Skip to Content

Taco Bar Checklist + How to Plan A Taco Bar Party

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:

Here are more sides for tacos, too!

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 taco bar recipes you’ll love:

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

made with love, Deanne
taco bar checklist

Sharing is caring!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Monday 27th of June 2022

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?


Wednesday 11th of May 2022

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!!

Deanne Frieders

Thursday 19th of May 2022

I suggest about 15 pounds of meat per 100 people, as long as you have lots of sides :). Congrats to the grad!


Wednesday 20th of April 2022

How would adjust the quanty everything for a smaller crowd. Having a graduation party and we are expecting between 30-40 guests

Deanne Frieders

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

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!

October Birthday Party Ideas | Birthday Buzzin

Friday 1st of October 2021

[…] such as Pizza – a Taco birthday party is guaranteed to provide plenty of tasty fun. Guests can build their own Tacos as one of the activities and decorations can be inspired by the country-of-origin […]

Taco Bar Party Must-Have’s and Free Printables - Dating Scams - Will You Be the Next Victim News?

Friday 2nd of July 2021

[…] Taco Bar Checklist – Check out these taco bar ideas for all the inspiration you need. The best part is, they have more excellent dessert ideas that go well with tacos! […]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.