How to Make Taco Shells from Scratch or Make Tortillas into Hard Shells

When you are looking for recipes that tell you how to make taco shells, most start with premade tortillas from the store. There are very few recipes that tell you how to make taco shells from tortillas made from scratch. We explain both ways.

Use this recipe to make soft shell taco shells and hard shell taco shells. 

This recipe is for flour tortillas, and it is super easy to make them into hard-shelled tacos. We like flour tortillas because we prefer the taste and texture. You can use them as the base for your taco shells and also to make burritos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes. 

How to Make Taco Shells

If you already have tortillas from the store and want to use those to make taco shells, skip down to the taco making part. But if you want the full experience, start from the beginning. Making taco shells is easy.

Follow these step-by-step directions for the soft or crispy taco shells you enjoy at your favorite restaurant. The great news is you likely already have the ingredients at home. This recipe makes 12 – 16 shells, depending on how large you roll them out.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, lard, or other palm oil free oil
  • 1 cup hot water

Homemade Taco Shells and Tortillas

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can use it for this. Otherwise, combine by hand.

  2. Add the oil and water the the mixture. Mix thoroughly. If mixing by hand, knead until all ingredients are well incorporated and the dough comes together in a ball. Continue mixing until smooth.

NOTE: If using a stand mixer, mix for about 2 minutes on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times, then set the speed to low and mix for another 2 minutes.

  1. Transfer dough to a well-floured work surface.

  2. Divide the dough into about 16 equal portions. Roll each into a ball. Flatten slightly with your hands. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes or as much as an hour.

  3. Heat a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

  4. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll each dough ball so that it forms a 6 inch diameter circle (approximately). Be sure to keep the surface area floured.

  5. Do not stack the tortillas. Leave them on the surface area, or you can flour a piece of parchment paper, and set the tortillas on it. 

  6. Place a tortilla in the skillet and cook for around 1 minute. When brown spots form and there are small bubbles on top, it is ready to flip.

  7. Flip the tortilla and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. Repeat with all the tortillas, until they are all cooked. It is okay to stack them now. You can wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them soft and supple. 

Serve immediately as homemade soft shell tacos or make into hard shell tacos by following the steps below.

How to Make Taco Shells from Tortillas

Whether you are using the recipe for taco shells above or you have tortillas you bought from the store, here’s how to make them into hard taco shells.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rack in the center position. Make sure that you have about 4 inches of space between that rack and the one below it or the bottom of the oven.

  2. If your tortillas are still warm and pliable, move forward. If they are not, wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.

  3. Brush a little olive oil on both sides of each tortilla.

  4. Pull out the oven rack and use tongs to drape each tortilla over two bars of the rack so that the sides hang down.

  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tortillas are crispy and slightly browned. Use tongs to carefully remove them from the over and transfer them to a baking sheet. Enjoy.

Homemade Soft Shell and Hard Shell Tacos

Once you get in the habit of making foods from scratch, you’ll start wanting to make things you used to buy. Learning how to make taco shells is easy. My family thinks they taste better too. 

Have your own Mexican feast by setting up a taco bar with lots of choices so there is something for everyone. I set out bowls of salsa, diced tomatoes, chopped lettuce, scallions, chopped red onion, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, and black beans. 

My son has a palm oil allergy. This means we read labels on all packaged foods before buying anything. While I can find taco shells at the store that are palm oil free, it’s easy to make them at home from scratch.

I usually make a batch and reserve half the tortillas for soft shell tacos and then cook the other half into hard taco shells. 

If you make these homemade taco shells, leave a note in the Comments to let me know how it went. Check out other recipes on this site such as roasted vegetable soup.

how to make taco shells from scratch
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How to Make Taco Shells from Scratch

Use this recipe to make taco shells. You can make soft shell or hard shell tacos. You can also use this recipe to make store-bought tortillas into hard shelled tacos.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword hard taco shells, homemade taco shells, how to make hard taco shells from tortillas, how to make hardshell tacos, how to make taco shells
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rest Time 15 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • cup olive oil or lard
  • 1 cup hot water

Instructions

To Make Flour Tortillas

  • In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. NOTE: If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can use it for this.
  • Add the oil and hot water to dry ingredients. If mixing by hand, knead until all ingredients are well incorporated and the dough comes together in a ball. Knead and mix until smooth.
    NOTE: If using a stand mixer, mix for about 2 minutes on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl several times. Then set the speed to low and mix for another 2 minutes.
  • Flour a work surface and set the dough on it.
  • Divide tortilla dough into 12 - 16 equal portions. Roll each into a ball. Flatten slightly with your hands. Cover with a towel. Let rest for 15 - 60 minutes.
  • Heat a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll each dough ball so that it forms a 6 inch diameter circle. Keep the area well floured.
  • Place the rolled out dough on floured parchment paper but do not stack the tortillas.
  • Place tortilla in skillet and cook for about 1 minute. When brown spots form and you see small bubbles, flip and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. Repeat with all the tortillas. You can stack them now. Keeping them wrapped in a clean towel will help keep them soft and supple.
  • Serve immediately as homemade soft tacos or make into hard taco shells.

To Make Hard Shell Tacos from Homemade or Store Bought Tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place rack in the center position. Make sure you have about 4 inches of space between the rack and the one below it or the bottom of the oven.
  • If your tortillas are still warm and pliable, continue. If they are not, wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Brush a little olive oil on both sides of the tortillas.
  • Pull out the oven rack and use tongs to drape each tortilla over two bars of the rack so that the sides hang down.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tortillas are crispy and slightly browned. Use tongs to carefully remove them from the over and transfer them to a baking sheet. Serve warm, or cool them and store to enjoy later.

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