Tostilocos are Tostitos With Attitude

Tostilocos are Tostitos With Attitude

Tostilocos are Tostito chips made loco, or crazy, that can be enjoyed whenever the craving strikes. In my hometown of San Diego, which borders Tijuana, they are typically found in fruterias or sold by street merchants, and in Tijuana, there are entire shops dedicated to the munchy. 

Credited for this invention is Tijuanense, Javier Rodríguez, who is said to have whipped up this popular snack on a whim in the late 90s with the ingredients he had on hand.

What Is in Tostilocos?

Typically this snack is eaten right out of the bag, cut vertically and held horizontally, and stuffed to the gills with cucumber, jicama, Japanese peanuts, tamarind candy, and cueritos (pickled pork skin); splashed with lime juice and Clamato; and drizzled with chamoy and hot sauce. 

The crisp jicama and cucumber offer a fresh contrast to the Tostitos doused in lime, hot sauce, and sweet and sour chamoy; they also add a crunchy textural contrast to the chewy Pulparindo (a candy made with tamarind pulp) and pickled cueritos. The Mexican Japanese peanuts—made with soy sauce and MSG—infuse the snack with bursts of umami and crunch.  

Many regional tostilocos variations exist, with places like Ensenada adding clams and Sinaloa adding cabbage. Some variations even toss in mango.

Making Meatless Tostilocos

In this recipe we make these tostilocos meatless, veganizing the cueritos with coconut meat, and substituting V8 for the Clamato that is typically found in Baja-style tostilocos. Look for packaged coconut meat in the freezer section of your supermarket.

If you can’t access coconut meat, do not fear. Hearts of palm will do the trick! And if Tostitos are not at your local grocery, or you’d like to make this fully vegan (some Tostitos flavors contain milk ingredients), you can substitute other chips. Feel free to use sweet-spicy chili Doritos for dorilocos, Takis for takilocos, or Sabritones for sabrilocos––you get the gist. Prepare and serve them directly in their bag, or enjoy them in a bowl and snack away!

Tips for Making Tostilocos

  • Use any corn chip—If you can’t find Tostitos near you, try to find a Mexican grocery store and use whatever corn-based chip is calling to you, or just use tortilla chips!
  • Eat them right away—For maximum enjoyment, tostilocos should be made immediately before eating. If allowed to sit for any length of time, they become soggy.
  • Leave out the coconut cueritos—If you’d prefer not to make the coconut cueritos, you can omit them. The tostilocos will still have plenty of flavor.

“A really easy recipe, this one’s fun and delicious. Don’t let the variety of tastes dissuade you … they really do work! You get the sweetness of tamarind candy backed up by quick-pickled coconut, tart lime, and some great savory spiciness. I tried it with plain and salsa Tostitos, and the flavored varieties add extra intrigue. Enjoy right away before things get soggy!” — Colleen Graham

Tostitos in bowls topped with pickled coconut cueritos, peanuts, cucumber, hot sauce, chamoy, and Tajín A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Coconut Cueritos:

  • 1 cup fresh coconut meat chunks or drained canned hearts of palm (4 ounces)

  • 1/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the Tostilocos:

  • 4 Pulparindo candies

  • 1/4 cup vegetable juice, preferably V8

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

  • 4 (3 ounces each) bags Tostito chips

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 medium limes)

  • 1/2 medium to large cucumber, diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 cup diced jicama

  • 1/4 cup chamoy

  • 1 tablespoon Mexican hot sauce, preferably Valentina or Tapatio

  • 1 (7-ounce) bag Japanese peanuts

  • 1 teaspoon Tajín

Steps to Make It

Make the Coconut Cueritos

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for Coconut Cueritos

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Cut coconut meat chunks into very thin slices, about 1/8 inch in width. Add to a clean, sterilized jar with the onion, bay leaf, and salt.

    coconut and bay leaf in jar

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the vinegar, 3/4 cup water, and brown sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

    vinegar and other ingredients in pot over heat

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Once it’s at a boil, pour the pickling liquid into the jar, stir, and seal. Let this sit for an hour minimum, overnight max.

    pickling liquid poured over coconut in jar

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Assemble the Tostilocos

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    tostilocos ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Cut the Pulparindos in half lengthwise, and then slice crosswise into thin strips.

    pulparindo cut into small pieces

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Drain the coconut cueritos using a fine mesh strainer.

    pickled coconut straining through mesh strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. In a small cup or bowl, mix together the V8, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.

    V8 and other ingredients combined in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. To assemble in the bags, set bags down on their sides and cut open lengthwise. You can also assemble the tostilocos in a medium-sized bowl.

    tostios bag cut open for assembly of tostilocos

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Divide the V8 juice mix and lime juice among the bags. Toss to coat evenly.

    bags of tostitos with V8 sauce poured inside

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Divide the cucumber, jicama, and drained coconut cueritos among the bags, then drizzle chamoy and your hot sauce of choice on top.

    tostilocos topped with pickled coconut and jicama

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Sprinkle the Japanese peanuts, Pulparindo strips, and a touch of Tajín over the tostilocos. Serve immediately.

    tostilocos bags topped with peanuts, tajin, and tamarind candy

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Substitute for coconut—If you can’t find coconut meat, feel free to use heart of palm in its place. If using heart of palm, substitute rice vinegar for the white vinegar. When assembling the tostilocos, substitute Maggi Jugo seasoning for the vegan Worcestershire sauce.
  • Use plain peanuts—You can substitute roasted unsalted peanuts for the Japanese peanuts if desired, but just give them a toss in soy sauce before using them in the tostilocos.
  • Add other candies—Pulparindo candies are chewy tamarind candies flavored with salt, sugar, and chili. You may use any flavor of Pulparindo, or extra spicy Pulparindo. There are other brands of tamarind candy available as well, and any of those can be used here. The key is that the candy should be chewy and have some spice.

How do you eat tostilocos?

Tostilocos can be assembled right in the Tostitos bag, or dump the chips into bowls and assemble. Eat tostilocos with your hands, using the chips to scoop, when you want a fresh, spicy, and sour munchy! Any remnants at the bottom of the bag or bowl can be eaten with a fork or spoon.

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