How to Make Restaurant Style Fried Tortilla Bowls

 A few days ago, I posted a Fried Shell Taco Salad recipe and it seemed like it was a big hit. After all, who doesn’t like fried tortilla bowls? I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how much I love fried foods: fries, cake, ice cream (best thing EVER), egg rolls. Pretty much everything except for chicken – I’d hand that stuff over in a heartbeat.

I had my first fried tortilla shell taco salad at a Mexican restaurant when I was a kid and I loved it. One day my mom decided to replicate it and so she cleverly used a can inside a tortilla to shape the tortilla.

The crispy fried shell makes the taco salad that much better. Seriously. Of course, it’s not exactly healthy – I always convince myself that it’s ok because I’m eating a salad after all. It’s all about balance, right?
So how does my mom achieve this unique, crinkly tortilla bowl?

Update: If you prefer a tool that will do all the work for you, I’ve found a cheap one via Amazon. Flavor is still the same but much less work! Buy it here: tortilla bowl fryer

But if you want to do the DIY version, here is what you’ll need:
medium or large sized flour tortillas
vegetable oil
small pot
1-2 metal tongs
aluminum can (stripped of labels)

First, fill a small pot with about 3-4 inches of oil. Then take a tortilla (we used medium sized tortillas but it works even better on large sized tortillas – small sized ones will not work) and wrap it around a can. Be sure to remove all paper and labeling from the can.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Once you have the tortilla wrapped around, use the tongs (she used one but two is better) to clamp the tortilla to the can (one on each side if using two tongs).

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Place the can/tortilla inside your pot and hold it there with the tongs for about 30 seconds (you may want to use gloves to ensure your hands do not get oil splatter on them).

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Remove the can with the tongs. Be careful because both the can and tongs will be extremely hot. Use caution. Set aside the can.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Allow to fry for a few seconds without the can and then use the tongs to flip the shell over.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Wait about 10 seconds.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

Carefully remove the shell with the tongs and set aside on a plate. If you want, you can use a paper towel underneath to drain any excess oil.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

This is what the shell typically looks like.

fried tortilla shell taco salad

And this is what they look like filled up…

fried tortilla shell taco salad

RECIPE: Fried Shell Taco Salad


how to make restaurant style fried tortilla bowls


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  1. How long may the shells be held? Can you do several at a time and keep for later? The time involved in set-up and cleaning would be worth it if several “meals” worth coould be done at one time.

    1. Hello! I would say they would be fine for a day, max two days (you may need to heat them up in a toaster oven and slightly toast them again). It doesn’t hurt to try it – I wish I could give you a more definitive answer!

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