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How to Create an Amazing Taco Bar

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


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.


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.



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.



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.


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.



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.

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Guacamole Recipe | Chef Tips



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.


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.


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.


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.



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



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

More recipe resources from the author.


Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on May 27, 2016:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 21, 2013:

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

Thanks, ameliam and Victora! Tacos are the best.

Author Victoria Sheffield from Georgia on April 21, 2013:

Looks Good! I could eat these everyday!

Ameliam Michelle from London, England on April 20, 2013:


bigsands from London on April 19, 2013:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 17, 2013:

That's great, insuranceagentguy! Enjoy.

Courtney McCutchen from San Angelo, Texas on April 17, 2013:

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


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 16, 2013:

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. :)

GwennyOh on April 15, 2013:

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!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 15, 2013:

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.

Just call me, Rick from Asia, and all over on April 15, 2013:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 15, 2013:

Thanks, Julianne!

Julianne from Dallas, TX on April 15, 2013:

My goodness, those look delicious!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 15, 2013:

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

Missy Mac from Illinois on April 15, 2013:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 13, 2013:

Thanks, Toytasting! That's great.

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on April 12, 2013:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 07, 2013:

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

tebo from New Zealand on April 06, 2013:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 28, 2013:

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

kitkat1141 from Ontario, Canada on February 28, 2013:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 03, 2012:

Yes, for sure! Thanks!

Shell Vera from Connecticut, USA on August 03, 2012:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 30, 2012:

That's awesome! Thanks!

Jeff Boettner from Tampa, FL on July 30, 2012:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 27, 2012:

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

Kitty Fields from Summerland on June 27, 2012:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 16, 2012:

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

kelleyward on June 16, 2012:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 31, 2012:

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.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on May 31, 2012:

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!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 01, 2012:

Thanks Amy! I hope that the party goes well.

Amy on May 01, 2012:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 16, 2012:

Me too Emily! Thanks!

emilybee on March 16, 2012:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 05, 2012:

Thanks MelChi! Let me know how it goes!

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on February 04, 2012:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 17, 2011:

Thanks so much!

Victor Mavedzenge from Oakland, California on December 17, 2011:

Well written,interesting and informative hub

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 12, 2011:

Awesome! You're very welcome.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on December 12, 2011:

I love taco bars. Thanks for sharing.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 09, 2011:

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

The Evolista from Los Angeles on November 09, 2011:

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!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 30, 2011:

Thanks! Sounds good. Spinach is a great alternative.

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on October 30, 2011:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 03, 2011:

I love it, too!

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on October 03, 2011:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 22, 2011:

Thanks! That's awesome.

Holle Abee from Georgia on September 22, 2011:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 14, 2011:

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.

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on September 14, 2011:

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!!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 31, 2011:

Very nice! :)

Gabby G from USA on May 30, 2011:

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

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 26, 2011:


Peniksen Pidennys on May 26, 2011:

Sounds good!!!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 24, 2011:

I can imagine! Thanks!

dearabbysmom from Indiana on May 24, 2011:

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.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 23, 2011:


Husky1970 on May 23, 2011:

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

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