black bean tostadas with pickled red onion and avocado slaw
black bean tostadas with pickled red onion and avocado slaw

Smoky Black Bean Tostadas with Avocado Slaw and Pickled Onion

I love a good tostada and these black bean beauties have got it going on! You get bold, smoky and spicy from the chipotle black beans. Plus, the best of the best in toppings: pickled red onion, avocado slaw, and fresh Mexican cheese.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

You can’t go wrong with a crispy tortilla layered with chipotle simmered black beans, pickled red onion, and refreshing avocado slaw. We are covering our bases with these gourmet black bean tostadas and then some.

black bean tostada with pickled red onion

I really love a simple, yet gourmet, tostada. Can you tell?

black bean tostada

In my book, there are a few musts when it comes to tostadas. They must be:

  1. crispy, and preferably made with freshly fried corn tortillas
  2. have a thick, hot layer of saucy black beans
  3. topped with something(s) fresh

A Little Back Story on How These Bean Tostadas Came to Be

These bean tostadas are actually a rearranged version of the enchiladas I made on Fire Masters. I’ve kept these chipotle black beans to myself for far too long! Since I was only given 30 minutes to present my dish to the judges, I came up with this technique where you take the pickling juice from the onion and re-purpose it by massaging it into the shredded cabbage. That salty-tangy juice plus the avocado gives you a surprising amount of flavor quickly.

chipotle black bean tostadas with avocado

Don’t let these guys fool you. These black bean tostadas and every component are weeknight friendly and should only take you about 30-minutes to make (a bit more if you want to make the tortillas yourself).

Here are the Mexican Ingredients You Need:

cabbage, black beans, chipotle chile, cotija cheese, lime, cilantro, avocado, garlic, red onion
  • Avocado oil: This is a healthy cooking oil with a neutral flavor.
  • Corn tortillas: homemade or store-bought
  • Salt: sea salt or smoked sea salt are ideal
  • ¼ medium white onion diced: don’t be tempted to use an entire onion in this recipe. I have tested this and you should keep the ratios so as not to over-power the beans.
  • Garlic: you can mince your own garlic or use the pre-minced kind
  • Chipotle chile in adobo sauce canned *1 chipotle chile from the can, roughly chopped plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce: these peppers are smoky and spicy; be careful not to add too many or the beans will be very spicy
  • 1 14- ounce Can Black Beans: you can mash these up a bit if you like or use refried beans
  • 1 pinch Dried Mexican oregano/regular oregano/fresh minced oregano: this adds a floral, earthy flavor that is important to Mexican cuisine
  • 1 pinch Anise seed: while this may seem like a strange ingredient, I encourage you to use it. The anise imparts that something extra that makes these incredibly fresh-tasting.
  • ½ Red Onion very thinly sliced: this is used for quick pickling and will become a garnish; I really like the flavor of red onion pickled in salted lime so don’t use a white onion for this
  • 3 Limes: limes impart a sweet, sour flavor for pickling the onion; this juice gets re-purposed in the slaw and helps break down the cabbage so that it’s softer
  • Jalapeno minced: I like to include the seeds for flavor and spiciness; adds freshness
  • Cilantro: a garnish that adds a lemony, peppery, pungent taste to the dish
  • Cotija cheese: any mild fresh cheese will work and you can leave off the cheese if you are making these vegan
  • Green cabbage: I like the crunchiness of shredded green cabbage; it holds up better than lettuce
  • Avocados: you can use the avocado to garnish and to impart a rich, creaminess to the cabbage slaw; acts like sour cream in this recipe

Step-by-Step Black Bean Tostada Recipe

Step 1: Pan-fry the tortillas until crispy. 

pan-fried corn tortilla

Technique Tip: For best results, you need to pan-fry (not bake) the tortillas. Really aim for firm and crispy so that they can hold the toppings without flopping around.

homemade crispy corn tortillas

Step 2: Make the beans. 

black beans simmered with chipotle chile
black beans with chipotle spread on crispy corn tortilla

Step 3: Quick pickle the onion. 

red onion thinly sliced quick pickling in lime juice with salt

As you can see, the red onion gets submerged in lime juice with salt and this acid breaks down the onion, making it soft and a pretty pink color (see picture below).

pickled red onion

Step 4: Make slaw, garnish and serve. 

cabbage avocado slaw

For the slaw, you can serve this on top of the tostada like you would lettuce or on the side.

black beans on homemade crispy tortilla

You can use store-bought corn tortillas to save time or you can make your own for a restaurant quality experience. Homemade tortillas are easier that you might think, and you don’t even need a tortilla press.

How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas (Optional)

You can make homemade tortillas in less than 10-minutes by cleverly sandwiching the masa dough between parchment paper, which makes for both easy clean-up and prevents the dough from sticking. Here’s the basic process:

Homemade Tortillas Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • Lukewarm water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fat, such as avocado oil, olive oil, or lard
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the masa, lukewarm water, salt, and fat. Mix well to form a thick paste. 
  2. Divide masa paste mixture into 4 roughly equal-sized balls. 
  3. Set a large piece of parchment paper on the counter. Transfer the masa balls on top spacing far apart and set another large piece of parchment on top sandwiching the masa in between the parchment layers. Press, flatten and roll the masa balls until very flat (approximately ⅛-inch thick). 
  4. Peel away the top piece of parchment. Flip to make it easier to peel the parchment away from the flattened masa dough. To do this, you can place the masa over the palm of your hand and carefully remove. Gently lay palm-side-up onto a preheated griddle. Cook 40 seconds, then flip every 20 seconds until cooked through, approximately 2-minutes total. Store tortillas covered to keep moist.

Variations and Serving Tips:

  • Cherry tomatoes: Halve and add as a garnish for a pop of color
  • Salsa: any fresh salsa
  • Taco sauce, hot sauce, or enchilada sauce
  • Sour cream, especially thinned with a bit of lime juice and cilantro added
  • taco shop guacamole
  • shredded cheddar cheese, especially if melted over the beans
  • microgreens: such as radish, kale, or arugula
  • Just a pinch of this mesquite salt will impart some really special wood smoke flavor.
  • Make mini tostadas: If you are making homemade tortillas, you could try serving mini tostadas for a fun appetizer or as a party food for a buffet

Mexican Recipes You Might Like:

I hope you love a weeknight gourmet tostada as much as I do. Thanks for stopping by. You’re welcome back any ol’ time.

The Frayed Apron is committed to creating high quality recipes that work. We are transparent about the recipe notes we receive:

Tostadas – Tortillas were easy to make, funnily enough I have a low carb tortilla recipe on my website that uses the same method for flattening. These were delicious, my toddler loves the tortillas. I kept a bit of water on hand to keep the dough from drying out as I worked on them. We had these for dinner the night I made them with shredded chicken on top and they were great!

Adam Rahman, Recipe Tester and Photographer

black bean tostada

Smoky Black bean tostadas with avocado slaw and pickled onion

I love a good tostada and these black bean beauties have got it going on! You get bold, smoky and spicy from the chipotle black beans. Plus, the best of the best in toppings: pickled red onion, avocado slaw, and fresh Mexican cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: black beans, tostada
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 535kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • Avocado oil
  • 8 corn tortillas homemade preferably or store bought
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ medium white onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • Chipotle chile in adobo sauce canned *1 chipotle chile from the can, roughly chopped plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 14- ounce can black beans
  • 1 pinch dried Mexican oregano regular oregano or fresh minced oregano work, too
  • 1 pinch anise seed
  • ½ red onion very thinly sliced
  • 3 limes
  • Jalapeno minced
  • 1 ounce cilantro roughly chopped
  • Cotija cheese crumbled (optional)
  • 1 tiny head green cabbage very thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 3 ripe avocados halved, seeded, and outside peels removed


  • Pan-fry the tortillas until crispy. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and when it shimmers, add the tortilla in a single layer, cooking one at a time until golden brown. Flip the tortilla and repeat, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and season with salt while hot. Note: For tostadas, you are aiming to cook the tortillas until they are crispy like a chip.
  • Make the beans. In the hot skillet, add the oil and chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are slightly brown around the edges. Add the garlic and chipotle chiles. Stir then add the canned black beans, oregano, and anise seed. Leave to simmer. Note: While you can’t over-cook the beans, they can dry out so feel free to add water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep them moist.
  • Quick pickle the onion. In a small bowl, combine the red onion, the juice of 3 limes, and 3 pinches of salt. Massage for 10 seconds then set aside and watch as the color transforms. When they appear bright fuschia, they are ready (approximately 10 minutes).
  • Make slaw, garnish and serve. Slice 2 of the avocados thinly lengthwise for garnish, set aside. For the slaw, place one avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork. Pour the pickled onion liquid (reserve the onions for garnish) over the avocado. Add the cabbage and massage to create the slaw. Plate the slaw with a sprinkle of cotija. To plate the tostada: Place a layer of beans and garnish with jalapeno, cilantro, cotija, avocado slices, and pickled onion.



Chipotle chiles are sold canned in adobo sauce. You can include some of the sauce in the beans, if you wish. It has a spicy, smoky flavor.


Serving: 2tostadas | Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Sodium: 488mg | Potassium: 1666mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 952IU | Vitamin C: 119mg | Calcium: 217mg | Iron: 5mg

Photography by Adam Rahman

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