Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Getting tacos to stand up has always been a challenge. Unless you plan ahead, there’s an understanding you’ll end up scooping stray ingredients into your mouth with your fingers—but in the beginning, the intention is to kick things off with an upright parcel of deliciousness. Instead of chasing your fillings across the plate, use a cupcake liner to hold individual tacos upright.
There are a few taco-standing hacks out there, like using an egg carton, or an overturned muffin pan. While these are great for filling or serving several at once, I find these options to be a bit bulky for an individual to practically use. Basically, you still have to transfer a taco to your plate, and if you like to take a break between bites, your taco will fall over and its innards will flop across your plate. Not pretty.
You could buy taco holders that are explicitly made for this purpose, like a dinosaur-shaped holder or a melamine one, but if you need one of these for each taco-loving person at your home, you might end up with a cabinet full of six bulky dinosaurs, or just as many wavy melamine plates taking up precious space. In the words of Alton Brown, these objects are uni-taskers, and I don’t have the room in my kitchen for that nonsense.
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
To keep your tacos upright, and in perfect folded position, use cupcake liners. The unique accordion pleating of these liners allows the edges to support the taco’s half moon shape, and the circular base keeps things stable. The weight of the filled taco anchors it down in the liner and creates just enough tension to keep the walls of the liner from splaying open. Additionally, cupcake liners come in sleeves of 24 to 150, so you can plate up a taco dinner for a party and still have enough left to use for dessert. You can even pick up the paper liner with the taco and use it to catch any falling ingredients and pour them back onto the remaining taco, or straight into your mouth.
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I have found that the paper cupcake liners are perfect for hard shell tacos (crunchy shells already hold their shape, they just need side-support), but paper lacks the structural integrity to support the floppiness of soft corn or flour tortillas. Don’t despair: For those, foil cupcake liners offer better support and are an excellent choice. For extra heavy tacos, you can always double them up. Reynolds makes a sleeve of cupcake liners that includes both foil and paper liners. I believe the intention is for one of each to be used when baking cupcakes, but for our taco purposes, this is an ideal 2-in-1 taco liner scenario. Simply take out the paper ones you need for your crunchy tacos of the moment, and put the foil liners back in for next week’s soft taco Tuesday. Never again will a taco topple on your watch.
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