How to Make Crispy Cheese Taco Shells

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Just when you thought tacos couldn't get any yummier!

Homemade Crispy Cheese Taco Shells

Looking for a new and exciting way to serve your favorite taco recipe? You’ve come to the right place! We’ll show you how to make crispy cheese taco shells! They’re an awesome and flavor-packed substitute for plain old flour or corn tortillas! And in addition to being savory and delicious, these cheese taco shells are actually good for you! Easy to make with just a few simple ingredients, this recipe is sure to become a new family favorite for taco night! 

Perfect Solution for Low-Carb Diets

cheese taco shells

We all love tacos, but they can be difficult to fit into a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Learning how to make crispy cheese taco shells is the perfect, low-carb-diet-friendly answer! They are cheesy, crunchy, and great for any taco recipe. Coming in at just one gram of carbs per serving, this recipe fits the bill for anyone trying to reduce their carb intake. And even better? You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to do so!

But these crispy cheese taco shells aren’t just low in carbs. They’re also a good source of protein and healthy fats (especially when compared to flour or corn tortillas.) Protein is essential to maintaining and building muscle, as well as boosting your metabolism. Fat works to keep you feeling fuller for longer so you’re less inclined to overeat! All good things!

Nutritional Benefits of Cheese

measuring cheese

The beauty of this recipe is that it calls for just one simple ingredient– cheese! And because it’s the star of this show, we thought it deserved some extra attention! Did you know that in moderation, cheese can actually be really good for you? Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients (other than protein and fat) that you can get from eating these single-ingredient crispy cheese taco shells!

Calcium

This affordable dairy product is packed with calcium, a crucial nutrient. You’ve probably heard that calcium strengthens your bones, nails, and teeth– preventing osteoporosis, but did you know that it also corrects mineral and hormonal imbalances and relieves symptoms of PMS? Calcium can even fight cancer and diabetes. It also helps regulate your blood pressure when combined with vitamin D (also found in cheese).

Probiotics

Certain high-fat cheeses like cheddar (recommended for this recipe), brie, and bleu cheese also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which reduces your risk of obesity and heart disease while also reducing inflammation everywhere in the body. Fermented dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, also promote cardiovascular health and contain probiotics to promote gut health and fend off “bad” bacteria. Balancing your gut health can help prevent conditions like arthritis, allergies, and mood disorders down the line. And since “good” bacteria fight “bad” bacteria, a probiotic-rich diet can prevent infections like UTIs from recurring. Want some additional probiotics in your taco? Trade a dollop of sour cream on your taco for a dollop of plain Greek yogurt! It tastes the same but it is more nutritious!

Vitamin A

Many kinds of cheese are rich in vitamin A, which supports eye health and vision (it can even improve your ability to see in low light), a strong immune system, reproductive health (healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding), and your body’s natural growth and development. Vitamin A also prevents cancer (thanks to its antioxidant properties), urinary stones, and acne.

Vitamin B12

Cheese is also packed with vitamin B12, which supports the body’s blood and nerve cells, preventing anemia while helping you produce DNA. It also provides a boost in energy–failure to thrive is a common symptom of B12 deficiency, so eating cheese regularly will help you keep a pep in your step! B12 supports healthy brain function, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, while also preventing osteoporosis and keeping your bones healthy. It’s even known to prevent macular degeneration, a disease that affects your vision. By helping your brain retain neurons, vitamin B12 may improve your memory and prevent dementia. This super-vitamin even contains the amino acid homocysteine, which promotes heart health and may therefore reduce your risk of heart disease. Not only does B12 boost your energy, but it also makes your hair, skin, and nails glow!

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is another essential nutrient present in cheese, which is essential for blood health. Not only does it help you heal from bruises, but it also prevents uncontrolled bleeding and heart disease. This vitamin also strengthens your bone density, reducing your risk of injuries like hip fractures and diseases like osteoporosis

Zinc

Cheese is also a good source of zinc, which supports your immune system and metabolism function. It’s crucial to helping your body heal from wounds and even strengthens your senses of taste and smell. Zinc has a whole host of benefits across the spectrum of bodily functions, from supporting healthy pregnancy to curing diarrhea. A natural anti-inflammatory, it prevents acne, osteoporosis, and even prostate issues. Zinc also supports healthy muscle growth. Zinc can help manage diabetes and prevent cancer, relieves PMS symptoms, and can even help you lose weight.

Vitamin D

Finally, cheese is packed with vitamin D, a nutrient few foods naturally contain–the perfect excuse to keep cheese in your regular diet rotation! Vitamin D helps the body absorb other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, supporting bone health. It also supports a healthy pregnancy, reduces your risk of contracting illnesses like the flu and COVID-19, prevents cancer, and helps you lose weight. A vitamin you can also absorb from spending time in the sunshine, vitamin D helps balance your blood pressure, relieve stress, and even reduces symptoms of depression. Not to mention, vitamin D can help your body fight longer-term diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), heart disease, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

If you weren’t already interested in trying these scrumptious cheese taco shells, you should be now after seeing all of the amazing health benefits they offer you!

Types of Cheese to Use for These Tacos

forming taco shell

You can make these taco shells with just about any cheese, although we recommend shredded cheddar, colby jack, or Mexican blend. Feel free to experiment with texture, flavor, and even fusing cuisines–Asiago, pepper jack, Gouda, Parmesan, or Mozzarella cheese could bring an interesting flavor to the dish. Just about any cheese hard enough not to melt completely can make for a delicious taco. Below is some information on the cheeses we recommend.

Cheddar

Cheddar is a universally beloved cheese variety that comes in a range of flavor palates. Mild cheddar offers a subtle, buttery taste; medium cheddar is slightly stronger, and sharp cheddar has a bold, pungent, almost tangy flavor. Cheddar cheese is the perfect texture for these crispy taco shells and pairs well with Mexican-inspired ingredients like salsa, guacamole, and beans. This is also a great option for Asian-flavored tacos! Particularly high in calcium and vitamin K, cheddar cheese supports cognitive function and even contains tryptophan, which is known to improve your mood.

Colby Jack

Colby jack is a relatively mild and buttery cheese, described as similar in flavor to a mild cheddar. Slightly sweeter and lighter and creamier in texture than cheddar, shredded colby jack cheese has a “marbled” appearance with certain darker, “sharper”-tasting sections. Particularly rich in vitamin A, colby jack supports eye health, good vision, and a strong immune system. This cheese is also rich in protein, which means colby jack tacos will keep you fuller longer and help you stay healthy and fit. Its semi-hard texture makes it perfect for grilled cheese, sandwiches, burgers, and recipes like this one.

Mexican Blend

“Mexican blend” shredded cheese combines Monterey jack, cheddar, Asadero, and queso quesadilla cheeses to create a blend that melts easily over Mexican-inspired dishes. Its flavor is mild and creamy with a slight tangy zing. The Monterey jack cheese in this blend is particularly high in calcium and riboflavin, aka vitamin B2, which is vital for a healthy metabolism. Asadero cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, fat, and phosphorus. Combined with rich and creamy queso quesadilla cheese and flavorful cheddar, this four-cheese blend is sure to make your tacos pop!

How to Make Crispy Cheese Taco Shells

taco shell on a pan

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to make these crispy cheesy shells.

Preheat

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes, so plan your cooking time accordingly.

Arrange

Next, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the cheese in four circular shapes on the paper. Be sure to make the circles dense enough so that you don’t end up with holes in your taco shells!

Bake

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the cheese “shells” are bubbly and browned in some spots. This should take about 5 minutes.

Cool

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cheese cool for a minute or two before attempting to remove it from the parchment paper. You can carefully lift the parchment paper up off the hot pan to help the crispy cheese taco shells cool faster.

Shape

When the cheese is cool enough to remove from the parchment paper, carefully lift each shell and drape it over a curved surface (such as a rolling pin or upside down taco holder) to mold it into a “taco shell” shape.

Enjoy

Once the cheese has cooled completely and taken shape, remove it from the curved surface, add your favorite taco fillings, and enjoy!

A Note on Storage and Freezing

forming shells

While we’re usually big fans of leftovers, these shells are best eaten the day they are made. That said, if you have leftovers they should taste pretty good the next day. Reheating them in the oven is your best option, although you can toss them in the air fryer for a minute or two, as well. Or, you can place them in a plastic bag or other airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to a week. We don’t recommend freezing these keto cheese taco shells, as the cheese’s texture can change while in the freezer.

Taco Recipes to Try These Cheese Taco Shells

breakfast tacos

You can swap these cheesy taco shells for any hard shell or tortilla and use them with just about any taco recipe. Create your own tacos and try these cheesy shells with ground beef or turkey, shredded chicken, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, fajita veggies, taco seasoning, chili powder, and hot sauce. Of course, we highly recommend using these crispy cheese taco shells with any of our existing taco recipes. As you will see, the possibilities are endless! Here are some taco recipes, categorized by different cuisines!

Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Asian Taco Ideas

Caribbean Flavors

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make crispy cheese taco shells

Do you have questions other than how to make crispy cheese taco shells? If so, we have the answers! Check out the most commonly asked questions we get about our cheese taco shells. If you have additional questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

What is a Cheese Shell Taco Called?

A burgeoning trend nationwide, cheese shell tacos are commonly referred to as “costra tacos,” taking their name from the Mexico City nightclub at which they were born (Las Costras). They’re also known as “quesotacos” or “tortillas de queso.”

Are these Cheese Taco Shells Keto?

Yes! Unlike traditional tortillas, these cheesy taco shells fit in perfectly with a keto diet as they contain just one carbohydrate per serving.

What Cheese is Best for These Costra Tacos?

You can use any cheese you prefer for these keto taco shells. However, for texture and flavor, we recommend shredded cheddar, colby jack, or Mexican blend cheese.

How Do You Keep Your Cheesy Taco Shells Crispy?

The key is to use gentle heat for the right amount of time. You want the keto shells to get (and stay) crispy without burning, but you also want them to remain slightly flexible to be able to shape them as they cool. This recipe calls for the cheese to be baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s browned and bubbly in some spots (this should take less than five minutes, so keep an eye on the oven). Be sure to let the “shells” cool for a minute or two before molding them around a curved surface, such as a rolling pin or upside-down taco holder.

Are Crispy Cheese Taco Shells Hard or Soft?

These cheese shells should be relatively hard and crispy if you follow the recipe exactly, but you can make them according to your preference. If you prefer soft tacos, bake them for a slightly shorter amount of time or let them cool for longer before digging in.

What Taco Fillings Go Best with Cheese Taco Shells?

Just about any taco recipe will work with these taco shells! We recommend a protein like beef, turkey, or chicken. Then add rice, beans, avocado, veggies like peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and toppings like guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. You’re also welcome to add even more cheese if you so desire!

How Do You Keep These Cheese Taco Shells from Getting Soggy?

In order to prevent these taco shells from getting soggy, be sure to cook them until they’ve browned and started to bubble, and eat them immediately. If you store leftovers in the fridge, separate the “shells” from the toppings to prevent the crispy cheese from getting soggy.

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Watch How to Make These Cheese Taco Shells

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How to Make Cheese Taco Shells

Try these Cheese Taco Shells for a a new, low-carb and high protein way to serve your favorite taco recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 2 people
Serving Size 2 shells
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Author Kelsey Butler, MS, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded cheese try cheddar, colby jack, or a Mexican blend

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange cheese in 4 circular shapes on the paper. Each circle should use 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • Bake cheese until bubbly and browned in spots.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for about 1-2 minutes before attempting to remove the cheese shell from parchment paper.
  • Carefully lift the cheese shell off of parchment paper and lay over a curved suface like a rolling pin.
  • Let cool completely until they've taken shape, and then enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2shells | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 43mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Calcium: 283mg | Iron: 0.2mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 3
Keywords Low-Carb

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Kelsey Butler, MS, RDN

Kelsey Butler is a Registered Dietitian and recipe developer. From a young age, Kelsey found a love for creating delicious recipes. Now, with a Master's in Nutritional Sciences, Kelsey uses her culinary skills to create healthy and unique recipes for many different diets. She is passionate about creating a healthy relationship with all foods and recipes that everyone can enjoy. Kelsey has a passion for cooking, but she also enjoys the outdoors, staying active, and traveling. She is currently living with her partner in New Zealand.

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