You've Been Assembling Your Hard Shell Tacos All Wrong

Remember: Shredded cheese is your friend.
Remember: Shredded cheese is your friend. / ahirao_photo/iStock via Getty Images

They may not be the most traditional Mexican dish, but hard shell tacos have become a staple of many families' taco nights. Hard shell tacos pack the same corn flavor as classic tortillas, but with the added crispy crunch of a fried chip. They do, however, have one major drawback: Taco shells crack and break apart easily, making an already messy meal even messier. If you want to keep more of your taco filling in your taco and less of it in your lap, try this food hack spotted by Lifehacker.

Reddit user u/hyteck9 suggested a simple-but-brilliant idea for reinforcing the structural integrity of your taco shell using a common topping. When assembling a hard shell taco, most people start with the meat first, add the veggies second, and then top the whole thing with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.

It may not look as pretty, but you can improve your meal by moving the order around slightly. Before adding anything else, drop the cheese into the bottom of the shell. Now, when you add the ground beef or whatever filling you chose, that cheese will melt and act as a sort of glue for weakest part of the tortilla.

You can also guarantee the cheese gets nice and melty by popping the shell in the oven at 350℉ for a few minutes after applying the cheese. Warming it in the oven has the added effect of making the tortilla more pliable and less brittle, which reduces the chances of it shattering in your hands.

Many common cooking problems can be solved with a quick hack. Here are some more tips and techniques that can improve your kitchen skills.

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.