Slow-Cooked Beef Cornbread Tostadas

Slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas

Hi, friends! Today, we are going to discuss the merits of a good, zesty tostada. Who doesn’t like tostadas?! They’re perfectly crispy, you can do them up however you like, and they make a perfect, light summer meal. For my version of tostadas, I wanted to make something that would incorporate all of the best parts of a traditional tostada, but zhoosh them up a little bit by starting with a homemade cornbread tostada shell that’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Then, we top that with slow-cooked chuck roast simmered alongside chiles de arbol and whole cumin seeds, fresh pico de gallo, creamy guac, and zesty queso fresco. Talk about tasty, these slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas will become a staple on your summertime menu.

Why make these slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas?

Sliced vegetables for the slow-cooked beef cornbread tostados.

Everything in this tostada recipe is fresh, fresh, fresh! The pico de gallo is super zippy, the guac is creamy with just a hint of spice, and the beef is savory and rich. Plus, we decided to do things up right and make our own queso fresco because it’s SO EASY!

However, the best part by far is the slow-cooked beef. Just toss it in your crock pot and let it do it’s thing for several hours. At the end of its cooking time, it will be falling apart with tenderness.

Now, before we go any further, let’s quickly discuss the tostada shell part of the recipe. Tostadas are typically made by deep frying or baking corn masa (a specific kind of ground cornmeal that is used to make corn tortillas). The shells are flat and round, kind of like a giant tortilla chip. Then, you top those with whatever toppings you choose. Steak and beef are commonly used, as are shrimp, or even pickled veggies. Actually, upon thinking about it, my crispy oven-fried chicken also would be great on these along with other toppings (note to self!)

Tostada shells with toppings.

For this recipe, though, I wanted to change things up a bit. This idea started because I couldn’t find corn masa at my local store. They were completely sold out. However, I did have regular cornmeal on hand. It has a different flavor and texture than corn masa, so I thought, “Hmm, how about a cornbread-style tostada?”

Turns out, it worked so well! The flavor is sweeter than your typical tortilla. The texture is a combination of soft and crunchy, which makes for a nice experience when combined with all the toppings. In fact, it was all so good that we decided to make it a thing!

So, here’s how to put it all together:

How to make our slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas:

Start your beef in the slow cooker:

Chiles de arbol soaking.

I’ll be honest: this beef could really go in or on anything. We even ended up saving the cooking liquid for use later because it tasted so good.

The logic behind it is simple. We created a broth that is both savory and just slightly spicy, and also contains some lovely, nutty notes of cumin and chile powder. Just toss some low-sodium beef broth, your beef (we used a chuck roast), and all your spices into the slow cooker and wait six hours for the magic to happen. If you don’t have six hours, you can set your slow cooker to a higher temperature and cook it for 3-4 hours instead. Either way, this is the definition of set it and forget it.

Sauce for slow cooking the beef.
Adding the beef to the cooking liquid.

Make your queso fresco:

Curdled milk for queso fresco tostada topping.

Now for the fun part! Making queso fresco is so simple and easy. Since queso fresco is a fresh cheese, meaning you don’t need to age it or use cultures to get that tangy cheese flavor, it’s surprisingly easy to make! All you need to do is add some lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to a pot of warm milk to form curds, strain the curds in a cheese cloth, press them together to remove the moisture, and then crumble that over your tacos or tostadas. Trust me, freshly made queso is so much better than store-bought. Going through this extra step will make all the difference to your final product.

Curds in a cheese cloth.
Curds in a cheesecloth.
Queso fresco ready to slice as a tostada toppings.

Make your pico de gallo and guacamole:

Since there are so many layers of flavor in this dish already, I wanted to keep the toppings relatively simple. For the pico, combine half a red onion, half a jalapeno, some chopped cilantro, and just a dash each of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Voila! You have the perfect note of fresh acidity to round out the whole dish!

Pico de gallo!
Creamy guacamole for topping the tostadas.

For the guac, mash the other jalapeno half in a mortar and pestle along with avocado, more cilantro, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

All in all, these two simple condiments make a totally special flavor combination when piled on top of these cornbread tostadas!

Final Step! Make the cornbread tostada shells:

Combine the cornmeal with some water and olive oil, ensuring that the cornmeal fully absorbs the water until a slightly thick dough is formed. Let the dough sit and rest for about twenty minutes so that the cornmeal grains can absorb the water and become glutinous.

In the meantime, get a cast iron or other nonstick skillet and some neutral oil heating over medium high heat.

Using a serving spoon or even an ice cream scoop, spoon out a mound of your cornmeal dough and place that in your heated skillet. The oil around the dough should immediately begin to bubble when you add your blob to the pan. Use a spatula to mash the dough down into a pancake shape. Don’t worry too much about getting the shells perfectly round. As long as they’ll hold your toppings, you’re golden!

Frying tostada shells.
Frying the tostada shells.

When you can see the edges of the shells start to turn brown after a couple minutes, gently flip them to the other side for another minute or two. The outside of the shell should be golden brown, but the texture should still be relatively pliable.

Now, you’re ready to top that crispy shell with your beautiful toppings!

Top your slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas:

Slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas.

Lay out your tostada shells and decorate those puppies however you want! They are just so incredibly delicious and refreshing. I know you all will be huge fans of this dish like I am. Plus, this is the perfect recipe to make if you are cooking for a large group of people or planning on a buffet-style dinner. Doubling or tripling the recipe is a breeze!

Enjoy, my friends! Please like and share this recipe if it suits your fancy. Every rating, comment, and view makes our day!

Slow-cooked beef cornbread tostadas

Slow-Cooked Beef Cornbread Tostadas

A different take on tostadas. Slow-cooked spicy chuck roast, tangy pico de gallo, creamy guacamole, and homemade queso fresco top a crispy, slightly sweet cornbread tostada shell. They're delicious, nutritious, and so fresh!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Course: Main Course, Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: pico de gallo, tender, tangy, chiles, queso, homemade, Gluten-free, fresh, healthy, easy, tostados, guacamole, slow cooker
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 455kcal
Author: LM


  • Crock Pot or other slow cooker
  • Clean cheese cloth
  • Dutch oven
  • Quick-read food thermometer
  • Mortar and Pestle


For the slow-cooked beef:

  • 1.5 lb beef chuck roast
  • 3 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp. chiles de arbol soaked and finely minced.
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the queso fresco:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste

For the pico de gallo:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped finely
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper minced
  • 1/2 red onion chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the guacamole:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 scallion white and pale green parts only
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the tostada shells:

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2-3 tbsp. neutral oil for frying


For the slow-cooked beef:

  • To a crock pot or other slow cooker, add all beef ingredients except for the beef to make a cooking liquid.
  • Whisk until all cooking liquid ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Add beef and arrange so that all pieces are evenly spread out in the slow cooker.
  • Set slow cooker on low heat and cook beef for 6 hours until it is very tender and pulls apart easily. If preferred, you can set your slow cooker to the highest temperature instead, and cook for 3-4 hours. As the beef cooks, work on cooking the other parts of this dish.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove beef from crockpot and shred into bite-sized pieces using a fork. You can reserve remaining cooking liquid, freeze, and use to make soups or cook another batch of this beef.

For the queso fresco:

  • In a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan, add the milk.
  • Begin heating the milk over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to ensure no scorching or burning occurs.
  • Monitor the milk as it heats until it reaches 170°F.
  • Once you've reached 170°, remove the milk from the heat, add the lemon juice and vinegar, and stir several times. You should see small curds begin to form and separate from the yellowish whey.
  • Let the milk and vinegar combination set for about 35-45 minutes until the curds are larger and fully separated from the whey.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a large colander to receive the curds by lining it with a cheese cloth that has been folded several times.
  • Once you've let the curds rest for 35-45 minutes, run a small, sharp knife through them to break them apart a bit.
  • Then, pour them into the cheesecloth-lined colander.
  • Let them rest for an additional 30 minutes or so until all of the whey has drained off. Squeeze any remaining whey out of the cheese by twisting the cheesecloth around the curds and twisting it until no more liquid comes out.
  • Place wrapped curds on a paper-towel lined cutting board or plate, and place something heavy on top of them in order to press out any last remaining drops of liquid. Let the curds press for about 15-20 minutes or until they have become a solid block.
  • You can either slice the cheese in this form to top your tostadas, or you can crumble it.
  • Refrigerate leftover cheese in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

For the pico de gallo:

  • Combine all pico ingredients in a large bowl and toss until thoroughly combined. Set aside to marinate until ready to serve.

For the guacamole:

  • Mash the avocado in a mortar and pestle until smooth and creamy. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can also mash the avocado with a fork.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients to the mashed avocado, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Make the cornbread tostada shells:

  • Add cornmeal to a large mixing bowl.
  • Begin adding warmed water to the cornmeal in half cup intervals, stirring thoroughly until a thick, slightly crumbly dough is formed.
  • Let the dough rest for about 15-20 minutes to allow the water to throughly absorb into the cornmeal.
  • While the dough is resting, heat a small layer of neutral oil in a nonstick skillet or cast iron over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or large serving spoon, spoon a dollop of cornmeal dough into the skillet and immediately use a spatula to flatten the dough so that it is roughly the same size as a thin pancake.
  • Pan fry the tostada dough until it begins to brown around the edges, about 1-2 minutes. Then, flip and cook the other side for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the tostada shells are deep golden brown and crispy on the outside. Remove to a paper towel lined plate as you fry the rest of the tostada shells.
  • Top each tostada shell with a spoonful of all the toppings and serve immediately. Leftovers can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 309mg | Potassium: 959mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 586IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 4mg
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