If you’re thinking of having a taco bar for a wedding reception, birthday, graduation, fundraiser, or other event and need to know how much to buy and prepare, you’ll can get an estimate of what you’ll need using this calculator. After you enter the number of guests you’ll be serving, the result will provide a breakdown of common purchased ingredients which you can use as a checklist to prepare for your event. So if you need to know how many tacos for 25, 50, 100 or more, the Taco Bar Calculator will figure it out for you.
Read more to get serving tips and suggestions, or jump to the bottom of the page for the calculator.
If you are making your own sauces, salsas, or other recipes, use our Recipe Multiplier https://calculate-this.com/recipe-multiplier-calculator to convert your recipes to the quantities you’ll need.
Taco bars are a fun and easy way to feed a large number of people. All the ingredients are served buffet-style, so there’s no stress over creating everyones’ plates or serving everyone at once. Since the majority of ingredients are served cold or at room temperature, you’ll only have to worry about keeping a few ingredients heated. Guests get to choose their own fillings, so they’re less likely to be disappointed. You can serve basic ingredients, or step it up a notch by offering a unique variety of gourmet fillings.
This calculator uses the following information to determine how much is needed:
- Although the standard is 3 tacos per person, folks tend to be a bit generous when filling their own tacos so caterers calculate 2 tacos per person for taco bars.
- One pound (16 ounces) of 80/20 raw ground beef, pan browned and drained, will equal 12 ounces of cooked ground beef.
- How much taco meat per person? The average serving of protein per guest is 4 ounces. The “conservative” amount of ground beef in a typical taco is 2.5 ounces, but because of the other taco fillings we estimate 2 ounces of beef for the average taco.
- Cheese, onions and tomatoes tend to be the most popular fillings (and tend to run out first).
- Ingredients have different weights per volume. For example, an ounce (2 TBSP) of black beans weighs 30.1 grams whereas an ounce (2 TBSP) of lettuce weighs 18 grams. This calculator uses an ingredient’s actual weight by volume to determine serving size per ounce or TBSP.
- Milder sauces are more popular than hotter sauces. Consider using only mild or medium heat sauces, but also offering hot sauce for those guests that like the heat.
- Use paper or plastic hot dog trays to minimize waste by portioning servings. By eating one taco at a time, guests won’t be as inclined to overload their taco with fillings on the second or third trip back to the taco bar.
Food Layout Suggestions
- For food items that need to stay warm, use slow cookers or crockpots to keep foods at 140 degrees or more. Triple cookers are perfect for saving space and are ideal for keeping your meat, rice and beans at the right temperature.
- For food items that need to stay cold, sit bowls on trays of ice. Amazon sells inflatable serving bars that are perfect for this purpose.
- Provide mini-tongs for each food item instead of spoons. Pick these up at your local dollar store or online at Amazon.
- For semi-liquid toppings such as sour cream or salsas, serve these in condiment squeeze bottles. It will make it easier for your guests and hopefully cause less mess.
- For the calorie conscience-minded, draining and then rinsing 80/20 ground beef results in the equivalent of calories/fat to that of 90/10 to 95/5 ground beef undrained.
- The folks at RaspberrySwirls.com have printable “Taco Bar” signage that you can print out and display (for free). https://raspberryswirls.com/printables/taco-bar-sign
- Gourmet fillings are a nice way to step your taco bar up a notch. However, the quantity needed is based on individual preferences which makes it hard to define the amount to have on hand.
- Avocado slices
- Sliced jalepeno peppers
- Creme fraiche
- Pico de Gallo
- Sliced black olives
- Queso Fresco
- Seasoned white and wild rice
- Diced chorizo
- The nice thing about the ingredients used for a taco bar is that they can easily be used in many other dishes (if they were kept at proper temps). If you have a lot of leftovers, you can make a variety of other meals. If you have a lot of leftover ground beef, you can make some chili. If there’s a lot of vegetables (tomatoes, onions) but not that much ground beef, you can whip up some spaghetti sauce.
- For leftover shredded cheese: toss lightly with cornstarch and then store in fridge or freezer for future use.
The calculator will provide an estimate of items needed based on standard serving sizes as the primary dish. However, your guests’ preferences for specific toppings as well as their appetite can vary greatly so you may have too much of one item and not enough of another. You may also need to adjust the numbers if you are serving other main dishes.
If your taco bar is not the only food item (if there are other dishes or side dishes), or if you are holding an open house where guests are also visiting other gatherings (which is common for graduations) reduce the portions accordingly. Remember, these are just suggested portions and ingredients. Adjust them as needed.