What Is A Chalupa?

What Is A Chalupa?

Craving Mexican? So are we. But, instead of opting for the traditional taco or burrito, why not expand options and try something different?

What Is A Chalupa?

In this post, we’re going to be introducing you to one of our favorite Mexican street foods – the humble chalupa. Here’s everything you need to know about Chalupas, including how to make them yourself! 

What Is A Chalupa? 

A chalupa is a type of street food found in Mexico. This specialty dish originates from south-central Mexico and it’s made from fried corn dough (or masa) with a savory filling.

Chalupas are small and thick (often boat-shaped) and they’re topped with meat, beans, (see also: How Long To Boil Green Beans)vegetables, and sometimes salsa. The most common meats used in chalupas include chicken, ground beef, or shredded chicken. 

The word ‘chalupa’ has Mexican-Spanish origins and is used to refer to a type of canoe boat (which is also the shape of the chalupa when it’s cooked).

The chalupa dough is usually shaped with a mold, and once it’s fried, it will become thin and crispy. Chalupas have a variety of fillings, but they’re almost always savory. 

Because they’re so versatile, chalupas can be enjoyed by meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Even if you don’t include the meat, chalupas can still be incredibly filling (and delicious) when loaded with beans, veggies, and salsa. 

American Chalupas Vs Mexican Chalupas 

American chalupas are often quite different from the original Mexican recipes. American chalupas are usually made from a deep-fried flatbread, which is thicker and has a chewier texture than Mexican chalupas.

American chalupas usually contain ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream, but can also include bacon. 

What Are Chalupa Shells Made Of? 

The chalupa shell is often made from a variety of ingredients. However, they’re usually made from cornmeal. Other common ingredients include wheat and flour. The fillings can also vary drastically, and are often modified in different regions of the world. 

Chalupa Vs Taco: What’s The Difference?

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for getting your tacos and chalupas confused. They may look pretty similar, but these traditional Mexican dishes have their differences. 

The chalupa traditionally has a fried or toasted outer shell and is covered with beans, veggies, meat, cheese, lettuce, or salsa. The tortilla is filled with meat and beans and can be covered with the same toppings: cheese, lettuce, or salsa.  

Although their ingredients are pretty similar, the main difference between the two is the shape, and while the chalupa is fried before serving, the taco is not.

Many American versions of Chalupas will contain crunchy and folded shells, but traditional Mexican chalupas are rigid and canoe-shaped, not folded. 

How To Make Chalupas At Home 

What Is A Chalupa?

Want to bring the taste of Mexico straight to your kitchen? Here’s how you can make delicious, traditional Chalupas at home! 


  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned with ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp of sea salt

For the chalupas…

  • 1 cup of masa harina flour 
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil 
  • 1 tsp of vegetable oil (separate) 
  • ⅔ cup of water 
  • 1 cup of salsa 
  • ½ tsp sea salt  
  • ½ cup of shredded lettuce 
  • ½ cup of cheese (cotija or cheddar)
  • 1 diced onion 


  1. Put your chicken in a large cooking pot, and cover it with your salt and pepper. Ensure you rub it all over the chicken to give it an even flavor. Now, pour some cool water over your chicken breasts.
  2. Place a lid on the pot, and start to boil your chicken on high heat. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and leave it to simmer for between 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. Take your chicken off the boil once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Once cooked, remove your chicken breasts from the pot and allow them to rest on a chopping board until they’ve cooled down enough for you to handle. Once cooled, start shredding your chicken into small, bite-sized chunks.
  4. Now, go ahead and add your masa harina, tsp of vegetable oil, water, and salt into a bowl. Do not add the chicken.
  5. Start molding your mixture into 2 balls. Once you have two ball-shaped pieces of dough, you can flatten them both into disc shapes with your palm. Ensure they’re fairly thin, but not so thin that they split.
  6. Now, make a small indent in the center of each of your discs with a spoon. You can now shape your dough into a boat-like shape with your hand.
  7. Preheat a skillet over medium heat, and add in the rest of your oil. Once the oil starts simmering add your dough to the skillet and start to fry. Fry your bread until it’s crispy – this should take 1-2 minutes. Fry for approximately one minute on each side for an even crisp.
  8. Now, carefully remove your shells from the oil, and place them on a cooking towel or paper to absorb any leftover oil.
  9. Start adding your fillings, including salsa, chicken, lettuce, onion, cheese, and whatever else you feel like! 

And that’s it! Your chalupas are ready to eat. The whole process will take around 25 minutes, making these a great dinner to enjoy on any day of the week – but personally, we think they make a great alternative to a take-out.

So, next time you’re thinking of picking up the take-out menu, why not make these instead? They’re destined to hit the spot! 

Vegetarian Alternative 

Although we’ve given you a meaty recipe to follow, you can easily make this vegetarian. Simply swap out our shredded chicken for some beans or chickpeas, add in your desired seasonings, and you’re good to go! 

Although beans are more traditional, we feel that chickpeas are a much closer alternative to chicken.

They’re loaded with protein, quick, and easy to cook, and thanks to their delicate flavor, you can season them however you like. Feel free to experiment with your chalupas, and find a vegetarian alternative to suit your tastes. 

Final Thoughts 

There’s nothing quite like Mexican food. No matter where you are or what you’re craving, there’s a Mexican dish to suit everyone’s tastes, and if you haven’t tried chalupas yet, they need to be on your bucket list! 

How to cook Mexican Chalupa