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Need some Taco Bar ideas? We have everything you need and more to make your own amazing Taco Bar at home. Delicious ingredients and practical tips on how to serve this easy dinner to your family or to a group of people.
5 Stellar Reasons to Make a Taco Bar
Making a Taco Bar for dinner pretty much solves all of life’s problems.
- It’s easy to make. After making your meat filling (your choice of traditional Taco Meat, Carnitas, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Shredded Beef Taco Meat, and/or Southwest Chicken), all that’s left to do is chop some veggies, warm tortillas, and set out your toppings.
- It’s a great meal to feed a group of people. Hello, assembly line! Guests can also customize their meal.
- A Taco Bar is cheap! The ingredients are simple, easy to find, and very affordable.
- It works as a make-ahead meal. Simply prep the taco meat ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you want to eat it. Perfect for those nights when everyone is eating at different times!
- It’s freezer-friendly! In this article, we will teach you how to transform a Taco Bar into a freezer meal.
Taco Bar Ideas
There are SO many options that you can serve at a taco bar. When it’s just my family eating it, I keep it really simple and only set out what I know they will eat.
Here’s a list of ingredients you might consider adding if you’re serving a crowd of people.
- Taco meat (recipe below) – Aside from the standard ground beef Taco Meat, you could also provide Crispy Carnitas, Shredded Beef Tacos, Southwest Chicken, and/or Cilantro Lime Chicken, if you want to have options.
- Taco shells (soft and/or hard) – If you have a gluten-free eater, provide corn tortillas or gluten-free tortillas.
- Chopped iceberg or green leaf lettuce
- Diced fresh tomatoes
- Diced red onion or white onion – Or kick it up a notch and make these super simple and delicious pickled red onions.
- Shredded cheddar cheese – Other cheese options include shredded Mexican mix or the traditional street taco cotija cheese.
- Diced avocados OR Guacamole
- Salsa – We highly recommend Mateo’s medium salsa, found in most large grocery stores.
- Cilantro Lime Aioli – Put this in a cheap squeeze bottle from the dollar store and drizzle over the top of your taco for a flavor bomb experience!
- Cilantro, finely diced
- Lime wedges
- Black beans, rinsed and warmed – Or pinto beans work too.
- Sour cream – Or plain Greek yogurt works in it’s place.
You could also include some Cilantro Lime Rice for serving in or on the side of the tacos. And don’t forget to have some tortilla chips on the side for the salsa and/or guacamole.
How to Make Taco Meat
A taco bar is only going to be as good as the taco meat, am-I-right? Skip the pre-packaged taco seasoning kits and make your own taco meat at home using our Homemade Taco Seasoning.
Here’s the basic method for making taco meat with ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken), but check out the recipe below for specifics:
- In a large skillet, heat some oil over medium heat. Saute diced onion, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic cloves and cook for 30 to 60 seconds more.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Add ground beef and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns. Drain off excess grease.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning over the meat and stir until coated. Add in some chicken/beef/vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has reduced some, about 5 minutes.
Change it up by using our Shredded Beef Tacos!
Make It Ahead as a Freezer Meal
As long as you’re making the mess, this is a perfect meal to double and freeze. Either stash an extra batch in your freezer for a few weeks/months down the road or pass it on to someone who could use a great meal. I love this meal idea for new moms!
To Freeze for Later: Cook the meat as directed, then let the mixture cool completely. Place it in a freezer bag, seal, and freeze. In separate bags, freeze shredded cheese and tortillas along with the meat, to complete your kit
To Prepare from Frozen: Let all ingredients thaw in the refrigerator. Prep the fresh toppings and serve as directed.
Taco Bar FAQs
I’d estimate that each person will eat about 2 tacos, give or take.
This really varies depending on the size of tacos and how much meat you pack in one. However, as a general guideline, you can estimate that 1 pound of ground beef can make around 6-8 tacos.
Absolutely. Taco meat is very freezer-friendly. In fact, when I make taco meat, I almost always double the batch and freeze half of it.
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
Taco Seasoning Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or less for sensitive palates)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Taco Meat Ingredients
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 small white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3–4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 pounds lean ground beef (sub: ground turkey)
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth
Additional Taco Bar Ingredients (pick and choose from the ideas below)
- 12–16 taco shells (soft or hard), warmed according to package directions
- 1–2 cups chopped lettuce
- 1–2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced red onion (or Pickled Red Onions)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sub: Mexican blend or Cotija cheese)
- 1–2 avocados, diced (or Guacamole)
- 1 cup salsa (recommend: Mateo’s medium salsa)
- Cilantro Lime Aioli (put in a squeeze bottle from the dollar store)
- Sour cream (sub: plain Greek yogurt)
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Lime wedges
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and warmed (sub: pinto beans)
- Cilantro Lime Rice
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Make It Now:
- Make Seasoning: In a small bowl, stir together taco seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
- Saute Onion: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the diced onion, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in 3-4 minced garlic cloves and cook for 30 to 60 seconds more.
- Cook Ground Meat: Add the ground beef and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula as it browns. Drain off excess grease.
- Season & Simmer: Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of taco seasoning over the meat and stir until coated. Add in 1 cup of chicken/beef/vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has reduced some, about 5 minutes.
- Serve: Transfer cooked ground meat to a serving bowl and set out with other Mexican toppings in various shapes/sizes of bowls in an assembly line to make your homemade taco bar! Keep soft tortillas warm by wrapping in a clean dish towel.
Freeze For Later: Cook the meat as directed, then let the mixture cool completely. Place it in a freezer bag, seal and freeze. In separate bags, freeze about 2 cups of shredded cheese and soft tortillas along with the meat, to complete your kit.
Prepare For Later: Let all ingredients thaw in the refrigerator. Serve as directed.
- In addition to ground beef taco meat, consider offering other meat filling choices like Cilantro Lime Chicken, Crispy Carnitas, Shredded Beef Tacos, and/or Southwest Chicken.
- When you make taco meat, double the batch and freeze for later.
- Hosting a group? Have attendees help bring toppings for the Taco Bar!
- Consider providing a variety of salsas. Some like mild while others like it HOT!
- Where We Get Our Beef: We get our beef from ButcherBox. The beef is grass-fed and curated from trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, chicken, and wild salmon–and have used it for years ourselves.
- Gluten-Free Version: This is an easy meal to make gluten-free. Just omit using wheat flour tortillas and use soft or hard shell corn tortillas instead.