Tortillas vs Hard Taco Shells – What’s the difference?

When it comes to staple Mexican food, there is probably no doubt that Tacos come to mind for most people. The variety of Taco dishes is wide, and here at our blog, we have documented that well. You can check our list of favourite Mexican recipes for 2022 or simply visit our recipes section to find out how much we love Tacos.

As much as we would like to pick one type of taco as our favourite, it’s almost impossible to pick one as the winner. However, the goal of this post is to deep dive a little more into a fascinating debate when it comes to choosing the base ingredient for tacos. Should you use traditional tortillas or hard shells for your tacos?

We might have a very one-sided opinion about this matter at Casa Bonita for obvious reasons. Still, we wanted to compile a few more facts that should be considered for everyone who is considering taking part in this debate.

So, let’s start answering the main argument here:

Which is better, tortillas (soft shells) or taco shells (hard shells)?

For our team at Casa Bonita is an easy answer, tortillas. We also love chips, and who knows, we might even secretly like hard-shell tacos, but nothing beats regular corn tortillas. No matter the type of corn, yellow, white, or blue, for us, a taco should be with a soft corn tortilla.

With that said, we understand that there is no easy answer for other people, so let’s continue with a few more relevant questions.

What makes a taco shell different from a corn tortilla?

The most obvious difference is the consistency of a “hard” shell vs a “soft” shell (basically a regular corn tortilla). In its purest form, a hard taco shell is basically a fried corn tortilla that has been folded to make it easy to hold the ingredients of a taco.

The taste will also be different, as hard shell tacos will add a crunchy flavour to your food, but warm, soft tortillas will let you enjoy the corn flavour.

In some cases, commercial taco shells may include other ingredients and perhaps different methods of cooking the base tortilla.

Are tortillas healthier compared to taco shells?

Traditional corn tortillas are a healthier option and will have fewer calories than taco shells in most cases. Frying the tortillas in oil to achieve a crunchy taste will add calories.

Is there a place where taco shells are more popular than tortillas?

Taco shells are very common in the US, and they are often part of many “Tex-Mex” dishes. With that said, finding soft or hard tortilla shells it’s relatively easy anywhere in the US and Canada.

Are hard taco shells common in Mexico?

The short answer is no. It’s really not common to find places that serve tacos with hard shells anywhere in Mexico. It’s not even an option in most restaurants. While you might get the chance to pick between corn and flour tortillas, hard shells are not available most of the time.

You can get chips and nachos in some taquerias and restaurants, but not many Tex-Mex-inspired foods incorporate hard shells.

In Mexico, a fried tortilla is called a tostada. Tostadas are not folded, as the tortilla remains flat when fried.

What should I use if I cook authentic Mexican food, soft tortillas or hard shells?

If you are going with authentic Mexican food dishes, soft corn tortillas are the way to go. Sometimes you will use tostadas, but it’s unlikely you’ll get a recipe asking for hard shells.

Where can I get authentic tortillas in Canada?

Great question! (secretly one of our favourite questions ever). You can head to our shop to find the best corn tortillas in Canada or find us at some of your favourite retailers. More information here.

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