Crispy Taco Salad Shells

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Posted November 3, 2023 by: Admin #Kitchen

Homemade Taco Salad Shells are delightfully crisp and satisfying. Crafting a taco salad bowl from a tortilla is surprisingly quick and easy. These shells are also perfect for advance preparation, making them an excellent choice for your next taco night, sure to impress everyone.


We’re big fans of Mexican-inspired taco recipes, from our renowned Fish Tacos to Taco Soup. We even create our Taco Seasoning! If you share our enthusiasm for tacos, this homemade taco salad shell recipe is a must-try!

Taco Salad Bowl with hand

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.

Enjoying a Taco Salad in these Crispy Taco Salad Shells is an adventure. It feels like a dish straight from a Mexican restaurant and definitely elevates Taco Tuesday!



  • Flour Tortillas – We use large 10-inch flour tortillas to create spacious bowls. You can try Homemade Flour Tortillas or use store-bought ones if you’re in a hurry.
  • Oil – use high-heat cooking oil. Our preferred choice is extra light olive oil (not extra virgin), or you can opt for Canola oil.
  • Salt – a light sprinkle of salt enhances the taco shells’ flavor, but it’s optional. If you’re filling the shells with salad and dressing, you might not need extra salt.

Tortilla Bowls stacked on top of each other

Pro Tip: If you want to make smaller bowls, you can use smaller tortillas. For single-serve mini tortilla bowls, get the smallest tortilla size and shape them in muffin tins for perfect 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, so they’re ready when the tortillas finish frying.
  • Fry Tortillas – Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a skillet and fry the tortillas for 30-45 seconds per side or until they turn golden brown in spots. This process happens quickly, so stay attentive to prevent burning. Fry the tortillas one at a time and add more oil as needed.
  • Mold Tortillas – Right after frying, use tongs to transfer the tortillas to your prepared bowls and press them down in the center to shape them. A soup ladle works well for this purpose.
  • Bake Tortilla Bowls – Once all your taco salad bowls are shaped, bake them in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until they become crispy and golden brown. Then, transfer the bowls to a wire rack to cool before serving (see serving suggestions below).

Step by step how to make taco salad bowl shells with tortillas

Common Questions

How to eat a tortilla bowl?

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.

Can I use Gluten-free tortillas?

Yes, you can make gluten-free tortilla bowls following the same instructions.


Can I Substitute Corn Tortillas?

You can use corn tortillas, but 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 shape the tortillas over the back of a muffin tin. Bake at 350˚F for 12-15 minutes or until they turn crisp and golden.

Can I double the recipe?

Absolutely! You can make as many or as few as you like, but keep in mind you’ll need enough bowls and oven space to bake them. If you’re doubling the recipe, it’s best to fry and bake them in batches.

What kind of oven-safe dishes can I use?

I used various different-sized bowls, including a measuring cup, to mold the tortilla shells. I prefer using a 3-4 cup bowl, such as an oven-safe Pyrex bowl, preferably with a flatter base to prevent the salad from easily tipping over on your plate. If you don’t have four oven-proof bowls, you can bake these in batches.

Oven safe bowls arranged on a baking sheet


How to Serve Tortilla Bowls

You can serve these Tortilla Bowls with any of your favorite taco ingredients, turning your tacos into bowls:

  • Taco Salad – this is our go-to option because the shell serves as the salad bowl. Drizzle it with lime crema for a winning combination. My kids particularly love these!
  • Fish Taco Salad Bowls – Serve our famous Fish Tacos inside your bowls. Consider adding more cabbage to make it more like a ‘salad’.
  • Shrimp Taco Salad Bowls – Similar to the fish tacos, and we use the same amazing taco crema as 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: When you’re nearing the end of your salad, fold the tortilla bowl over the remaining toppings and finish it off like a taco for easier eating!

How to serve Taco Bowls with Taco Salad



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 have 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.

Crispy homemade taco salad bowl cooling on a rack

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.

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place your oven-safe bowls on a baking sheet and have a ladle or something that can be used to shape the tortilla into the mold ready.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp of 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.


Thanks for your SHARES!


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