Beet chalupas

I was watching online an old TacoBell commercial for their chalupas and I thought to myself: “What the heck is that?” The word chalupa has two meanings in Mexico. The first one refers to a boat. I believe the word is a combination of Nahuatl and old Spanish. Chalupas were the boats that were used to bring produce, flowers and other goods into the Great Tenochtitlan through the canals that connected it to the outside world. Up until today they are still in use in the canals of Xochimilco, a tourist destination in Mexico City. I found this amazing photo on flickr where you can appreciate perfectly the use of the chalupas.

In food, at least the way I remember, chalupas are oval fried tortillas stuffed with refried beans and served with cheese, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, avocado slices, lettuce and meat. The ones I remember were oval because they represent the little boats that navigated Mexico’s old canals. I tried to make mine as oval as possible, but they didn’t come close to the ones I remember from my childhood.

If you are looking at that picture you might be wondering why my chalupas are red. Remember the spinach tortillas I made last week? Well, I really wanted to make chalupas and when I was looking for the ingredients I saw two beets that I had forgotten about it. I took them out and thought to myself, why not? In Mexico blue corn chalupas are very popular. I love blue corn, but since I haven’t seen it up here I wanted to give mine so color.

So I blended one beet with 1 cup of water and used that liquid with corn flour to make my tortilla masa. It was red and messy, but it is always messy when you made anything with beets. Besides, I love their intese red color so it wasn’t a bad thing for me.

Once the masa was ready I made my chalupas. First I took a little bit of masa and put a spoonful of refried beans in the middle:

Beet masa

After that I shaped it into something that looked like a football (the fake one that is played with the hands) making sure that the refried beans stayed in the center:

Beet masa2

I pressed it between 2 sheets of plastic:

Beet masa3

And cooked them in a cast-iron skillet:

Beet masa4

Since I am still on a diet (yeah, right!) I didn’t fry them. I just sauteed them in a TBSP of grapeseed oil to give them some oily flavor. I served them with homemade queso fresco, sour cream, Romaine lettuce, salsa, chopped onions and avocado slices. Looks delicious, doesnt it? And they are nothing like TacoBell’s version…

Beet chalupas

Remember that this month our Homemade Challenge is tortillas. They are not hard to make and eating fresh tortillas without all those preservatives is something everybody should experience at least once. Please join us in this amazing trip to Mexican cuisine.

¡Buen provecho!


  • Had to do a double take since I thought it was a typo. I thought it was beef. Looks really good, though.

  • Simply awesome colors and the taste must have been sublime!!!WOW!!

  • These look awesome! What a great idea to make the tortillas with beets! Very creative!

  • This is similar to what I’m planning for my tortilla submission to your event…you know I love color! I was surprised to learn that beans were worked into the dough and not used as a filling. Very interesting.

  • Oh, what a great idea & I even have some masa flour on hand!

  • Ben, what a great idea to use beets for coloring. I’m going to try that next time I make homemade corn tortillas. For tostadas I’ve used small amounts of corn oil when pan frying them, then fill up a large cookie sheet and finish them in the oven at low heat. It makes for crunchy tostadas, nice even golden color and not much oil. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and recipes! The avocado looks gorgeous next to that beet color.

  • A great idea to put beet! Such beautiful colours.

  • Gorgeous!

  • I *love* foods that are pretty to look at and taste good (in this case, it’s also fun to say the name). Good job with the beet tortillas, Ben. I think you may have set a new trend. 🙂

  • Hey Ben, these look great. Guess what, I have prepared the dough for my tortillas just a while ago and mine are red as well but not with beets. I am still afraid if they will succeed or not because I do not have a cast iron skillet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Will have them ready for lunch.

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