How to Make Tacos

Re-create taco cart favorites at home with our guide. Need a fun entertaining idea? Host a Taco Bar with easy, authentic fillings and toppers.


In Mexico, tacos are a snack food, often sold by street vendors from taco carts either midmorning or in the evening. So-called "street tacos" vary in preparation, especially by region, offering many great finds for lucky diners. Check out some of the popular taco cart choices below.

Pescado (fish): Fish tacos originated in the Yucatan Peninsula using fresh local fish. Marinate firm fish fillets, such as halibut, salmon, or orange roughy, in a tequila-lime juice marinade and serve in a homemade flour tortilla for a batch of your own.

Al Carbon (grilled): Grilled tacos are a Northern Mexico specialty filled with charbroiled meat and served with flour tortillas. Marinated grilled skirt steak works well. Grill the steak along with green onions and foil-wrapped tortillas to enhance the flavor.

Carnitas (pork): In popular carnitas tacos, typically tough pork shoulder is slowly simmered in seasonings for hours in a slow cooker or oven until it's fork-tender. These braised bites of seasoned pork are then served in corn tortillas.

Dorados (fried): Also called flautas, taquitos, or fried tacos, the tortillas are wrapped around a filling and fried. For Pollo Dorado Tacos, roll 6-inch corn tortillas around a shredded chicken, tomato, and pepper filling and skillet-fry them until lightly browned.

Barbacoa (barbecued/smoked): Shredded meat traditionally is steamed in a pit smoker until moist and smoky. Our Tacos de Barbacoa recipe calls for slowly smoking a banana-leaf-wrapped beef roast over mesquite wood chunks.

Al Pastor: These street-vendor tacos combine pork and pineapple cooked on a vertical spit. The meat is carved off along with bits of pineapple. A home-cooked version of tacos al pastor calls for grilling slices of pork loin and fresh pineapple.

How to Host a Taco Bar

Serving tacos buffet-style can be as simple as making one batch of filling for family or it can expand to feed a hungry bunch of teens or a gathering of friends -- just add more of everything.

Step 1: Prepare the filling

Prepare one or more recipes of filling. Keep in mind that 3 cups of filling makes 12 tacos.

Beef and Chipotle Burritto

Mexican Five-Spice Shrimp

Ground Beef con Mole

Beer-Braised Chicken Verde

Step 2: Prep your desired taco toppings

Of course there's the tried-and-true shredded lettuce, chopped onion, chopped tomato, and shredded cheese. Or go for some of these options:
- Warmed refried pinto beans or canned black beans

- Crumbled queso fresco

- Refrigerated fresh salsa (pico de gallo)

- Mexican crema or sour cream

- Shredded cabbage

- Guacamole

- Bottled pickled jalapeno chile peppers

- Sauteed onions and sweet peppers

- Snipped fresh cilantro

Step 3: Warm the tortillas

Stack corn and/or flour tortillas and wrap them in foil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until warm. If using taco shells, arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake according to package directions or until heated through.

Step 4: Set the scene

For the buffet, set a table with plates, napkins, tortillas (in a warmer if you like), and colorful dishes of filling(s) and toppings with serving utensils. Everyone can dish up his or her own.


Watch: How to Make Tidy Tacos!
Watch: How to Make Tidy Tacos!

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