Tutorials

How to Make the Ultimate Taco Bar

Discover the ultimate guide to creating a taco bar to turn your next gathering into a fiesta of flavors! Learn how to mix and match ingredients for a customizable feast that caters to every taste.

Small bowls filled with colorful ingredients to make tacos with.Pin
Taco Bar. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Whether you make this epic taco bar for a casual gathering or a Cinco de Mayo celebration, it will be the day’s hit! Both kids and adults will love it. Everyone can gather around the table and build their own perfect taco plate.

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Make your own DIY taco fiesta. You can hire a caterer to make it, but it won’t be as delicious and will cost you a lot of money.

Why Should You Make Your Own?

  • Customizable Dining Experience: Guests can choose from various ingredients to create their perfect taco, accommodating personal tastes and dietary restrictions.
  • Social Interaction: The interactive nature of a taco bar encourages guests to engage with one another, making mealtime more enjoyable and memorable.
  • Variety of Choices: With a range of fillings, toppings, and sauces, a taco bar ensures there’s something for everyone, from meat lovers to vegetarians.
  • Fun and Engaging: Building tacos can be a playful and creative activity, adding an element of fun to any gathering or party.
  • Easy to Serve and Scale: A taco bar allows for easy serving and scalability, making it suitable for both small family dinners and large parties.
  • Dietary Accommodation: It easily caters to various dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, ensuring all guests have delicious choices.
  • Economical: A taco bar is quite economical compared to other party choices. Many of the options on your board are cheap, for instance, beans, rice, and vegetables.
Taco fillings and toppings on a black board.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

What to Include in Your Spread

  • Meat Filling: An easy meat filling like this ground beef taco meat or chicken tacos is an economical, delicious option to include.
  • Seafood Filling: Seafood taco fillings, including lobster tacos, shrimp tacos, or salmon tacos, are all good choices.
  • Vegan or Vegetarian Filling Option: Including a vegetarian option is easy. Black or pinto beans, quinoa, and jackfruit fillings are all delicious.
  • Guacamole: Make your own if you have the time; the flavor is far superior. You could also use sliced avocado or cut it into chunks.
  • Lettuce: Shred lettuce to serve with the tacos.
  • Tomatoes: Dice some tomatoes finely. Tomatoes are always better in the summer, but in the winter, you may find some cherry tomatoes that are perfectly ripe.
  • Cheese: Grate mild cheddar, Monterey Jack, a Mexican chees blend, and/or use a crumbly cheese like cotija or queso fresco.
  • Refried Beans: Refried beans or frijoles are perfect for your taco bar.
  • Mexican Rice: Mexican rice is always a big hit. It’s cheap and takes very little time to prepare.
  • Radishes: Sliced fresh or pickled radishes add a spicy note to your tacos. They are particularly good on seafood tacos.
  • Onions: Sliced fresh or pickled red onions add that earthy, savory note. Sliced scallions or green onions are great, too.
  • Peppers: Sliced fresh jalapeños, serranos, or pickled peppers will both work. You could also put out a small bowl with red pepper flakes for those who like extra spicy food.
  • Salsas: Choose some of your favorite salsas, like this chipotle salsa or pico de gallo. This peach salsa is a local favorite.
  • Sour Cream: A creamy ingredient like sour cream or Mexican creme will tie your taco board all together.
  • Hot Sauces: A store-bought or homemade hot sauce collection for your guests is a great idea.
  • Cilantro: A little chopped cilantro to top a taco is never bad.
  • Limes: Incorporate lime wedges or grate some lime zest into a small bowl.
  • Coleslaw: Coleslaw pairs especially well with seafood tacos. This spicy coleslaw was made especially for them. For a little tropical twist, we also developed a pineapple coleslaw.
  • Tortilla Chips: Tortilla chips add a nice crunch to soft tacos and are a great vessel to scoop up fillings.
  • Tortillas: Choose flour and corn tortillas, and hard taco shells are fun, too.
Huge board with a taco bar set up on it. Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Pro Tips for Your Success

  1. Serve the items you want to keep hot, like the fillings and beans, in small crockpots or chafing dishes, warming trays, and covered serving bowls.
  2. Use whatever small bowls or ramekins that you have in the house. They do not need to match; indeed, they add additional interest to the board if they don’t.
  3. Buy a tortilla warmer to keep tortillas hot. They are cheap, work great, and keep the tortillas warm for a long time. Here is an article on how to warm tortillas in eight different ways.
  4. Invest in a charcuterie tool set. It has small knives, spoons, forks, and tongs and is perfect for your taco bar.

How to Set up Your Table

You will want the line for food to go from one direction. So direct the traffic to start at one place. Here, you will want to set up the plates.

Then, arrange items that pair well together near each other. For instance, place a bowl of coleslaw near the seafood or fish tacos.

Stage them in the order that you would normally build a taco. Namely meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and, after the essentials, the other fancy optional toppings.

Place tortillas in a couple of places so that people can make more than one. Place the condiments like sour cream or salsa toward the end of your setup. Side dishes like rice and black beans can go there, too.

At the very end of the table, set up the forks and knives, if needed, and last, the napkins.

Set up a beverage station in a different place that is separated from the food.

Small bowls filling with colorful taco toppings.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

What to do with Leftovers

Many of the leftovers can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Place alike items in the same bowl to conserve space in the refrigerator. For instance, the red onion and scallions could be consolidated into one bowl.

All of the tacos meats listed on this page freeze great except the fish and seafood tacos. They should be eaten fresh. Beans could also be frozen. Do not freeze the fresh vegetables.

If you have extra vegetables that you can’t use in time, consider making your own homemade vegetable stock.

Any salsas or sauces that haven’t become contaminated can return to their jars. If they have been contaminated, it’s best to dispose of them.

Sour cream, mayonnaise-based dishes (like coleslaw), or any other dairy item should be discarded if it has been outside in the heat for more than one hour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make a taco bar gluten-free?

The beauty of a taco bar is that most of the items included are gluten-free. The only thing that won’t be is flour tortillas.

How to prepare tortillas?

We like to make a variety of preparations for the tortillas. The best way to heat street taco-type tortillas is to heat a large batch in the oven. Then, keep them warm in a tortilla warmer. Warm some with the oil method and keep those hot, wrapped in aluminum foil. You can also buy hard tortilla shells from the store and heat them in the oven. To learn more about how to heat tortillas, we have an in-depth article.

How much should you make?

Generally, we plan on four pounds of filling for about 20 adults. Remember that folks only use a few tablespoons of filling on each taco. For toppings, don’t go crazy. Again, people only take a little bit of this and that.

Should you include dessert options?

While unnecessary, you could include a few dessert options such as churros, tres leches cake, tropical fruit sorbets, conchas, or sopaipillas with a sweet filling and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Huge board with a taco bar set up on it.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Beverages for a Taco Bar

  • Mexican Beer or Cervesas: Choose beers like Dos Equis, Modelo, and Corona. Be sure to have lime wedges to serve with the beer.
  • Margaritas: Margaritas are perfect for your taco bar. Whip up a big batch of these Cadillac Margaritas. These pomegranate margaritas are fruity and delicious. Or try a pineapple margarita for a different take on them. Again, near the margaritas supply fresh lime wedges and a plate of coarse salt to make them.
  • Daiquiris: Refreshing daiquiris are a great beverage to serve with a taco bar. Make a virgin strawberry version that is kid-friendly to make them feel important, too.
  • Sangria: Make sangria cocktails or just make a big punch bowl full.
  • Peach Nectar: For the kids, choose peach juice or strawberry juice with a splash of Topo Chico, Sprite, or Club soda. Garnish the glass with a maraschino cherry or a fresh strawberry for a fun flair.

Other Delicious Taco Meat to Make

Helpful Tools

Shrimp taco filling, guacamole and Mexican rice in bowls.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

That’s how simple it is to create your own DIY taco bar. It is an economical, fun way to throw a party and will be the talk of your friends and family.

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Section of a taco bar with various ramekins holding toppings and fillings.Pin

How to Make the Ultimate Taco Bar

Discover the ultimate guide to creating a taco bar to turn your next gathering into a fiesta of flavors! Learn how to mix and match ingredients for a customizable feast that caters to every taste.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree, Main Course, party bar
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 20 people
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $40

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds Meat Filling
  • 1 Pound Seafood Filling
  • 1 Pound Vegan or Vegetarian Filling Option
  • Guacamole
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Beans
  • Coleslaw
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Hard Taco Shells

Instructions

  • An easy meat filling like this ground beef taco meat or chicken tacos is an economical, delicious option to include.
    2 Pounds Meat Filling
  • Seafood taco fillings, including lobster tacos, shrimp tacos, or salmon tacos, are all good choices.
    1 Pound Seafood Filling
  • Including a vegetarian option is easy. Black or pinto beans, quinoa, and jackfruit fillings are all delicious.
    1 Pound Vegan or Vegetarian Filling Option
  • Make your own if you have the time; the flavor is far superior. You could also use sliced avocado or cut it into chunks.
    Guacamole
  • Mexican rice is always a big hit. It's cheap and takes very little time to prepare.
    Mexican Rice
  • Refried beans or frijoles are perfect for your taco bar.
    Refried Beans
  • Coleslaw pairs especially well with seafood tacos. This spicy coleslaw was made especially for them. For a little tropical twist, we also developed a pineapple coleslaw.
    Coleslaw

For the Tacos

  • Make the fillings the day before you plan to serve.
  • Make any extras like the rice and beans just before serving.
  • Set up your taco bar. Add your fillings to crockpots or chafing dishes so that they stay warm. Set them on your serving platform.
  • Place all of your desired toppings and sauces in small bowls or ramekins. Set these out on your serving area.
  • Place any extras, like tortilla chips on your board.
    Tortilla Chips
  • Warm your tortillas and keep them hot in tortilla warmers or in foil pouches.
    Corn Tortillas, Flour Tortillas, Hard Taco Shells
  • Set up the plates at the beginning of your table and the silverware and napkins at the end of your table.
  • See the article above for important tips and tricks.
Tortilla Warmer
See all of my favorite tools and gift ideas on my New Amazon Store!Check out Binky’s Amazon Store!

Notes

Toppings
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Grated Cheese
  • Chopped Red Onion
  • Sliced Radishes
  • Sliced Hot Peppers
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Lime Wedges
Sauces
  • Various Salsas
  • Hot Sauces
  • Sour Cream or Mexican Creme
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Beth Neels

Author: Beth Neels

Title: Owner

Expertise: canning, game meat cooking, smoking

Bio:

Beth Neels is an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, author, and recipe developer. She founded Binky’s Culinary Carnival in 2014, focusing on “Crafting delicious recipes with sustainable ingredients.” She has been featured in multiple online publications, including MSN, Reader’s Digest, Associated Press, and Parade.

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