Do you like your salad served in wavy, crispy tortilla bowls? Have you found yourself carefully studying taco salads at your favorite restaurant, trying to decode just how to make those wonderful shells? Today, we’re here to show you how. Build-your-own taco salads are great at-home dinners for the family and for guests, and—great news—you don’t have to stand in line at your local Mexican joint with the ‘ole “taco salad, hold the salad” order to make them yourself.
If I were feeling super hardcore, we’d be starting from scratch. But let’s take baby steps. Go get a bag of your favorite tortillas, preferably fresh, from a local shop or company. Either corn or flour will work. Standard-sized corn tortillas will make more of a shallow tostada than a deep bowl, so go for a bigger size if you have the option.
There are a couple of methods to choose from:
This is how the pros do it. Most of them use specialty fryer baskets, but you don’t need anything too fancy.
Fill a deep pot with about 2 inches of frying oil and allow it to heat up.
Once it begins to quiver, drop in a tortilla and push a metal ladle into the center of the tortilla, pressing down so that the ends come up around it. You can also use a small metal bowl to do this, as shown in this video.
Hold for about one minute, at which point the shape should set. Continue frying for about another minute, carefully flipping the bowl to cook both sides, until golden brown.
Don’t take it out too soon, or your shell will come out chewy instead of crunchy—it takes some practice to get it just right. Remove to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
There are also a couple of cool ways to bake taco salad shells. Before trying either of these, it’s best to lightly grease and heat your tortillas to get them flexible. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Method 1: Place oven-safe glasses or glass jars face-down on a cookie sheet. Drape a tortilla over each one, using your fingers to press the sides down and create that fluted bowl shape, as shown here. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cool and to harden completely.
Method 2: Flip a muffin pan upside-down and lightly grease the bottoms and in-betweens of each cup. Press your tortillas into the spaces between the cups, as shown here. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cool and to harden completely.