep a fork nearby to pick up any loose parts. Then, enjoy them with cooked beans and rice for a truly satisfying meal.

Unline the tostada; the taco is folded and usually less messy, so they are easy to eat with your bare hands. Everything you need to do is use your peace fingers and thumb to hold at the center of the taco and bite. There is no need to serve it neatly on the plate. But of course, if you want to decorate your dish beautifully, you absolutely can.

Where Did Tacos Originate From?

Many people want to enjoy tacos due to the delicious taste and the interesting story behind this dish. Although several theories surround where the tacos come from, it is believed that they started with Central Mexican women.

 Legend has it, every day, they brought these meals to their husbands working in the fields. Many people thought that Mexican silver miners brought their recipe with them during the tacos’ journey to America. Regardless, taco is a common dish that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years.

What Is The Difference Between A Tostada And A Tortilla?

Many people can’t tell the difference between tortillas and tostada, but there is actually one. 

A tortilla is a flat round bread that is made out of cornmeal or flour. However, when they are served with a filling or topping, including beans, meat, salsa, sauce, sour cream, and cheese, they are turned into a new dish called tostada. 

In other words, tostada is a flat tortilla that has been fried or toasted.

What Can I Use Instead Of Tortillas For Tacos?

There is no need to worry too much if you don’t have tortillas to make tacos. There are alternatives you can take into consideration. You can replace tortillas with many ingredients such as papadum, pancakes, egg, pita bread, seaweed, etc. Maybe the taste will be different, but you will have a delicious taco your way.

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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