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Homemade Taco Shells: Crispy and Crunchy Recipe!

October 28, 2020 6 min read

Homemade Taco Shells: Crispy and Crunchy Recipe!

Crunchy, crispy taco shells are the ultimate in Tex-Mex comfort food, but you don't need to visit your local taco stand or fast food restaurant to find the best hard taco shells! No, you can easily cook up large batches of crispy, homemade taco shells using fresh tortillas and a few of our top tips!

Cut out the preservatives, lower the calories, and maximize the taste by making homemade taco shells the way you like them best. With a cast iron tortilla press, you can even prepare a stack of your own homemade tortillas first before turning them into healthy hard shell tacos. From baking to frying, here are the best ways to prepare homemade taco shells!

How to make homemade taco shells

There's a vast range of different methods and recipes for preparing homemade taco shells. You first need a pack of tortillas from the store or a stash of tortillas that you've prepared from scratch earlier using your tortilla press. Then you can bake them, fry them, turn them into tortilla chips, or crunchy taco bowl shells!

For each of the following methods, you'll need 10 x 8-inch taco shells. We suggest using corn tortillas (as these are the most traditional and taste delicious when they are crispy and crunchy), but you can try making a hard shell taco from whole wheat or white flour tortillas too!

How to make crispy taco shells in the oven

You can bake tortilla wraps in the oven for healthy yet crunchy homemade taco shells. This method uses no oil and takes just ten minutes to produce healthy taco shells!

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make two stacks of five tortillas and wrap each stack up in paper towels.
  3. Place each stack in the microwave on high for 30 seconds.
  4. Once microwaved, wrap each tortilla so they are hanging downwards across two bars of the oven rack.
  5. Place the oven rack into the oven's center and allow the tortillas to bake for ten minutes, or until you have crunchy taco shells!
  6. Remove your oven-baked taco shells and serve with your favorite taco fillings and salsas!

How to fry taco shells

Frying tortillas into tacos shells is the method most commonly used by famous fast-food chains, taco stands, and food trucks across the USA. For this method, you need plenty of hot vegetable oil to create crunchy taco shells. For that reason, it's really not the healthiest option, but the results are super delicious!

  1. Pour about one inch of vegetable or frying oil into a deep skillet or pan and heat until it's starting to sizzle*
  2. Place a tortilla wrap into the oil and let it fry for 15 seconds on one side.
  3. Use kitchen tongs to flip over the taco shell and immediately fold in half.
  4. Fry for another 10 seconds, then flip it over (keeping the taco shell folded in half) to finish for a few more seconds.
  5. Remove the fresh tacos from the oil and place on a rack to allow excess oil to drop off.
  6. Repeat until you've fried all of your corn taco shells.

*You need the oil to be sizzling hot, or you won't get crispy hard taco shells! The oil should be at least a hot 350 degrees Fahrenheit if you were to temperature check it.

How to make taco salad shells

Mini taco shells shaped like tiny salad bowls are all the rage right now! You can turn tortilla wraps into salad bowls by baking them in the oven and shaping them over an upside-down muffin tin. It's a nifty trick that gives you homemade baked taco shells that you can then fill with your favorite Mexican-style salad toppings for a healthy lunch!

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Warm your tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then lightly oil each side of the tortilla using oil spray or a brush.
  3. Take a 12-cup muffin tin and flip it upside down on the counter.
  4. Place an oiled tortilla into the space between the raised muffin cups and fold into a salad bowl shape.
  5. With a 12 cup muffin tin, you should have space for at least four tacos when you are baking corn tortillas into salad shell bowls.
  6. When the oven has preheated, place the upside-down tray into the center and allow the homemade tortilla shells to bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Repeat until you have baked all of your tortillas.

How to make crunchy tortilla chips

Instead of making homemade crunchy taco shells, you can turn your wraps into homemade crunchy tortilla chips. You can bake your tortilla chips in the oven for a crispy yet healthy alternative to standard chips you find in the store.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Take four tortillas at a time and brush them on one side with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Place your tortillas into a stack and use a sharp knife to cut them into eight evenly sized triangles.
  4. Place the tortilla triangles onto a lightly oiled baking tray so they are evenly distributed across the cooking surface.
  5. Place the baking tray into the preheated oven's center and allow your tortilla chips to bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve your crispy tortilla chips with your favorite salsas and dips!

Homemade taco shells FAQ

What exactly are taco shells?

Taco shells are made from tortillas, a type of rounded flatbread which is a staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Tortillas can be produced from various flours but are most commonly prepared using corn, whole wheat, or plain white flour.

Mexican tortillas are traditionally made from corn masa, a type of dough prepared using finely ground maize. Tex-Mex cuisine often makes use of white flour tortillas, though whole wheat tortillas are becoming popular as a healthier alternative.

Regardless of the flour used for the tortillas, the process for turning the tortillas into hard shell tacos is essentially the same!

How do I make really crispy taco shells?

If you've ever ordered hard shell tacos at a fast-food joint, then you'll notice that they are usually super crispy and super crunchy. To get your taco shells really crispy, however, you need to use a lot of oil. Restaurants will often use a deep fryer for cooking their hard shell tacos, but of course, this isn't the healthiest option!

You can recreate this at home using the frying method we outlined earlier, but you'll need to add more vegetable oil to make them even crispier. If you want a healthy yet crunchy taco shell, then you can bake the taco shells in the oven with a light drizzle of oil. You can also leave them to bake for longer in the oven. We recommend 10 minutes, but you can leave them baking for a few more minutes to add that extra crunch.

Remember, though, that it's always going to be a trade-off between a healthy hard shell taco and the crispiest hard shell taco. You need to find a balance to avoid burning off all those nutrients and adding excess fat and calories through the additional oil!

How to make taco shells from scratch

Rather than simply purchasing your tortillas from the store, you can, in fact, prepare homemade tortilla wraps to then turn into crispy homemade taco shells. It's surprisingly simple, and all you need is a cast iron tortilla press, flour, salt, water, and a little oil.

You can prepare your tortillas from corn masa (which is the authentic Mexican version) or from ordinary all-purpose white flour or try out whole wheat. You prepare the dough; then, you press into shape using the tortilla maker. You can then use your fresh tortilla wraps to prepare crispy, hard shell tacos using the methods we already outlined earlier in the article.

Remember to cook your fresh tortillas in the microwave first, or by lightly cooking them in a skillet (without using any oil).

Here's a quick flour tortilla recipe you can try at home!

That's it for homemade taco shells!

Homemade taco shells are wonderfully crunchy and crispy but surprisingly healthy. You can bake or fry your soft tortillas into hard shells that are then perfect for filling with your favorite taco ingredients. Mix some spicy salsas, prepare some guacamole, or cook up the barbacoa steaks!

Why not save our guide to preparing tasty homemade taco shells for your next Taco Tuesday extravaganza?

Make your own tortillas at home - check out this FREE guide to help you out: 

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