Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar — A Fast, Fun Family Dinner

eHow Food Blog

Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar with Adobo Chicken |
A tostada bar is a quick way to feed your family a fun, customizable dinner. This spicy adobo grilled chicken makes a perfect accompaniment to crisped shells, black beans and all of your favorite toppings; but have fun and experiment with your protein and topping combinations.

Have you ever noticed that the dinner scene changes based on how your meal is prepared? When I set a pot full of random food in front of my children without warning — no matter if it’s something they’ve happily eaten before — if they haven’t been involved in some form, one of them is bound to protest as the lid comes off. However, if they’ve been in the kitchen or we’ve talked about what we’re having beforehand, those protests shrink in volume. Better yet, if I can actively involve them in what we’re eating, the protests disappear altogether.

My kids adore pizza night, especially when we set out individual-sized crusts around a myriad of toppings — usually anything we can find in the fridge that might be good on a pizza. They eagerly run to the table and begin building their own little creation, writing their name in the corner of the parchment so they can claim it once it comes off the stone.

Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar with Adobo Chicken |
The same sort of atmosphere happens when you set up a build-your-own tostada bar. Instead of mozzarella and pepperoni, it’s asadero and adobo chicken. Just-fried tostada shells provide the perfect foundation for them to create their own crunchy pizza-style taco. My favorite way to make a tostada is: shell, black beans, chicken or shrimp, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and a drizzle of sour cream. Add hot sauce as you like, and we’re ready to eat.

How to Fry Tostada Shells

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet, griddle or the grill.
  • Lightly brush each corn tortilla with oil on both sides.
  • Cook the tortilla until it starts to crisp and brown, about 3 minutes depending on the cooking surface. Turn and cook the opposite side until crisped. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.

Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar with Adobo Chicken |
Adobo Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 cup adobo sauce (see notes below)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons light-tasting oil (e.g., grapeseed, light olive or canola)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces chicken breast or thighs, bone and skin removed
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion


  1. Mix together the adobo sauce, lime juice, honey, oil and salt. In a shallow dish or a zip-top bag, add the chicken and onions. Stir to make sure the chicken is covered completely.
  2. Marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat grill, cast iron pan or griddle to medium-high.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off (but do not scrape it off) and place it on the grill. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes on the first side. Turn and continue cooking another 7 minutes. Turn once more and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
  5. Remove the chicken from the grill and cover with foil. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before shredding.
  6. Shred the chicken and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

Notes:You can make your own adobo sauce by combining 3 ounces soaked guajillo chiles (stems and seeds removed), 1 cup water, 3 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon honey and 1/4 teaspoon cumin in a blender until smooth and then straining through a sieve. You can also buy adobo sauce at the supermarket or use chipotles in adobo sauce, removing the chipotle peppers before you begin. (These peppers can be frozen for other uses.)
Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar with Adobo Chicken |
For the Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar

  • crisped tostada shells (directions above)
  • adobo chicken (recipe above), shrimp, taco meat, etc.
  • black refried beans
  • guacamole
  • pico de gallo
  • shredded lettuce
  • cilantro leaves
  • sour cream
  • hot sauces
  • diced tomatoes
  • fresh corn
  • anything else you enjoy on your tostada

Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson


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