These deceptively simple tostadas come together in 30 minutes and burst with flavor thanks to a gorgeous cilantro pesto. Easily vegan!Jump to Recipe
Let’s talk about easy weeknight dinners that actually taste good, because these Refried Bean Tostadas are a prime example. Beans and cheese are a classic combo for obvious reasons, and the quick cilantro pesto elevates the whole thing. These babies are a true 30-minute meal made with ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
What are tostadas?
Let’s first start off by acknowledging that this recipe is more “tostada-inspired” than authentic (and in fact, may be closer to a tlayuda). Tostadas originated in Mexico as a way to use up leftover or stale tortillas by deep-frying or toasting them and adding all kinds of delicious toppings. Nowadays, they are commonly served as street food and in Mexican restaurants around the world. For more information on the history of tostadas and all the glorious variations available, check out this more thorough write-up.
Tortillas: I have made these tostadas with corn, flour, and grain-free (almond flour) tortillas. All three varieties work well, but you’ll want to keep an eye on them as they toast in the oven as some crisp up faster than others.
Refried Beans: Ensure vegan/vegetarian as needed! Some brands of refried beans have animal fat in them.
Taco Seasoning: This recipe is all about ease, and a quality taco seasoning blend is one of my favorite shortcuts. Siete is far and away is my favorite.
Nuts: Walnuts are my number one choice for making this cilantro pesto *pop*, but I’ve made it a habit to use whatever I have on hand to pull this recipe together. Pistachios and pine nuts in particular are divine. If you need a nut-free option, pumpkin or sunflower seeds should work well.
Keys to Success
- Keep an eye on your tortillas while they’re toasting. They can go from gorgeously golden brown to burnt in a hot second. I give a general 8-10 minute range, but that can vary depending on which type of tortilla you’re using. Vigilance is key, folks!
- Blend that cilantro pesto longer than you think. Make sure it’s super smooth and emulsified. No chunky vibes.
- Serve fresh. They are certainly edible and still delicious as leftovers, but they do go a bit mushy. However, they can be refrigerated in an airtight container in a flat layer for up to 3 days. Reheat them in the oven on 350° F for about 10-12 minutes, or until warm and crisped up again. The cilantro pesto will keep in a separate airtight container for up to a week.
If you make these easy peasy Refried Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Pesto, be sure to leave a star rating, review, question, or concern. This helps enormously with Google rankings and warms my heart. You can also find me on Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.
Refried Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Pesto
- Sheet Pan
- Food Processor
For the Tostadas
- 6 tortillas of choice (corn, grain-free, or flour will work!)
- olive oil for brushing the tortillas
- 1 16-oz can refried beans (vegan/vegetarian as needed)
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning
- pinch of salt (depending on how salty your taco seasoning is)
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (use vegan cheddar as needed)
For the Cilantro Pesto
- 1 cup cilantro large stems removed
- ¼ cup green onions
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup walnuts (most nuts and seeds will work- I've used pistachios and pine nuts as well; you can also sub pumpkin or sunflower seeds as needed)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush each tortilla lightly with olive oil on both sides and bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping the tortillas over halfway through to ensure they are evenly toasted. Depending on which variety of tortilla use (corn, flour, grain-free, etc.), your baking time will vary. Be sure to keep an eye on them!
- Meanwhile, heat your refried beans. Place the beans and taco seasoning in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Heat until just warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lime juice, stirring until just combined.
- Assemble the tostadas! Spread an even layer of beans on each tortilla and top with grated cheddar cheese. Stick the tostadas back in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
- Finally, make the cilantro pesto. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process on high for at least one minute or until all ingredients are well-incorporated and emulsified.
- To serve, top each melty cheesy tostada with a generous dollop of pesto and enjoy!
Photography by Hope Agresti