How to Serve Tacos for a Crowd

How to Serve Tacos for large groups

How to Serve Tacos for a Crowd or family gathering

It can be overwhelming when feeding a large crowd that is why choosing the right and convenient recipe would make your work simpler and easier. However, serving a large crowd might be a different story this time.
Setting up a taco bar is one of the easiest ways to satisfy a crowd even the pickiest eater. There are many options in serving tacos but this time, we will be focusing on a budget-friendly, self-serve taco bar.

So in this article, we will be giving you ideas on how to serve tacos for a large crowd including the needed supplies, proper food preparation, presentation, appropriate serving, and the ideal location. We will also give you tips on how to use slow cookers, chafing trays, serving bowls, and other essential things in serving tacos for your friends and families.

How to set up the taco bar?

Are you thinking about how to set up a DIY yet budget-friendly taco bar? We got you covered!

Primarily, you have to know the basics of setting up a taco bar - food quantity and location. Meaning, you have to know exactly where you would be setting up. Is it an indoor or outdoor kind of taco bar? How many guests are there? How much should you be serving? These questions will guide you on many things.

How to set up an indoor taco bar?

An outdoor taco bar is a common setup for large crowds. It gives more access to fresher air and cool dining vibes.

When serving outside, it is better to use either portable burners, chafing trays, or alcohol-burning warming cans to keep your taco meat warm and good.

If you are close to an electric outlet, you might also need to bring some extra extension chords to make use of your equipment for your DIY taco bar. Also, make sure to find a shelter to set up the bar such as a back porch to protect your napkins and ingredients from blowing off the table due to the wind.

It is also essential to practice cleanliness and orderliness when serving outdoors to entice your guests in eating the tacos. To do this, place a visible garbage can for your guests to easily clean up after themselves.

Home Taco Bar
Home Taco Bar

How to serve tacos away from home?

Here are some good ideas to serve tacos when it is not at your house - maybe you are going to a taco pot luck - and do not for get to take the taco seasoning.

Consider the transportation of food

When you are serving a taco shell along with other meals you just made to a church, resort, or dining halls away from you, you have to consider how to transport the dishes safely, as well as the electrical capabilities of those areas.

In circumstances like this, slow cookers and portable stoves will be a great idea. Whether serving a taco or not, it will be of good use in cooking or heating the dishes conveniently even if you are using several ingredients or toppings.

Set up a street taco bar

A simple street taco bar is enough to attract your guests. Also, you will only need simple ingredients for this such as 1 to 2 corn tortillas per taco, lean ground beef, and essential toppings such as diced onions, red & green sauce for toppings, chopped cilantro, and some sliced lime for additional flavor. That would already make a jaw-dropping ground beef taco!

It would also be really delightful if you put more toppings such as jalapenos, serrano peppers, shredded cheddar, diced tomatoes, rice, beans, avocados, and different salsas. Plus, make it excellent by adding refreshing drinks like cucumber water, Mexican Coca-Cola, horchata, or any sodas available.

If you are making them at home though - for taco night my favorite is oven baked tacos.

Prepare the ingredients beforehand

Preparing your ingredients and taco topping beforehand will save you from rushing during the event since the preparation stage will take a lot longer than cooking, especially if you opt to fill the tacos before serving them. At least have the onions, meat, and cilantro prepared and put in the tacos before serving.

To do this, prepare the most time-consuming ingredients first. Cook the meat first and cut up the cilantro and guacamole minutes before serving. Take note that the last two ingredients will be floppy, darkened, and hardened if prepared hours before consumed.

With vegetables and salads like shredded lettuce, these need to be done on the day.

Taco Sauce Chicken Thigh
Taco Sauce

What do you need for your taco bar?

Utensils and Equipment

For cooking, you should prepare these utensils and equipment:

  • warmers
  • slow cookers
  • roasting trays or chafing dishes
  • Circular bowls
  • Paper or plastic plates
  • Plastic cutleries
  • Serving spoons and utensils
  • Table napkins

These mentioned appliances would be used in cooking the beans, rice, and meats. To save you a lot of table space, get typical rectangular-shaped appliances. The slow cookers are best to be used in cooking the taco at the same time, they can be used as containers during the serving time. The chafing dishes or roasting trays are also similar to slow cookers but they are more designed to cook meats in them.

The circular bowls or other good bowls for the sides like the cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes should also be prepared to easily let the crowd see and choose whatever they want. Use really, really good bowls. Even for tomato sauce - it looks nicer in a good bowl,

The plastic or paper plates and cutleries are going to be your best buddies during the event. These will help your cleaning time a thousand times easier and would save you from washing piled-up dishes or broken plates.

If you are going to use a lot of sauces, make sure to lay down or give your guests more napkins than you think you will need. Keep them from being messy!

Also, prepare serving utensils in your taco bar. If your taco is served with many sauces, you might need a deep serving spoon that has a hole in it, rather than a ladle that will catch every drop of met juices in your tray.

For your sides such as cheese and vegetables, use a tong or serving spatula than a spoon.

Lastly, make sure to prepare really good drinks, salsa, and guacamole. To make a perfect taco, you do not just cook a perfect meat recipe, the sides will matter a lot, too! If you have time also making a blend of spices and herbs to make a homemade taco seasoning is a great idea for a special taco recipe - on a chicken taco you can add some cajun seasoning!

Tortillas

There are some kinds of tortilla chips that you can serve to your guests:

  • Soft tortilla chips
  • Hard tortilla chips
  • Grain-free tortilla chips
  • Double-decker tortilla chips
  • corn tortilla as opposed to a flour tortilla

The soft tortillas will be the easiest to prepare since you just need to warm them up in the skillet and keep them warm in a towel.

The hard tortillas will be needing some fast, gentle toasting in the oven until warm but make sure to avoid burning them.

While the grain-free tortillas will be needed to be grilled on your gas griller and lastly, the double-decker tortillas would make the best tacos for your guest.

If you want to serve great tacos like how Taco Bell does, you would definitely use this. You just have to heat your soft tortilla with about two to three tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese and make it melt. Once melted, you should immediately place the hard taco inside and fold it along with the other sides. I always say homemade tacos are the best, and my favorite filling is ground turkey.

Crowd-ready meat

You can use easy-to-cook meat in your taco bar like:

  • Taco-seasoned chicken
  • Taco-seasoned beef

In cooking either of the two types of meat, you have to use a slow cooker to keep them warm and yummy.

Taco sides

Offer a lot of sides or fixings to your tacos to make the large crowd enjoy it at its finest! Here are some must-haves:

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Fresh lettuce
  • Shredded Mexican cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Black olives
  • Diced white onions
  • Salsa
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Mexican rice
  • Refried beans
  • Pico de gallo

How to set up a DIY taco bar?

In setting up your own taco bar, there are items that should be placed accordingly in the serving area including:

1. Plasticware, silverware, or plates

2. Cutlery

3. Napkins

4. Corn tortillas or taco shells

5. Meat

6. Rice and beans (eg black bean, refried beans)

7. Toppings laid out respectively

8. Different kinds of shredded cheese

9. Diced tomatoes

10. Fresh shredded lettuce

11. Diced onion

12. Chopped cilantro and jalapeno

13. Salsa, sour cream, avocado, or guacamole

14. Taco Salad

14. Drinks

The presentation in your taco bar for a large group is an essential element. You have to make it match the event's theme. Also, a taco bar is expected to have a Mexican vibe such as having Mexican music, table covers, and Mexican-made ingredients.

To be a little more presentable, use matching bowls, table cloths, and serving spoons.

How do you keep taco shells warm for a crowd?

To keep your taco shells warm for a large crowd, make sure to cover them using aluminum foil then stick them in the oven. Make sure to wrap them tightly on all sides, especially after you remove them from the oven so that they won't get dry before the serving time.

If your party will last for a shorter time, you can just use a damp dishtowel for keeping those tortillas warm.

What kind of cheese goes on tacos?

If you want to copy the tacos from legit Mexican restaurants, you have to get the kinds of cheese they use such as the Asadero cheese, cheddar, or Monterey Jack. Other options are Queso Fresco or Queso blanco, Cotija cheese, or Oaxaca cheese.

Can I Make the Taco Fillings Ahead of Time?

Most taco fillings like proteins can be prepared days or a week ahead of time. If your taco bar event is longer in the future then shredded chicken, beef, or pork all freeze beautifully. Taco seasoned ground beef can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How do I store Taco Fillings in the Freezer for long life?

Place the cooked meat in airtight zipper bags to store in the freezer and try to push out all the air so that you minimize freezer burn on the meat. Also, you must label the bags before freezing as it is so easy not to recognize just what taco filling it is.

when it is frozen. One day before the taco party remove your meats and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator. Lastly on the day of the gathering heat these fillings up in a safe way - see our article on how professional caterers keep food warm.

rose chef
Hello !
I'm Rose
Welcome To One Pot Dish. I have spent 20 years as a professional Chef.  I make and test all my recipes before I share them with you.