Keep reading for my full breakdown of how to make a wedding taco bar for 150 people!
My sister, Nikki, got married this past weekend to the love of her life, Jared. It was a beautiful wedding. And it was a lot of work! I did the taco bar for 150 people. Fact of the matter is that family weddings are always a lot of work. My duties included being the Maid of Honor, catering the wedding, and making the cake. Needless to say, I survived and have now fully recovered.
We did the food for my brother’s wedding about two years ago and got asked to do the food for my sister’s wedding as well. Planning a wedding taco bar for 150 people, no big deal, right!?!? Luckily I had lots of help! Kris and my cousins were amazing!!!
Don’t mind the pictures, not the best. I had planned on bringing my camera but in all the wedding madness left it at home. I took all these pictures on my iPhone, and I didn’t even do a very good job. I was literally running around like a crazy person and kept forgetting to take pictures, and the pictures I did get aren’t the greatest…. I do wish I had taken some better pictures of the buffet line of the taco bar and all the food and my plate full of tacos…..
I did a fair amount of research to figure out how much food to plan for the taco bar for 150. I dug out my Food for Fifty book and did lots of Google searches. The full menu included chips and salsa for an appetizer during the cocktail hour and then a taco bar for the dinner.
For tacos we had: carne asada, chicken, fresh white corn tortillas, shredded cheese, onions, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, fresh jalapeños, radishes, cilantro, limes, and a variety of hot sauces.
On the Wednesday before the wedding, I borrowed catering supplies and picked up all the linens, then my sister, Nikki, and I went and got gel manicures and pedicures. I started cleaning the house that night to get ready for my cousins to stay with us.
On Thursday I got my hair cut and then went shopping for all the wedding taco bar food. I bought most of the food at Cash and Carry but also picked up a few things at Costco and Winco. We got all the meat from a local Mexican food mart that is also a butcher. I baked the cake on the Thursday night, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and frozen it.
On Friday, I made a second cake as backup just in case…. We also prepped all the vegetables and went to the rehearsal dinner at my parents’ house. Then on Saturday, the wedding day, I made the buttercream frosting in the morning and decorated the cake. Kris and my cousin’s husband went and got propane and charcoal for the barbecues and borrowed another barbecue from my father-in-law.
We arrived at the wedding venue around 2:45pm, wedding started at 4:15pm, plenty of time if I was only doing the taco bar, a little tight on time for being a bridesmaid…. I was planning on getting myself ready at 3:15pm… Originally I was thinking we’d get there by 1:30pm, maybe 2:00pm at the latest to give myself over an hour to help set up the buffet for the wedding taco bar for 150 and to start the beans and rice.
Well, we were behind, of course, and I had about an hour of extreme panic. Luckily my cousins and Kris remained calm, gave me a beer, and kicked me out of the kitchen to go get ready while they took over the beans and rice.
I bought dehydrated refried beans and parboiled rice. My cousin and Kris sautéed onions, green bell peppers, and jalapeños to add to the rice along with canned, diced tomatoes. The beer helped calm my nerves somewhat…
While my family cooked, I did my hair and makeup in record time and just barely got myself together for the ceremony. And then I forgot the ring…total fail! Yep, left the ring on the table in the dressing room. After I walked down the aisle, I stepped forward and told my mom I had forgot Jared’s ring!!!
Luckily my mom has arthritic ring fingers and wears a large silver band, so she discreetly passed me her ring and that’s the ring that my sister put on Jared’s hand during the ceremony! We ran and got the real ring right after the ceremony.
I had to take pictures after the ceremony so Kris and my cousins ran back to the kitchen and barbecues to start cooking. They also set out the chips and salsa for the cocktail hour. The other mishap was that I forgot the tortilla chips at my house…. I realized it when we started setting up the buffet!
So I had my brother and sister-in-law run to the store and buy fifteen pounds of tortilla chips!!! They saved the day! Kris and my cousins barbecued the meat on the spot so it went almost straight from the barbecues to the serving line. My cousins have blisters from chopping up so much meat for the taco bar!
After pictures I ran around and tried to help with the taco bar as much as I could, but remember, I’m in my bridesmaid dress. Helping with barbecuing the meat was off limits and so was chopping the meat, so I ran back and forth between the buffet table, the barbecues, and the kitchen doing whatever needed to be done.
The kitchen was across the street from the barn, probably a few hundred feet away… I think I ran back and forth at least ten times…not even joking, I was jogging in my bridesmaid dress. And it was 95 degrees out!!! Luckily lots of trees and shade.
Then it was finally time for dinner! The wedding party went through the buffet line first. I proceed to stuff my face and down a can of wine (yes, canned wine, two glasses per can), and then I ran around trying to keep the buffet line stocked, well, actually I made my brother refill the taco bar for me.
Then dinner was over, the first dance, and then it was time for speeches, which was actually the most nerve-racking part of my wedding duties…some Coors Light real fast and I delivered my Maid of Honor speech. I think I finally relaxed after handing off the mic….. after speeches they cut the cake, threw the flowers, did the garter toss and socialized the rest of the night.
Overall it was a very fun wedding and I liked catering the food and making the cake. I should have been a little more organized with being the Maid of Honor though. We ended up with a fair amount of leftovers. I think running out of food at a wedding is the worst thing ever so I planned on extra. Nikki and Jared had 130 people RSVP so I planned a taco for 150 people. My best guess is that around 100 people showed up to the wedding.
If I did it again, I would plan just enough food for 130 people. I think I had too many toppings for the tacos as well; I should have just kept it simple with cheese, onions, jalapeños, radishes, sour cream, and cilantro. I don’t think I really needed the shredded lettuce, tomatoes, or guacamole.
I should have put the guacamole out with the chips and salsa during the cocktail hour and then not had any guac for the tacos. And finally, I should have set up the buffet line with beans and rice first, then the tortillas, followed by the meat and toppings.
Instead, it was set up with tortillas first, then beans and rice, then the meat and toppings. I saw a lot of people putting beans and rice on their tortillas, which is okay, but that is more burrito style and meant they had less room in their tacos for meat and toppings.
In the end, everything worked out. Nikki and Jared are married and we successfully catered a wedding taco bar for 150 people!
Below is a list of everything I bought, just in case you ever want to plan a wedding taco bar for 150 people! I did end up with leftovers and like I said earlier, I think there were about 100 people at the wedding.
Total price came to $6.15 per person for 150 people. And you could certainly cut that price down if you used a cheaper cut of asada than we did.
- 3 – 1 gallon jugs of salsa (mild, medium, hot)
- 15 lbs of tortilla chips
- 45 lbs of raw carne asada (seasoned by the Mexican butcher)
- 30 lbs of raw chicken (seasoned by the butcher)
- 800 small white corn tortillas
- 15 lbs shredded lettuce
- 18 lbs tomatoes, diced
- 10 lbs onions, diced
- 10 lbs Mexican blend shredded cheese
- 10 lbs sour cream
- 6 – 12 oz packages of Wholly Guacamole
- 3 lbs fresh jalapeños, sliced into rounds
- 6 bunches of radishes, sliced thin
- 25 limes, sliced into 1/8
- 10 bunches of cilantro
- 6 bottles of a variety of hot sauces
- 18 green bell peppers, diced
- 10 lbs of parboiled white rice (Uncle Ben’s)
- 2 – 6lb 6oz (#10 cans) of diced tomatoes
- Chili Powder
- 6 packages of Santiago dehydrated refried beans
Did you run out of anything? Did you feel like your portions were plenty?
We ended up with lots of extras!!! But I planned for 150 people and I think there only ended being about 100 people at the wedding. Also, looking back, we should have set it up with tortillas then the meat then the rice and beans, and finally the toppings. We didn’t run out of anything! I think that if there had been 150 people, it would have been perfect. Hope that helps!
How many tacos per person?
I was estimating three to four tacos per person. We ended up with lots of leftovers. People were eating anywhere from two tacos to ten tacos…. I think it’s better to plan for extras than run out of food. Hope that helps.
Shannon Massara says
What did you use the Chili Powder and Cumin for?
Hi, I wanted to know if you had the portion sizes for about 80 pleople?
How much did this end up costing you? We are planning a wedding on a budget and would love a taco bar, it’s our favorite food! We also are planning around 150 guests.
It came out to $6.15 per plate for 150 people, so about $925 total, but we had lots of leftovers and I think there only ended up being about 100 people at the wedding….I think it’s better to have leftovers than run out of food at a wedding though! Good luck!
All of your posts are so helpful. I’m trying to figure out the taco bar for 150 people as I’m more than likely going to cater a graduation party but problem is I’m just getting into catering and only done it for friends and family so can you tell me what you would charge for the food and all to cater this event that way I can see if we are close?
Kris Norbryhn says
Hi Zoe, one other thing to note about the price is that we chose the more expensive asada from the butcher. It was about ~$8/lb, but they had a less quality cut for about $5/lb. The chicken was also very popular and was only about $4/lb. I think you could easily tweak which types of meat and how much and get that price down to around $4/head.
Denice Stout says
Our local Fresh Market sells ground chuck and boneless chicken breasts for $2.99 lb. on tuesdays. Great investment
Hi! My fiancé and I are seriously considering a taco bar for our reception in September. We approximate around 130, maybe less, will be there. I know you wished you had planned for 130 instead of 150. How much would you have deducted from each item on the list above if you had planned less? We’d really like to keep the food budget to around $600-700 if possible.
Hi Trishia! For 130 people, you can reduce each item by 15%. For example, multiple 45# of carne asada by 0.85 to get 38#. Another way to reduce cost would be to include less toppings. I think we could have easily gone without the green bell peppers and fresh tomatoes. A lot of the tacos I saw people making were over stuffed. Make sure to put the beans and rice at the beginning of the buffet line, that way people will fill their plates with beans and rice before they make the tacos. You could also have chips, salsa, and guacamole out for appetizers to fill people up instead of putting guacamole on the taco bar line. Or just don’t have any guacamole, that was definitely one of the pricier items. If you end up closer to 100 people, you can reduce each item by 1/3 or multiple each item by 0.66. I bought almost everything at a Cash and Carry. I don’t know if you have a Cash and Carry near you? I think they’re just in the northwest, but a Costco would be a good place to shop as well. Hope that helps! Good luck!
so helpful thank you!
My daughter is getting married in September also I think a taco bar is great or a taco salad bar it seems to be less pricey tha other things I have looked at. You can easily start buying something’s now and stash away most things have a year or more shelf life if not opened like the sauces can tamatos beans and other items also. We are buying the food and we have someone cater the rest much cheaper
Elaine Matthews says
I am so glad I found your post!! We are planning a taco bar for my daughters wedding in June and I have been frantically looking for info on how much food I will need!! This was perfect!! Thanks!!
Glad to know the post was helpful. Wedding planning, especially doing the food yourself, can be crazy stressful! Good luck with everything! 🙂
We are also having a Taco Bar for our reception in August. How did you keep a large amount of tortillas warm? I was thinking a chafing dish or crock-pot.
You can warm them in the oven and then place all the tortillas in a cooler with a heat pack and wrap some moist towels around them. Then just put the cooler under the table and replenish a basket as needed.
This has been a life saver, it is so hard to know where to start and I’m so thankful for your blog, I have been back at least 5 times to read and review. Having a taco bar at my wedding this summer and you’ve made it so much easier, you’ve made a self done wedding taco bar obtainable and practical. Thank you!!
Hi Megan! Glad this had been helpful! Good luck with your wedding and taco bar! 🙂
Cheri Thunstrom says
The food looks and sounds delicious. Wonderful job on the cake. You had your hands full with all your jobs,
I have been trying to figure out what I want to do for food. It keeps coming back to a BBQ/Clambake or Taco Bar. I definitely love the idea of a Taco Bar and this post definitely helped me to understand better what I would need for the food.
Did you or your family purchase all the dinnerware – plates, utensils, cups, napkins, linens, etc? Did you have a bartender serving?
Thanks for posting.
We purchased all the dinnerware at Costco. They had the best prices. I don’t remember how much all the dinnerware cost though, but it wasn’t bad. And if there’s any extras, no big deal. You always need paper plates and plastic silverware, right? 🙂
As for the bartending, the venue did not have any contracts with bartenders/alcohol suppliers so we were free to do whatever we wanted. My brother-in-law’s family purchased the drinks so I’m sure how much they spent. They had ice buckets and filled them with a variety of canned beers and soft drinks. Pretty sure they kept the beer separate from the soda. They also had canned wine, which is awesome! They had two full kegs as well. The alcohol was all self-serve…which depending on your guest list, may or may not be a good thing…. 😉 For my wedding, we just filled a canoe with ice and canned beers and that worked great. I think it’s better to have extras, you don’t want to run out of drinks (or food) at a wedding. To decide on how much alcohol to buy, at least for my wedding, my husband just went through the guest list and estimated how many drinks he thought everyone would have and then added about 10-20%….not the most accurate but it worked!
Oh my goodness your post shows all the work you and thought in organizing this. We are doing the same thing and I’m so glad to find your post especially how you included the shopping list. This is a huge lifesaver. Thanks so much.
Glad you found the post. Good luck with your wedding taco bar! Let me know how it goes. 🙂
Hi Emily. We’re still in the planning process and some things came up. How often did you refill the meat pans and sides? Also how big were the pans that held the meat? Thanks so much!
Hi Lina, I was running around like a crazy person at the wedding and had helpers refilling the meat and topping pans for me…. might be helpful to find a reliable person to help with that part. I do know that the people barbecuing the meat were just refilling the chafing dishes as needed. The barbecues were pretty close to the food line so they were able to keep a close eye on the meat. We kept the toppings in coolers under the table and if something got low, the person refilling everything could just sneak in, slide the cooler out from under the table, grab the bag of lettuce or whatever and refill the bowl real fast. I think the meat chafing pans were 8 quart…I believe that’s the standard size, but not completely positive. Hope that helps!
Wow! You have done a wonderful job with this site! THANKS! Could you give me directions for making the rice? Thanks!!
We just followed the directions on the box of Uncle Ben’s Parboiled rice. I cooked it (and the refried beans) in electric turkey roasters. So we sautéed some diced onions, green bell peppers, and jalapeños directly in the roasting pans with oil, then added in the rice, seasonings (chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper), canned tomatoes, and water. I’d recommend a practice run with just the normal sized box of Uncle Ben’s that you can find at any grocery store to dial in on your preference for seasonings. You could keep it simple and just plain rice too. Hope that helps, I don’t have super specific directions on the rice. I was in panic mode at that stage and Kris and my cousins kinda took over from there, we totally winged it. But the rice is easy to make, especially when it comes parboiled. I believe you can also cook the rice in the oven, just add water, cover, and bake.
Tessa, making Mexican rice is easy. Add oil to a pan and fry until toasted light brown. Add diced tomatoes, diced onions, and diced bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Add tomato sauce and water to cover the rice about 2’’ over. Add chicken base to taste. Bring to a boil, cover the rice and reduce the heat to a simmer. Rice should cook in 30 minutes. Do try to made a small batch to test.
where did you find the tortillas?
Originally one of my sister’s coworkers was going to make the corn tortillas on-site, but that fell through about a week before the wedding. So my sister ended up finding a local place that made fresh tortillas. I think it would work to just buy corn tortillas from the grocery store or if Costco has them. Or maybe try a local Mexican food mart.
Thanks for posting this!
Do you remember where you found the white serving dishes? Thanks!
Most of the white serving dishes are my own personal dishes. They’re all from Macy’s. It’s their The Cellar Whiteware collection. We registered for them when we got married and got the whole serving set. I absolutely LOVE them! White goes with everything so I’ve gotten a lot of use out of them. I did borrow a few of the serving dishes from catering at the hospital where I work, but honestly, I think they use Macy’s The Cellar collection too. I think The Cellar collection is reasonably priced. They seem to go on sale all the time and Macy’s has good coupons. I guess Amazon has The Cellar Whiteware too! Good luck!
Thanks so much, I can’t thank you enough for all the information!
Thank you for the awesome information.. we are planning a rehearsal dinner taco bar style and this information has been very helpful.. We are planning to serve pork, beef and chicken.. I hope these are good choices.
The pork will be an excellent addition to the spread! Sounds delicious! We talked about doing pork al pastor for the wedding but in the end decided to just stick with two meats. Good luck with the rehearsal dinner!
Doris Prewitt says
This is a lifesaver article!
Glad it’s been helpful! 🙂
What was the butcher shop you bought the meat from? It would be really convenient to buy our meat instead of cooking it all ourselves.
The meat was from the Campos in Boise, on Orchard. They were great to work with! If you’re not in Boise, ID, hopefully you can find a local Mexican market that has a butcher. Good luck!
Hi! What a fabulous find – I’m having a taco bar this weekend for my daughter’s hs graduation – so of course it’s panic time now! You mentioned dehydrated beans (genius). Did you find those at cash and carry? Are they something I could do ahead of time and leave warming in a crockpot? Same with the rice? Thank you so much for sharing this info and answering all these questions – very, VERY helpful and much appreciated! 🙂
Yes, the dehydrated refried beans were at Cash and Carry – Santiago brand. I definitely think you could make them and the rice ahead of time in a crockpot! Good luck! Make sure to take time to enjoy the party! 🙂
Terrie S says
Oh. My. Gosh… THANK YOU!!!! My wedding is ON the 4th of July.. yeah.. less than a week away.. starting to stress on the food!! We are just doing a taco/nacho bar for close family/friends.. (about 70+ ppl) and I have NO idea on food amounts!!! Google is so conflicting!!!! This helps immensely! Thank you for being so detailed in sharing the info.. and I’m so grateful my friend Brenda found this article!!! I can’t thank you enough!
Glad the info has been helpful! Congratulations on getting married in less than a week! Good luck with the taco/nacho bar. It’ll be great! Have fun! 🙂
Hope L Aderman says
Thank you for this information! My son’s graduation party is July 8 and we are doing a taco bar for him. This was so helpful seeing your shopping list! We are going to have pork and beef for the meats.
Awesome! A taco bar works great for a graduation party! I bet the pork will be good! Have fun! 🙂
Patty Halouska says
How many taco shells and tortillas did you use?
My sister bought 800 small, soft, corn tortillas. I would say that we used about half of those, maybe a little more…there were around 100 people at the wedding…. better to have too many than not enough….Hope that helps.
You said you had a lot left over. Did that include all the toppings, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and onions?
Hi Samantha, yep, we had leftovers of all the toppings. And meat too. We ate tacos for weeks 😉
Kim Prew says
I can’t thank you enough for posting these pix and details… wedding aug. 5 and we’re serving a burrito and taco salad bar… your purchase quantities are BEYOND helpful! thank you so much! 🙂
You’re welcome, Kim! Taco salad bar sounds awesome! Good luck with everything 🙂
Wow! You did a fantastic job!!!
I’m helping my sister plan her wedding for the end May next year. It will likely be outside as well.
Please tell me how you kept the guacamole and avocado from browning!
I totally cheated with the guacamole and bought Wholly Guacamole at Costco. It will go brown eventually but if you just put out a small-ish sized dish of it and refill as needed, you can keep the guacamole looking fresh! Hope that helps!
Carol Bolin says
I had a Mexican deli worker share with me that he puts a little sour cream in his guacamole to keep it from turning brown. It works!!!
I’ve never heard of that before! How cool! Thank you for sharing!
Mad mama says
I’m going to serve street tacos for my daughters wedding reception. It’s like in s few weeks so this was so timely and a blessing thank you! So glad for your blog. We will be doing the food and the cake as well. My best friend will be making the meats and sides for the dinner. But we are responsible for the drinks appetizers before the reception! I’ve been to many parties receptions and know the panic feeling! They call me the party nazi. I guess I’m in charge and freak out a bit but I do love it! But it’s my baby girls wedding so I want it to look good but taste amazing as well without losing my mind completely! I feel more confident now since this has been done and complished we can do it ! Thanks s millon times over!
You got it! It is a ton of work but I love it too! You’ll do great! Good luck with everything! Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Thank your for this post. Such great info fromhow much is needed to what did and didn’t work. We are planning a taco bar for iur wedding next summer and this makes we more confident i can pull it off
Good luck Sara! You can do it! 🙂
Hi! We are looking into doing a taco bar for our wedding but we are worried about having a second option (like pasta) for those that don’t want or can’t eat the tacos. But I feel like tacos and pasta is a weird combo. Should we just not worry about it? Did you find people needed/wanted a different option at the wedding?
I think the wedding food should be whatever you, the bride and groom want. I mean, it is your wedding right : ). With that said it is nice to be accommodating to everyone, so you certainly could add a second entree like pasta. With a taco bar, if someone absolutely hated tacos, they can always make a taco salad, nachos, or just plate the meat with rice and beans (like a carne or pollo plate at a restaurant). You could even sauté up a bunch of fajita style veggies so people could do a Mexican like stir fry (fajitas with no tortilla) by adding in the meats. One other thing, is to make sure you have corn tortillas since they are gluten free.
The bride and groom from our experience, have told us that many of their friends still tell them how good the tacos were at their wedding, so I don’t think any (or many) were upset about tacos being served.
I don’t think it would be too weird to add in pasta, but as the person that helped cook for 150, I will say that it will add a good amount of extra work (plus serving dishes) and cost to your dinner.
In the end if someone really doesn’t like tacos, do you even want that buzzkill at your wedding party? (haha jk)
What Kris said!
But I would just stick with tacos and not worry about having a second option. If you need a vegetarian option, maybe include black beans along with refried beans. Or you could do three meats – chicken, pork, and beef, to give people even more options. And with a taco bar, people can pick and choose what toppings they want, so it’s pretty easy to accommodate almost everyone.
I wouldn’t do pasta. In my experience, it’s really hard to keep it warm. Or the pasta can easily get overcooked in he chaffing dishes and no one likes mushy pasta. And having a completely separate option can really add to your expenses…. if anything, you could do something similar to tacos, like enchiladas, which could be made in advance and then baked just before serving.
I am doing a taco bar for a hundred friends. but I’m a pescatarian, and i want to eat too! so i plan on roasting a big pan of veggies. and i will make black beans without meat (no one will know). Also i might provide bbq lettuce wedges along with the shredded lettuce. That should accomodate me and other vegetarians i invite. you could even cook up some cod, if that doesnt get too expensive.
Hi Emily! This was an absolute life-saver. I am getting married in May and was planning on self-catering. I was thinking of adding just plain hamburger meat tacos as well as chicken! My question is, how did you keep the meat warm?
Ground beef would work great for tacos! I used chafing dishes to keep everything warm. You should be able to rent them. And depending on your setup, you could even use a crockpot or turkey roaster pan. I’d just watch the ground beef so it doesn’t get dried out, you can add-in canned diced tomatoes or even some water to keep it moist. Good luck!
Emily Davis says
Hi I am looking into doing this and was wondering how many chafing dishes you ended up needing.
We used two chafing dishing. One had rice and beans and one had chicken and beef. We used the half pans in the chafing dishing to keep the rice and beans separate and to keep the chicken and beef separate. This does mean that you need someone to keep an eye on the chafing dishes and be ready to refill the pans as needed. You could easily have three or four chafing dishes. If you had three, you could put rice and beans in one and then chicken in the other one and beef in the third one. The chafing dishes surprisingly hold quite a bit of food. Hope that helps!
Trisha King says
Thanks so much for the help. You did a great job on the wedding. My daughter is getting married in April and we are doing a taco bar also. This is a big help. I bought a used chocolate fountain to do a cheese fountain with. I hope it turns out as good as yours.
Fun! People always love cheese fountains! Good luck with everything! 🙂
We are repurposing a chocolate fountain for a cheese fountain also! I’d love to hear how yours worked – I know it’s been a while. 😉
How did you keep the toppings cool? I’m wanting to do this for my wedding.
I put coolers under the buffet tables. The table clothes hid them pretty well and then we set the cold items (sour cream, cheese, lettuce, etc) out right before people started going through the buffet line. And then it was pretty easy to just pull the coolers out and refill serving dishes as needed. Just designate a person to keep their eyes on the buffet line and refill as needed. Good luck!
omg thank you so MUCH for writing this post. we are doing tacos for our wedding in october and i didn’t even know where to start! this was so helpful.
I’m so glad you found it helpful! Good luck!
Gloria M says
Thank you so much for this post. I’ve decided to do a Taco Bar for my husband’s 50th birthday with a Day of the Dead theme. Lots of great things for me to keep in mind. How did you handle keeping things that had to stay cold, or chilled?
We put all the chilled items in coolers under the buffet tables, then we could just pull the cooler out as needed to restock.
Wow!!! What perfect timing this blog was for me. We have decided to do a taco bar for my son’s HS graduation. I was freaking out about quantities and what toppings to have since my family is not big into all the varieties we could have. Your list has made it seem like it will be so much easier. Based on your blog, it sounds like you had time in between to get your personal things done. How much prep time would you say you spend on decorating and food?
We chopped all the veggies the day before – there were four of us, so I’d say it took about two hours. On the day of the event, I’d recommend having some helpers. I had nothing to do with the wedding decorations, so I’m not sure how long that took everyone to set up. The day of food prep and cooking took a couple of hours, but again, having helpers is key. You’ll need someone to cook the meat. Having as much done ahead of time, before the party starts will really make a difference.
not being able to cook the meat on sight, how would you go about having the meat options that you had? cooking it ahead and keeping it warm in chafing dishes? Also, did you find any problems having the line too slow, as creating tacos is a little more time consuming for each guest. I get that just from making tacos at home. And how do you keep the buffet line from looking like a disaster, with people dropping toppings, etc. I would worry that the buffet would look like a mess for the people who are halfway to the back of the line and worse if you’re at the end.
thanks so much for your detailed information. The most helpful I’ve found!
I think you could cook the meat in advance and keep in warm in chafing dishes. Depending on what your setup is, you could keep it warm in an oven or crockpot and then transfer to chafing dishes as you need to refill.
The taco bar didn’t take too long for people to go through the line. We did have a lot of toppings though. Less toppings could make it faster.
I had people watching the line to refill things, so someone was keeping an eye on things if they got out of control. I don’t remember it getting very messy….I’m sure things got spilled though.
Raylene Brimer says
I m doing the taco bar this weekend for daughters wedding and I thought of having just meat tortillas and rice and beans on one table and then on each table where the guests will be sitting will have all thier own condiments so they don’t hold up the line ! We will see .
That sounds like a great idea! Would love to know how it turned out!
Thank you so much for this information! I’m planning a wedding in October and we’re considering self catering for 80 with a taco bar. We are planning on using the chafing warmers for seasoned chicken and beef tips, as well as for the rice and beans. We are also trying to work out how a queso cheese fountain would work for the torilla chips while the chafing warmers were set up. We are going to have to cook everything a day ahead of time instead of onsite so any tips would be awesome!
Good luck! The queso fountain sounds wonderful!
Have you ever had a Taco Bar for a funeral meal? Would that be tacky? Suggestions for something else (vegetarian/vegan)? This will be for quite a professional group. I like the idea of a Cookie Bar, a Potato Bar and/or a Taco Bar. Your thoughts?
I’ve never done a taco bar for a funeral, but from experience, weddings and funerals are similar. I think it depends on the situation. If you’re close to the person who died, I’d recommend just having it catered. It’s too hard to prepare food while dealing with all the funeral arrangements. I did a gourmet baked potato bar for my wedding and loved it. Just have beans available for vegetarians and vegans – beans will work for a baked potato bar or taco bar.
Thank you for your post. It is VERY helpful. When you say you had family grilling the meat…how did they do that? Isn’t the meat already cut up in small pieces? I’m in charge of a conference at our church for 150 and trying to visualize how this will work in our setting…
The carne asada that I bought came in “sheets”, so it was easy to grill. And then we cut it into strips after it was grilled. Hope that helps!
Emily , Thanks for posting this very informative article…Helps a lot when planning my Taco Party*
Have you ever fried taco corn shells in oil ?https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/turning-corn-tortillas-into-taco-shells-126744
I haven’t tried frying the corn tortillas myself. I’ve had homemade fried corn tortilla shells before though and they’re delicious! Could be a lot of extra work if you’re serving a lot of people.
Gloria V. says
Awesome post! How long did it take for people to go through the line and get their first serving? We’re planning a taco bar for a reception and will also have someone cooking meat on grills. We’re trying to get a sense of how long it takes for150 people to get through the line to plan accordingly for the amount of time for dinner!
Hi Gloria, from what I remember, I think we let people eat for about an hour, that included time for people to go back and get seconds. We also started speeches while people were still eating.
This is SO helpful, as I’m considering this for my wedding. You are SO thoughtful to have responded to those with questions, as the replies also assist the masses. You did an excellent job with the food!
Thanks Anna 🙂
Rose Kaye says
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am going to use this info for my daughters Quinceanera in 2020. You are a life saver. Rice and beans are a piece of cake, its putting it together that freaked me out!! You rock!
Good luck! You can do it! Just make sure you have a few good helpers too 🙂
This was great and very helpful. My wife and I having about 250-300 people at our wedding. How much chicken would you recommend for the taco bar?
Hello, I would double the amount of chicken that I used. Depends on if you only want chicken or if you are going to use steak as well. I had a total of 75 lbs of raw meat total (45 lbs of carne and 30 lbs of chicken) for 150 people.
All of your posts are so helpful. I’m trying to figure out the taco bar for 150 people as I’m more than likely going to cater a graduation party but problem is I’m just getting into catering and only done it for friends and family so can you tell me what you would charge for the food and all to cater this event that way I can see if we are close?
This ended up costing me $6.15 per person – only for the food, does not include my time. Typically catered meals are around $10-$15 a person. For weddings, I think typical plates are $20-$25, depending on how fancy and complicated the meal is. Hope that helps!
This. IS. EVERYTHING. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this list of details for people that are trying to do it themselves, and also figure out what is most cost efficient! Incredible resource!
You’re very welcome!
Courtney Doncer says
Hello! SO glad I found your post — I am also having a 150 guest wedding, taco bar, and have all of the ingredients budgeted out. However, I don’t know how many 8-quart chafing dishes to rent! How many did you use for the meat/rice/beans? Thanks!
My daughter is having a taco bar for her wedding. They want to have ground beef tacos too. There are planing for 150 people. How many pounds of 80% 20% ground beef does she need to purchase
Hi Cathy, I had 75 pounds total of raw meat. So she could do 25 pounds of ground beef, 25 pounds of chicken, and 25 pounds of carne asada. Hopwe that helps!