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Taco Bar Checklist + How to Plan A Taco Bar Party

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Planning a taco bar for graduation parties, showers and other neighborhood get togethers is a fun and economical way to serve your guests a tasty, customizable meal. Here’s how I plan a taco bar party, plus my taco bar checklist!

Like anything in life, a party can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. In this post, I’ll share my recommendations along with other options so you can customize your party experience.

My style – keep it simple and let the guests enjoy their party time!

The star of your taco party checklist – the meat!


Let’s start with batch taco meat. I usually use ground beef seasoned with my homemade taco seasoning. You can also buy it pre-made in bulk at a restaurant or catering store like GFS.

Other meat ideas are pulled pork, pork carnitas, and barbocoa (made with a beef roast). I figure about 15 pounds of meat per 100 people, but that may depend how hungry your guests are and what sides you serve at your party.

You could think about steak too, but that could get pretty pricey depending on this size of your crowd!

Taco meat ideas and recipes:

Tip: Have your meat cooked, ready to go in a crockpot or slow cooker.

Taco Shells

Okay, moving on to taco shells. Pick one type or several from the list:

  • hard corn shells
  • soft shells (corn or flour)
  • nacho style chips and they can make sheet pan nachos
  • tostadas

Then, decide on the quantity. Usually you can buy these inexpensively but I’d plan on about 2-3 tacos per guest. If you’re feeding teens, go with three!

Some quantities will depend on what other side dishes you’re servings as well.

Tip: If you’re planning this for a graduation party, consider if there are other parties going on the same day. Usually people won’t eat quite as much food if they’re “party hopping”.

taco bar checklist

What are some good toppings to put on tacos?


Of course, you’ll need cheese and lots of it. Mexican blend, cheddar, or whatever you want is fine.

Decide if you want to shred your own (use a food processor for ease) or if you want pre-shredded cheese. I bought ten pounds for our party.

Tip: If you have leftover cheese, you can always freeze it for later!


I purchased all mild salsa for our party but you could have a variety of spice levels and varieties like restaurant style salsa, corn salsa, green salsa, mango salsa, simple pico de gallo, etc.

Tip: Label your salsa types for guests so they know what they’re getting!


I’m a guacamole lover and I happily make my own for family gatherings. But for a big party, I recommend you purchase several containers of it and open them as you need them.

Remember, you want to enjoy your party, too!

Tortilla Chips

Buy them, put them in a big bowl – BOOM. Done.

Sour Cream

If you invited me to a taco party and didn’t have sour cream, I’d be devastated. You need sour cream. The more the merrier in my opinion!


Shredded lettuce is a great way to let guests customize their taco bar experience. They can make a taco salad for themselves or put it on their tacos.

Or, as a delicious alternative you can make this Mexican Chopped Salad!

Diced Onions

This one’s totally up to you. I’m an onion lover but it might depend on the crowd! Maybe pick up some Tums, just in case!

Other taco bar ingredients:

Other items to consider are black olives, fresh cilantro, jalapeno peppers.

If you’re looking for a soup addition, how about Chicken Tortilla Soup or slow cooker Ranch Chicken Chili? Am I forgetting anything?


Taco Bar Side Dish Recipes:

Dessert ideas for your taco bar

  • Churros
  • Tres Leches Cake
  • Regular Cake

Taco Bar Checklist Printable

Grab the taco bar checklist here

taco bar checklist

The fun thing about tacos is they’re fun, they’re casual and they’re low pressure. Everything can be assembled and made ahead of time at your taco party.

At most, all you’ll do is restock ingredients!

Whether you’re using these taco bar ideas for a graduation party or as a fun weekend, remember to keep it casual and to keep it fun!

Other recipes you’ll love:

Be an amiga and share this with the world, will you???

made with love, Deanne
taco bar checklist

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Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Hey there! Your post is so helpful. One question, is the 10-12 lbs. of meat for 100 people including they will eat 2-3?

Susan Herbrand

Thursday 24th of June 2021

I am doing beef and shredded chicken. Any suggestions for the amount of each for a party of 175? Thank you.

Rose Schlabach

Thursday 27th of May 2021

Did I miss the lettuce somewhere, about how many #'s per 100 people ? This checklist is great!!! Will use for a Graduation party. THANK YOU

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