Line of taco shells on a plate.
Mexican, Video

How to Make Fried Taco Shells

Cooks in 30 minutes Difficulty Easy 3 comments This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money from the companies mentioned or linked to in this post.

Today, we’re learning how to fry taco shells at home. It’s super easy. All you need is a fork or tongs, a small frying pan, corn tortillas, cooking oil, and a bit of paper towel. So, throw out those pre-made taco shells from the grocery store. They’re about as tasty as the box they came in. Besides, they shatter on the first bite and your taco fillings end up in a sad pile on your plate. Not to worry. You’ll be an expert at frying your own deliciously fresh, soft or crispy taco shells in no time. You’ll never buy taco shells in a box again.

Close up of fried corn tortilla taco shell
Fresh fried taco shells, (close-up)

Soft or Crispy Taco Shells

Back in the day, I always made my taco shells crispy. Not too crispy. Not so they fell apart, but just crispy enough. I mean, who doesn’t like a crispy taco shell, right? Well, my husband doesn’t. He likes them soft and now, quite honestly, so do I. Although, I still get a hankering for a crispy shell now and again. It’s no problem, though. The only ingredient that makes a shell soft or crispy is time. The longer you fry it, the crispier it gets.

Plate of fried taco shells.
Fried Taco Shells

Step by Step

First, place about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) of vegetable oil in a small frying pan and heat it over medium heat to about 350° to 360° fahrenheit. I like to use an 8 inch cast iron pan. It’s the perfect size and cast iron can take the abuse. Stainless steel pans are ok, too, but the oil may burn on the insides of the pan and it’s a bit of a chore to clean it off.

Next, carefully place a corn tortilla in the hot oil. Cook it flat for about 5 to 10 seconds, using the tongs or a fork to submerge the tortilla in the oil. Then, flip it to the other side for another 5 to 10 seconds. If you’re using tongs, grab the tortilla at the center with the tongs and fold it in half. Use the side of the pan to hold the bottom half of the tortilla in place while you fold the top over, if you need to. If you’re using a fork, slide the tortilla in between the tines about 1/4 of the way from the top edge of the tortilla. Use the fork to fold the tortilla in half. Cook each side about 10 to 15 seconds for a soft taco shell or longer for a hard one. Just don’t burn it.

When the fried taco shell is done, set it on a plate covered with paper towels to cool and drain. Repeat the process to make as many taco shells as you need. This entire process is shown in the video in the recipe card below. This is one of those things that is much easier to show how it’s done, than to write out how to do it.

Do you love Mexican food? Try my Mexican Fried Picadillo Empanadas!

How to Make Fried Taco Shells

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Recipe by Kimberly Scott Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


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Soft or hard, once you learn to make your own fried taco shells with corn tortillas, you’ll never buy them in a box again.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (approximate, depending on size of pan – oil should be about 1/2 inch or 1.3 cm deep)

  • 12 each corn tortillas


  • Heat oil over medium heat to 350° to 360* F (177° to 182° C).
  • Carefully place one corn tortilla in the hot oil. Cook it flat for about 5 to 10 seconds on each side, using the tongs or a fork to slightly submerge the tortilla in the oil.
  • Grab the tortilla with the tongs at the center of the tortilla and fold towards you. Holding the top half of the tortilla up away from the bottom half, cook the bottom side for 10 – 15 seconds. Cook longer depending on how crisp you want the shell. Careful not to burn it. Flip and cook the other side. Be sure to hold the top side up from the bottom side so you’ll have room in your shell for fillings.
  • When the shell is finished cooking, place it on a paper towel to drain.
  • Repeat steps 2 – 4 for the rest of the corn tortillas.

Recipe Video


  • Taco shells are best eaten soon after they’re made filled with your favorite fillings.
  • CAUTION: If your corn tortillas were frozen, be sure they are completely thawed and dry before submerging in oil. Putting ice crystals or water in hot oil may lead to very serious burns.
  • Calorie information is approximate based on online calculators.

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  2. Thank you so much for the video! Like you said, it’s easier to show than write about! 😉 I don’t have tongs so seeing the fork version is really helpful. Thanks! 🙂

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