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Taco salad has been my go-to meal lately. It is so yummy, healthy, delicious and versatile. Some may call them tostadas, but this is the ultimate taco salad recipe made with homemade tortilla shell bowls.
It took me a few times to master these tortilla bowls. I love the ones you get at a Mexican restaurant that are so bubbly and crispy. I think those might be deep fried, so I made the healthier choice and perfected these by cooking them in the oven.
You can make this taco salad vegan, vegetarian or use substitutions for any of the ingredients to suite your dietary needs and tastes. I usually serve this family style so that my kids will pick out what they want from all the ingredients or “toppings”.
Aside from the amazing edible tortilla bowl, there are so many possibilities for making this the best taco salad ever! For protein, you can add any combination of carne asada, chicken, fish, pork and beans. I’ve really enjoyed mine with black beans and chicken.
Because I love ranch so much, I love pouring some homemade ranch on top. You can also add a dollop of sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo or your favorite hot sauce.
This meal is so easy and great to have when you don’t know what to do about dinner. Usually I already have most of these ingredients in my kitchen anyways.
Taco Salad Recipe With Homemade Tortilla Shell Bowls
You can use any of all of the following ingredients:
- Tortilla Bowls (see recipe below)
- Organic green leaf lettuce – romaine or iceberg work fine too
- Beans – black, pinto, kidney or refried vegetarian beans
- Black olives
- Shredded Mexican cheese blend
- Chicken, steak, pork or fish – I love pollo asada
- Tortilla strips or chips
- Sour cream
- Pico de gallo
- Ranch or other salad dressing
- Hot sauce
Homemade Tortilla Shell Bowls
Oh my gosh! I had the worst time trying to perfect these. I read so many blogs, watched so many YouTube videos and nothing worked.
There were methods of turning an oven-safe bowl upside down and placing the tortilla around it. There were methods that used molds or other cake or pie pans with aluminum foil balled up inside to keep the tortilla from caving in.
The problem I had is that the tortilla ended up sticking to the bowl or pan whether or not I used oil. Trying to pull it apart ended up in a big mess and a ton of shredded up no good tortilla strips.
I also tried tortillas of all kinds and they would burn around the edges but not get crispy in the middle. Talk about frustrating!
So this is what worked for me…I combined all the methods I liked and came up with my own recipe for these tortillas bowls. I wanted a method where the tortilla wouldn’t stick but it would cook thoroughly.
Here’s the deal – it’s all about the tortillas you use! The large burrito sized tortillas were too big. Both those and any other size didn’t cook well. This is probably why the restaurants deep fry them.
Alas! The organic uncooked tortillas from Costco was the winner. They are smaller than regular tortillas but they are just the right size for even cooking and created the perfect tortilla bowl shape.
If you can find any uncooked tortillas, I’d try those first!
Here is a step by step tutorial of what I did to make these amazing tortilla shell bowls for my taco salad:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Take some aluminum foil and ball it up lightly into a ball the size of a grapefruit. Don’t worry about it being too firm or packed. Just ball it up really quick to form a basic round shape. Place the foil balls on the parchment paper, evenly spaced. See my example below.
4. Place the tortillas lightly over the balls of aluminum foil, distributed as evenly as possible. See below.
5. Cook in the oven for 8-9 minutes at 400 degrees. The middle rack should be fine. 9 minutes of cook time will give you more of a crispier tortilla shell and 8 minutes will give you a nice and crispy top with a soften center.
6. When you pull the tortilla bowls out of the oven, the foil pulls away effortlessly, without sticking or breaking apart.
7. Transfer your tortilla shell bowls to a plate and add your taco salad ingredients for the best taco salad ever! Enjoy!
See how great they turned out?
Enjoy your delicious and healthy taco salad with some homemade margaritas!
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