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Taco Bar Checklist + How to Plan A Taco Bar Party

Planning a taco bar for graduation parties, showers and other 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 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/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:

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

Taco Shells

Okay, moving on to shells. Decide if you want:

  • hard corn shells
  • soft shells (corn or flour)
  • nacho style chips
  • 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!

Tip: If your 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”.


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.

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, corn salsa, green salsa, mango salsa, pico de gallo, etc.

Tip: Label your salsa types for guests


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.


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


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.

Side Ideas:

Dessert ideas for your taco bar

  • Churros
  • Tres Leches Cake
  • Regular Cake

Taco Bar Checklist

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 most, all you’ll do is restock ingredients!

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

Other recipes you’ll love:

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  • Reply
    Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
    May 15, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I love a good taco bar and do them quite often when we host card club with our neighbors. Your checklist is great!

  • Reply
    Deanne Frieders
    May 15, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks, Val! You can NEVER go wrong with tacos!!! šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Gayle O
    October 27, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Can you send the taco bar checklist

    • Reply
      Deanne Frieders
      October 28, 2019 at 9:03 am

      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!

  • Reply
    At Home Cinco de Mayo Party - The Daily Hostess
    April 28, 2020 at 9:34 am

    […] really like this checklist for getting all of your sides and toppings taken care […]

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