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 low sodium 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:
- ground beef taco meat
- pulled pork
- crockpot Mexican chicken
- slow cooker ranch chicken tacos
- Slow Cooker Mexican shredded beef
- pork carnitas
- baked fish tacos
- black bean tacos
- buffalo shrimp tacos
- cheesy chicken quesadillas or ground beef taco quesadillas
Tip: Have your meat cooked, ready to go in a crockpot or slow cooker.
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
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".
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!
Buy them, put them in a big bowl - BOOM. Done.
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!
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:
- Instant Pot Mexican Black Beans
- Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
- Mexican style rice
- Mexican Fruit Salad
- Plain rice or slow cooker brown rice
- Vegetarian Refried Beans
- Cowboy Caviar
- Hot Taco Dip
- Bacon Quesadillas
- 7 Layer Taco Dip
- Nacho Cheese Dip (yes, the kind that comes in a can. It's not gourmet but it is always a hit).
- Individual bags of Fritos for "walking tacos" or make walking taco casserole
- Mexican Chopped Salad
Here are more sides for tacos, too!
Dessert ideas for your taco bar
- Tres Leches Cake
- Regular Cake
Taco Bar Checklist Printable
Grab the taco bar checklist here
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!
And if for some reason you end up with leftovers here are recipes to make with leftover taco meat!
Other taco bar recipes you'll love:
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Hot Taco Dip with Ground Beef
- Baja Burgers
- Chili Lime Pork Medallions
- Green Chili Pork Burritos
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Be an amiga and share this with the world, will you???
Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
I love a good taco bar and do them quite often when we host card club with our neighbors. Your checklist is great!
Thanks, Val! You can NEVER go wrong with tacos!!! 🙂
Can you send the taco bar checklist
Hi Gayle, thanks for reaching out! I have fixed the link so when you click on the checklist it will open and you can print it!
Great checklist. I would never have thought of olives or the jarred nacho cheese but I’m going to get it for my grandson’s 2 birthday.
I didn’t see tomatoes on the checklist!
How did I miss the tomatoes?! Great catch, Jen. I hope your Grandson had a great birthday party!
Thanks for this great planning list for a taco bar. I'm wondering...how did you keep your flour and corn tortillas warm with 120+ tortillas or shells to serve? I'd love your ideas/suggestions. Thank you!
Hi Susan! I wrap them in foil and put them in the slow cooker. A damp towel over the top will keep them from drying out.
@Deanne Frieders, do you have to wrap them individually? Do we have to keep the corn style tacos shells warm ?
Hi there, I keep them wrapped in foil with a damp paper towel on top. This keeps both flour and corn tortillas from drying out.
Im not seeing the link to print the taco bar checklist. Sorry if i missed it somehow. Would there be a way you could send it to me.
Hi Anna, here's the link! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yKckbZlEMJgXrOVSvq5tKJHs7CRkPZPI/view
Just a question. Having pork tacos and ground beef . 60 people
Already have 25 lbs of pork
How much ground beef would I get?
I'd get about 10 pounds of ground beef if you don't mind leftovers!
Did I miss the lettuce somewhere, about how many #'s per 100 people ?
This checklist is great!!! Will use for a Graduation party.
I am doing beef and shredded chicken. Any suggestions for the amount of each for a party of 175? Thank you.
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?
How would adjust the quanty everything for a smaller crowd. Having a graduation party and we are expecting between 30-40 guests
Hi Tina, I'd pick just one or two proteins/main tacos, and then 3-4 sides. Scaling down would make it appropriate for that size crowd. Congrats to the graduate!
this is a life saver for my grad party! is your suggested amounts in your checklist for a party of about 100 guests? thanks so much!!
I suggest about 15 pounds of meat per 100 people, as long as you have lots of sides :). Congrats to the grad!
I am planning a taco bar for 22 people with hamburger beef and will need a vege option. What do you recommend for vege option and how many pounds of hamburger?
Black beans or black bean tacos are great for a vegetarian option.