Homemade Hard Corn Taco Shells

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Sometimes you just want a taco that has a crunch with every bite, and these Homemade Hard Corn Taco Shells will bring all your crunchy, crispy taco dreams to life.

an overhead shot of a pan filled with crispy corn tortilla shells.
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While the traditional soft corn tortilla version of housing a taco is a staple in our home, sometimes it’s fun to mix things up and go with the crunchy, hard shell option. Plus, these Homemade Hard Corn Taco Shells are a cinch to make, and they’re 10-times better than the bagged version you can get at the store. Loaded up with shredded chicken, barbacoa, and ground beef, these shells will keep everyone coming back for more!

Hard taco shells take a regular taco meal and turn it into a party in your home and your mouth. You heard it here first. Give these a try next time you have friends over or are in charge of a dish at a get together for your kids’ friends.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • These taco shells come together in just 30 minutes.
  • Taco shells make a delicious, sturdy vessel to carry all your favorite meats, cheeses, and salsas!
  • You can easily fry and store your taco shells ahead of time.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Corn Tortillas—White or yellow will work. Feel free to get whatever size you’d like!
  • Canola Oil—For frying.

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities

How to Make Corn Taco Shells

  1. Fill the bottom of a medium sized skillet with oil and heat it on the stove over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, use a pair of tongs to place a tortilla in the oil and then fold it over on itself to form a shell.
  3. Allow the half of the tortilla in the oil to cook until golden brown and then repeat with the other half of the tortilla shell.
  4. Allow your shells to cool on a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the rest of your tortillas.
What are hard taco shells made of?

These hard corn taco shells could not be simpler to make at home! The only food items you need are your favorite brand of store-bought corn tortillas and canola, corn, or vegetable oil.

Can hard taco shells be frozen?

For the sake of maintaining the architecture of a crunchy hard shell taco and saving freezer space, I don’t recommend freezing your shells. They can be hard to reheat from frozen and will lose their delicious crunch.. After making your hard corn taco shells, they should last up to a week on the counter. But, like with most fried foods, eating it fresh is always the best option.

Can you make homemade hard taco shells with flour tortillas?

Definitely! Some people like the taste and texture of flour tortillas over corn, and more power to you! The consistency might be a little different than the corn taco shells (chewier), but still delicious nonetheless.

an overhead shot of corn tortilla shells filled with shredded chicken, cheese, and other taco toppings.

Expert Tips

  • In addition to using canola oil, you can also use vegetable or corn oil. The main thing to remember is that you want to use a high heat oil.
  • Feel free to use yellow or white corn tortillas in this recipe, they both work great.
  • Make sure that your oil is nice and hot before adding your tortilla shell. I like to give my oil about 10 minutes to heat up. You can also check the temperature of the oil with a thermometer. it should be at about 350°F.
  • Another easy way to check your oil is by sticking the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around the wood then you are good to go!
  • If you have any shells that break or crack then don’t worry! You can still serve them on the side as tortilla chips.

How to Store Your Taco Shells

I usually like to try and only make as many taco shells as we are going to use for dinner. However, if you are making a bigger batch or just have some leftovers, you can store them on the counter for up to a week. We like to keep them in an airtight plastic container so they don’t get crushed by anything.

Other Quick Dinner Recipes

an overhead shot of corn tortilla taco shells in a pan.
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Homemade Hard Corn Taco Shells

These homemade hard corn taco shells are sure to bring all your crunchy, crisp taco dreams to life! With just two ingredients and 10 minutes you can have a batch of these delicious taco shells ready to go.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 minute
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 + shells


  • Canola, corn, or vegetable oil
  • Corn tortillas, the 6-inch ones work great
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  • In a small skillet, add enough oil to fill the bottom of the skillet 1 inch.
  • Place the skillet over medium-high heat, and allow the oil to heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully place 1 corn tortilla in the hot oil for 1 second. Using tongs or two forks, take half of the tortilla out of the oil while keeping half in the oil.
  • Bend the tortilla in half while cooking to make a taco shape. Let half of the tortilla cook in the oil until crisp and bubbly, about 30 seconds.
  • Pull the tortilla out of the oil, and place the uncooked half back in the oil to cook while holding the cooked side out. Keep the tortilla open about an inch while cooking so that you can fill it later.
  • Once both sides are cooked let the tortillas drain on paper towels to soak up the extra grease.
  • Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
  • Serve with your favorite taco ingredients. This crock pot steak carnita meat is a great candidate.


  • I’ve found that it is generally better to use a higher cooking temperature with a shorter cooking time for a crisp taco shell. A lower temperature with a longer cooking time produced a shell that was chewier than crunchy, although still quite delicious. Ideally, you want your oil to be at about 350°F.
  • We usually use white corn tortillas, but yellow corn tortillas will work just as well.
  • If you don’t have canola oil then you can also use vegetable or corn oil.
  • Make sure you add enough oil to your pan. You want to be able to fully submerge your tortilla in the oil, and it will expand a little as it fries.
  • You can store your taco shells in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.


Serving: 1 tortilla, Calories: 46kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 0.1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 4mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 0.02g, Vitamin A: 0.04IU, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 0.02mg
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  1. Kim says:

    I’m trying the carnitas tonight! Am I able to use flour tortillas for this? or only corn?

    1. Melissa says:

      I think your best choice is to fry up some corn tortillas. They have like 3 ingredients and you understand what frying is right? If that isn’t for you I’d use normal flour tortillas (whole wheat are so yucky if you ask me). They can be part of your 20% right! OR even better make white flour tortillas at home so that you know the ingredients. Find what you like! Can’t wait to hear how you like them!

    2. Kim says:

      We ended up using normal flour tortillas because that’s what I had on hand. They were delish! Thanks for the recipe! We are new to eating clean and I am loving your 2 week menu! Everything has been so yummy! Thank you!

  2. Haley says:

    What a fabulous idea! I might have to try this at my next Mexican food night. Cute blog!

  3. Sarah says:

    I would love to come over and eat that. It looks fabulous. I made the carnita recipe last weekend. INSTANT win. 🙂

  4. Unknown says:

    Ohhhh I love homemade shells!!!

    1. Unknown says:

      I am not unknown!! It’s me!! Carrian!!

    2. Melissa says:

      LOL. Glad it’s not a creeper!

  5. Mrs. J*F*G says:

    My grandma always made tacos by putting ground beef on one side of a corn tortilla, then folding in half and frying in oil. Flip them over after a few minutes to fry the other side and drain on paper towels when done! We always ate them with cheese and salsa!

    1. Melissa says:

      Mmmm. I like your grandma already 🙂

    2. Adelita says:

      This is how I grew up with tacos! My Mom made them the same way your grandma did. I called them taco pockets (my dad called them belly bombs ha!)