Making your own hard taco shells from tortillas is a game-changing kitchen hack that you'll do over and over again. You can make them from corn tortillas or even use homemade quinoa tortillas.
Try this taco shell hack the next time you plan a taco night instead of buying shells at the store. They make such a great alternative to soft tacos.
Alternatively, you can also make homemade tortilla chips from tortillas.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Turning soft tortillas into crispy taco shells is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover tortillas.
- They are super fresh and wider than store-bought versions, which makes them very easy to fill.
- You don't need a deep fryer!
- It's a go-to recipe for busy weeknights – especially if you keep some chili in the freezer.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Small 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas. You can use store-bought or homemade corn tortillas to reproduce classic corn taco shells. Both yellow and white corn tortillas work. I've also made this recipe with homemade quinoa tortillas and it worked great!
- Vegetable oil. Even though we're not frying the tortillas, it's always better to use an oil with a high smoking point such as avocado oil.
- Spices (optional). You can lightly season the tortillas with salt and chili powder for some additional flavor.
- Use larger tortillas to create homemade XXL taco shells. Fold them over 3-4 oven racks to create the perfect width.
- Use fresh tortillas or make sure they were well-stored. If they are already dried, they won't turn crispy.
- Use a cooking spray for easy and even coating. Overall, you'll need less oil than by brushing oil onto the tortillas.
- Don't add lime juice. Although that sounds incredibly delicious, I found that the tortillas didn't become as crispy.
- Don't overbake the tortillas or they will be prone to breaking.
- Make your own taco shell holder with aluminum foil.
Start by taking out your oven rack and preheating your oven.
STEP 1: Microwave the tortillas for 15 seconds (or longer if needed) to make them pliable and easy to handle. If you don't have a microwave, toast them on the stove over medium heat for 1 minute until soft. Then, wrap them in a moist kitchen towel to keep them soft.
STEP 2: Spray the tortillas with cooking oil on each side or brush them with as little oil as possible. Optionally, rub them with your favorite spice mix (I use my own chili seasoning).
STEP 3: Drape the tortillas over the bars of your oven rack to form the shell shape. I find that 2 bars create the perfect width if using small tortillas. Then, gently pinch the bottom to help to hold the shape.
STEP 4: Bake them in a preheated oven on the middle oven rack for 8-10 minutes. Place a parchment-lined baking sheet or a baking dish underneath the grid to catch the oil that may drip down.
STEP 5: The tortilla shells are done once they turn golden brown and hold their U-shape. Don't worry if they have a weird shape at first, the ends should bow down after several minutes.
STEP 6: Remove them from the oven rack with cooking tongs. Place them on a cooling rack (no need to line it with a paper towel as the shells were baked and not fried) and let them come to room temperature before serving.
How to serve baked taco shells
Serve the hard shells with your favorite taco ingredients: (vegan) taco meat, black beans or a refried bean mixture, sour cream or cream cheese, tomato sauce or hot sauce, and jalapeño peppers.
Frequently asked questions
You can store the shells in an airtight container on your kitchen counter for 2-3 days. If possible, use a container where they can stay upright to retain their shape, or try stacking them into each other. Do not refrigerate them or they'll lose their crispiness. Also know that baked taco shells always taste best fresh. They can become a little stale over time.
Yes, you can easily reheat baked taco shells. Place them in a baking dish or onto your oven rack and reheat at 300°C (150°) for 10-12 minutes. Do not reheat them in the microwave.
No, regular flour tortillas don't get as crispy as corn tortillas.
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Baked Taco Shells From Tortillas
- 8 corn tortillas gluten-free if needed
- avocado oil preferable a spray
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and remove the oven grids.
- Microwave the tortillas for 15-30 seconds until they are soft and pliable. Alternatively, heat them in a pan over medium heat until warm and soft.
- Spray the tortillas with cooking spray or brush them with avocado oil. Optionally rub them with chili powder or your favorite spice mix.
- Drape each tortilla over 2 bars of your oven rack and pinch the bottom to help them hold that U-shape.
- Bake the tortillas on the middle rack of your oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Don't worry if the ends don't bow right away, they will over time. Place aluminum foil or parchment paper underneath the tortillas to catch the oil that drips down.
- Remove the tortillas from the oven with cooking tongs and let them cool and a cooling rack.
- Don't use wheat tortillas, as they won't get as crispy as corn tortillas.
- You can store the taco shells in an airtight container on your kitchen counter for 2-3 days. However, baked taco shells always taste best fresh and can become a little stale over time.
- To reheat the taco shells, place them in a baking dish or onto your oven rack and reheat them at 300°C (150°) for 10-12 minutes. Do not reheat them in the microwave.
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