Saturday, November 10, 2012

How To Make Hard Taco Shells In Your Oven, Plus . . . A Recipe For Baked Tacos!

This recipe has got to be one of the bigger successes I have had in the kitchen in a long time! Everyone in the family LOVED these!  Not a speck was leftover, which is always a sign that it really and truly was a HIT.

This dish has so many things going for it, that there wasn’t much chance it would be a FAIL, but one never knows with me. :-)

First of all….it’s TACOS!  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t like tacos in one form or another.

It’s quick and easy to make.

It’s got a “Make Your Own” aspect to it…which always makes me happy.

AND…it’s gluten-free!

Oh yeah…and it’s delicious.

Let’s start with the DIY portion of this dish…making the taco shells.

I can count on ONE HAND the number of times I have actually ever purchased hard taco shells from the store. I like the way one guy referred to them in a comment I read. He called them overpriced preformed tortilla shapes. lol.  That pretty much sums it up right there. They are always a disappointment. Especially since crisp taco shells are my favorite.

So this tip for making crunchy taco shells in your oven was mind-blowing to me. Why oh why haven’t I known about this before now!  All the wasted years that have gone by! ;-)

Let’s not waste another minute!

How to Make Your Own Baked Taco Shells

by Eating Well

Working with 6 tortillas at a time, wrap in a barely damp cloth or paper towel and microwave on High until steamed, about 30 seconds. Lay the tortillas on a clean work surface and coat both sides with cooking spray. Then carefully drape each tortilla over two bars of the oven rack. Bake at 375°F until crispy, 7 to 10 minutes.

 

baked tacos

 

What??? That’s IT?? Ridiculously easy. The only thing that makes it even slightly difficult is having to do more than one batch. Of course, in hindsight, I could have definitely done another row of shells on the back of the oven rack. Oh well, next time…because there is definitely going to be a next time…and a next time…and a next time…

Now that we have our shells, we are ready to make Baked Tacos! Why I never thought of this before completely mystifies me. It makes perfect sense. I especially like how the cheese is nice and melty instead of cold like on a traditional taco.

 

baked tacos

I have posted my version of the recipe from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures below…but you really just need to make taco meat/filling like you usually do, fill the shells and bake them casserole style! I decided to try a variation on Lynn’s recipe and we all liked it a lot! We might just have a new go-to way to eat tacos around here. (Just between you and me, I didn’t tell No. 3 son – aka The World’s Pickiest Eater – that there was refried beans in the taco meat…and he didn’t even notice. I think he ended up having six! lol. shhhhh)

Baked Tacos

Adapted from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 15 ounce tomato sauce
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning or 2 – 3 Tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning)
  • 1 – 2 cups shredded cheese (I didn’t measure)
  • 18-20 hard taco shells (I think I used 15, but I crammed them pretty full)
  • Your favorite taco toppings.

 

baked tacos
Brown ground beef. Drain off any fat and add refried beans, tomato sauce, and seasoning.
Spoon mixture into taco shells.
Place filled shells into a 9×13 pan, standing up. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.

 

baked tacos

baked tacos

As you can see from the picture…I topped my taco with a Tomatillo Salsa that I purchased at a local restaurant called Loco Lizard Cantina. It is THE BEST green salsa! I really need to figure out how to make a homemade version of it. It was soooooooo good on the baked tacos! (If anyone has a good recipe…please share!)

 

baked tacos

Wow…writing about these tacos is making me hungry for them all over again. Maybe no leftovers is not such a good thing afterall. :-)

 

 


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147 thoughts on “How To Make Hard Taco Shells In Your Oven, Plus . . . A Recipe For Baked Tacos!

  1. Angela

    Did you use flour or corn tortillas? Did you have any problem with the cooking spray dripping into the bottom of your oven? And finally :) , were the baked tacos soggy on the bottom?
    Thanks! Love your site!

    Reply
    1. Jillee Post author

      You could use either Angela. But I only tried the corn because they are gluten-free. I only lightly sprayed the tortillas so I didn’t have any dripping at all. The bottoms of the tortillas weren’t ‘crisp’ after filling with the meat and baking…but the edges still there. I actually really liked the combination of the chewy and crunchy. :-)

      Reply
  2. Dustin

    If you want an easy tomatillo sauce do this: Get a cookie sheet out and put on bout 8-10 pieces of garlic cracked but with the paper skin still on, a seeded jalapeno, half an onion and a bunch of tomatillos to take up the rest of the space. Cover everyone in about 4tbsp of olive oil and some sea salt. Bake in a 400d oven for about 20 min or until you see the jalapeno is a lil charred on the edges and some of the tomatillos popped. Then just throw them all in a food processor and blend!

    Reply
        1. Shelly Duggan

          I’ve made this and you need to add at least 1/2 cup of cilantro and I use a whole onion. Remember to remove the skins from the garlic and onion AFTER you bake them. I only use a tiny bit of olive oil (don’t like it too greasy) and maybe 2 or 3 jalapenos (espcially if they are small) This keeps in the fridge really well….

          Reply
          1. Andrea

            I add one or two poblano peppers as well as an onion. That, to me, just put it over the top for deliciousness! I’m not a fan of cilantro, so I don’t add that.

            Reply
    1. Petra

      I’ve also made a recipe including lime juice as well cilantro and onion.
      It was really good. And since I’m living in Europe I used green tomatoes instead of the tomatillos.
      I just googled for Salsa verde to find my recipe.

      Reply
  3. KimH

    I grew up along the Texas/Mexico border and we always fried our tacos hard. We use 2 forks to handle them and get a little oil in a skillet hot, drop it in, let it bubble, turn it over, fold in half, hold the sides apart by sticking a fork in them, turn them over again to let the other side get cooked a bit & then drain on a paper towel lined paper plate.
    I know.. if you have ‘grease” issues, your way is better.. but if you dont.. the above is traditional and wonderful. You can fry them to your preferred amount of crispness.

    I love this whole post though.. Doing the tortillas in the oven like that is genus and so is cooking the tacos.
    Yum!!! Tacos, one of my 4 food groups. ;)

    Reply
  4. Landon

    Can’t wait to try this. My kids LOVE tacos! I make my own taco seasoning & buy the components to make what we want instead of the boxed kits. I’ve never thought of baking tortillas into taco shells, but that is genius! Will be making this next week. =)

    Reply
  5. Trixie

    I don’t know how to make tomatillo salsa, it looks difficult but I have a recipe for a WONDERFUL Cilantro dipping sauce. If you like cilantro, you will LOVE this sauce.

    1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
    1 garlic clove, peeled
    1 Tbsp white vinegar
    1 tsp sugar
    1 Tbsp Ranch dressing mix
    Dash Cayenne Pepper
    Juice of one medium lime

    In a blender, mix all ingredients and blend until smooth.
    Chill until serving.

    Reply
    1. Tasha

      I made these (shells, tacos & cilantro dipping sauce) for dinner last night & it was absolutely DELICIOUS! The shells where great, the filling was awesome (I was surprised as I usually don’t like refried beans.) I did make one change for a little more spice/flavor- I used 2 packs of Taco Seasoning (instead of 1) since it was 2 lbs of meat. I made Trixie’s Cilantro sauce (above) and it was wonderful! I drizzled it over the top of the tacos after I put lettuce, tomatoes & a little salsa on them. Sooooooo Delicious- thanks Jillee, Trixie & Lynn!

      Reply
    2. Ana Cristina

      Here is a good anf fairly easy tomatillo sauce

      1 lb. fresh tomatillos
      water
      1/2 small onion
      1 large garlic clove
      1 T packed cilantro leaves
      1 serrano chile or other small hot chile, seeded
      2 T vegetable oil
      1/2 t salt

      Remove papery husks from tomatillos Wash tomatillos and place in a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 inch water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover simmer 10 mins or until tender. Place tomatillos in a blender along with onion, garlic cilantro and chile. Process until pureed. Heat two T oil in a medium saucepan. Add processes tomatillo mixture. Cook two or three minutes. Add one cup chicken broth add 1/2 t salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer sauce 15 mins.

      Reply
      1. Landon

        Mmmmmm, nothing tastes like burnt oven racks. ;)

        Actually you reminded me of a fond memory. My grandmother burned everything my Papa ate because he liked his food burnt. Odd, I know. She was a great cook. I know this, because after he passed away there was never another burnt thing on her table. If I happen to overcook something that looks a little burnt around the edges my husband says, “Ah! Nanny’s recipe?” or “Nanny would be proud.” LOL

        Reply
  6. CATHEE

    I though this would be SOOO difficult, but it is so easy!

    Tomatillo Salsa

    10 tomatillos
    1 jalapeno chiles, seeded and ribs removed
    2 cloves garlic
    1 bunch cilantro
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    1. Remove hulls from tomatillos. Place the tomatillos and jalapeno in a pan and cover with water. Boil until tomatillos are fully cooked and have
    become a dull olive green color., about 10 minutes
    2. Strain the tomatillos and pepper from water and place them directly in a food processor.
    3. Add the garlic and pulse until smooth.
    4. Add the cilantro leaves to food processor and pulse to chop and incorporate.
    5. Season with salt and pepper.
    Makes about 2 cups. Serve with chips, rice, tacos or on burritos.

    Reply
    1. Landon

      Yes, you can do this with flour tortillas. I have a set of fluted pans from Bed Bath & Beyond that I bake flour tortillas in to make taco bowls. In those pans, it’s 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. You just have to watch them. When the flour tortillas start to look golden turn off the oven, slide out the rack & let them sit there for a minute or two to cool so they won’t collapse. Turning a fan on them will work too since there is still heat coming out of the oven.

      Reply
    2. CTY

      I make the corn ones. Both my sons spent a lot of time with people from Central American who cooked for them. They gave their stamp of approval for my tortillas. I use a product called Maseca (found at Walmart) to make authentic tortillas (super fast to make & very inexpensive). I did buy a tortilla press (@$25) too. The secret is in the Maseca , and a process called nixtamalization (an ancient Aztec & Mayan process) which increases the nutrition, texture & taste of the corn. I will be making the shells in just a few minutes & share my results.

      Reply
  7. Comet

    If your oven rack bars are spaced too far for taco shells could you use a regular baking cooling rack? Prop up edges on old clean cans or custard cups etc?

    And I thought to answer the possible dripping spray issue—place a baking pan on the bottom rack –or oven floor if you are using all the racks–to catch any drips. In my oven we also do this to even out the temp to avoid hot and cold spots.
    Making shopping list now!

    Reply
  8. CTY

    One good thing– I think a week’s worth! The shells, the dinner recipe, the taco seasoning reference, secret mixing in of refried beans (stretching the meat), the input recipes from Dustin & others.
    I have to get cooking now just to keep up. I am going to try using a pastry brush to brush on olive oil instead of the spray, b/c that is what is in my cabinet.
    We will have these for dinner tonight. I plan on making them in the casserole dish, but on top of a cooling rack with the hopes of avoiding the soggy bottom. I will report.

    Reply
    1. CTY

      Please forgive me for replying to myself. I just wanted to share my results. I made my tortillas from scratch as usual. Then followed Jillee’s directions (except I brushed them with olive oil instead of using Pam). I took them out of the oven at 7 min. because the edges started to burn. They sat on the counter for a few hours, because I made them in the a m. By dinner time they were still formed–but not so crunchy–rather somewhat pliable. I cooked the meat and drained it very well before filling the shells. They turned out nicely. They were not so crunchy that they broke when I bit them- yet they still held their form. I ended up placing them directly in the casserole dish–they did not go soggy at all. I think because I drained the meat.
      Thanx Jillee, you have given me another meal to impress my sons.

      Reply
  9. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    That looks awesome. Never thought of baking tacos.

    And I do hate the store bought taco shells. In the old days I had a deep fat fryer and taco tongs and made my own that way. But I don’t even have a deep fat fryer anymore. This is a great alternative. Definitely going to try it.

    Reply
  10. cindy

    Yours is the one site i make sure to visit every day!! It’s all amazing.
    L-O-V-E the oven rack method… I too thought “Duh, wow it is that easy”!

    My tomatillo sauce/salsa is a mix of Dustin/ Cathee’s methods with a couple different ingredients. I char tomatillos, jalapeno *and* onion in my cast iron skillet, rough chop (de-seed pepper if desired) and add to a small saucepan with enough water to cover and set to boil. I then transfer to blender with a little garlic, add cilantro, salt and some *cumin* to taste. The sauce will thicken some. Unfortunately I’m a by sight/smell/taste cook, so I don’t have a recipe… I usually use this for tomatillo sour cream enchiladas This method gives me the charred goodness without the added fat- if that’s important :) I usually use it for tomatillo sour cream enchiladas-Yummy!

    Reply
  11. Melissa Banian

    Thanks for the recipe! I made these tonight! I didn’t have any tomato sauce (I’m allergic to tomatoes so I don’t keep much on hand,) so I added some enchilada sauce instead. We are a small family so I halfed the meat mixture. I had a package of 8 tortillas so I used them. These tacos were VERY filling! I’ll be making these again!

    Reply
  12. charlotte wilson

    well we just finished eating and these are great. made a few modifications to adapt to our taste…instead of the tomato sauce i used two cans of rotillia tomatoes hot. i had trouble getting the taco shells to square, or maybe just not patient enough….next time will just use regular taco shells, ok i may try tat one more time. i used green chili enchilada sauce which i poured on top of them all before putting in the oven. they were messy but they were very very nummy. thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Reply
  13. Stephanie Tousley

    Made the shells last night and they were a disaster. Mine were misshapen, too crispy and looked either overcooked or undercooked. I used regular corn tortillas. Is that what everyone else used? And the dripping oil in the oven created a smokey kitchen. I’m thinking I did something wrong, but can’t figure out what.
    One of my kids ate them anyway. I used a flour tortilla and it was DELICIOUS! My oldest son said the meat and beans mix (minus tomato sauce) was the best he ever had.

    Reply
    1. Susan

      I’d suggest reading Jillee’s directions again (maybe go to link provided) and try again! if the kids liked it, it’ worth doing it again…and maybe too much oil…put a cookie sheet under it like someone suggested.

      Reply
  14. Beth D.

    Wow…these look sooo incredibly good! I have tried the oven method in the past from Eating Well to bake the taco shells, and it was a complete fail. :( Maybe it was the brand of corn tortillas I had, or maybe it was because I didn’t microwave them first. Will give it another try do to how incredible yours look. The whole thing looks so yummy! Thanks to Pinterest, I have been making a new version of tacos for “Taco Tuesday” each week. This is going on the menu for next week… :)

    Reply
  15. deb

    OK, if you are going to make them completely from scratch…
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
    1 egg
    about 1 3/4 to 2 cups water. closer to 2 is best
    salt
    Pour onto a giddle like you would a pancake. Flip when edges curl up. Fry. Put on 1 paper plate with 2 napkins, add the meat, fold over. Stack them up as you go and they will stay warm. Add toppings. Eat.

    Reply
  16. Cynthia

    Made these for dinner last night.
    Had a little trouble with the tortillas sticking to our oven racks…the part that makes the sides, hanging below the oven rack, tend to get closer together as they bake. We only ruined one, but that made a nice chef’s snack.
    The filling was amazing…very flavorful and I liked the texture. Much better than plain dry ground beef like we normally use.
    However, I have to ask…HOW did y’all eat them without getting COVERED in the stuff? I suppose you all used smaller tortillas…we used what we had on hand…8 inch rounds. But, still…they were SO messy! But SO yummy. It was like a cross between a taco and a sloppy joe! lol definitely going to use smaller shells next time.

    Reply
  17. JoannaB - FutureMrzButlah

    MIND BLOWN!!! These look so good I’m tempted to go to the store at 4:45pm to get tortilla shells for supper! I’m spinning just thinking of the possibilities! Thank you for sharing :)

    Reply
  18. Landon

    This was a hit with my family of 4. I did 20 shells in 2 batches. The first batch I warmed in the microwave & spritzed with butter spray. The second batch I just pulled from the bag & placed on the oven rack. I was surprised that my second batch did better than the first. They all came out crispy, but the second batch just folded itself over the rack as it cooked prettier than the first batch. Had to bake them in 2 baking dishes since 9×13 is the biggest I had. We had 3 left over.

    They were definitely sloppy, but we’ll make them again and again. =)

    Reply
  19. missie

    I’ve posted before about how picky an eater my husband is. I was nervous to try this since tacos are his favorite meal and he hates when I try new things with dinner. But, but, BUT… he is devouring these right now and says that he likes them even better. I haven’t told him there is refried beans in his tacos though or it would all be over, lol. Thanks Jillee for a new recipe my husband will actually eat!

    Reply
  20. Hazel

    finally somethin I can help you with Jillee, mexican tomatillo salsa…… place about 7 tomatillos and 2 serrano peppers in a pot with very little water (enough to steam and for it not to stick) cover and boil (you’ll know thy are done because they chage to a yellowish color). In a blender place a clove of garlic (raw) salt to taste, the cooked jalapenos, and about half the cooked tomatillos, grind… add the rest of the tomatillos and pulse to create a nice chunky conistancy….
    For a smoky variation instead of boiling them bring out your cast iron grill pan and blacken them…. you can play with the recipe with more or less jalapenos, try different types of peppers, add a regular tomato to reduce the acidity, and if you do add cilantro and onions (chopped and raw) to vary the taste do so only in the salsa that will be consumed that day because those oxidice quite quick other wise the salsa will kee quite a bit in the fridge …. some tips from us mexicans… in my home we make all the above variations… left over salsa is great to make a ton of quick recipes, chilaquiles, enchiladas, and various caseroles…. hope this helps =)

    Reply
  21. Hazel

    p.s. for super cruchy crisp tacos (even at the bottom) you heat the filling in the pan and add the cheese to melt it, fill the taco shells as you would and serve, skip the oven part, its what makes it soggy, if you like them extra cheesy you can microwave for a few seconds just to melt th extra cheese….

    Reply
  22. Gwen Yancey

    I loved this recipe! I made them the same day I read about them. I’ve always used regular red salsa, but your green salsa intrigued me. I looked up a recipe on the internet and tried this particular one. It was very good and easy to make.

    Green Salsa
    (note: I halved the original recipe. Mine made about a cup of salsa)

    1/2 lb tomatillos (about 5 or 6)
    1/2 Spanish onion ( I used a plain ol’ yellow onion)
    2 cloves garlic
    1/4 – 1/2 cup cilantro
    1/4 jalapeno pepper ( I used 1/2 pepper. It was hot, but on the taco it tasted just right)
    juice from half a lime
    little kosher salt

    Peel off paper from tomatillos and cut in half. Place cut side down on cookie sheet and place under broiler till skins start to blacken. ( about 8 min). Scrape everything into blender. Add all additional ingredients and blend. Pour into a dish and serve.

    Reply
  23. meagan

    hi i was wondering if you could use the box taco shells instead of making your own. the only reason i ask is because i have a very busy schedule and juggle for kids at the same time. I don’t have time to bake the shells before i put them in the pan.

    Reply
  24. Kim Sprankle

    I tried these tonight and LOVED them! Of course, my hubby thought there were too many beans but even my picky daughters liked them. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular tacos again. Thank you so much for your daily blog!

    Reply
  25. Donna Ellison

    My sister in law is from Mexico and I love her home made salsa verde but I have found some at Walmart that is really good. It is called World Table Roasted Salsa Verde.

    Reply
  26. jen

    I have a question about the shells. My tortillas puffed up so much in the 7-8 minutes that I almost could not get them off the oven rack. Is it because I used flour tortillas?? Other than that, this recipe is really great. Thanks!

    Reply
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  28. Sally

    So I was super excited to try this. Got all my ingredients and was ready to go. I softened my tortillas and went to put them into the oven only to find my oven slats weren’t long enough to even hold the small corn tortillas. Heartbroken! Do have any other methods for the oven rack challenged people? I hate the store bought hard shells… Thanks for any advice!

    Reply
  29. Marla

    Okay, I’ve made this twice so far. The first time, my husband said to me, “I love the beans in the beef. Make it like this all the time.” Now this will always be my go-to recipe for taco night. Thanks Jillee!!

    Reply

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