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Puffy Taco Shells

Rated as 4.6 out of 5 Stars

"I just don't get to San Antonio, home of the puffy taco, as much as I'd like to. So I tried to recreate it at home and it worked out great! Be sure you have the meat and fixings ready ahead of time so all you have to do is fry and fill! These work best when served as warm as possible."
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18 m servings 128 cals
Original recipe yields 4 servings (8 small shells)


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  1. Mix masa harina, salt, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water together in a bowl using your fingertips until dough forms and pulls away from the sides, 2 or 3 minutes. Form into a firm, flattened ball and divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Keep dough balls covered with a damp paper towel as you fry them, one at a time. Watch Now
  2. Place dough ball between 2 sheets of plastic or a split open zip top bag. Flatten to form a small circle about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick. Watch Now
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, slide in the first circle. Very carefully baste hot oil over the top of the shell with a spoon to keep oil circulating over the top surface. When shell has puffed (after about 15 seconds), cook another few seconds and flip it over and cook another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat for each shell.
  4. When shells are still warm and pliable, gently push down puffed tops to create room for the fillings and slightly crease the shells for folding. Watch Now
  5. Fill with your favorite taco fixings and serve while shells are still warm. Watch Now


  • Cook's Note:
  • You can also deep-fry the shells at 350 F (175 degrees C) for about 90 seconds.
  • For the best results, make the dough and use it right away. I've tried to make it ahead of time, but the tortillas didn't seem to puff up nearly as much.
  • Tip
  • Parchment can be used for easier cleanup/removal from the pan.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 128 calories; 3.8 g fat; 21.7 g carbohydrates; 2.7 g protein; 0 mg cholesterol; 243 mg sodium. Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 5
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I am from San Antonio and this is a healthier version of how we make them. However, you do need a tortilla press. And you must make them larger to have them come out like the originals. To avo...

In order to have these puff up, in my opinion, you really do need a tortilla press. It wasn't until I made the 5th one that I finally pressed it thin enough and it puffed up nicely. I'm going o...

Way to much work and too time consuming for me to just get a few little shells

I just want to let everyone know that I tried this recipe with wheat germ because I had it at hand and was lazy enough not to go to the store. I might have added more dry wheat germ because it ...

Chef John will you share the chicken recipe you used?