Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

San Antonio puffy tacos are a crisp, golden dream come true

We’ve seen a lot of tacos a lot of different ways, but the San Antonio puffy taco from the new United Tastes of Texas cookbook looks like the most fun. Who knew corn tortillas could become so light and fluffy? Imagine all your favorite taco flavors floating in a crunchy cloud. That’s our idea of heaven.

United Tastes of Texas is a big, lip-smacking valentine to the Lone Star State, from a rye-based spin on the sidecar cocktail to a tequila-Key lime pie to the definitive guide to an Austin-style barbecue. But there’s something so very Texas about this recipe in particular.

More: Taco Tuesday: 19 taco recipes that don’t rely on the traditional shell

united tastes of texas cover
Image: Oxmoor House/Time Inc. Books

San Antonio puffy tacos

Original tacos were a little different than the stale, fried corn tortillas machine-pressed into a U-shaped envelope — an invention of fast-food chain entrepreneur Glen Bell of the famed Taco Bell. The real deal begins with a ball of masa flattened into a thin round that is fried to a golden crispness. The masa puffs up a bit, which is how the moniker “puffy taco” came into play. Stuff with ground taco meat, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and shredded cheese.

Makes 8 – 9 servings | Hands-on: 1 hour 5 minutes | Total: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 2 pounds fresh masa dough (recipe follows)
  • Waxed paper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup Mexican beer
  • Toppings: shredded cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole


  1. Shape masa dough into 18 golf ball-sized (about 2 tablespoons) portions. Cut sides off a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Line top and bottom of a tortilla press with freezer bag. Place masa rounds in freezer bag within tortilla press, and close, forming round tortillas. (If you don’t have a tortilla press, use a flat plate, skillet or flat-bottomed bowl, and press masa balls into flat rounds against countertop between sheets of waxed paper. To ensure even thickness, press dough rounds once, rotate 180 degrees, and press again.) Gently stack uncooked masa rounds between layers of waxed paper.
  2. Pour oil to depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees F.
  3. Gently lower 1 uncooked tortilla into hot oil. Once tortilla rises to surface and begins to bubble, cook 10 seconds. Gently flip tortilla, and lightly press center of tortilla, using a metal spatula, to create a U shape. Cook 30 seconds or until golden brown. Carefully remove from oil, sprinkle with salt, and drain upside down on a paper towel-lined wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Keep tortillas warm until ready to serve.
  4. Cook onion and next 2 ingredients in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 – 5 minutes or until softened. Add beef, and cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.
  5. Return beef mixture to skillet; add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and salt, and cook over medium heat 4 minutes. Add beer, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, and cook 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  6. Serve beef in warm tortillas with desired toppings.

Masa dough

Makes about 4 pounds

Hands-on: 15 minutes | Total: 15 minutes


  • 1/4 pound pork lard (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-1/2 pounds freshly ground masa*
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1-1/3 cups warm pork broth


  • Beat lard at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes.
  • Stir together masa and next 2 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Gradually add masa mixture to lard, beating at medium speed just until blended after each addition. Cover until ready to use.

*Note: If you can’t find fresh masa, whisk together 3 cups masa harina (corn flour), 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Whisk in 2-1/4 cups very hot water until dry ingredients are moistened. (Add more hot water 1 teaspoon at a time.) Knead 3 – 4 times to make a smooth dough.

Excerpted from United Tastes of Texas: Authentic Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State by Jessica Dupuy. Copyright © 2016 Time Inc. Books. Reprinted with permission from Oxmoor House, an imprint of Time Inc. Books. All rights reserved.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

The Taco Cleanse: 11 Easy ways to make your tacos fit the bill
Image: SheKnows

Leave a Comment