Baking Tacos On A Sheet Pan Leads To Extra Crispy Shells

There's something both comforting and satisfying about the crunch of biting into a hard-shell taco as its crispy exterior contrasts with the warm, savory fillings. Fortunately, all home cooks need to do to enjoy this delicious experience is to heat up their oven.

The process starts with a soft corn or flour tortilla, which can be filled with ingredients ranging from meat to beans to any number of other toppings. Each one is then folded and arranged on a rack placed on top of a sheet pan so the hot air can circulate around it, and it's baked until crispy. This should only take a few minutes, depending on your desired level of crunch. Any meat in the filling should also be pre-cooked since the oven will only warm the interior.

While some may consider this method less authentic than traditional hard tacos, which are usually fried, it's important to remember that hard-shell tacos are a fusion food at their core. They're an Americanized version of a traditional northern Mexican dish, tacos dorados, which made the leap to California and the American southwest in the mid-20th century. Today, many Americans associate them with Taco Bell's crunchy taco, which some credit with bringing this dish to the masses.

More advantages than just crunch

For a few reasons, this method is preferable to buying hard, premade taco shells at the store. First, it's more affordable. Like every prepared food, you'll naturally have to pay extra for the time you save when buying crunchy taco shells, along with the additional packaging that ensures they don't get crushed in transit. The savings are particularly noticeable when purchasing soft tortillas in large quantities.

Additionally, the baked taco shells can perform better than the store-bought variety since they're cooked with the filling already inside. This creates the ideal combination of a crispy, crunchy exterior with a softer interior that helps hold the taco together; premade shells, on the other hand, crumble easily. This baking method also eliminates the large amounts of oil needed for fried hard-shell tacos. Busy cooks will also love the convenience, which produces all the benefits of homemade crispy tacos in a hands-off, oil-free process. While this isn't the only tasty option for a weeknight sheet pan dinner, it does prove that meals don't have to be complicated to be delicious.