When you think of famous Mexican food, tacos, burritos and salsas probably come to mind. However, Mexican Chalupas also deserve a seat at the table. This chalupa recipe is easy to make right down to the crispy chalupa shell and if you like authentic Mexican recipes, this one’s a winner.
Is A Chalupa Real Mexican Food?
Yes. Although, this probably isn’t what you’re imagining when you think of Mexican Chalupas, right? I get it. Since Taco Bell has pretty much bastardized authentic Mexican recipes and transformed the originals into ridiculously stuffed renditions of famous Mexican food, it’s no wonder this crispy, delicate bite might be overlooked. This chalupa recipe actually appears sparse by comparison. That’s ok. This is an Authentic Mexican Chalupa and it’s the REAL DEAL.
How do I know? My friend and collaborator, Aurora, who hails from the Mexican state of Puebla shared her chalupa recipe with me and she knows a thing or two about authentic Mexican cooking. She runs Aurora’s Mexican Kitchen and teaches classes focused on authentic Mexican recipes on Saturdays at her kitchen in Delray Beach.
When I say authentic, I mean it. Aurora grinds her own corn for tortillas (and incidentally for her chalupa shells). Everything from her kitchen is from scratch and it’s based on the food and traditions she grew up on in Mexico. Famous Mexican food is straightforward and very simple to prepare — once you know what to do. Like these chalupas…
What Are Mexican Chalupas?
Chalupa is actually the name of a boat, which this famous Mexican food is named for. The crispy masa shells are traditionally shaped to resemble the hulls of the ships. In this chalupa recipe, they do double duty acting as a “vessel” for salsa and other toppings.
What’s In A Chalupa?
Traditionally, Mexican chalupas are filled with salsa while they’re being fried. You can use a traditional red salsa, but I prefer Aurora’s authentic salsa verde.
For traditional Mexican chalupas, lightly top the crispy shells with any of the following:
- Queso Fresco
- Shredded Lettuce
- Fresh Cilantro
- Shredded Chicken or Pork
What Are Chalupa Shells Made Of?
Chalupa shells are traditionally made from masa dough, formed around the outside of a shallow concave form and fried. For simplicity’s sake, and because I don’t expect you go through the nixtamalization process, I’ve opted for corn tortillas in this recipe.
How To Prepare Chalupa Shells
- In a heavy bottomed, medium sized skillet, add about 1/4″ of vegetable or canola oil and heat over medium high heat.
- When the oil is hot, but not quite smoking, rest a corn tortilla onto the hot oil to fry (it will float like a boat).
- Cook the tortilla for about a minute before spreading a few tablespoons of salsa onto the top of the tortilla and continuing to cook for 2-3 minutes until crispy around the edges.
- (It’s ok if a little oil mixes with the salsa, you just don’t want to cover it with the hot oil.
How To Tell When Chalupa Shells Are Cooked
When the shells are crispy around the edges, use a slotted spoon or spider to gently transfer them to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Don’t they look delicious? Let me just say that at this point, they smell pretty awesome too!
Traditional & Not So Traditional Toppings
After the tortillas are fried, dress them how you like. Traditionally, they use very simple toppings, like queso fresco, scattered cilantro and shredded lettuce. A bit of queso fresco and cilantro are perfect for me, but my spouse craves more. For him, I add leftover rotisserie chicken to the Mexican chalupas for a heartier bite. If you have leftover pulled pork or even some cooked shrimp they would also work well with this chalupas recipe.
What’s The Difference Between A Taco and a Chalupa?
- Tacos are typically made with curved corn tortilla shells (either hard or soft shells) that are cooked first, and then filled with toppings.
- Tostadas are made with tortillas that are fried flat and then garnished with other ingredients.
- Mexican Chalupas are fried with the salsa on them, then drained and garnished with other toppings.
More Famous Mexican Food:
- Amazing Tinga Style Pork Tacos
- Authentic Spicy Salsa Verde
- Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
- Chicken Soft Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo Salsa
- Tangy Garlic Lime Shrimp Tacos
- Pork Chile White Bean Enchiladas
Mexican Inspired Cocktails:
- Spicy Passion Fruit Margarita
- Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas
- Spicy Cucumber Kiwi Margarita
- Pineapple Mint Mojito
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Authentic Mexican Chalupas
- 8 small corn tortillas
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 cup tomatillo salsa verde on this site, plus extra for serving
- 1 cup queso fresco crumbled
- 2 cups pulled cooked chicken or pork shredded
- cilantro for garnish
- In a heavy bottomed medium skillet (that a whole flat tortilla can fit into) add about 1/4" of canola oil. Set over a medium to medium high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, rest a tortilla on the oil (it will float- like a boat) and let it cook for about a minute, until bubbling. Spoon 2 tablespoons of salsa into the center of the tortilla and gently spread it around, but not quite to the edge. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the tortilla edges and bottom are crisp. It's ok, if a little hot oil touches the salsa.
- Transfer the chalupa to a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Continue in this method with the rest of the tortillas.
- Divide the chicken or pork and queso fresco over the chalupas. Garnish with cilantro and extra salsa verde if desired.
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