Taco Bar: Everyone’s Favorite Party Food, Including the Chef!
Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays - make this simple taco bar for your next house party that pleases even the pickiest eaters and makes large-scale party prep a breeze. Follow our simple steps below for a flavor-filled Mexican fiesta!
I venture to say that even the pickiest eaters enjoy tacos of some kind. Much like pizza, this crowd-pleasing Mexican classic is one food that most of us agree is absolutely delicious in all of its forms.
Why a taco bar?
The beauty of serving party guests tacos is two-fold.
- Guests can build their own tacos themselves, so uber-picky eaters can avoid taco bar ingredients they feel iffy about trying.
- Guests can make tacos themselves, so once your taco bar set-up is complete, you’ll have more time during the party to enjoy, rather than spending all your time serving.
Did we mention that everyone loves tacos? Seriously.
Building a taco bar might sound like a big undertaking, but it’s actually pretty simple with some planning and prep work, which we’ll guide you through below.
Follow our simple steps to learn how to do a taco bar with guests coming back for seconds. And thirds...
Taco bar menu & ideas for taco bar buffet
The sky is practically the Mexican limit when it comes to taco fillings.
First, consider a protein that will provide the base for your taco toppings. Try seasoned ground beef, pulled chicken, pork, or black beans for vegetarians and vegan.
Here are a couple of our favorite simple recipes for taco protein!
Protein option #1: Easy seasoned taco beef
Keep in mind; this recipe is for just 1 lb of ground beef, which serves up to 3 people - multiply this recipe as needed, depending on the size of your taco party!
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 c. white onion, peeled and diced
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- In a medium-sized skillet, brown your packages of lean ground beef over medium heat.
- Once the meat browns, toss in the diced white onion, allowing the mixture to cook until the onions are translucent.
- Open the package of taco seasoning spices and let the meat simmer. Keep warm in a crockpot until it’s taco bar party time!
Protein option #2: Chipotle-spiced turkey
Again, you’ll need to multiply this recipe so that it can serve all your party guests - one recipe serves ~ 4 people.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/3 lbs ground turkey breast
- 1 small cooking onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 c. tomato sauce
- 1 heaping Tbsp chili powder
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1/2 c. water
- Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated, add olive oil and ground turkey breast, browning the meat for 2-3 mins.
- Once the turkey browns, add the onions and garlic, then saute for 3-5 mins.
- Stir in the chipotle peppers, chili powder, and tomato sauce. Season the turkey filling with salt as needed.
- Stir in ½ c. of water, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer your meat until ready to serve, or toss it into a crockpot to keep warm.
Taco Fixings Checklist
Once you’ve decided on your proteins, use this checklist to build your taco bar party shopping list.
- Taco proteins
- A variety of tortilla shells: Hard shells, soft wheat shells, and soft corn shells
- Diced tomatoes
- Red or green salsa
- A variety of cheese: we like grated cheddar, grated Monterey Jack, and queso
- Fresh and pickled diced jalapeños
- Diced red and green onion
- Refried black beans
- Diced firm lettuce, like iceberg or romaine
- Freshly chopped red and green onion
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Fresh lime wedges
- Sour cream
- Corn salsa
This taco ingredient is a true showstopper when you make it yourself - try this simple guacamole recipe that is the ultimate of all taco bar recipes. Remember to multiply this recipe by the size you need. One batch will feed 2-3 people.
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 small red onion, peeled & diced
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Cut both of your fresh avocados in half and remove the pit with your knife. Scoop out the avocados' flesh, and mash it in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients - lime juice, diced onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mix until well combined.
- Season to taste with cayenne and salt.
- Cover and place your fresh guacamole in the fridge until serving time.
Taco bar checklist: Tools & equipment
Here’s what you’ll need to set up and serve tacos for a crowd:
- Large table
- Slow cooker
- Tortilla warmer
- Taco holder or dinner plates
- Taco bar serving dishes: bowls of all sizes, tongs, and trays
- Inflatable cooler or aluminum foil trays for cold items
- Any decor of your choosing - have fun with the theme!
How to set up a taco bar
To set up your taco bar, first, you’ll need to find a table big enough for all your tacos and fixings.
How do you keep tortillas warm for a taco bar?
A tortilla warmer is our favorite choice to keep tortillas warm for the party - it looks beautiful as it keeps your shells deliciously hot. If you don’t own a warmer, you can also line a slow cooker set to “warm” with a damp towel, wrapping your tortillas in foil.
To keep your meat or taco protein warm, use a crockpot set to the “warm” setting.
As for the taco bar side dishes and fixings are concerned, use individual bowls or plates with serving spoons or tongs to keep peoples’ fingers out of the cheese bowl! Any cold ingredients, like sour cream, will keep well in an inflatable cooler or a foil tray placed inside another ice-filled foil tray.
Set up the taco bar according to the natural flow of traffic - start with the tortillas, then the proteins, then the toppings so that people don’t have to double back for anything, which can majorly slow down the line.
Final notes & the perfect drink pairings for all ages
Now that you’ve built a great party with our taco bar ideas, it’s time to add an essential accessory to any taco party - the drinks!
Offer adults spicy lime margaritas on the rocks - they’re simple, delicious, and wash down tacos perfectly. Or, if cocktails seem too involved, go for a case of Mexican Cerveza.
Try virgin blended margaritas for any underage kids or teens, or buy a few cases of assorted Mexican soda, like Jarritos, and enjoy watching people of all ages stuff themselves with your delicious taco bar!
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