Before starting out on our LC journey we had been Paleo”ish” for a few years but do to life craziness, which is a whole other story, we would fall off the wagon quite often and slip back into processed junk. It is amazing how many Paleo and Low Carb recipes cross over each other and yet how many Paleo recipes are much higher in carbs as they use more starch. I still have a great number of my favorite Paleo recipes that were lower in carbs to begin with or have converted the higher carb ones to lower carb. However I digress, what did we do about tacos? I mean tacos are one of America’s favorite comfort foods and how can one live without them! The kids would typically still have them on regular shells and tortillas and Mr. Low Carb and I would usually have them in Romaine lettuce all while missing the nice crunch of a taco shell. Here enters “cheese shells” and oh my the yum! I must credit Kim from Low Carb Maven for the initial recipe and inspiration. I never in a million years would have thought of just melting cheese! I have tweaked and added various spices and things and my own little spins.
How does one make these shells you ask….plain melted cheddar cheese! That’s it! To make these you can melt the cheese in a skillet on the stove or in the oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or even in the microwave if doing single serve. Since I cook for an army or so that’s what it feels like I choose the oven method as it allows me to cook several at one time. I was concerned that the shells would not hold together once packed with meat, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream, however I had a lovely surprise. These shells are not only sturdy but very pliable so when you bite into them they have enough give that they don’t break apart like a typical hard shell does.
Each shell has about 1g of carbs! If you leave tomatoes off you are having almost no carbs! They are oh so filling, 2 tacos and your set for the evening! Be wary of store bought taco seasonings as many have added sugars in them which will add to your carb intake. I have taken to making my own which you can read about here.
What do you need? Cheddar cheese, baking sheets, parchment paper and an oven and a taco shaper or wooden spoons or dowel and cups to shape the shells.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place one rack in the upper third and the other rack in the lower third.
- Line 2 baking sheets(bar pans, cookie sheets, jelly roll pans, etc) with parchment paper…NOT wax paper. Do not skip this step or you will have a mess.
- I use about 1/3 cup of cheese per shell, though this will vary depending on how finely grated your cheese is. You don’t want too much cheese as it won’t melt evenly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cheeses, in fact a parmesan cheddar mix is nice. Mozzarella cheese does not work well as it’s too soft. You can also add seasoning to the cheese once it’s on the baking sheet. The cheese should be in about a 3″ circle on the pan, each pan will hold about 3 shells.
- Bake for 5 minutes and swap the lower backing sheets and bake another 5-10 minutes or until little holes have appeared in the surface and the edges begin to brown. Oven temps will vary so be sure to watch closely, if the cheese gets too cooked it will not shape correctly. I learned this the hard way. My oven is about 5 mins and then 7 min after rotating the pans.
Once cooked, remove from the oven, give the cheese shells just a second to cool before removing, but work fast! They need to be shaped while still pliable. Simply drape them over a wooden spoon or dowel suspended by glasses or cans until the cool and are crispy or a shaper. Leave on the pans to cool flat for chalupa or tostada shells. The cheese is extremely hot and burned my fingers the first couple times, I found using tongs to remove from the pan and drape over the wooden spoons or shaper saved my fingers.
These are the finished shells, don’t they look yummy?
A couple notes to mention. The hanging method of the cheese does not produce uniform shells. This is not a problem if you are only making a few shells that will not need storing, however if you are making a bulk batch as I do the wooden spoons and cups is a bit cumbersome, takes up a lot of counter space and uses up all your spatulas and other large utensils. I finally got this Taco Shaper I had been eying and it gave me uniform shaped shells as well as not hog up my whole counter and utensils!
That’s what I call WINNING!
2nd issue…Melted cheese is greasy and while is it draped and cooling the grease is going to drip onto your counter so I highly recommend putting some paper toweling or something else to “catch” the grease to avoid a gross mess to clean up after. You can alternatively make the shells into a bowl for a taco salad by shaping it into a small bowl. If you have any left overs store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Bone Petite