Are you looking for a vegan chalupa recipe? Then you should check out this recipe for vegan chalupas with saucy pinto beans, hearty grilled vegetables, and homemade guacamole. This recipe is bursting with bold flavors and it is a great option whether you regularly stick to a vegan diet or not. This chalupa recipe is gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, egg free and nut free.
If it is your first time making chalupas or if you have any other questions about how to make chalupas, you should check out our comprehensive guide on how to make chalupa shells. This guide includes photos at every step of the process.
Do you need a tortilla press to make chalupas?
Do you need a tortilla press to make chalupas? If it is your first time making chalupas, you can use a flat object such as a cutting board to press your dough into a tortilla shape. That being said, using a cutting board is a little clunky and time consuming. We highly recommend getting a tortilla press if you make Mexican food regularly. We recommend this tortilla press as it is easy to use and sturdy.
What shape should chalupa shells be?
What shape should chalupa shells be? Chalupa shells can come in a variety of shapes. In general, chalupa shells should have a little bit of a fold to help hold the toppings on. The depth of that fold can vary from chalupa to chalupa.
Some people make their chalupas with deep folds so that they look like hard tacos. You might have seen this kind of chalupa shell if you have ever ordered a chalupa at Taco Bell. Other types of chalupas are flatter and look more like tostadas than tacos. If it is your first time making chalupa shells, we recommend making flatter shells with a shallow fold. These shells are much easier to make for beginners.
How to make chalupa shells
Making the chalupa shells is the only part of this recipe that requires a little bit of finesse. Other than that, everything is easy-peasy! Here are all of the steps you need to go through to make chalupa shells.
- Mix the masa dough. Mix the water, masa harina, and salt for the masa dough. The dough should be dry enough that it does not stick to your hands when you try to shape it but wet enough that it does not crumble when you try to shape it. If the dough is too wet and sticky then you should add extra masa 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. If the dough is too wet and crumbly then you should add extra water 1/2 tbsp at a time.
- Separate the dough into smaller balls. Separate the masa dough into a few smaller balls that are 2 – 3 inches in diameter. You should use larger balls of dough when making chalupas vs other Mexican dishes like corn tortillas. Chalupas are generally a little thicker than corn tortillas.
- Flatten the chalupas. Use a tortilla press or a large flat object like a cutting board to flatten the dough balls into tortillas. Chalupas should be around twice the thickness of standard corn tortillas. We highly recommend getting a tortilla press if you make Mexican food regularly. We recommend this tortilla press as it is easy to use and sturdy with a reinforced handle.
- Fry the flat chalupa shells for a few seconds. Before you fold the chalupa shells over you should cook the flat tortillas for a few seconds. This helps to bond the shells together so that the shells do not fall apart when you fold them over. This step requires a delicate balancing act because if you fry the shells for too long they will become rigid and difficult to bend. If you fry them for too little it will be delicate and more likely to fall apart when you grab them with the tongs.
- Fold over the chalupas. Use a spoon or a pair of tongs to create the bend in the chalupa shells. You can elevate one side of the chalupa shell to make a gentle bend or fold the shell all the way over to create a deep bend. It is much easier to make chalupa shells with a gentle bend and we recommend doing so if it is your first time making chalupas.
Tips for folding chalupa shells
Folding chalupa sleeps can be tricky business. Here are our best tips for folding over chalupa shells.
- It is easiest to make flatter chalupa shells with a slight bend. If it is your first time making chalupas you should consider making flatter chalupa shells with only a slight bend in the middle. You can do this by elevating one side of the chalupa 1 – 2 inches off of the bottom of the pan while the chalupas are cooking.
- Smaller chalupas are easier to work with. It is easier to fold over chalupas that are on the smaller side. If your chalupas are large then the piece of the shell you grab with the tongs is more likely to break off. This is because it is supporting more weight.
- Try flat frying the shells for more or less time. If your chalupa shells are cracking when you try to fold them that might mean you are frying the flat shells for too much or too little time. If the shells are cracking because they are too rigid and difficult to bend that means they are being fried for too much time. If the shells are soft and pieces fall off as you try to bend them that is an indication that the shells need to fry flat for a little more time to toughen up.
- Fold the shell over slowly. The shell is more likely to break in half if you fold it over quickly than if you fold it over gradually. Take your time when folding the shell to create the bend in the chalupa.
What is in these vegan chalupas
What is in these delicious vegan chalupas? Here are the ingredients that are used in this recipe for vegan chalupas.
- Saucy pinto beans. These saucy pinto beans are absolutely loaded with flavor! These beans are cooked with onion, tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeño then finished off with a little lime juice and a few common spices.
- Roasted veggies. Red onions and poblano peppers are sliced into thin strips and roasted in the oven until they are nice and tender.
- Homemade guacamole. A quick and easy homemade guacamole is added to the top of these chalupas. The creaminess of the guacamole serves as a nice contrast to the crispy fried chalupa shells. This homemade guacamole is made with avocados, red onions, tomatoes, and lime juice.
Storing & reheating leftover chalupas
Do you plan to have leftover chalupas? Here are our recommendations for storing and reheating leftover chalupas.
- Store the filling separately from the chalupa shells. If you are going to make extra chalupas so that you can have some leftovers we recommend storing the chalupa shells separately from the fillings. If the chalupa shells are stored with the fillings in them they will get soggy as the juices from the fillings soak into the shells.
- Reheat the chalupa shells on the stove or oven. We recommend reheating chalupa shells on the oven or the stove. You can put them in a pan and cook them over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes or you can bake them at 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes. As with many crispy fried foods, chalupa shells get a little soft when they are reheated in the microwave.
- 2 small avocados
- 1 tbsp chopped red onion
- 1/2 tomato
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 15 oz pinto beans (one standard sized can)
- 1/4 red onion
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 tomato
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 red onion
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 heaping cups masa harina
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- vegetable oil (for frying)
- salt (for salting fried shells)
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
- Chop the red onion and tomato into fine pieces, mash the avocado, and combine the ingredients for the easy guacamole. Cover the guacamole and store it in the refrigerator until you need it.
- Chop the onion, tomato, jalapeño, and garlic for the pinto beans.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Cook the onions and jalapeños for 10 minutes then add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook the garlic and tomatoes for 5 minutes then add the beans.
- Add all of the rest of the ingredients for the beans. Then add 1/4 cup water and simmer the beans until you need them. If the pan dries out you can add more water.
- Chop the poblano peppers and onions into long, thin slices. Toss the veggies in oil, salt, and pepper.
- Cook the veggies for 20 - 25 minutes at 450 degrees on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Pre-heat a pot over medium to medium high heat then add the vegetable oil to the pot. There should be at least 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot.
- Mix the ingredients for the masa dough. If the masa dough is too wet and it sticks to your hands when you try to shape it you can add more masa 1 tbsp at a time until the dough becomes easy to work with. If the masa dough is too dry and it crumbles when you try to shape it you can add more water 1/2 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together.
- Separate the dough into balls that are 2 - 3 inches in diameter and flatten the balls into thick tortillas. The tortillas should be around twice the thickness of standard corn tortillas. You can flatten the tortillas with a tortilla press or with a large flat object such as a cookbook or cutting board. You should line the dough with non-stick surfaces when you flatten the tortillas. One option is to place each ball of dough inside a gallon sized ziplock bag when you flatten it. You could also line all of the surfaces that will touch the dough with saran wrap instead.
- Fry the flat tortillas for about 30 seconds. The tortillas should be bonded enough that pieces do not fall off when you try to grab them with the tongs. They should also be soft enough that you can fold them and shape them without them snapping in half due to rigidity. You can try frying them for a little more or less time to see what works best for you.
- Use the tongs to create a bend in the chalupas. If you want to make a gentle bend you can just elevate one side of the chaupa about 2 inches off of the bottom of the pan. If you want to make a deep bend you will need to fold one side of the chalupa over the other. Hold the chalupa in place and let it cook for another 30 seconds. After this point it should be rigid enough to hold itself in place.
- Cook the chalupas for another 30 - 60 second per side or until they turn a light golden brown.
Substitutions for vegan chalupas
- Red onions. We use red onions in a few different places in this recipe. If you do not have red onions you can also use red onions. That being said, red onions are preferable because they have a milder flavor.
- Lime juice. If you do not have any lime juice then you can use lemon juice in a pinch. The flavor will not be exactly the same, but it will still be tasty!
- Pinto beans. If you do not have any pinto beans you could also use black beans.
Other recipes you will love
If you have any outstanding questions about how to make chalupa shells you should check out our comprehensive guide on how to make chalupa shells.
If you are looking for something a little more cheesy then you should check out our recipe for vegetarian chalupas with black beans, salsa verde, crumbled queso fresco, Mexican crema, and onions.
If you are looking for more tasty vegan friendly Mexican food then you should check out this recipe for vegan sopes with black beans, grilled vegetables, and homemade guacamole. These tasty sopes are made with the same masa harina that chalupas are made with.