The Real Difference Between Tacos And Chalupas

The fact that chalupas are a household name in America is almost certainly attributable to its popularity at Taco Bell (via Taco Bell). The chalupa is one of the taco chain's most popular menu items, and they even rolled out a Naked Chicken Chalupa with a fried chicken shell that was responsible for an 8 percent growth in sales when it was first introduced in 2017 (via AOL). 

But what is the real difference between a chalupa and a taco?

A taco has two popular formats. One is a curved, hard tortilla shell that is typically made out of cornmeal and fried. The other is a flat, soft, tortilla made out of either cornmeal or flour.

Both of these formats house a filling such as beef, chicken, fish, or pork, and a variety of toppings which can include cheese, lettuce, salsa, and cilantro.

How a chalupa differs from a taco

But the traditional chalupa bears little resemblance to the version sold at Taco Bell. While Taco Bell's chalupa is a fried and stuffed monstrosity in the basic shape of a hardshell taco, a real chalupa is much more similar to a tostada. 

Chalupa means "boat" in Spanish, and the fried cornmeal shells which serve as a base curve a bit in the frier which results in them slightly resembling a ship (via Garlic and Zest). The chalupa shells, which are similar to a corn tortilla (though slightly thicker), are fried and have salsa added as a topping while they're still frying. Green salsa is more popular, but red salsa can also be used. 

After they come out of the oil, they are typically topped with fresh ingredients such as queso fresco, shredded lettuce, cilantro, and lime. If you want a more filling and substantial version, you can add shredded pork or chicken.

The main difference between the two is the shape, and that a chalupa is fried just before serving, while a taco is not.