Black Bean Tostadas with Charred Corn & Avocado Crema

Quick & easy Black Bean Tostadas with Charred Corn & Avocado Crema! These tostadas begin with quick refried black beans laced with flavorful aromatics & spices. Spread them over crispy tostada shells & finish with charred sweet corn & a drizzle of creamy avocado crema. Simple, flavorful, & ready in 30 minutes or less – a total weeknight dream!

Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free, easily vegan & dairy-free.

Four assembled black bean tostadas arranged on a gray and white marble surface surrounded by a red ceramic plate topped with cotija cheese, a small ceramic bowl filled with avocado crema with a gold spoon resting inside, a small ceramic bowl filled with kernels of charred sweet corn, and fresh lime wedges surround the bean tostadas.

There’s Nothing Better Than Crunchy Tostadas with Refried Black Beans (Except Maybe the Toppings! 🌽🥑)

When I was a kid, my mom made the BEST peak 90s-style tostadas. Complete with ground taco meat (made with a seasoning packet!) & a slice of good ol’ American cheese (😆), I was completely smitten with them. To this day, it’s a meal I think back on & crave instantly. They’re probably part of the reason I’m still obsessed with tostadas.

I’ve had a lot of fun building & exploring other versions of crave-worthy tostadas in recent years (check out these grilled chicken & beef tostadas – both delicious!). I love how they’re always delicious, filled with layers of texture, & totally low-effort. Tostadas are also just really fun to eat – maybe it’s my nostalgia, but I seriously can’t get enough of ‘em!

These black bean tostadas are my tostada of the moment. This recipe turns budget-friendly canned black beans into something super special, with the help of a few simple spices & lime juice. From there, charred sweet corn & a freakin’ fantastic avocado crema bring the black bean tostada together. Crunchy, creamy, & fresh all at once – these black bean tostadas feature layer upon layer of flavors & textures but they’re beyond simple to throw together. A 30-minute weeknight dinner dream!

Black Bean Tostada Recipe Highlights

You’ll love these black bean tostadas because they’re…

  • LOW-EFFORT DELICIOUSNESS. It only takes 30 minutes to make them, & they’re seriously delicious. Low effort, high reward!
  • PROTEIN-PACKED. Budget-friendly canned black beans are packed with plenty of protein for a naturally vegetarian bean tostada. Perfect for lunch or dinner, any day of the week!
  • TOPPED WITH GOODNESS. Easy & flavorful refried black beans are fantastic…but the extra touches of charred sweet corn & creamy avocado crema kinda steal the show. An epic finish!

Dare I say tostadas > tacos?! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Black Bean Tostadas with Charred Corn & Avocado Crema, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

What Are Tostadas?

Tostadas are deep-fried or toasted corn tortillas loaded with toppings. The word “tostada” translates to “toasted” in Spanish, making a crispy tortilla essential for the dish. Frying or toasting corn tortillas creates a sturdy base that can hold several toppings from meats to salsas to beans. They look a bit like an open-face taco but have SO much unique texture thanks to the crispy tostada base & layers of toppings.

Tostadas were invented in Mexico as a delicious way to use leftover tortillas. If a corn tortilla wasn’t fresh enough to fold for tacos it could still be easily toasted & enjoyed as a tostada – so smart! Crispy & golden tostadas are best when they’re made from scratch & toasted for each meal, but this particular black bean tostada recipe uses store-bought tostadas for convenience. If you feel inspired to make homemade tostadas, I definitely recommend doing so! My friend Isabel has a great homemade tostada recipe.

Quick & Easy Refried Black Beans for Bean Tostadas

Like most simple recipes, the secret to great black bean tostadas comes from infusing flavor into every layer of the dish. (This is especially true in plant-based recipes, which don’t have the built-in umami flavor of animal protein.) Simple flavor enhancers like garlic, spices, & lime will take a humble can of black beans into the best-ever refried bean tostadas. Every step of seasoning makes a difference, but it’s still incredibly easy!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.


Sauté the aromatics. Start by sautéing the onions in a skillet until they turn soft & translucent, then quickly sauté the garlic so it doesn’t burn. Finish by coating everything in a blend of chili powder, cumin, & smoked paprika & cooking for a few minutes more. Tip! ⇢ Use your sense of smell in this step – the fragrance of onion, garlic, & spices will let you know when each layer is done cooking.


Warm the beans. Open & drain a couple cans of black beans but do not rinse them. Why? ⇢ All those juices in the can are super flavorful & help season the refried beans! Add the black beans into the skillet & coat them in the beautiful aromatic flavors you just built, warming slightly.


Simmer & mash the beans. Pour some vegetable broth or water over the beans & let everything simmer in the skillet. The beans will soak up the moisture & flavor from the liquid as it evaporates, creating a cohesive bean mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mash the black beans to your desired texture. If you like your refried beans nice & smooth, mash the beans thoroughly. You can also leave the beans partially mashed for a more chunky texture. I love something in the middle.


Finish with lime. A squeeze of fresh lime juice does wonders to brighten up refried black beans & adds a special touch of flavor. It’s such a simple step but makes all the difference. & that’s it – the easiest refried beans for tostadas!

The Ultimate Black Bean Tostada Toppings

There are 2 toppings I consider absolute must-haves for this black bean tostada recipe: charred sweet corn & avocado crema. They’re smoky, creamy, & totally satisfying – the perfect finishing touch to black bean tostadas!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

How to Char Sweet Corn

Sweet corn is great on the grill but can also be easily charred on the stovetop if you have a gas burner. This totally works! Place the husked sweet corn directly over the flame of a gas burner & rotate every few minutes until each side is charred. So easy! If you don’t have a gas stovetop, feel free to char the corn in a grill pan on the stove or under the broiler.

Once charred, simply slice the kernels away from the cob for serving black bean tostadas. The corn will be tender & crunchy with a beautiful contrast of yellow & blackened kernels – so good, especially with in-season summer sweet corn!

Freakin’ Fantastic Avocado Crema

A generous dollop of cooling & creamy avocado crema is the best black bean tostada finishing touch. This crema is a simple sauce made by blitzing together some avocado, jalapeño, sour cream, garlic, lime, & cilantro in a food processor until nice & smooth. Fresh avocado makes the sauce extra creamy.

Easy dairy-free crema variations. ⇢ If you avoid dairy, sub sour cream for your favorite non-dairy yogurt, or try our vegan cashew crema instead. This simple swap makes the entire black bean tostada recipe completely dairy-free & vegan.

A few other tostada topping ideas…

Why stop there? The best part of tostadas is the toppings! Tostada toppings are so much fun & add fantastic layers of flavor & texture. If you’re craving more, garnish the black bean tostadas with some chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, or sliced jalapeño. Cojita cheese is also great (keep in mind that it is not dairy-free!).

How to Assemble Black Bean Tostadas with all the Fixings!

With all the toppings assembled, it’s time to assemble some black bean tostadas! Feel free to layer the tostada toppings however you prefer, but this is my favorite way to build them:

  1. Warm the tostada shells. If using store-bought tostada shells, simply follow package instructions to ensure they’re nice & toasty!
  2. Spread the refried black beans directly on the tostada shell. I love a generous spoonful of beans here!
  3. Build layers of texture & flavor with a sprinkling of charred sweet corn kernels & a drizzle of avocado crema.
  4. Finishing touches: Add lots of finely chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, & a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Step-by-Step Video

What To Do With Leftovers?

Assembled tostadas don’t store well & are best enjoyed fresh. For that reason, I recommend only assembling a few black bean tostadas for serving. You can always go back & assemble more or allow others to build their own.

If you have leftovers, store the black bean tostada components separately in the fridge. The refried beans, charred corn, & avocado crema are also great for making a burrito, rice bowl, or even nachos throughout the week. Refer to the Recipe Notes, below, for full storage & reheating guidance.

I can’t wait for you to try these Black Bean Tostadas with Charred Corn & Avocado Crema! They’re so quick & simple, but so flavorful – I know you’re going to love them as much as we do!

If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

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A close up of assembled black bean tostadas surrounded by bowls of toppings and fresh lime wedges.

Black Bean Tostadas with Charred Corn & Avocado Crema

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Tacos, Burritos & Enchiladas Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican & Tex-Mex, American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Ever since the epic 90s-style tostadas of my childhood, tostadas have been one of my all-time favorite weeknight dinners. These Black Bean Tostadas are fueling my tostada obsession as of late. They’re quick & easy to prepare, but they’re seriously so satisfying. 

What separates a great tostada from a good or just-fine tostada, in my experience, are a few different toppings that create layers of flavor & texture. That’s exactly what happens here; they come together with 3 easy-to-prepare components:

  1. Refried black beans. Start with canned beans for quickness & ease (though if you want to go the extra mile & cook beans from scratch, YUM!), then quickly simmer them with flavorful aromatics & spices. 
  2. Charred sweet corn. Use the burner on a gas stove to quickly char up some sweet corn, or go ahead & toss it under the broiler. The corn provides the perfect crunchy pop of texture, & charring it brings out a slightly nutty flavor. 
  3. Avocado crema. Easy to prepare in a food processor, this crema is eat-straight-off-the-spoon good, & it provides amazing cooling creaminess to the tostadas. (Check the Recipe Notes, below, for an easy vegan alternative!)

Layer them up & finish them off with any other tostada toppings your heart desires – check out the blog post, above, for plenty of inspiration to get you started!


  • 68 tostada shells, warmed according to package directions as desired
  • 2 ears sweet corn, husked & silks removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • two 14-ounce cans black beans, mostly drained (do not rinse)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth/stock or water
  • 2 large, juicy limes, juiced
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: avocado crema (below), crumbled cotija cheese, pico de gallo or salsa of choice, chopped lettuce, finely chopped cilantro, lime wedges, etc.

for the avocado crema:

  • 1 large avocado, pitted & peeled
  • 1 large jalapeño, deseeded as desired
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 large, juicy limes, juiced
  • ⅓ cup packed cilantro leaves & tender stems
  • ⅓ cup sour cream or full-fat yogurt
  • 23 tablespoons water
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season


Prep note: Once you begin cooking, these black bean tostadas come together very quickly. It’s really helpful to get any chopping &  measuring done ahead of time, placing everything within an arm’s reach of the stovetop.

  1. Prep the avocado crema: Add all listed ingredients (minus the water) to a food processor, seasoning with a heaping ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Pulse to break up the avocado & cilantro, then blend until smooth & creamy. If necessary, add a couple tablespoons water to smooth out texture. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.A small ceramic bowl filled with avocado crema sits atop a white and gray marble surface surrounded by avocado halves, discarded lime halves, loose fresh cilantro leaves, and a small wood pinch bowl filled with kosher salt.
  2. Char the sweet corn: Place the sweet corn directly over a gas burner. Light to a medium-high flame & cook about 2 minutes per side or until as charred as desired. Transfer to a cutting board & carefully slice kernels away from the cob. Set aside. (If you do not have a gas stove, you can also char the corn on an outdoor grill, in a grill pan, or under the broiler.)Two ears of charred sweet corn sit atop a white ceramic plate that rests atop a gray and white marble surface. A pair of grilling tongs rests atop the white plate.
  3. Sauté the aromatics: Meanwhile, as the corn chars, get the black bean tostada topping cooking. Add the olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. Once hot & shimmering, add the onion. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent & fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the chili powder, ground cumin, & smoked paprika. Stir, coating the onion. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, until very fragrant.Onion, garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika saute in a white double handle braiser that sits atop a gray and white marble surface. A wooden spatula rests inside of the braiser for stirring and the braiser is surrounded by a small wooden pinch bowl and opened jars of spices.
  4. Make the black bean tostada topping: Add the black beans to the skillet, stirring to combine with the aromatics. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warm, 1-2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth/water & increase heat to bring the black bean mixture to a simmer. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to mash the black beans slightly, binding everything together. If needed, cook 1-2 minutes longer to thicken slightly. Squeeze the lime juice over the black bean mixture. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Remove from the heat & set aside for tostada assembly.Black bean tostadas filling fills the inside of a white double handle braiser that sits atop a gray and white marble surface. The braiser is surrounded by a small wood pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, a small ceramic pinch bowl filled with ground black pepper and half of a discafded lime. Another half of a discarded lime and a wooden spatula rest atop the black bean tostada filling.
  5. Assemble black bean tostadas: If desired, warm tostada shells according to package directions. Spread the prepared black bean topping over each tostada shell. Top with charred sweet corn kernels & a drizzling of avocado crema over top. If desired, add other toppings like chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, shredded lettuce, etc. Enjoy!A close up of assembled black bean tostadas surrounded by bowls of toppings and fresh lime wedges.


  • Vegetarian & vegan black bean tostadas: As written, the black bean tostada topping is completely vegan, though the avocado crema is not. For a completely vegan dish, feel free to swap the sour cream/yogurt in the crema with your favorite dairy-free alternative or try this vegan cashew crema instead.
  • Storage & Reheating: Once assembled, these black bean tostadas are best enjoyed immediately. The black bean tostada topping, however, will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Simply reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through & assemble tostadas as desired.
  • 15-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these black bean tostadas comes from prepping the avocado crema & chopping the veggies. Prep either or both in advance for a great head start on your tostadas dinner – it takes 15 minutes, tops:
    • Dice 1 small yellow onion. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (<5 minutes active prep).
    • Prep the avocado crema according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions, above, & store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (10 minutes active prep)

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by KJ & Company, Kate Poskochil

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 1.18.24
    Chelsea said:

    This looks so amazing and I can’t wait to actually try it but the ad settings are set so high that on the mobile app, I almost can’t even get through it. 5 stars for the recipe but frustrating for the website.

    • 1.19.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Chelsea, we’re sorry to hear you had issues with ads on mobile! We’ll work on making this more user-friendly for our readers, but using the “print view” of recipes is a good workaround in the meantime! Hope you have a chance to try the tostadas soon! 🙂

  2. 8.17.23
    Aimee L said:

    Jess makes the best meatless meals! Full of flavor, well balanced and still so satiating. These tostadas are a summer favorite of ours and so simple to pull together.

    • 8.18.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thank you, Aimee!! We’re so glad you loved this recipe too & that it could become a new fave. As always, we’re so grateful you took the time to share your thoughts!! 🙂

  3. 4.26.23
    Kristina said:

    I made this for dinner and it was delicious. Thank you for a new dinner.

    • 4.27.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So happy you loved the tostadas, Kristina!

  4. 9.14.22
    Lori said:

    May be a silly question but are you cooking the corn before charring?

    • 9.15.22

      Hi Lori! Not a silly question at all. I am not cooking the corn before charring it – I personally don’t mind the bite & flavor of raw corn. If you prefer to steam it beforehand so it’s more fully cooked, you can totally do so. Let me know if this helps!

  5. 8.2.22
    Denise said:

    These were so tasty! The sweet roasted corn was a perfect foil to the savory black beans and creamy lime and avocado sauce. I’ve been wanting to make these all summer and am sad I waited so long! These will be on regular rotation in our home! Easy to make the crema dairy free with plain coconut milk yogurt. I didn’t have a jalapeno so I threw half a can of mild roasted green chiles in instead.

    • 8.3.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Denise! Thanks so much & we’re thrilled to hear you loved these tostadas as much as we do!💜

  6. 7.27.22
    Jag said:

    These tostadas were amazing!! Super quick and easy to make but tasted gourmet. My family loved them. Really looking forward to the rest of your low-effort recipes.

    • 7.27.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad you loved them as much as we do! Check out all of our latest posts on our homepage here for our other low-effort summer dinners published in July or sign up for our email list here!