Tostada de Frijoles Recipe from Guatemala

These tostada de frijoles have got to be one Guatemala’s tastiest vegetarian recipes. Corn tortillas are fried till crisp, then topped with hearty refried bean mix, tangy cabbage slaw, fresh slices of avocado, tomato and chilli.

Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Overview of Guatemala

Guatemala holds a very special place in my heart. I went there on missions several years ago and it was one of the most eye-opening travel experiences I have ever had. My time there was equally as heart-breaking as it was heart-warming. 

I witnessed a devastating amount of poverty, which is particularly prevalent throughout Guatemala city. However, I also witnessed such kindness, hospitality and warmth from the locals I encountered during my time in the country, and it put a lot into perspective for me.I could write for days on all the crazy travel experiences I had in Guatemala, but I will save that for my travel blog and move on to Guatemalan cuisine.

I will be honest- I was not wowed by the food I ate when I was in Guatemala. However, I was on missions, so for the most part, we were eating very basic meals (aka a lot of beans and a lot of rice) Had my time in the country been more food-orientated, I am sure my perception of Guatemalan food would have been very different.

Anyway, I didn’t want to let me experience taint my view for this challenge, so I came in with an open mind to what Guatemalan cuisine entailed. SPOILER ALERT: It’s more than just beans and rice.

History of Guatemalan Cuisine

Traditional Guatemalan food derives its origins from Maya cuisine, as well as influences from Spain, the Caribbean and its neighbouring country, Mexico. Corn, chillies, rice and beans feature as key ingredients in most Guatemalan dishes. 

Besides beans, pork, beef and chicken are the most common proteins that are consumed. Guatemala is also famously where chocolate was first created as the land is rich with cocoa trees. Interestingly, hot chocolate is preferred by locals over chocolate in its solid form- which is not what you’d expect from a country that gets soaring temperatures.

Tamales are one of the most popular dishes in Guatemala, with hundreds of variations available throughout Guatemala. However, they are typically only consumed on Thursdays or around Christmas!

Popular Guatemalan Dishes

  • Pupusas– Originally a Salvadorian dish, these bean and cheese stuffed corncakes are also a popular snack in Guatemala
  • Empanadas– While meat empanadas are popular throughout South America, Guatemalan empanadas tend to consist of a vegetarian filling such as potato or spinach and come with all sorts of toppings.
  • Rellenitos– Guatemalan donuts made of plantains mashed with refried bean paste, sugar and cinnamon
  • Tostadas– Fried tortillas topped with a variety of toppings such as refried beans, salsa, cheese and guacamole
  • Tamal– Like in Costa Rica, Guatemalans make tamales with corn dough and fillings that are wrapped in plantain leaves

Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Making tostada de frijoles

I always thought that I hated refried beans. Until one day, after making refried beans from scratch, I realized it was TINNED refried beans I disliked. This recipe, which I first when making pupusas for El Salvador, transformed my perspective on the humble mashed bean.

Now my eyes have been opened to all kinds of recipes I would have avoided in the past, such as this one. Tostadas Guatemaltecas, or corn toast tortillas, are a very popular snack throughout the country. Although tostadas can come with all sorts of toppings, the most typical are tomato sauce, guacamole or refried beans.

As always, we decided to get a little extra with our tostadas, using a base of refried beans, topped with a zingy slaw and finished with fresh slices of avocado, tomato and chilli. This made the dish a little more substantial, meaning it was the perfect lunch!

How to make tostada de frijoles

Cabbage slaw:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the slaw together and allow to marinate whilst preparing tostadas.
Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Refried beans:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in small frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in onion petals and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, tossing occasionally. 
  2. Add kidney beans and their juices in blender, then add in onion petals, leaving the onion oil in the pan. Blend until a smooth but thick consistency is achieved.
  3. Add bean mixture back into pan over medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has thickened, take off heat. Add in grated cheese and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Tostadas:

  1. Heat a bit of oil in a flat-bottom frying pan over medium-high heat. Place in one corn tortilla, fry for a few minutes until golden, then flip and repeat. Do this with all the tortillas.
  2. Place fried tortillas in the oven on low heat to keep warm and crisp whilst the others are cooking.
  3. To serve, top fried tortilla with refried beans, cabbage slaw, sliced avocado, tomato and chilli. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Ingredient notes for refried bean tostadas (tostada de frijoles)

  • Cheddar cheese- Feel free to omit the cheese if vegan or sub for your favourite vegan cheese
  • Kidney beans- Sub for black beans or pinto beans. Traditionally in Guatemala, black beans are used to make refired beans, however we personally preferred the flavour profile of kidney beans for this recipe.
  • Corn tortillas- Tostadas are typically made using corn tortillas, however you can also use flour tortillas if this is what you have on hand. Use store -bought or try making your own!

Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Serving suggestions for tostada de frijoles

The great thing about tostadas as they really can act as a blank canvas to whatever toppings you heart desires! We loved loading ours up with refried bean mixture, cabbage slaw, avocado, tomato and chilli, however feel free to play with these toppings to suit your tastes.

Tostada de Frijoles | Guatemalan Cuisine

Tostada de frijoles (refried bean tostadas)

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

In this recipe for Guatemalan tostada de frijoles, corn tortillas are fried till crisp, then topped with hearty refried bean mix, tangy cabbage slaw, fresh slices of avocado, tomato and chilli.

Ingredients

Cabbage Slaw:

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup coriander

Refried beans:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 white onion, halved and peeled into petals
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated (sub for vegan cheese)

Tostadas:

  • Cooking oil
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

Cabbage slaw:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the slaw together and allow to marinate whilst preparing tostadas.

Refried beans:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in small frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in onion petals and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, tossing occasionally.
  2. Add kidney beans and their juices in blender, then add in onion petals, leaving the onion oil in the pan. Blend until a smooth but thick consistency is achieved.
  3. Add bean mixture back into pan over medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has thickened, take off heat. Add in grated cheese and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Tostadas:

  1. Heat a bit of oil in a flat-bottom frying pan over medium-high heat. Place in one corn tortilla, fry for a few minutes until golden, then flip and repeat. Do this with all the tortillas. Place fried tortillas in the oven on low heat to keep warm and crisp whilst the others are cooking.
  2. To serve, top fried tortilla with refried beans, cabbage slaw, sliced avocado, tomato and chilli. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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How to make tostada de frijoles from Guatemala
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HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. In fact, I’ve visited 54 countries and cooked 196 cuisines in this very pursuit. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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