Home-Fried Tostada Shells (or Tortilla Chips)

by Ivory Soap

This is one of those head-slap recipes where we all wonder why we haven’t been doing this all along.   Don’t blink, the recipe is going to be over in two seconds.

1.  Heat an inch of oil in a skillet over med to med-hi heat.

2.  Open bag of corn tortillas and save the shreds.

3.   If making tortilla chips for dipping, get a big knife and cut the stack in quarters or sixths.

4.  Use shreds to test when the oil is ready.  (Should boil like the joker was just dropped in the vat of acid.)

5.  When oil is ready, gently slide in tortillas in one layer.  Air pockets will rise up on shell as it cooks.  This dreadful picture will show you what it looks like:

6.  Turn after about one minute.  Cook until barely golden in places.  Drain on paper and salt.  (Works best if salt was buzzed in the coffee grinder first.)

7.  Serve.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya Walton September 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

that is amazingly easy…i think I will try this with the kids…i even have tortillas in the cupboard….I have no skillet though…will a frying pan do???

And what are ‘the shreds’??

Bethany James September 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Sprinkle those with cinnamon sugar while they’re still hot, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. 😉

Kat September 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I make my own tortillas using masa.
I wonder, do you think I could skip cooking them on a skillet and just stick the “raw” tortilla in the oil?

synj September 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Kat, it’s best to bake and then fry; if you fry the “raw” tortilla, it will poooooof up and be more like a crunchy corn sopapilla than chips. (good in its own way, but different)

Deana September 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm

If you let the tortillas dry over night they will cook faster and use up less oil. Use flour tortillas a fry them then sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them they are good hot.

Jenny September 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thanks! I’m sending a big bag of corn tortillas in my next “care package” to my gluten free sister living in Tibet. When I try to send her actual chips – she gets crumbs!

John Hablinski September 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

People here in Texas have been doing this for centuries. In case you don’t remember your history; Texas was, until 1836 a part of Mexico. Texas Independence Day is March 2nd. The battle of “The Alamo” was part of the Texas War of Independence. Shortly after the fall of the Alamo; in a field northeast of Houston along the San Jacinto River the Mexican army under the command General Santa Anna were surprised by a rag tag Texas army led by Sam Houston and within a matter of minutes Texas was a free and independent nation. The Battle of San Jacinto has spawned some extraordinary stories, many quite unverifiable. Among these tales is that Santa Anna was literally caught with his pants down. It is alleged by many that he was in the arms of a mixed race young lady of color called, in the vulgate of the time, a high yellow. Some think she is “The Yellow Rose of Texas” memorialized in the song of the same name. I have heard it said that Santa Anna was identified by his silken underwear, and that he was hiding in a well when found by the Texans still in his silk drawers. I think most historians might term these stories myths and I can’t argue either side, I’m a reader of history not an historian. I’ll tell you many of us Texans have a secret little smile when we hear the song. Texas is the only state to enter into a union with the United States by a treaty between two sovereign nations. Until the Mexican – American war the southern boundary of Texas was widely considered to be the Nueces River which runs about a mile and a half north of my house. I used the term “widely considered” because there were many skirmishes over exactly where the border was. For many Latinos the border moved, they didn’t. Many of the heroes and leaders of the Republic of Texas and the battle for independence were people with Hispanic surnames. Many, many of the earliest settlers of Texas were given land grants by the King of Spain. — I seem to have drifted away from the subject of fried tortilla chips. I do that a lot. We Texans will brag!
The traditional oil used for frying tortillas is lard. Before everyone wrinkles their noses, the latest scientific research has suggested lard may have been given an undeserved bad rap. People have been cooking with and eating animal fats for as long as there have been people. Some say we developed into the people we are because of the animal fats in our diets. Moderation is wise in many instances. It is possible to bake corn tortillas using a little non-stick spray and a cookie sheet, my Sister-in-law a native Mexican and now a US citizen often throws a few in the microwave. I’ll point out neither of the alternative methods produce results equal to the fried version, in the same way an old fashioned greasy hamburger beats anything found in today’s fast food joints. In the interest of clarity it is the frying that transforms a tortilla into a tostada, and when you top a tostada with refried beans (refritos), lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole and what have you, the dish becomes a chalupa. There is often confusion between the difference between a tostada and a chalupa and at times the names are used interchangeably even among Mexicans. The first time I had a chalupa was in the early ’60 at a little Mission in West Dallas called St. Teresa’s. After Mass (in Spanish) the ladies of the parish sold tacos and what they call tostadas (chalupas) in the hall adjacent to the church. Changing the name had no bearing on the taste.

Krista September 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

Yum!! I have done this before and the result if so far superior to the chips you buy in the store. You can also make taco shells by frying up one side and the holding it in a taco shell shape while you fry the other side. If you are feeling a little lazy you can also brush your tortillas with some oil and tick them in the oven for a few minutes. Flip once and they are done!!

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LJ January 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I make my own tostadas all the time. The problem is the splattered grease all over my stove. I use a small fry pan that holds a corn tortilla just fine but I can’t seem to stop the splattering. Using a bigger fry pan still doesn’t prevent the splattered grease. First I warm the tortilla, then fry it. I hold the tortilla down to keep the air pockets from ballooning up into big bubbles. Has anyone ever used a deep fryer to fry tostadas? If yes, what brand?

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