Creamy, sweet and spicy, these vegan tostadas with refried beans and Mexican street corn are delicious. Ready in 15 minutes, they're perfect for a quick weeknight meal or as part of a TexMex buffet spread for game night.
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This is recipe is a great way to use up leftover elote. Cut it off the cob and add it to a tostada!
Starch on starch = ultimate comfort food. Serve these with a leafy green salad with maple lime balsamic dressing or side of sautéed squash or roasted cauliflower for a complete meal.
🧄 Ingredient notes
- Vegan sour cream - Instead of Mexican crema or mayonnaise, we're using vegan sour cream to make the street corn creamy. Use store-bought dairy-free sour cream, like Forager or Tofutti brand. Or, make your own cashew sour cream, using my recipe.
- Vegan parmesan cheese - For a cheesy, umami flavor, we're adding some grated vegan parmesan cheese to the corn. I used my 5-minute vegan parm recipe, which uses almond flour and nutritional yeast. You could also use store-bought vegan parmesan substitute.
- Chili lime seasoning - Look for Tajín or Trader Joe's brand of chili lime seasoning.
- Tostada shells - Tostada shells are round, flat corn tortillas that have been fried or baked crispy, kind of like a giant tortilla chip. To make this oil-free, look for baked tostada shells with no oil in the ingredient list. Or, make your own homemade tostada shells in the oven or air fryer.
- Refried beans - Refried pinto beans can be purchased canned or dried. Look for vegetarian, fat-free refried beans, to ensure they are vegan and not high in calories from the added oil or lard.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some suitable substitutions for the ingredients in this recipe:
- Frozen corn - instead of frozen corn kernels, you can use corn that has been cut off the cob or canned corn kernels that have been drained.
- Vegan sour cream - use vegan mayo instead
- Vegan parmesan cheese - instead of vegan parmesan, use nutritional yeast to make the dish cheesy
- Chili lime seasoning - Instead of chili lime seasoning, you can use ground ancho chile pepper, ground guajillo chile pepper, chili powder, cayenne or even paprika. If using chile powders, then you'll need to add salt and extra lime juice, since those flavors will be missing.
- Nut-free - make this nut-free by using a soy-based vegan sour cream and just using nutritional yeast instead of the parm (vegan parm is usually nut-based)
- WFPBNO - make this whole food plant based no oil by using whole food oil-free sour cream and parmesan recipes
- SOS-free - make this SOS-free by omitting the salt
Switch things up with these variation ideas!
- Spicy - add extra hot sauce to make this tostada spicier
- Top with shredded lettuce - Add some crunch with shredded lettuce on top
- Spice up the beans - Amp up the flavor of those canned refried beans by adding my spice mix to them
See this vegan esquites (Mexican street corn in a cup) recipe on my website for more in depth info about this delicious dish!
Step by step instructions for how to make vegan tostadas with beans and dairy-free Mexican street corn.
Heat a shallow skillet (does not need to be non-stick) over medium-high heat for 90 seconds. Then, add the frozen corn kernels to skillet and spread out across the bottom of the skillet. They will sizzle and maybe even jump or dance in the pan a little bit. This is good. Don't stir them for at least 2 minutes.
Stir the corn and then leave it to cook another 2 minutes. Do not add water or liquid to the pan. The high heat will char the corn and heat it up without having to grill it. Once your corn has browned with some little char marks and defrosted, remove the pan from the heat.
Transfer the corn to a bowl, along with the vegan sour cream (or vegan mayo).
To the bowl with the corn and sour cream, add the vegan grated parmesan, lime juice, chili lime seasoning and cilantro.
Stir everything together to coat. Taste the corn and add Cholula hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or chill to serve cold later.
Heat the refried beans in a sauce pan with a little water until hot. Cover to keep warm.
Assemble your tostadas by spreading a thin layer of refried beans on each tostada, then topping with street corn. Garnish with extra vegan sour cream and fresh cilantro.
🧯 Food safety
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
The Mexican street corn and refried beans can both be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The tostada shells should be stored at room temperature in an airtight bag.
🚦 Calorie density score
🟡 This recipe gets a yellow light on the calorie density chart. Some of the ingredients (the tostada shells, sour cream and vegan parmesan) are higher than 600 calories per pound, so eating richer meals like this regularly may prevent you from losing body fat or may even cause you to gain weight. Learn more about calorie density from Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.
Get your own printable calorie density chart for your refrigerator and free ebook explaining calorie density in simple terms.
🗺 Cultural influences
This recipe is inspired by my mixed ethnic background and heritage as a native of Houston, Texas, by my travel to Mexico and by the strong cultural influences of my friends from Mexico. See About for more information on my cultural influences and how I attribute recipes.
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you love this vegan tostada with beans and street corn recipe, check out these delicious plant-based TexMex recipes!
Tostadas with Mexican Street Corn and Beans (vegan)
- Sauce pan
Vegan Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Off the Cob)
- 12 ounces frozen corn kernels
- ½ cup vegan sour cream or vegan mayo, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon vegan grated parmesan
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili lime seasoning Tajín or Trader Joe's chili lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Cholula hot sauce optional but recommended
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper optional, to taste, if needed
For the Tostadas
- 4 tostada shells store-bought baked tostadas or homemade
- 15 ounces refried beans canned, vegetarian fat-free version
Make the Vegan Esquites (Mexican Street Corn)
- Heat a shallow skillet (does not need to be non-stick) over medium-high heat for 90 seconds. Then, add the frozen corn kernels to skillet and spread out across the bottom of the skillet. They will sizzle and maybe even jump or dance in the pan a little bit. This is good. Don't stir them for at least 2 minutes.12 ounces frozen corn kernels
- Stir the corn and then leave it to cook another 2 minutes. Do not add water or liquid to the pan. The high heat will char the corn and heat it up without having to grill it. Once your corn has browned with some little char marks and defrosted, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the corn to a bowl.
- To the bowl with the corn, add the vegan sour cream, vegan grated parmesan, lime juice, chili lime seasoning and cilantro. Stir everything together to coat.½ cup vegan sour cream, 1 tablespoon vegan grated parmesan, 2 teaspoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon chili lime seasoning, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- Taste the corn and add Cholula hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste.Cholula hot sauce, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Assemble the Tostadas
- Add refried beans to a small saucepan, along with a little water to thin it out. Stir the beans together with the water, then heat over medium-low heat until hot. Cover to keep warm.15 ounces refried beans
- Divide refried beans between tostada shells by spreading in a thin layer. Then, divide the Mexican street corn between the tostada shells by spooning it on top. Drizzle with vegan sour cream, fresh cilantro and hot sauce, if using.4 tostada shells