Home fried taco shells make the best tacos. Ever. They’re a bit of work, but the flavor can’t be beat! You won’t stop at just one of these Paso Mom Fried Tacos.
Hubs and I both grew up enjoying home fried taco shells. Sure, they were a lot of work for our moms to make, but they were totally worth it.
Simple home fried taco shells filled with seasoned ground beef and topped with whatever suits your fancy, these tacos are certainly not complicated. But, they are filling. And good. And worth making for your next taco night.
And for these reasons, these magical tacos were the “all-you-can-eat” Thursday noontime special at a diner we used to frequent in our small town of Paso Robles, CA years ago. I have no idea if the diner is still there. It was located at the stock yards.
We’d take our kids out to breakfast and then after we had devoured our steak and eggs and bacon and ham, we’d go out to the pens and look at the baby pigs.
The kids usually dressed like this:
Yes, really! What can I say? We lived in a rural, Western town, complete with an annual “Bean Feed”. I loved it! And I miss it, too. We created so many wonderful food memories there!
What is a fried taco called?
One of hubs’ co-workers at the time had grown up there and when we told him about the all-you-could-eat tacos, just like we’d had when we were growing up, he said, “Oh yeah, Paso Mom Tacos.”
I have no idea if anyone besides Jim ever called them that, but we do now. Although technically, a fried taco is known as taco dorado or “golden taco”.
What do you need to make fried tacos?
- ground beef
- taco seasoning blend
- corn tortillas – store bought or homemade corn tortillas
- salsa – try this homemade super easy salsa recipe
- sour cream
How do you make fried tacos?
First, you cook up some taco meat. I use this spice blend. Keep the meat warm while you fry the corn tortillas.
It’s nice to have a husband willing to stand over hot oil and fry these for you. The home fried taco shells are pretty much the make-it or break-it component of this dish. You want to fry the corn tortillas until they are crisp enough to break when you bite them, but not so crisp that they shatter into a million pieces. It may take some experimenting, but you’ll get it.
Hubs set up this new-fangled contraption to drain and cool the shells. It’s a cooling rack upside down on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Go with what you got.
As you fry, remember that you want the shells to be fried in a folded position. However, not so closed that you can’t get the filling inside. It’s an art.
Then lay out an assortment of toppings and fillings: seasoned taco meat, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream.
Can I use a different meat than ground beef?
Absolutely you can. If you find ground pork, turkey, or chicken on sale then by all means use that in these homemade fried tacos.
Paso Mom Tacos are a huge hit at our house. They are fairly affordable since corn tortillas aren’t as expensive as conventional taco shells. They take a little work, but they taste amazingly good.
Did I mention that part?
Paso Mom Tacos with Home Fried Taco Shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Taco Seasoning Mix
- 12 corn tortillas
- oil for frying the tortillas
- 2 cup shredded lettuce
- 8 oz cheddar cheese (shredded) (2 cups)
- 2 tomato chopped
- ½ cup salsa
- ½ cup sour cream
- In a large skillet, brown the beef. Once it starts to change color, add the taco seasoning to taste. Drain off the drippings and keep warm.
- In a large fry pan filled with oil to 1-inch depth, heat the oil until a bit of tortilla sizzles. Fry the tortillas into taco shapes. Fry on one side for about 20 seconds, flip, and fold, holding with tongs. Fry until crisp. Flip and fry the other side.
- Drain the cooked shells on paper toweling.
- Once the shells are fried, fill with beef and add other toppings such as lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream.
- Serve immediately.
As a single (widow) I often make tacos this way for dinner usually with leftovers and homemade refried beans. Makes a great meal.
I bake my tortilla shells in the oven. Drape them over your racks so they hang down. It creates the perfect shape. you can brush them with olive oil or just plain. Great healthy alternative to frying and they can all be done at once.
My famy has been frying their own shells for at least 5 decades. HOWEVER, I think the absolute best tasting are when I fill a corn tortilla with my taco meat (usually ground beef although well seasoned poultry works well) and while holding the shell up in a traditional taco shell-shape, I fry the bottom in vegetable oil, then do each side. There is something almostagical about filling the shell with the meat mixture before frying that takes it to an entirely different level. I have travelled the globe with my career and have yet to come across a better tasting taco than frying them with the meat inside. You’ll lose a crumble of meat here and there as a bit will fall out, especially during turning. However, after the frying oil gets seasoned a bit with these escaped pieces, it elevates the flavor of the shells to an entirely different level. Once you fry your own shells, you can ever go back to the pre-formed or even unfriend tortillas.
Thanks for the tip, Bea! Sounds yummy!
My son came up with a great idea for the taco shells. We put them in the toaster. It is much healthier & they taste like the tacorias. Just thought I’d pass it on.
This is the way that my Mom always made Taco’s, and I think she learned from my Grandma (who was from Tennessee) who use to have to make 30 tacos on taco night to feed 7 hungry teenage boys! (foster care). It’s the only way I’ve ever known or thought about making tacos. In fact I always wondered about those store bought ones, but was never inclined to buy 🙂 the first time we actually ever bought the store brand one’s was 4 months ago when we had a Taco Bar set up for a 30th birthday party. My mother was all set to be frying up tacos (though she was concerned about the logistics of it) and I told her, “No Mom, we’ll just buy the premade store bought ones to make the party easy on you.” She seriously said “You can buy them at the store???” LOL!
I loved your post. The restaurant near the stockyard in Paso Robles,CA is still there today. I live in SLO county. We go to the bean feed every year, and love the Pioneer Day parade. I love this area, and it is a great place to live.
We do the same thing except with flour tortillas. When they are done frying, I sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Seriously SO good….and comforting. Reminds me of my childhood 🙂
Wow! I haven’t seen this in years! When my husband was in the navy in 1971, we had friends from Colorado that taught us how to eat tacos. We hadn’t made them before that. The tortillas, though, came in a can about 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall. The shells were very soft (moist) and very easy to fry. We kinda laugh about it now days because when we tell friends about it, they seem to think we must be crazy! But, boy, were they great! I have to say that we do not make them as often now as we did then but I never thought to use the tortillas you find in stores today. I will have to give them a try and surprise my husband.
Growing up in SC, I had never had “real taco’s”. My best friend’s mom grew up in El Paso and this was how she made them. After she made them for me one night, I was hooked 🙂 I was always quick to invite myself to their house when they were having taco’s.
I know this may sound weird but we always cook our ground beef inside the shell. Pat the meat down on half the torilla like a patty, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and fry away! Fry the meat side first holding the tortilla open with tongs for a few seconds then let the meat and tortilla cook, flip over and hold open for a few seconds again (to keep the tortilla from cooking shut) and fry till crisp. I guess its kinda like a hamburger taco but this is how I grew up eating them and make them like this to this day. They are delicious and I am hispanic if that holds any weight. Ha ha!
Interesting! Thanks for the tip!
@Debbie, This is how we’ve always made them as well. My grandmother used to make them in a skillet with just 2 inches of hot oil over the outdoor fire. I still make them this way – down to her old magnalite skillet. Truly delicious with leftover turkey that you season with chiles and New Mexico chile powder…making me hungry!
That’s how we make them too, my grandma was born in Mexico! Season with salt, pepper, and onion salt, and fry it up! Just put a little El Pato on top…Mmmmm!
I’ve never tried to make homemade taco shells, but I think the family would love this. The store bought shells are so over-priced and not very good. I almost always have corn tortillas in the house, I think you’ve inspired me to give it a try. A good alternative to tostados, thanks!
Those tacos are how we grew up eating them.. and that was 50+ years ago about 3 miles from Mexico and that is how the Mexicans there made them. We just call em hard tacos or soft tacos. I like mine a little softer than hard. I still make them that way to this day. I dispise the commercial hard tacos and these are comforting home cooking.
@KimH, they are comfort food! Our Mexican-American friends would probably argue about the meat. That “authentic” would be shredded beef, not ground. But, I imagine there are all kind of debates. And these are so good, I really can’t complain.
My hubs and I have considered moving our family to Paso Robles. Why did you leave and what do you miss or not miss? Not about food, I know. Sorry.
@Mary Lou, I love Paso Robles! God has taken us on a wild journey, though. We left in 03 to move to Kansas City. This job in San Diego brought us back to CA. If there was a job similar in SLO County, we would definitely consider moving back. But, San Diego is pretty sweet, too.