When feeding a crowd, which I tend to do a lot more this time of year, I have found that the more hands-on the eater is, the easier it is for the cook. What I mean by that is that the less that you have to plate up and serve, the better. Which is where the beauty of a taco bar comes in.

I have done lots of different types of food “bars” in the past, including a potato bar, salad bar, hamburger bar and a pizza bar (nightmare), but the taco bar is the crowd favorite. Not only does everyone love a taco, but you can make it all ahead of time and be able to sit down with your guests and eat instead of plating up food all night.

Recently, I was feeding a large crowd, so I cooked 18 pounds of meat. You read that right. I bought three of the six-pounders of ground beef at Costco. I knew that would be a lot, but here’s why I didn’t worry: taco meat freezes incredibly well. So if I had lots left over, I would just freeze it.

I kept the taco bar simple here. You can use two or three types of meat, but I just served ground beef.

Alright, let’s get down to business…

A Taco Bar: The Easiest Way to Feed a Crowd

Taco Bar — How to Feed a Crowd

As you can see, this is a real world, non-stylized, set-up.

Elements of the Taco Bar:

  • Taco Meat
  • Charro Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Hard and soft shell tortillas
  • Toppings
    • Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
    • Sliced tomato
    • Sliced white onion
    • Cilantro
    • Guacamole
    • Salsa
    • Sour Cream
    • Cheese, cheese and more cheese
    • Jalapenos (I used “tamed” pickled jalapenos for this crowd. For an adult crowd or crowd from Texas, slice up the fresh ones.)
Taco Bar — How to Feed a Crowd

Small, individual containers hold the contents of all the taco toppings you’ll need. This bar is not fancy, it’s old-school goodness!

Taco Bar Serving Pieces:

  • Crockpots
  • Warming dish for rice and beans
  • Divided dishes or individual bowls for toppings
  • Tortilla warmer dish (a dish with a top) for soft tortillas
Taco Bar — How to Feed a Crowd

Dueling crockpots of meat.

Taco Bar — How to Feed a Crowd

You’ll need a two-sided warming table for the rice and beans.

Lay out all the food in order. Follow this list and set up around an island or table:

  1. Flatware, napkins and plates
  2. Tortillas and Hard Shell Tortillas
  3. Meat
  4. Beans and Rice
  5. Toppings, lay these out in the order that you would put on the taco.
  6. Cheese, cheese and more cheese
  7. Lettuce and tomato
  8. Onion, cilantro and jalapenos (I call these “the optionals”)
  9. Salsa, sour cream and guacamole (the final condiments)
Taco Bar — How to Feed a Crowd

I’m a planner; I’ll own it. And, if I could have used a label maker, I would have.

Here’s my recipe for taco meat and how I cooked all 18 pounds at once and kept it warm. This should be a talent competition in the Miss America Pageant.

Taco Bar Taco Meat

Heidi Potter
Taco Bars - A great way to feed a crowd!
3.82 from 107 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2
Calories 609 kcal


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 packet taco seasoning


  • In a saute pan, brown ground meat. After this is browned, add onion and cook until it is translucent. Add taco seasoning packet and follow directions. Let simmer or place into a crockpot to keep warm until your dinner is served.

NOTE: This is for one pound. I created this recipe multiplied by 18! Adjust accordingly for whatever size crowd you're serving.


    Calories: 609kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 40gFat: 45gSaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 195mgPotassium: 729mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 47IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 5mg
    Keyword Tacos
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    Grab your plate. The Taco Bar awaits you!

    Taco ingredients station

    The Taco Bar is ready to feed a crowd!

    Now that you’ve made a taco bar, are you ready to make a gourmet nacho bar? Here’s how!

    Gourmet Nacho Bar

    Click photo to see the recipe and set up for the Gourmet Nacho Bar!


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