How to Fry Corn Tortillas for Tasty Soft Tacos

How to Fry Corn Tortillas

Everyone loves tacos and tacos don’t have to be fancy!

That’s why they work just fine on the menu when you have weekday company and you also want to keep a frugal menu.

Did you know that you can buy a bag of 100 corn tortillas at Costco for $3.65? I usually divide the bag up into thirds and FREEZE what I don’t use.

How to Fry Corn Tortillas

Growing up, tacos were a staple in my home. And on week-long camping trips with family friends (sometimes there’d be 20 in our group), my mom and her friends would cook tacos for the gang. I think they must have fried up well over 100 taco shells. I seemed to always get the job of taking my little hands, tearing off the paper towels, folding them in half, and standing by the cook who was frying up the tortillas.

It was a boring job, but the outcome was very good:

Delicious tacos that for some reason tasted a whole lot better in the outdoors.

Last week was an incredibly busy week for me, and although we don’t usually do much entertaining on weekdays, we invited our friends over anyway because it was the only day that worked for both families.

How to Fry Corn Tortillas

My slow cooker was full of Mango Chicken (recipe in my book and SO easy!), which is perfect for tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, or burritos.

We set the table and chopped up all of the condiments. And then my daughter took over the “tortilla job,” this time, frying and folding the paper towels. One by one (it takes patience), she fried and stacked up the tortillas. One by one, we demolished the stack as we ate with our guests.

How to Fry Corn Tortillas

How to fry tortillas for soft tacos:

-Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

-Add 1/2 cup light olive oil or corn oil (you may need to add more, depending on how many you fry)

-Sprinkle a drop of water into the pan and when it pops, the oil is hot enough to start cooking the tortillas

-Fry the tortilla for about 10-30 seconds on each side, until browned and cooked. The tortilla should be soft and pliable, not crispy.

-Fold a paper towel in half, place the hot tortilla on one side and fold the other side over. Place the next tortilla on top, add a new paper towel, and continue the process.

Tacos are actually a very easy dish to serve to guests if you don’t mind serving a buffet dinner, because you can cook the tortillas up in advance and place them in the oven to stay warm. You can pre-chop all of the condiments and pull them out of the fridge right before serving.

There’s not a lot of stress involved in serving a taco meal!

It’s perfect for the “reluctant entertainer.”

Taco condiments to add to the buffet line:
Meat, beans, shredded cheese, chopped lettuce, cabbage, sour cream, olives, tomatoes, salsa, or hot sauce, and always cilantro and SLICES OF LIME.

Do you find tacos as an easy menu item to serve to your guests?

What’s your favorite kind of taco meat?

   

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24 Responses to “How to Fry Corn Tortillas for Tasty Soft Tacos”

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    o-girl — May 11, 2011 @ 1:15 am

    I usually fry tortillas too when I make shredded pork tacos. I’m wondering about your instructions, “Add 1/2 light olive oil” …does that mean 1/2 a bottle? Fill the pan 1/2 full? If it’s like what I do I fill the pan 1/2 way with oil (I use canola – though I’d use light olive oil if it was less expensive).

    Thank you for the tips! – I’m enjoying your book :)

    • naisha replied: — April 20th, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

      woww cool idea i have some canola oil but dont you think the tortillas would get soggy if you fill the pan 1/2 way Up? im making hot dog burritos.

      • Mike replied: — May 2nd, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

        I normally do the same thing (fill it half way).

        They don’t get soggy.

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    Tara G. @ Mrs. Yellow Hat — May 11, 2011 @ 3:04 am

    We can only use corn because hubs has a gluten allergy. We have breakfast burritos at least once a weekend, and we fry them up, too! :) I finally went to the kitchen store at the outlet and bought a tortilla warmer- love it!!!

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    christy — May 11, 2011 @ 6:14 am

    I LOVE tacos! I’ve never fried our corn tortillas though. We always just warm them in a moist cloth in the microwave for about 30 seconds before using them. I’ll have to give your way a shot. We had taco salad last week…yummy!

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    Jennifer Juniper — May 11, 2011 @ 6:20 am

    I’m so glad I found this! We made chalupas last week that called for fried corn tortillas and I kind of fumbled my way through that part. After reading this I realize I didn’t use enough oil and I fried them too long – they weren’t pliable!

    Thanks for the low down, I’ll have to try my recipe again :)

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    lisa — May 11, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    Looks so inviting. I usually use Yves from Trader Joe’s seasoned with tacos seasoning unless we have leftover bbq chicken or beef. I love it because it is so easy to sub into lasagna, spaghetti sauce and whatever else call for hamburger. Have a great day. Hopefully it will be a bit less busy. Xo

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    Heather P — May 11, 2011 @ 6:55 am

    Grew up with tacos as a staple. Never ate them outdoors though. My Dad and I became the cooks. especially of the tortillas. The corn tortillas are the more nutritious and he taught me to wait until the bubbles were forming around the edges before flipping or putting on the paper towels. Just love how the paper towels take the greasiness out!

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    ClassiclyAmber — May 11, 2011 @ 7:10 am

    Oh yes! We are big fans of tacos here! When I am with the program, I also like to make the soft shells from scratch. They really are so easy and my oldest boy likes to cook them like your daughter does. One of these days, I will get a PRESS and really simplify things!

    Fav meat? Hands down, organic beef all the way. Though I have also had a chicken recipe. It was interesting because it also had cream cheese in it!

    This is a fantabulous meal to serve guests!

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    Rhonda — May 11, 2011 @ 7:20 am

    Thank you for the cooking lesson on frying tortillas! I will give it a whirl this Sunday!
    After church we’re having friends over and they have a big family, this is a perfect idea.

    Just wanted to say I heard about your blog recently and I just love it! I’ve read every post you’ve written!

    I’m finally at a place in my life where entertaining on a weekly basis is joy. I would say I’m now “the not-so reluctant entertainer”. :)

    Thanks for all your practical, authentic posts!
    (I’m ordering your book this week!)

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    Connie — May 11, 2011 @ 7:34 am

    Hi Sandy!!! I couldn’t resist this post….fried shell tacos are the best!! My sister does it the way you do it with the papertowels. My DIL fries the shells and molds them into the taco shape as they fry so I’ve started doing that. We love our taco shells filled with shredded chicken mixed with a green salsa or the traditional hamburger/turkey meat seasoned with taco seasoning from the store or fajita style with chicken/green peppers/red peppers/onions sauteed in olive oil with a tad of store taco seasoning mixed in. All are yummy!!

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    Sara — May 11, 2011 @ 10:26 am

    Tacos have always been a staple in my house, when I was a kid and now in my own family! We like to use ground beef or turkey and add tomato sauce. We do our own seasonings of garlic powder, seasoning salt, cumin and chili powder. Fried coern tortillas are a must! So yummy! We had our pastor’s family over for dinner a while ago and did tacos. It turned out great and was so easy.

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    Lori @ RecipeGirl — May 11, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Our Mom’s must have been friends… my family had tacos every single week. Easy to make, inexpensive and great for large, hungry families! Mom taught me to fry tortillas exactly the way you describe it here. Still do it Mom’s way, in fact!

  12. #
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    Trisha — May 11, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    We love having tacos in our home, and I’m glad to hear that someone else likes to fry the tortillas! That’s how my Dad always cooked them when I was growing up, but here in the southwest, most don’t use oil but just cook briefly in the pan over heat. :(

    Thanks for the great tip on cooking in large batches, and I have to smile when I read “recipe in my book” because I have your book now and can just look it up!

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    Kirstin — May 11, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

    Yum!! I am def. going to try the mango salsa with the chicken…I never use corn tortillas because they always seem so dry to me, but maybe doing them this way will cause them to be moister.

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    Merry — May 12, 2011 @ 4:39 am

    My son got married on Cinco De Mayo last year and I did a taco bar for 100 in my backyard. It was great fun! We had a chopping party the day before, talk about getting everybody involved :o)

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    Debbie Smith — May 12, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    One of our staple dinners too!!
    Love corn tortillas!!

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    Kacee — May 13, 2011 @ 6:45 am

    I love tacos! BBQ Carnes Asada is our family favorite to make.

    Do you have any tips for freezing the corn tortillas? We have some from Costco that I’ve been wanting to freeze, but I have been unsure of just putting them in the freezer without putting them in a special bag or something.

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    deb meyers — May 13, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    Love to eat a taco meal, always a crowd pleaser (yours looks yum!).
    but I do NOT find it quick:
    Time consuming pre-prep,
    multiple serving bowls that crowd the buffet,
    dropped bits of cheese, lettuce, tomato all over the buffet surface and
    lots of bowls and spoons to wash afterward.

    I have presented all the components on one long platter before, though. That cut down on the bowls, but it was still messy.

    deb meyers

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    Betsy — May 20, 2011 @ 7:21 am

    Tacos are one of our favorites, too! I love them for a crowd, because they are so customizable for meat eaters/vegetarians/picky toddlers.

    Our favorite is probably griled skirt steak, but we also like refried beans/hamburger meat, pulled pork, and lentils/rice, too. Any taco is a good taco! I’ve even used fish sticks inside.

    I don’t fry the tortillas in oil, though, just heat them in a dry cast iron skillet (or on the gas burner). Yum.

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    Kenneth — December 7, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your web site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog audience have complained about my site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any recommendations to help fix this issue?

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    Marilee — October 7, 2013 @ 7:18 am

    Tacos for company are not hassle free. I make chili stew early in the morning. The prep work is enormous. Then you have to find room in the frige for all the veggies and sides left plus all the little bowls. My problem is keeping the fried tortillas warm in the oven without crisping them up after frying. I haven’t found the “right” temperature.

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