Tacos al Vapor: A Mexican Street Food Favorite

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Tacos al Vapor, also known as “tacos de canasta” or basket tacos, are a beloved Mexican street food known for their steamed preparation and flavorful fillings. These tacos are traditionally assembled and kept warm in large baskets, hence the name “canasta.” They are characterized by their soft, steamed tortillas filled with tender meats such as beef, pork, or chicken, along with savory toppings like salsa verde, onions, and cilantro. Tacos al Vapor are not only delicious but also a convenient and portable meal that has become a staple in Mexican cuisine.


For the Tacos al Vapor:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 lb shredded beef, pork, or chicken (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup salsa verde or salsa roja (green or red salsa)
  • 1 cup refried beans (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving
For Serving:
  • Sliced radishes
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Prepare the Filling:
    • If using refried beans, spread a thin layer on each tortilla.
    • Divide the shredded meat evenly among the tortillas.
    • Top each tortilla with chopped onion and cilantro.
  2. Assemble Tacos al Vapor:
    • Stack the filled tortillas on top of each other and place them in a steamer basket or colander lined with cheesecloth.
    • Heat water in a large pot or steamer until it boils. Place the steamer basket or colander over the pot, making sure the water does not touch the tacos.
    • Cover tightly with a lid and steam the tacos for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are heated through and the tortillas are soft and pliable.
  3. Serve Tacos al Vapor:
    • Remove the steamed tacos from the basket and place them on a serving platter.
    • Serve hot, garnished with salsa verde or salsa roja, sliced radishes, pickled jalapeños, Mexican crema or sour cream, and lime wedges on the side.
    • Offer hot sauce for those who prefer extra heat.

Tips for Serving

  • Variations: Experiment with different fillings such as potatoes and chorizo, tinga (shredded chicken in chipotle sauce), or vegetarian options like mushrooms and cheese.
  • Side Dish: Serve tacos al vapor with a side of Mexican rice, beans, or a fresh salad to complete the meal.
  • Make-Ahead: Prepare the tacos al vapor ahead of time and store them in a warm oven or insulated container until ready to serve.

Cultural Significance

Tacos al Vapor are a testament to the ingenuity and flavors of Mexican street food culture, offering a convenient and satisfying meal option for people on the go. They embody the essence of traditional Mexican cuisine with their simple yet robust flavors, making them a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Tacos al Vapor are more than just a meal—they represent a cultural experience with their steamed tortillas, flavorful fillings, and vibrant toppings. Whether enjoyed on the streets of Mexico or homemade in your kitchen, tacos al vapor provide a taste of authentic Mexican flavors that are sure to satisfy. Embrace the essence of Mexican cuisine and savor homemade tacos al vapor with this authentic recipe, celebrating the bold flavors and culinary traditions of this beloved street food dish.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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