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Healthy Mexican Recipe: Easy Grilled Tostadas

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

Healthy Mexican tostadas

Healthy Mexican tostadas

Low Fat Tostada Recipe

Finally, balmy fall days have arrived. Sapped of our strength by the sultry Phoenix summer, we eagerly anticipated grilling in the backyard and dining al fresco.

We had just discovered our new favorite restaurant, The Mission, with our lifelong friends Joe and Karen. It's the kind of restaurant where you can savor Latino flavors by candlelight and then linger over drinks and conversation. Our appetites whetted for Southwestern spice, we set out on a venture: creating our own fresh Mexican dish. We decided to develop a recipe for flavorful and healthy tostadas.

I had never been a fan of tostadas. Store-bought tostada shells are often stale and ground beef fillings can be greasy and flavorless. That was before I tasted this flavorful dish. Smoky green chile salsa sends these tostadas soaring to the top of our Mexican favorites list. Fresh toppings make them extra satisfying.

Why are these tostadas healthier? Instead of frying the tortillas, we brush or spray them with grapeseed oil. Then we heat the grill, lid closed, to 400 F. After opening the lid, we place six tortillas on the grill surface. We close the lid and wait until the temperature again reaches 400F. 60 seconds later, the edges have charred and the tortillas are beginning to crisp.

Serve these rustic, smoky tortillas as an appetizer, or with a side of beans & rice as a main dish. Enjoy!

The Mission, our favorite Southwestern restaurant

The Mission, our favorite Southwestern restaurant

Tostadas Recipe

Healthy Mexican Tostadas

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

15 min

35 min

12 appetizers or 6 light meals


  • 12 yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 lbs. 85% lean ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin, ground
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup baby organic spinach
  • 3/4 cup Feta cheese crumbles, fat free
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, fat free
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • grapeseed oil or cooking spray, for tortillas
  • Fire-Roasted Green Chile Salsa, see recipe below


  1. Cook ground beef in a large skillet and brown, stirring constantly and breaking up chunks.
  2. Add spices and 1/4 cup water. Simmer for 15 minutes or until fragrant and cooked through.
  3. Heat oven or grill to 400 F. Brush tortillas with oil using a pastry brush or spray with cooking spray.
  4. Place tortillas on grill. Bake or grill approximately one minute, or until edges begin to char. Turn tortillas and grill one minute on the other side or until crispy.
  5. To assemble tostadas: sprinkle two tablespoons of seasoned meat over each tostada shell.
  6. Layer other ingredients in the follow order: baby spinach, Feta crumbles, guacamole, yogurt and tomato quarters. Drizzle with special green chile sauce.


  • Vegetarian tostadas: Use 2, 12-ounce cans of black beans instead of beef. Season beans with spices. Heat in a skillet, mashing them lightly with the back of a fork. Add water to thin, if necessary.
  • Lower fat tostadas: Try ground turkey instead of beef.
  • Quick & easy tostadas: Substitute chorizo for ground beef and seasonings.
  • Baja tostadas: substitute 1 1/2 pounds white fish fillets for the ground beef. Sprinkle fish with seasonings and sauté. Continue with step 3, substituting coleslaw mix or chopped raw cabbage for baby spinach.
  • Chicken tostadas: Dice 1 1/2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs. Sauté until no longer pink. Continue with step 2.
  • Substitute field greens or another variety of chopped lettuce for the baby spinach.
  • Optional toppings include chopped red onion, green onion or cilantro. Minced fresh hot peppers such as jalapenos add more heat.
  • If you don't have Greek yogurt, try low-fat sour cream.
  • You can purchase the guacamole or click here for an easy recipe: Chunky Mexican Guacamole.
  • Substitute store-bought red or green salsa, although the Fire-Roasted Green Chile Salsa is worth the time and effort.
  • We use Mission yellow corn tortillas, which just happen to be gluten-free.
  • We prefer to brush the tortillas with grapeseed oil, which is ideal for the grill due to a higher smoke point.
  • If you don't want to bother with heating up the grill, brush tortillas with oil and bake them in the oven until crispy. The flavor won't be as smoky.
  • In a pinch, you can purchase pre-fried Mission yellow corn tostadas. However, the total fat grams for the finished tostadas will increase.

Fire-Roasted Green Chile Salsa

The perfect salsa to go with this meal. Rather than burn the palate with spice, this salsa will tantalize your tongue with plenty of smoky, bright flavor.


  • 6 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
  • 1 Anaheim chile, seeded and halved
  • 1 Poblano chile, seeded and halved
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and halved (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small fistful of cilantro, mostly leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place tomatillos, chiles and garlic cloves, cut side down, on foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Place in plastic bag and cool.
  5. Remove skin from peppers that easily peels off.
  6. Place roasted peppers and remaining ingredients in a blender container.
  7. Blend until roughly chopped, about 20 seconds.
Healthy & easy Mexican tostadas

Healthy & easy Mexican tostadas

Mexican Tostadas