It doesn't take much to make taco meat taste delicious and this Taco Salad is proof. Insanely easy to make and 100% satisfying with big taco flavor, more veggies, way less guilt, and absolutely zero fuss. Plus, you'll see how to make a creamy sauce so delicious it'll blow your taco-loving mind!
This recipe is the epitome of getting bang for your buck! And not just your buck, but your efforts as well. We are talking about something so quick, super easy, budget-friendly, healthy for your family, and bursting with taco-y goodness. Are you tying on your apron yet? Cause you totally should be.
Around these parts, we are no stranger to taco night. Whether we're talking beefy Barbacoa Tacos, pork-fueled Carnitas, or good ol' fashioned Tex-Mex Fajita Tacos, we are all about it. However, if you're looking to devour your dinner in healthy-ish taco form, this Taco Salad is where it's at.
WHAT'S IN TACO SALAD?
Taco salad is pretty much a taco without all that taco shell formality. The main components of a taco salad are taco-seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. But, as you likely know, one of the great things about salads is their customizability.
Meat | Pretty much any protein you would stuff a taco with could be used on this easy taco salad recipe. However, for the most authentic rendition, go with ground beef cooked on the stovetop and seasoned with taco seasoning.
The taco seasoning can be either homemade or store-bought, your choice!
If you're trying to keep dinners on the leaner side, feel free to use ground turkey (like we did with our healthy taco salad recipe), or even chopped chicken!
Lettuce | Because Taco Salads are usually made with ground beef, crunchy lettuce is key. You can use either Romaine lettuce, Iceberg lettuce, or a combination of the two.
Tomatoes | When it comes to tomatoes, you've got options. We recommend going with a grape or cherry tomato since these varieties maintain a better flavor profile even outside of tomato season, but you could certainly use larger tomatoes if desired.
Just make sure if you are using Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, you take the time to remove the seeds and pulp before chopping them and adding them to your salad.
Cheese | You can use either cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, or even Colby Jack cheese for your taco salad.
Freshly grated cheese will have a better flavor profile and texture and is far superior to any pre-shredded cheeses. Therefore, grating your own cheese is highly recommended, but if time is of the essence, make sure you grab a good, high-quality shredded cheese from the grocery store.
Tortilla Chips | If you'd like to add some major crunchy vibes to your salad, crushed tortilla chips or store-bought tortilla strips are a great addition. However, they are completely optional, so if you're trying to keep this salad extra healthy, simply leave this ingredient out!
Avocado | Who doesn't love a guacamole upgrade when it comes to tacos? The same can be said about your Taco Salad. A little diced avocado will add great health benefits and flavor to your Taco Salad.
Onions | Our go-to for a taco salad is chopped green onions. Green onions are mild and extremely quick and easy to work with. However, if you like the spicy bite of a white or red onion, feel free to sub that in as well!
MORE WAYS TO TOP OFF YOUR TACO SALAD
As mentioned above, your taco salad ingredients are completely customizable and if you're looking for more delicious goodies to add in, we've got you covered! Pico de gallo, red bell pepper, black beans, and corn would all make excellent additions to this recipe!
TACO SALAD DRESSING
There are many different ways to dress a taco salad, but our favorite is with this simple and zesty sour cream dressing.
For this dressing, we use a combination of sour cream, store-bought taco sauce, and fresh lime juice. Be sure not to confuse taco sauce with hot sauce. Taco sauce will not be nearly as spicy as your standard bottle of hot sauce and the two should not be confused!
Taco sauce is actually made up of a tomato purée flavored with vinegar, sugar, and dried spices. It's absolutely perfect for adding flavor to both tacos and taco salad. This ingredient combined with just two other simple ingredients makes for one shockingly delicious dressing.
HOW TO MAKE TACO SALAD
- Make the dressing.
- Cook the taco meat.
- Chop the veggies
- Mix it all up.
1. MAKE THE DRESSING
You'll kick off your taco salad by whipping up the dressing. Combine sour cream, taco sauce, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set that aside and move on to the meat.
2. COOK THE TACO MEAT
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. If you aren't using a nonstick skillet, you may want to add a tablespoon of either avocado or olive oil to the pan and allow it to come to temperature before adding the meat.
Then, add the ground beef breaking it apart either with a wooden spatula or a potato masher. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the beef and allow it to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring and moving the beef around as often as needed to help it break up and cook through.
Once the beef is ready, remove it from the heat, and set it aside to cool slightly.
3. CHOP THE VEGGIES
Now it's on to the rest of the salad prep. Chop up your lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and green onions. Add everything to a large bowl, along with grated cheese and crushed up tortilla chips, if using.
4. MIX IT UP
Add as much dressing as you'd like to the bowl and toss to combine until everything is well-coated in the dressing. Divide the salad into four bowls and top with a great big spoonful of taco meat. Serve and enjoy!
TACO SALAD MEAL PREP TIPS
If you are meal-prepping taco salad and planning to eat it for days to come, you'll want to hold off on combining some of those ingredients together!
Ingredients that need to be housed in separate containers are as follows: the meat, the cheese, the avocado, the tortilla chips, and the dressing. The reason is that they are likely to either make your lettuce soggy or become soggy themselves if not separately contained.
You can, however, keep your lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and sliced green onions in the same storage container.
6 MORE SALAD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Shrimp and Avocado Salad
- Southwest Chicken Salad
- Fajita Salad
- Mexican Bean Salad
- Watermelon Arugula Salad
- Healthy Taco Salad
If you're looking for a super easy and oh-so versatile, crowd-pleaser meal, Taco Salad is definitely the way to go!
- 1 cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup taco sauce (we use Ortega Taco Sauce - do not confuse this ingredient with hot sauce)
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning store-bought or homemade
- 6 cups chopped lettuce Romaine, Iceberg or a mix of the two
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ¾ cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips or store-bought tortilla strips
Combine sour cream, taco sauce, lime juice, and salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spatula or potato masher, and sprinkle over the taco seasoning.
Continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring as needed, until fully cooked. Set the beef aside to cool slightly while you prepare the salad.
Add the lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, green onions, Cheddar cheese, and crushed tortilla to a large mixing bowl.
Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss until well-coated.
Divide the dressed salad among 4 serving bowls, top each bowl with a generous spoonful of taco meat, serve and enjoy!