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How to Make Hard Taco Shells (VIDEO)

Homemade Taco Shells will take your Taco Tuesdays to the next level. It’s simple to make restaurant-style taco shells at home with this step-by-step guide. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is. 

We love Taco Recipes from fish tacos to beef tacos. If you are a fan of tacos too, this Hard Taco Shells recipe is a must-try.

Homemade Hard Taco Shells arranged on a paper towel

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Hard Taco Shells Recipe

Have you ever bought a package of hard taco shells at the grocery store, only to open it up and realize that every single shell was broken? So much for Taco Night—now it’s Taco Salad night instead.

You will never have that problem with homemade taco shells. Instead of sitting on the store shelf for months (or getting dropped in the box and smashing into dozens of pieces), homemade taco shells are served fresh, warm, crispy, and perfect.

These homemade hard taco shells will make your tacos taste like they came from a restaurant, and they’re so easy to make, it takes just minutes on the stovetop for a big batch. Scale the recipe up or down and use them for shrimp tacos, Carne Asada Street Tacos, and Korean Beef Tacos – whatever you like.

DIY Hard Taco Shell Video

Watch Natasha make these crispy hard taco shells. You will be surprised at how easy it is.

The Best Homemade Taco Shells

Just like Homemade Taco Seasoning, homemade taco shells taste better than storebought. Here’s why we love this recipe:

  • Irresistibly crunchy – Sometimes store-bought hard taco shells can be stale and limp, but homemade taco shells are crispy every time.
  • Restaurant-style at home – Ever wonder what makes restaurant taco shells so much better than the ones you buy at the store? This is the secret.
  • Easy – no special cooking skills or tools are required; if you can turn on the stove, you can make these.
  • 3-ingredient recipe – Pick up the tortillas at the grocery store and you probably have the other two ingredients on hand already.
  • Kid-Approved – the kids love these taco shells because they are easy to bite into and chew and because it tastes like going out. My kids weren’t big fans of tacos until I started making my own taco shells.

Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Small corn tortillas – You can use white or yellow tortillas.
  • Light olive oil – Or use another high-heat cooking oil.
  • Kosher salt – This enhances the flavor of the shells.
Overhead view of ingredients for homemade taco shells

Pro Tip: To keep your tortillas from drying out, keep them covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use.

Keeping tortillas moist under damp paper towel

How to Make Hard Taco Shells

Ready for the best hard taco shells you’ve ever had? Here’s what you’ll need to do.

  1. Prepare – Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set a medium or large skillet with 1/4-inch of oil over medium heat. Have some kosher salt nearby in a pinch bowl.
  2. Fry the tortillas – When the oil reaches 350ºF, slide in a tortilla and fry for 12 to 15 seconds, or until it’s golden and bubbly. Flip and use tongs to fold the tortilla in half, cooking 10 to 12 seconds on each side, or until golden brown.
  3. Drain and season – Use the tongs to transfer the finished shell to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet and season with kosher salt immediately after frying so it sticks nicely to the taco shell. 
  4. Repeat – Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
6 photos showing process of making homemade taco shells

Pro Tip: Have an extra pair of tongs on hand if your tortilla doesn’t fold easily. It makes it much easier and safer to handle if you have a second pair of tongs to help. 

Homemade hard taco shells on paper towels

Common Questions

Can I use flour tortillas instead of corn?

This method makes flour tortillas tastier, but they don’t get crispy like corn hard shell tacos. Fry flour tortillas until they’re golden and begin to bubble up.

Can I make larger taco shells?

You can use any tortilla size in this recipe, but you want to make sure it will fit comfortably in the skillet. It should be able to lay flat when you first slide it into the oil.

Can I make this in an air fryer?

No, this technique won’t work with an air fryer.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, this recipe can be scaled up or down. You don’t need to adjust the amount of oil; simply use more tortillas.

What is the best oil for frying taco shells?

I use light olive oil, but canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil will work, too.

How do I know when the oil is ready?

You can keep an eye on the oil temperature with an infrared thermometer which is more accurate than guessing. The tortilla should immediately start bubbling when you put it in the hot oil. Also, make sure the oil is not smoking which means it’s too hot.

Checking oil temperature with thermometer

How to Serve Hard Taco Shells

Here are some of our favorite ways to use these hard taco shells:

Serving a homemade hard taco shell

Make-Ahead

Crispy hard taco shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week if you want to make them ahead. They should not be frozen or refrigerated, or they’ll lose their crispy texture.

These homemade hard taco shells are the best you’ll ever have. They’re easy to make, super crunchy, and perfect for pairing with all of your favorite taco fillings.

More Mexican Recipes to Try

If you love this taco shell recipe, then you won’t want to miss these Mexican-inspired recipes.

Homemade Hard Taco Shells Recipe

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Homemade hard taco shells are key to restaurant-style tacos at home. They're easy to make and taste amazing.

Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $3-$5
Keyword: hard taco shells, hard tacos, homemade taco shells
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex
Course: How to
Calories: 57
Servings: 20 shells

Ingredients

  • 20 small 6” corn tortillas (white or yellow)
  • light olive oil or any high heat cooking oil, or 1⁄4” oil
  • Kosher salt, for sprinkling fried shells

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place a medium/large skillet over medium heat and add 1⁄4” of oil. Once the oil is hot (350 ̊F on a thermometer), carefully slide in a tortilla and fry for 12-15 seconds until golden and bubbly on the first side.

  2. Flip and use tongs to immediately fold in half. Fry another 10-12 seconds per side or until golden brown then use tongs to transfer the taco shell to the prepared baking sheet.

  3. Immediately sprinkle taco shells lightly with kosher salt. I find if you open them up a bit and set them upside-down to cool and drain on the paper towels, they will stay open a bit more, making them easier to fill and you don’t need a taco holder. Repeat with remaining tortillas until all shells are fried.

Recipe Notes

Once homemade hard taco shells are at room temperature, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or large zip bag for up to a week.

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Hard Taco Shells Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 57 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2g
Sodium 12mg1%
Potassium 48mg1%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 0.2g0%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1IU0%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Greg Gilbert
    August 5, 2022

    Natasha,

    Loved your recipe and definitely better than store bought. I don’t have a thermometer (ordered one) and used a wooden spoon to assess the temperature. The tacos were good, not hard. I didn’t let the oil heat back up between tacos next time I will. Any ideas?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 8, 2022

      Hi Greg! Thank you, I”m glad you loved my recipe. It’s hard to tell without being there but it could have been the temperature of your oil. I recommend trying this recipe again once you have the thermometer and seeing if the results are different. You may need to leave them a little longer if you want them crisper but you’ll have to watch them so they do not burn. Also, be sure to let them drain. I hope this helps. 🙂

      Reply

  • Diane Moloney
    July 14, 2022

    Muchas gracias for the taco shell recipe. We needed more crisp in our taco Tuesday night!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 14, 2022

      You’re welcome, Diane! I’m so happy you loved it!

      Reply

  • Faith
    July 9, 2022

    Morning I would like to get a easy home made pancake recipe please,thanks would appreciate your feedback as I love to try your recipes they been helpful eversince

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 11, 2022

      Hi Faith! I’m glad to hear that you enjoy my recipes. You can search for all my pancake recipes but using the search bar above. I hope you find one that you love. 🙂

      Reply

  • Judy
    July 8, 2022

    Love your recipes! Thanks for sharing all. I’ve made several and have been extremely pleased with the out come. I love to cook and enjoy trying other peoples recipes. Keep them coming.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 9, 2022

      Hi Judy! Thank you. I’m glad you enjoy them.

      Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 9, 2022

      I’m so glad you have a love for cooking, Judy! It brings me so much joy also! Thank you for sharing your feedback with me. I’m so glad you’re trying recipes from my blog!

      Reply

  • April
    July 8, 2022

    These were phenomenal – WAY better than any hard shell taco I’ve ever had. And super easy to make….well worth it!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 8, 2022

      Oh I am so happy to hear that!! Thank you for that fantastic review. DIY taco shells really do make taco nights so much better.

      Reply

  • Toni
    July 8, 2022

    I really enjoyed making these hard taco shells!! Thanks so much for the recipe! It is so easy too!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 8, 2022

      I’m so glad! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Toni!

      Reply

  • Kristyn
    July 8, 2022

    Love your tips!! We love making tacos & this recipe makes the perfect shells!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 8, 2022

      Thank you Kristin, this is our go-to method for homemade taco shells – super easy and no fancy equipment required.

      Reply

  • Bryan Christopher Kirshon
    July 8, 2022

    hi natasha I love your recipes please keep them coming ciao.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 8, 2022

      Thank you for that encouraging feedback. I hope you love these taco shells.

      Reply

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