Crispy Taco Salad Shells
Homemade Taco Salad Shells are crisp, crunchy and so satisfying. You’ll love how quick and easy it is to make a taco salad bowl from a tortilla. The shells are also make-ahead friendly which is perfect for hosting your next taco night and everyone will be so impressed.
We love Mexican-inspired taco recipes, from our famous Fish Tacos to Taco Soup. We even make our own Taco Seasoning! If you enjoy tacos as much as we do, this homemade taco salad shell recipe is a must-try!
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Taco Salad Shells
The Best Tortilla Bowls are first pan-fried and then baked. This ensures a crisp and bubbly shell that tastes wonderful. If you’ve made your own Hard Taco Shells before, you already know how good these will be.
Eating a Taco Salad in these Crispy Taco Salad Shells is an adventure. It feels like a Mexican restaurant dish and definitely elevates Taco Tuesday!
This is literally 2 ingredients and the salt is optional but nice for more flavor.
- Flour Tortillas – We use large 10-inch flour tortillas so they form a roomy bowl. Try Homemade Flour Tortillas or use store-bought if you are in a time crunch.
- Oil – use high-heat cooking oil. Our go-to is extra light olive oil (not extra virgin), or try Canola oil.
- Salt – a little sprinkle of salt makes the taco shells taste even better, but the salt is optional. If you are filling the shells with a salad and dressing, you may not need the extra salt.
Pro Tip: You can use a smaller tortilla if you are looking to make smaller bowls. For single-serve mini tortilla bowls, buy the smallest tortilla size and mold them to muffin tins for mini tortilla bowls that are perfect for appetizers!
How to Make Tortilla Bowls
- Prep – preheat your oven to 350˚F with a rack in the center and arrange your oven-safe bowls on a baking sheet. You want them ready for when the tortillas are done frying.
- Fry Tortillas – Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a skillet and fry the tortillas for 30-45 seconds per side or until they are golden brown in spots. This process goes quickly so don’t walk away or they can burn easily. Fry the tortillas one at a time and add more oil as needed.
- Mold Tortillas – Immediately after the tortillas are done frying, use tongs to transfer them to your prepared bowl and push them down in the center to mold to the bowl. I find a soup ladle works well for this.
- Bake Tortilla Bowls – Once all of your taco salad bowls are molded, bake them in a preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until they are crispy and golden brown. Transfer The bowls to a wire rack to cool then serve (see serving suggestions below).
The tortilla shell serves as a bowl, but I always set it over a dinner plate to catch any leaks and make it easier to transport. The shell is also meant to be eaten along with the salad. I like to break off the edges and enjoy it with bites of salad.
Yes, you can make gluten-free tortillas bowls following the same instructions.
You can use corn tortillas, however, the shells will be smaller since corn tortillas are typically sold in smaller sizes. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to soften them up. Spray both sides with oil and form the tortillas over the back of a muffin tin. Bake at 350˚F for 12-15 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Yes! You can make as many or as few as you like, but keep in mind you will need enough bowls and oven space to bake them. If you are doubling, it would be best to fry and bake them in batches.
I used a variety of different-sized bowls and even a measuring cup for molding the tortilla shells. I like using a 3-4 cup bowl such as an oven-safe Pyrex bowl, preferably with a flatter base so the salad doesn’t easily tip over on your plate. If you don’t have 4 oven-proof bowls, you can bake these in batches.
How to Serve Tortilla Bowls
You can really serve these Tortilla Bowls with any of your favorite taco ingredients and turn your tacos into bowls:
- Taco Salad – this is our go-to because the shell serves as the salad bowl. Drizzled with a lime crema, it’s a winning combination. My kids especially love these!
- Fish Taco Salad Bowls – Serve our famous Fish Tacos inside of your bowls. I would suggest increasing the cabbage to make it more of a ‘salad’.
- Shrimp Taco Salad Bowls – Similar to the fish tacos and we use the same amazing taco crema as a dressing. You can also load these up with Bang Bang Shrimp!
- Chicken Fajita Bowls – add your fajita ingredients to your tortilla bowl, drizzle with Homemade Salsa or Jalapeno Ranch, and add your favorite toppings.
Pro Tip: Once you get near the end of your salad, I like to fold the tortilla bowl over the remaining toppings and finish it off like a taco – it’s easier to eat!
Taco Salad bowls are best when enjoyed fresh, the same day they are baked, but they do keep and reheat well:
- Storing at Room Temperature – Once the shells are cooled to room temperature, cover them loosely and store them at room temperature (in a low humidity environment) for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat – You can re-crisp tortilla bowls in the oven if desired.
Fill these Taco Bowls with your favorite Taco Salad for the ultimate taco bar. It’s perfect for birthdays, Cinco de Mayo, and any occasion really. The fried taco bowls make the meal feel festive and special with minimal effort.
More Mexican Recipes to Try
We love recreating our favorite Mexican restaurant-inspired dishes at home. If you’re planning a taco night with these Tortilla Bowls, then you’ll need some sides and desserts for your menu!
Crispy Taco Salad Shells
- 4 large flour tortillas, 10-inch diameter
- 2 Tbsp extra light olive oil, canola oil or any high heat cooking oil, plus more as needed
- kosher salt, optional for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Set your oven-safe bowls over a baking sheet and have a ladle ready or something that can be used to push the tortilla into the mold.
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (350˚F on a thermometer), add the tortilla and fry on the first side for 30-45 seconds. Flip and fry for 30-45 seconds on the second side. The tortilla should be a deep golden brown in spots and start to puff.
- Immediately remove with tongs and place over an oven-safe bowl. Use a ladle or a smaller bowl to shape the tortilla to fit into the bowl. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
- Once the tortillas are shaped into the bowls, set the bowls on a baking sheet and bake at 350˚F for about 12-14 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Remove from molds and cool on a wire rack then serve.