How to Reheat Hard Shell Tacos

Tacos are an American and Mexican favorite. We do the extra work of preparing ground meat, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, onions and a few more vegetables to make a complete meal. Tacos can actuall be fairly filling as a result and need some reheating layer.

But half the reason we choose hard shell tacos is to add a crispy snap to our south of the border meal. And hard shell tacos don’t reheat well – do they? We are here to introduce you to some methods of keeping our hard shell tacos fresh while reheating.

Tacos can readily be reheated using at least a couple of methods including the oven, toaster oven, and microwave. We have a few more ideas to make them even better.

The best way – separate things

So tacos have to be assembled to be good in the first place, right? You have to physically put the ingredients in a taco shell in order for a taco to really be a taco. In the process, you are mixing hot, juicy meat, cool lettuce and vegetable, along with often cool sour cream and room temperature cheese. That’s a lot of temperature differences!

The first step to properly reheating tacos is to think about what should be heated up and what should not. 

Heating up tomatoes and other veggies, especially in a microwave, can readily dry them out.

So we suggest that regardless of the method you choose to heat up tacos, you heat up the shells, meat, refried beans, and things that are meant to be hot separately from the cold.

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Reheating hard shell tacos in the oven – the best ideas

You’ll need an oven tray and heat gloves for this one. The oven is the best place to reheat any of the taco foods you are getting warm again because the oven uses lower, slow heat and tends to retain moisture.

That said, you will also need oven safe bowls for things like meat and refried beans.

Let’s get everything together!

Put your meat in an ovensafe bowl, and put aluminum foil over the top. You can also pour some oil into the meat to keep it moist. If you have refried beans you can also put them in a bowl and use the same method.

If your oven has two racks, consider using both of them or just placing the bowls of ingredients on the tray together so they can be served at the same time. 

The taco shells can be placed on the tray. You could put aluminum foil on them to heat up faster.

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees. Once the oven preheats, you can put the whole group in the oven. If the bowls aren’t very large, you could potentially fit them in the same rack.

The entire idea behind using the oven to reheat is to preserve as much moisture as possible, especially in the meat. Taco shells also fare better in the oven because they won’t soften like they could do in the microwave.

Heat for about 5-10 minutes. Note that your taco shells are likely to heat up faster unless they are stacked up. Use heat gloves to remove them from the oven and check the temperature of all the things you put in.

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If the temperature is good – then let it cool down a bit and get ready to serve it up!

Reheating tacos in the microwave

Your microwave probably isn’t big enough to pull off the method above with reheating all heated ingredients at the same time. 

You’ll likely want to reheat bowls or plates of meat, shells, and anything else separately. The good news with the microwave is that the reheated results probably won’t be cold once you are done since the microwave is quick.

Our biggest concern here is retaining moisture in the meat. Taco shells aren’t very difficult to keep moist in part because they are already baked and don’t often require cooking unless you want them warm.

Reheat the meat in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl. You can add oil or water to the bowl to maintain moisture.

Microwave for about 45 seconds, then check the results. Are they hot enough for you? You can try again. Just don’t overheat the meat or you’ll quickly lose moisture and cook the meat even more – which isn’t necessary.

Once you remove the meat from the microwave, you can repeat the same thing with any any heatables you wat.

Can I reheat an entire taco?

You definitely can. This is especially the case if you are reheating tacos from a restaurant, where the taco likely comes assembled.

Your best bet is to put a paper towel with oil or water over it, and hope that the moisture seems into the taco. You could attempt to stand the taco up and put the paper towel over top.

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Use the same amount of time we suggested for oven usage and the same for microwave. 

Reheating an entire taco will also heat up your sour cream, cheese, tomatoes and more. Some don’t like this – but you also might not have much of a choice short of taking apart the entire taco, reheating ingredients, then putting it back together. Note that with a carefully assembled taco, this might actually be possible!


Tacos are really amazing food with a balance of meat, vegetables, carbs, and a bit of dairy. Thankfully, taco shells are pre cooked so they are the easiest part to reheat without changing the flavor or texture. We suggest using the oven as you can fit more individual ingredients onto a tray while also giving your best effort are retaining moist meat. 

The microwave is also an option though it could take a little longer and risk drying out some ingredients. We do think you can readily make tasty reheated tacos either way though.