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How to Create an Amazing Taco Bar

Updated on September 10, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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I got inspired to write this article after my mother-in-law made a do it yourself Mexican/taco spread with a couple homemade dips and slow cooker chicken.

Having lots of homemade components is essential for an amazing spread. There is nothing wrong with a few canned or prepared items, but go the extra mile and make a few of them yourself.

Make sure that your spread includes ample choices. Even the pickiest eaters should be able to find something that they like. Everyone will be able to make the exact creations that they want.

A taco bar is perfect for family gatherings, graduation parties, and birthday parties. You can scale it down for a more intimate date party or go all out for a big family bash.

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Soft tortillas and hard shell tacos

Provide both soft and hard shells. We usually buy Mission flour tortillas and Old El Paso Stand 'n Stuff hard shells, but there are lots of other varieties out there. For soft shells, consider corn, whole wheat, and multigrain tortillas.

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Cheese

For cheese, I recommend both a combination shredded cheese and a Mexican crumbled cheese, such as La Chona Enchilado cheese. Mexican cheeses can usually be found in the dairy section of the grocery store. I almost always have some sort of colby-jack or fiesta blend of shredded cheese so I use what's on hand. If you're feeling ambitious, you can shred your own.

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Lettuce

Either ripped or shredded iceberg lettuce works well. Normally at home I'm preparing tacos for a small number of people so I rip up quarter or half a head of lettuce. If you're serving a large group, you may decide that purchasing shredded lettuce is easier, which is fine.

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Sour cream

I'm a firm believer in only eating regular sour cream. The taste of light sour cream is not worth the decrease in calories or fat. I like the different sizes that the Daisy brand offers for sour cream. You can get the one that's just right for your group.

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Guacamole

I love avocados so guacamole is must for me. If you've never had it homemade, it's worth giving it a shot before you dismiss the idea. You can make it as mild or spicy as you like.

Guacamole Recipe | Chef Tips

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Salsa

I'm not a big fan of prepared salsas, but I love a little fresh salsa with warm, homemade tortilla chips. Making your own salsa is well worth the effort. If you do want to buy a prepared salsa, branch out from the traditional ones.

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Tortilla chips and/or Doritos

Providing chips will give people the option to make taco salad or nachos if they like. Chips work wonderfully on the side, too.

Spanish rice

I have to admit that my husband and I are big fans of the pre-made Spanish rice mixes. They are cheap, tasty, and relatively healthy. You are welcome to make your own if you like.

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Refried beans

Refried beans are the other taco bar component I don't usually make myself. If I had homemade refried beans more often, I might dislike the canned ones, but for now, I think that they're pretty good. People can choose to make burritos with them or eat them on the side.

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Ground beef and chicken

You can also add a third option, such as steak, if you like. When my mother-in-law made her spread, she made ground beef on the stove and chicken in the crock pot. My husband is partial to ground beef for tacos so I make it frequently on the stove with Old El Paso taco seasoning. Their seasonings work well on other meats, too.

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Dessert

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs where you can buy Mexican cookies at almost any locally owned grocery store. If you do not live near a Mexican grocery store, consider making or purchasing Mexican wedding cookies or flan.

Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe | Joyofbaking

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Drinks

If the group you're serving loves margaritas, whip up a homemade batch. Consider using fun cups and/or drink markers. If you're hosting a holiday or other family event, provide kiddie cocktails as well that are just as much fun.

Great Mexican Cookbooks on Amazon

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    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      Your hub certainly activated my appetite. Off to the taco bar.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks!

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      I go to a Methodist church, which means monthly pot-luck carry-in dinners of casseroles and various pale foods. When we switch it up to a taco bar, the food completely disappears! Delicious hub, thank you for sharing.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I can imagine! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Peniksen Pidennys 6 years ago

      Sounds good!!!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks!

    • Gabby G profile image

      Gabby G 6 years ago from USA

      I love Mexican cookies. I'm also from Shytown :)

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Very nice! :)

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Yum, this looks delicious! I was at a get together that served a yummy taco bar last weekend. The choices of meat were vegetarian, beef and chicken. I thought this was so smart to make sure everyone had an option - and the tacos themselves were soooo good!!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! That's awesome when buffets have lots of options. My husband and I went to a party on a Friday during Lent last year that had a taco bar. There were lots of great options that did not include meat. For those who do enjoy different types of meat, the different options just mean more possibilities for multiple tacos.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      A taco bar is a great idea! I did this one year for a family Christmas get-together, and everyone loved it. Voted up!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! That's awesome.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Guacamole is my favorite ingredient. Makes tacos taste oh-so good!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love it, too!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is a great idea. I think I'll do that for dinner soon. I like to substitute spinach for iceberg lettuce because it's more healthy and it tastes good too.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! Sounds good. Spinach is a great alternative.

    • Chasing Riley profile image

      Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      I love how you laid out the information in this hub. It's like an easy shopping list for a fun meal to share with family and friends. Thanks!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much! I'm really glad to hear that.

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 5 years ago from USA

      I love taco bars. Thanks for sharing.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Awesome! You're very welcome.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 5 years ago from Oakland, California

      Well written,interesting and informative hub

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I love the way you've broken down all the ingredients. Looking forward to making this one, thanks! :)

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks MelChi! Let me know how it goes!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      I love homemade guacamole, and tacos!!! Delicious hub and Voted up!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Me too Emily! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Amy 5 years ago

      This is going to be for daughters graduation party in June we are a big fan of mexican food. i have done this before for birthday parties and always a big hit. Remember keep the hot items hot and the cold items cold.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Amy! I hope that the party goes well.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      What a great hub! Great idea for a spread for a get-together with family or friends. I love all the options so that guests can put it all together themselves. I love, too, how attractive and well-put together your hub is. So well laid out. Many votes!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, Vicki! I agree that spreads with lots of different options are great for group gatherings. Everyone can find something that they like.

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Yum this looks fantastic! I want to try this soon. Take care, Kelley

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Kelley! I hope that you can try it soon.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      We do a taco night every week at my house! I also usually provide both soft and hard shells, my hubby likes the hard (stand n stuff) and my daughter and I like the soft. Awesome hub, voted up and useful.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Nice! I usually provide both hard and soft shells when my husband and I have tacos. I like soft, and he likes both.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Guess what I'm having for lunch now. That hub made my mouth water. Great hub, sharing.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome! Thanks!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is a great idea for game nights and other fun family events. I love to make tacos for large crowds. Thank you for sharing a great and detailed hub.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Yes, for sure! Thanks!

    • kitkat1141 profile image

      kitkat1141 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with you, regular sour cream is the only way to go. Just use less! I like to zest a lime in mine on taco night, and maybe a little squeeze of the lime juice to make it extra delicious. The other must on my list is cilantro. I think it is essential! Thanks for the ideas.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm glad that someone agrees with me about sour cream. :) Lime and cilantro are great options!

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I had forgotten about tacos. Thanks for reminding me and for all the great suggestions for fillings. I tend to buy regular too in most things. I must do this soon. Thanks.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm glad that this is helpful for you, tebo! Enjoy.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 4 years ago from Mumbai

      Hey Randomcreative, this is a beautiful recipe. Time to make some Taco over the weekend. Thank you for the detailed hub. Cheers!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Toytasting! That's great.

    • Missy Mac profile image

      Missy Mac 4 years ago from Illinois

      I love Taco's ! I like the idea of buying the Spanish rice and I will definitely try. I recently started making a salsa and love it. I add some of the salsa in an avacodo to get that twang or kick. Thanks for the article.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, Missy Mac! I'm sure that salsa is a delicious addition to guacamole.

    • Julianne Burkett profile image

      Julianne 4 years ago from Dallas, TX

      My goodness, those look delicious!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Julianne!

    • chinared profile image

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Making my mouth water!! Mexican food is my favorite food of all. Since being in China, it's been years since I've had tacos. I've searched for ingredients but have not been able to find what I need. Thanks for rubbing it in, now I really miss them. Voted up and awesome.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      chinared, best of luck finding the ingredients in China! Tacos are a staple dinner in our house, and I would miss them a lot, too.

    • GwennyOh profile image

      GwennyOh 4 years ago from LaLa Land

      It looks so good. I had supper not too long ago but crave a taco now.

      This article provides a sensible solution for large get-togethers. I shall attempt to commit your practical suggestion to memory.

      Thanks so much!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, GwennyOh! This resource is always here so you can refer back to it any time you want. There is no need to commit everything to memory. :)

    • insuranceagentguy profile image

      Courtney McCutchen 4 years ago from San Angelo, Texas

      Well, I know what we're having for dinner tonight. :)

      Thanks!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, insuranceagentguy! Enjoy.

    • bigsands profile image

      bigsands 4 years ago from London

      Looks like this Hub took lots of time, because it is well presented.

    • ameliam.michelle1 profile image

      Ameliam Michelle 4 years ago from London, England

      hmmm.....yummm

    • VictoriaSheffield profile image

      Author Victoria Sheffield 4 years ago from Georgia

      Looks Good! I could eat these everyday!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      bigsands, yep, I spend a lot of time on most of my hubs.

      Thanks, ameliam and Victora! Tacos are the best.

    • Margie Lynn profile image

      Margie Lynn 14 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

      Now I want some! Great info and good looking hub! Thanks for sharing!

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