Thursday, May 7, 2020

Making Taco Bell at Home!

Tonight's dinner is going to be something special. The kids love eating at Taco Bell, so continuing our series of making meals at home, tonight "Yo Quiero Taco Bell". We're going to "Live Mas", "Make a Run for the Border", and "Think Outside the Bun". Let's do this!
 There's a couple things that I just HAVE to have if I'm going to be making this at home. The first is something that's no longer available at Taco Bell. Why they got rid of it, I have no idea. The best thing on their menu is The Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. I could eat a ton of them. I think Ian's record is 4!
Unfortunately, like I said, they don't sell it anymore. But when I make Taco Bell at home, I can do whatever I want!

So many sites suggested getting pre-made taco shells and dusting them with ranch powder... I've never made corn tortillas myself before and I feel like learning a new skill. I might be biting off a little more than I can chew.
I found this video showing someone making regular Nacho Cheese Doritos taco shells. Great! Let's do it! Except they don't have a link to their recipe. Boo for that!

I was able to find something that looked like it used the same ingredients here.
I'll need 2 cups of Doritos, 1/2 cup of Maseca, 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of baking powder, 2 Tbs of Ranch Powder, 3/4 water, and 1/4 of melted lard.

How much is 2 cups of Doritos? I wasn't too sure. I estimated about 4 oz.

I pulsed the chips into crumbs, then added the rest of the ingredients.

There it is. One ball of Cool Ranch tortilla dough. Just needs to rest for 30 minutes.
Ian came in and said he'd want the Nacho Cheese Dorito flavor too! Well, I aim to please don't I. I whipped up another batch, this time with Nacho Cheese powder.

So how do I make shells? I watched a few videos suggesting different methods. My first attempts were... not so successful. I squished everything as flat as I could with a flat pan. Maybe a little thicker than a quarter. Those puffed up as soon as they hit the oil and ended up being way way too thick.

I'm going to have to go a lot thinner. I pulled out the rolling pin and got it as thin as I dared. Seriously it was almost as see-through.

I'm going to make these 2 ways. First I'm going to try to fry them, then I'm going to try to bake some.
For frying, I'm holding each half of the tortilla with tongs so it will hopefully hold its shape.

Results were so-so at the beginning. Hard to get it the right shape, or maybe it's overcooked. I came away with a few burns from both the pot and the oil, but I was determined. It was fun trying to learn a new skill.

Things are starting to get better. Right shape, decent size, maybe a little overcooked. I dusted it with ranch powder and set it aside.

Things are starting to look up. The texture isn't quite right, but it's still not bad.

With one of the batches of each, I cut the tortilla into sixths and made "chips". Still couldn't get the texture quite right. Even after plenty of time in the fryer, they still wouldn't firm up. I didn't want to burn them, but eh, worth a shot.

My tortillas certainly weren't quick to make. My pot was only big enough for 1 tortilla as a time, and each one took 4-5 minutes to cook. All in all, I was probably at it for 2 hours. In the end, I think I got an acceptable output. The back 6 are a few Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese tortillas that I ended up frying. The 6 in the front were warmed in a pan for 2-3 minutes, then baked in the oven for 4 minutes.
While I was making all these, Ian came into the kitchen. Ian took a look at what I had done and said...
Ian - I don't think these are going to be as good as Taco Bell...
Joe - I think I'm going to agree with you buddy.
Brutally honest. Now to work on his tact.

Theresa has a few things she's going to make tonight too. A tasty cheese quesadilla and the classic Taco Bell Bean Burrito. The cheese quesadilla has a delicious spicy sauce that goes on it, and Theresa is whipping up a batch using this recipe from

There's one more thing that I just HAVE to have if we're going to be having Taco Bell. The classic dessert that we always get on each visit are Cinnamon Twists. But what is a Cinnamon Twist made from. I didn't really know before this. I've been planning for Taco Bell night since we started this series a couple weeks ago. How was I going to pull this one off?
Some people online were saying it was just dry pasta that was fried. I'm fairly certain that is not going to work at all, but we'll give it a shot.
Here's some egg noodles. I'm going to cook half and see what happens.

Using my meat thermometer, I verified the temp was around 350F. I put the egg noodles in for a few seconds.

This is the result. Those don't look like Cinnamon Twists at all. Just overcooked/burned egg noodles.

So what do I really need? After some research, I found it.
This is a wheat pellet, a common Mexican snack food, called Duros. It sure does look like pasta doesn't it? Similar in shape, but the ingredients that make it up are different. We're going to do the comparison we did above again, but with these.

It's hard to believe what happens to these when they go into the hot oil. For 10 seconds or so, they sink to the bottom of the oil. And then very quickly, they start expanding more and more. So much so that it's hard to believe.

Here's a comparison of those again. Wow! I had no idea! I think I'm going to have to do a separate post on these.

Let's watch a video of it!

This is about 0.5 ounces of pre-cooked duros. It's more than enough to be a Taco Bell serving.
So, how are these sold in bulk form? There's lots of shapes. Wagon Wheels and flat Sheets being most common. The twists are difficult to find, at least during these times right now, but, you can get them on eBay, 7 pounds for $26.50. If 0.5 ounces is a serving, then that 7 pounds is good for 224 servings! I dusted them with cinnamon and sugar and wow, these look delicious.

Kids, come see this! I let each of them drop a single piece into the hot oil, watch it puff up, and then eat it after I dusted it with cinnamon sugar.

They thought it was fun to watch it puff up and loved eating it too.

I filled a bowl with about 2 ounces of these for everyone to share.

Hey kids, can you make some cups for us tonight? I grabbed a bottle of Taco Bell Mild Sauce for them to copy the Bell logo from.

I like it Ian.

Oh Alli, you make me laugh. I forget sometimes that you're still learning to read.
She drew the logo alright, but wrote the words "Mild Sauce" on the cup.

Along with making the food, I've had fun making the wrappers to go with it all. It adds that extra touch.

We've got a bounty of foods tonight. I'm hoping it's going to be good!

There's two flavors of Doritos Locos tacos. Both Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese flavors.

I think this Quesadilla wrapper was pretty fun. It's got a plastic viewing window, just like the real thing.

And here's our classic Bean Burrito. The wrapper for that looks good too.

These pocket style Cinnamon Twist bags were easy to make.


Let's eat!

Ian of course wanted a Cool Ranch taco. I couldn't make them as small as the ones you get from Taco Bell.

Ian - It tastes a lot better than I was expecting!
Someone is happy to have a Cool Ranch taco again.

Alli is taking on a Nacho Cheese taco.

Rich and Chi joining us for dinner too. Richard is having a soft taco supreme with sour cream, lettuce, and tomato.

That's what Alli was really wanting. Her regular order from Taco Bell is a bean burrito. After finishing this one, she asked for another one!

Whoa Ian! He made super quick work of his taco, finishing it before I could even start my meal.
Ian - Can I have another one?
He really is liking them.

My plate. Tacos, burritos, quesadilla, and cinnamon twists.

The quesadilla with the spicy sauce was so good. It has jalapeño bits, jalapeño juice, cumin, cayenne pepper, and other hot spices. Alli, ever the bold eater, asked to have some, and she loved it!

And even though the taco shells don't taste like Taco Bell, they're not bad by any means. They're not as crisp and crunchy as regular hard shell tacos, but I still like the flavor.
Theresa said that while I was cooking them, the kitchen smelled like Casa Bonita.

But the main thing I learned from all this, is that even though I can make fried corn tortillas, I have no desire right now to try to do it again. It is way too much work! I'm going to buy crunchy shells next time for $1.69 for 12, and dust the outside with flavored powder. Still, I had fun with the attempt

Alli enjoyed Taco Bell at home. Her favorite item were those homemade cinnamon twists. The burrito was really good too.

And Ian obviously liked it all. He finished both of the oversized Cool Ranch tacos, and completely emptied his bag of Cinnamon Twists.

Now what are we going to make at home next?


  1. That was an adventurous, determined mindset on making the corn tortilla tacos..good for you! Like Ian said, "Tastes better than he expected!" (lol) the end, it's ultimately the taste that counts (and he proved it, too). Looks like Theresa did a great job with that spicy sauce, along with the quesadilla & burrito (Alli would definitely say YES!). A lot of work (food from scratch and the various wrappers) but satisfying, fun, and delicious. Those cinnamon twists (cooking the duros) remind me of the Asian shrimp chips (check out a youtube video and you'll see what I mean; the kids will really be amazed how those colorful "hard chips" quickly sprout into big, puffy "chips", similar to the duros, and they'll get a nice surprise if it's placed on their tongues just before biting into them. Should be able to find the shrimp chips at almost any Asian market). It was definitely a "think outside the bun" meal...great cooking by the both of you! EOM

  2. Yum! Now I want to go get some cinnamon twists from eBay! Those look tasty and a fun science experiment to see if smaller ones pop up faster or are crispier when boiled at different temperatures....nah, I don't want to make Taco Bell educational :)