THE LAND O'LAKES BLOG — Bringing inspiration to those who share our love of good food. —
Elements of a Taco Bar

Whether you are serving your family of 4 or entertaining 100 people, a taco bar can be a guaranteed hit. There are 3 basic components of a taco bar – the meat, the condiments and something to hold it all together. Within each of those components, the possibilities can seem endless. You can make it as simple or gourmet as you would like.  Here is some information on the options to help you guide your choices.

The meat of it!

When serving a taco bar, it is best to limit the meat choices to 1 or 2 options. Too many choices will make will make serving more difficult.

Ground beef

Ground beef is a very common way to serve tacos. It’s easy to brown the meat and season with packaged taco seasoning mix.  

Beef Tacos


Shredded Beef

Shredded beef is very easy and convenient to serve large crowds. You can make the meat ahead in the slow cooker. Before serving, shred the beef with two forks and your meat is ready to go when you are.

Shredded Beef Tacos


Chicken or Turkey

You can use ground chicken or turkey and cook it just like ground beef. Another option is to use thinly sliced grilled chicken.

Cheesy Chicken Tacos


Fish can be a little more delicate to work with and does not hold as well. Use fish if you are serving a small group and are able to prepare and serve immediately.

Grilled Fish Tacos


Another options is to skip the meat altogether. Black beans or refried beans are great substitutes for the meat protein.


The condiment complements!

The condiments are what personalize the meal and make it special.  You can start with purchased prepared product or you can make it from scratch. A combination of the two may work best depending on your time and budget. A rule of thumb to remember: the more choices you have, the less quantity you will need of each item. Also keep in mind you will need serving bowls for each item and plenty of table room for the options you choose.


With salsa you can go traditional or be creative, whether hot or spicy. Having a homemade salsa made with fresh tomatoes is definitely worth the effort.

Roasted Tomato & Chiles Salsa

Salsa can be used interchangeably with taco sauce or picante sauce. Another creative option is to try pico de gallo - a fresh relish similar to salsa but can include other ingredients like jicama, cucumbers, lemon or lime juice, bell peppers, and possibly fruit like oranges or mango.


Shredded Cheddar cheese is most commonly served but there are several other wonderful cheeses to choose from - Montery Jack, hot pepper, smoked cheddar... You can be authentic and use a Mexican cheese like Chihuahua or try the quick melting, creamy American cheese.


Tomatoes add color and freshness to a taco. Roma tomatoes are nice because they are “meaty” and will hold nicely. Purchase vine ripened tomatoes to get a bright red color and better flavor. It’s best to remove the seeds before chopping so the juice doesn’t water down your taco.


Any lettuce will do. A nice leaf lettuce like Romaine adds color and texture. Simply shred the lettuce by cutting it into thin strips. Substituting shredded coleslaw mix will add a nice crunch to the tacos.


There are some great new prepared guacamoles introduced in the grocery stores the past couple of years. Nothing compares to making it with fresh avocado if you have the time.

Mexican Guacamole

If you don’t want to go through all the effort of guacamole, you can serve cut up an avocado for great flavor and texture. To keep the avocado from turning brown, toss it with a little lime juice.    


Serving warm refried beans not only tastes good but it can help hold the taco together. Black beans are another great choice for adding protein, especially for vegetarians.

Other things to consider

Cilantro, sliced green onions or sour cream make great additions to any taco bar.

Pulling it all together

There are two main options for taco shells – either soft or hard shell. A combination of both is nice because most people have a specific preference. For optimum serving quality, be sure to follow the package directions for heating and serving.

Soft shell

Tortilla come in a variety of sizes and can be made from corn or flour. For tacos, the 10 inch flour tortillas work best because they are flexible and large enough to hold all the filling.  For variety, you can try green spinach tortillas or red tortillas.

Hard shell

Corn taco shells come in either white or yellow corn, both will work great. Crispy salad shells are a fried shell in the shape of large bowls that can also be used.

Completing the meal!

If you don’t think this will be enough, you can always add a simple side dish of refried beans or Spanish rice. 

Now that you know how to put together the perfect taco bar, you're guaranteed to have a fun (and delicious!) party your guests will enjoy.


Your friend thought you might be interested in Elements of a Taco Bar


Your friend thought you might be interested in Elements of a Taco Bar
Back to Top

• Leave a Comment •

Please correct the item(s) in red below:

Please note, all submissions are screened for content deemed appropriate by Land O'Lakes. Comments are published within 3 business days.

Thank you, your comment has been submitted for approval

• Comments •

This was perfect for me to know how to and what works for a group of 30...

Posted Nov 10 2015 by Melba

Tons of options when I googled for help. YOURS was the BEST and most helpful. : )

Posted Aug 20 2014 by terri

The Simple Rewards® Club is your personal online resource for exclusive offers and information. It’s also our way of saying “thank you” for trusting Land O’Lakes and inviting us into your home. Membership is free, so sign up today.

FREE Sign Up Includes:
  • Our Measuring Cup® Newsletter Preview »
  • Money-Saving and Exclusive Offers
  • Online Recipe Box

Already a Member? Sign In.


YES. Send me the Measuring Cup® Newsletter.
Cancel and Go Back

Forgot Your Password?

Please correct the items(s) in red below

    We'll email instructions to the address you used to register.

    Reset My Password Cancel and Go Back

    Confirmation Email Sent

    We've sent a confirmation email to the address associated with your account. Check your email and follow the link within 3 hours in order to complete the password reset process.



    Starting February 15th, you will not be able to access your Simple Rewards account due to routine site maintenance. Accounts will return to normal functionality on February 29th.

    Thank you for visiting

    Not a Simple Rewards Member? Join Now. Forgot Your Password?

    Check Your Email

    Look for an email soon with instructions to reset your password.

    If you did not receive the email, please check your email junk folder (just in case) or contact us.

    Hi, I'm Becky. I'm eager to share my best ideas and favorite recipes from my 20+ years in the Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen. I'm also excited to help with any questions you have about cooking and baking with Land O Lakes® products. Some of the questions and answers will be published in our newsletter, The Measuring Cup®. Please use the short form below to ask your questions, or share your tip or memory.

    Please correct the item(s) in red below

    *These fields are required


    Your question has been submitted.

    Close Window