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Crispy Taco Salad

Crispy Tortilla Bowl Taco Salad

An edible crispy tortilla shell bowl taco salad filled to the brim with chicken and fresh salad ingredients.
5 from 1 vote


For the Crispy Tortilla Bowls:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil for the outside of the bowls
  • 1/2 cup canola oil for the skillet; amount to be 1/2 inch deep; amount may vary depending on the size of the pan
  • 4 large flour tortillas

For the Salad:

  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans warmed
  • 2 cups Mexican salsa for the inside of the salad and for garnish
  • 1 small container (8 ounces) sour cream for the inside of the salad and for garnish
  • 1/2 bunch bronze leaf lettuce chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head green cabbage shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1 quarter head of purple (red) cabbage chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber cut in fairly large triangular pieces about the size of a dime
  • 1 bunch of radishes thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro tough stem ends removed and discarded, chopped (for the inside of the salad and for garnish)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 of a red onion peeled and sliced in thin strips
  • 1 avocado cut in half lengthwise, seed removed, meat scooped out with a spoon and sliced in fairly thick slices
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups bite size pieces of cooked chicken or other type of cooked meat; beef, pork, or meatless works well too


  • Cooking tongs
  • Large skillet
  • Baking sheet pan with high sides to lay the oven-safe bowls on
  • Baking sheet pan to put the crispy tortilla bowls on (to crisp up the middle of the tortilla bowls)
  • 2 Oven-safe bowls (medium size)


For the Crispy Tortilla Bowls:

  • The tortilla bowls will need to be baked in 2 batches because only 2 crispy shell bowls will fit on the sheet pan at a time (this recipe makes 4 crispy tortilla shells).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Preparing the Oven-Safe Bowls:

  • On a sheet pan with high sides, place 2 medium size oven-safe bowls upside down so that the bottom of the bowls are facing up.  
  • Brush the surface of the bowls with canola oil and set aside as close as possible to the skillet that will be used for the tortillas
    When handling the sheet pan (with high sides) that has the upside-down bowls on it, be sure to keep the pan level so that the bowls don't slide around.

To Make the Tortillas Pliable:

  • In a skillet that's large enough for a large flour tortilla to lay flat; add enough canola oil so that it’s about 1/2 inch deep in the pan. 
  • Heat the skillet on low heat.
  • When the oil is warm, lay one tortilla in the oil for just a couple seconds, just long enough so that the tortilla is pliable. 
  • Then carefully lift the tortilla from the oil with a pair of tongs and hold it over the skillet so that the loose oil will drip back into the skillet.
  • Using tongs, carefully lay the tortilla over one of the upside-down bowls.
  • Using tongs, shape the tortillas around the bowls, while being careful not to rip the tortilla. 
  • No need to turn the heat back on under the skillet with the canola oil in it.
    The oil in the pan should be warm enough to make the 2nd tortilla pliable.
    Repeat the process for another tortilla (only 2 tortilla shells can be made at a time on the sheet pan with sides).

Bake the Crispy Tortilla Bowls (upside-down):

  • In a preheated oven (at 350 degrees F.), bake the two tortillas until the outsides of the shell are golden brown (about 10 minutes).  
    Watch them closely so they don’t get too brown.
    Using hot mitts, very carefully remove the sheet pan with the tortilla bowls from the oven.
  • Be sure to keep the pan completely level when handling it with the bowls and tortillas. The sheet pan, bowls and tortillas will be very hot.
  • After removing them from the oven, as soon as the tortilla and oven-safe bowls are cool enough to handle, carefully remove the tortillas from the bowls.
    If the tortillas are sticking to the bowls, try carefully using a blunt dinner knife to gently pry them loose.

Baking the Crispy Tortilla Bowls (right-side up):

  • After the cooked tortilla shells are removed from the bowls, transfer them onto a clean (no oil) sheet pan.
    Put them in a preheated oven (at 350 degrees F.) until the inside of the tortilla bowls turn a golden color (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Repeat the process to make the remaining two tortilla bowls.  

For the Salad:

  • To the bottom of each tortilla bowl, add warm refried beans (about ¼ of the can in each bowl)
  • Top the beans with salsa and sour cream. 
  • Next, add lettuce, green cabbage, purple cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and avocados. 
  • Top with the cooked meat of your choice, shredded cheese and salsa.
  • Garnish the sour cream and chopped cilantro.



  1. Dipping the Flour Tortillas in Warm Oil - The tortillas will be very hot so make sure to use cooking tongs when handling the pliable tortilla.
  2. Baking the Tortillas on the Sheet Pan (with high sides) with Oven-Safe Bowls - When handling the sheet pan (with high sides) that has the oven-safe bowls on it, be sure to keep it completely level so that the bowls don't slip around.