Kid-friendly Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
over 1,000 kid-approved recipes coming soon! save your flavorites
Recipe: Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

Recipe: Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Arina P Habich/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
6 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

Skip to recipe

Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

We get super excited to cook inspired dishes from Mexico. There are countless ways to make salsas, tacos, nachos, and with this recipe: Tostadas. Most kids are familiar with these dishes, though they may not realize all the different ways they can adapt the recipes. You’ll be helping your kids to chop and choose—they’ll each top their tostadas with refried beans, and the rest of the toppings are up to them! Encourage your kid chefs to select at least 3 toppings for a variety of tastes and nutrition. Remind them that the more colorful their food is, the better it is for their growing brains and bodies. Eating the rainbow can be more fun when kids have a say in the matter. Kids can choose to break up their Tostada into smaller chips, cut their finished Tostada into triangles, layer their pieces with toppings, or keep them whole. Encourage them to get creative and have a blast traveling to Mexico with this recipe!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • mash :

    to reduce food, like potatoes or bananas, to a soft, pulpy state by beating or pressure.

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Medium skillet
  • Measuring spoons
  • Can opener
  • Wooden spoon
  • Potato masher (optional)
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Box grater


Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

  • 2 big garlic cloves
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans **(for LEGUME ALLERGY sub 2 mashed avocados and 1 15-oz can of corn)**
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub olive oil)**
  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch red radishes
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 can black olives
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 package round tostada shells or tortilla chips **(for CORN ALLERGY sub wheat tortillas, if no gluten allergies are present, or grain-free plantain chips)**
  • 6 oz shredded Monterrey Jack or Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese, like Daiya brand)**
  • 1 small container sour cream **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free sour cream)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

  • Legume: Omit the 15-oz can of pinto beans and mash 2 avocados to spread over tostadas, then top with 15-oz can of corn (drained) and other tostada toppings of choice.
  • Corn: Substitute wheat tortillas if no gluten allergies are present or Siete Brand Grain-Free Plantain Chips for Tostadas.
  • Dairy: Substitute olive oil for butter in Refried Beans. Omit cheese and sour cream or substitute dairy-free cheese and sour cream for Tostada toppings.


Kid-Innovated Totally Tasty Tostadas + Speedy Skillet Refried Beans

mince + slice + saute + cool

Have kids peel and mince 2 garlic cloves. Thinly slice or tear 4 green onions. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium skillet and sauté the minced garlic and sliced green onions for 1 minute. Then add 1 can of pinto beans (dump the whole can in without draining it). Season with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon butter until it melts, and let beans cool slightly.

mash + taste + season

Once the beans have cooled a bit (they can be warm but not hot), transfer them to a mixing bowl and have kids mash them with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher until they're creamy and smooth. Taste and add more salt or cumin if you want!

chop + slice + grate

Chop up 6 ounces of cherry tomatoes and 1 bunch of red radishes. Thinly slice 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce. With help from an adult, carefully grate 2 large carrots using a box grater. Adults: Cut 1 avocado in half, remove the pit, and slice the flesh of each half thinly before scooping out the slices from the shell. Slice 1/2 can of black olives. Chop or tear up a handful of fresh cilantro leaves and slice 1 lime into squeezable wedges.

spread + top

To assemble tostadas: Spread a layer of refried beans onto each tortilla. Top with kids' choice of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded carrot, radishes, black olives, cilantro, shredded cheese, and sour cream! It's fun to let kids decide how they're going to build their own tostadas. For example, will they break up the tostada shell or keep them whole?

Surprise Ingredient: Pinto Beans!

back to recipe
Photo by IKGM/

Hi! I’m Pinto Bean!

"Do you know what a bean with freckles is called? A pinto bean! Yep, we "frijoles pintos" (that's "pinto beans" in Spanish) have speckled skin, just like a pinto horse! We're especially popular in Mexican, Spanish, and Brazilian cuisines."


  • Globally, there are 13,000 known varieties of beans. They include the white bean, like the Italian Cannelini, Great Northern, and Navy Bean; the black turtle bean (usually shortened to black bean); and the pinto bean. What kind of beans are you using today?
  • Beans were one of the first foods gathered, according to archaeologists. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors used beans as food tens of thousands of years ago. They were grown around 7,000 years ago in the Middle East. 
  • In ancient Greece, public officials were elected if they picked the single white bean from a bunch of black beans. 
  • In the 15th century, Spanish explorers brought beans to Europe when they returned from voyages to the New World. Then, Spanish and Portuguese traders took them to Africa and Asia to sell. 
  • Beans are now prevalent worldwide, primarily due to their use as an inexpensive, plant-based protein.
  • Pinto beans are the most widely produced bean in the United States.
  • Dove Creek, Colorado, proclaims itself the Pinto Bean Capital of the World, and in New Mexico, the Pinto Bean is one of the official state vegetables!

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Did you know: Beans are technically a fruit! 
  • Beans are legumes, so they have seeds that dry in the seed pod. Other legumes include lentils, peas, peanuts, and soybeans.
  • Beans plants leave the soil better and healthier than before they were planted. Most plants deplete the soil, but not beans. This is because they have nodules on their roots that add nitrogen, which the soil needs. 
  • The world's tallest bean plant was over 45 feet tall! That's the equivalent of three average-sized giraffes stacked on top of one another. The plant was grown in the USA in 2003.
  • Pinto beans got their name from the Spanish word "pintado," which means "painted."
  • The word "bean" was first used before the 12th century. It comes from the Old English "bēan," from the Proto-Germanic "bauno," and is related to the Dutch "boon" and German "Bohne."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Beans are harvested at full maturity when their pod reaches about six inches long, and the leaves turn brown and fall off about 75 days after the beans are planted.
  • When harvested, the shells are broken open, and the beans are collected as long as they are dry. If they're not thoroughly dried, they can be hung up to finish drying before they are popped from their shells. 
  • Before pinto beans are cooked, they are pale pink in color with reddish-brown speckles.
  • We can't eat raw, uncooked beans. Why? Because beans have something called lectins that are poisonous, and the only way to remove most of these lectins is to cook the beans.
  • If you're using dried beans, soak them before cooking to remove "antinutrients," compounds that block the absorption of nutrients. 
  • Dried beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins; both canned and dried beans are available throughout the year. 
  • Canned beans can stay fresh for years! 
  • Combine the creamy texture of beans with a whole grain such as brown rice, and you have a virtually fat-free high-quality protein meal. 
  • Beans are made into burgers, dips, brownies, cakes, dips, fudge, muffins, pies, and drinks (coffee and cocoa beans). They can also be used in jewelry, toys, and musical instruments. "Bean bag chairs" are made with polystyrene "beans," but the small bean bags for play are sometimes made with real dried beans. 


  • Beans are complex carbohydrates and high in fiber, which keeps our digestion strong and smooth and our tummies happy. 
  • Beans are excellent sources of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. The body needs these minerals to grow, develop, and stay healthy.
  • Beans supply several B vitamins to our diet, especially folate (B-9). These vitamins contribute to healthy brain function, formation of red blood cells, increased energy, and decreased cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.  
  • The fiber and protein in beans are also good for stabilizing blood sugar. They are popular with vegans and vegetarians because they replace some of the nutrients found in meat.

Beany Expressions:

  • Bean counter = an accountant
  • Bean feast = a party with food and drink
  • Bean pole = describing someone tall and thin
  • Cool beans = when something is cool
  • It doesn't amount to a hill of beans = when something doesn't add up to much
  • Full of beans = full of energy, enthusiasm
  • ​Hasn't got a bean = doesn't have any money
  • Has-been = once was something, maybe famous or rich, and now those days are gone
  • Not worth a bean = not worth anything
  • ​Spill the beans = dish the dirt, tell the truth


History of Tostadas!

Photo by Amar Preciado
  • In Spanish, the word "tostada" means "toasted." Tostadas are eaten in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. They refer to a dish with a toasted corn tortilla shell as the base and various ingredients layered on the tortilla. 
  • Tostadas are made by frying corn (or wheat) tortillas in oil until they become golden, firm, and crispy. Toppings are similar to taco fillings, such as beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. 
  • Tostadas were invented to use up tortillas that were not fresh enough to be made into tacos but were still good enough to eat. This is similar to the use of stale bread in recipes like panzanella bread salad and french toast.
  • Tostadas are found throughout Mexico, with the largest ones made in Oaxaca! There, tostadas are the size of pizzas and are called "tlayudas." They are topped with a variety of ingredients, including fried grasshoppers!

Let's Learn About Mexico!

Photo by Alena Darmel
  • Officially, Mexico's name is "The United Mexican States." It is one of several countries and territories in North America, including Canada and the United States of America.
  • Spanish is Mexico's national language, and Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican people didn't always speak Spanish, though. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived there and built great cities. The people had advanced language, education, and calendar systems, and they had very clever ways of raising food. Mexico is also the country with the largest number of native American speakers in North America. 
  • The capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexican legend says that Aztec leaders were told to build their great city of Tenochtitlan at the site where they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. That image is in the center of Mexico's flag. The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a lake. The ruins of Tenochtitlan are at the center of Mexico City and still sit on top of a lake! As water is pumped out to serve the needs of the city's growing population, the city has been sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  
  • Indigenous Mexican people included the Aztecs in the central interior of the country, the Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula, and the Zapotec of the south. Spanish explorers landed in Mexico in the early 1500s, and they ruled Mexico for over 300 years. During this time of colonization, Mexico's Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture.
  • Before the arrival of Spaniards, native Mexican food primarily consisted of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs. Indigenous people occasionally hunted and added wild turkey, rabbit, deer, and quail to their largely vegetarian diets. Native royalty sipped chocolate drinks. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, sugarcane, and wheat to Mexico upon their arrival. 
  • Mexican cuisine uses chili peppers to give it its distinct flavor. Jalapeños, poblanos, and serrano peppers are commonly used in Mexican dishes. Dishes that include mole, a sauce made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions, such as Día de los Muertos. 

What is it like to be a kid in Mexico?

  • Mexican children may live near the ocean or the gulf, in the desert, or in the mountains. 
  • Kids often live with extended family, including grandparents. Their full names include their father's and their mother's.
  • Most kids speak Spanish, but Mexico also recognizes 68 native languages. 
  • They attend school from September through June. Large schools have two shifts—one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students are usually required to wear uniforms. 
  • They may play soccer, baseball, and other sports. Jumping rope and other outdoor games are very popular. They might play a game similar to bingo called Lotería. It is played with picture cards and songs. 
  • Corn tortillas are a staple for kids, along with beans and rice. Dishes that include mole, a sauce often made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions. 
  • A popular family holiday is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors. Family members decorate the graves of their relatives who have passed on. Typical foods served for this holiday include empanadas, tamales, pan de muertos (a sweet bread in which a ring with a tiny plastic skeleton is hidden), and calaveras de azucar (sugar candy skulls). 

The Yolk's On You

What did the tortilla say to the avocado when the dip bowl was empty? 

“We’ve hit guac bottom!”

Lettuce Joke Around

How do you get a mouse to smile? 

Say "Cheese!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What bean is the most intelligent? 

The Human Bean!

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a lime that opens doors? 

A Key Lime!

Shop Our Cookbooks

Now available on Amazon! Our cookbooks feature kid-tested recipes that build confidence in the kitchen. Expand your child's palate and spark a love of healthy foods with a Sticky Fingers Cooking cookbook.

Subscribe to the Sticky Fingers Cooking mailing list

Subscribe to our newsletter, The Turnip, to receive exclusive discounts and updates, insider tips + tricks from our awesome team, and instant access to the Sticky Fingers Cooking Starter Kit for free!

99% of schools invite us back year after year