Taco Salad is easy, healthy, and can be adapted for any dietary needs. Made with seasoned ground beef, tons of toppings, and a creamy, slightly spicy dressing, this recipe for Taco Salad is a family favorite and can be made in less than 30 minutes!
We love tacos at our house, but what we really love is Taco Salad. I mean when you can put chips on a salad, what is NOT to love?!
My version of taco salad features a creamy, spicy dressing, tons of fresh veggies, and of course taco meat. And because we build this base on a lot of lettuce, I like to think of this taco salad as a healthier option than traditional tacos.
It can easily be made to fit gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo lifestyles simply by swapping or leaving out a few ingredients.
In fact Taco Salad is often my go-to meal when serving dairy-free or gluten-free guests. It is a meal that most everyone enjoys and because each guest can customize it to fit their needs and preferences–meaning you look like a rock-star host!
- Lettuce: Shredded iceberg or romaine is the classic choice, but feel free to use darker greens to add a boost of nutrients.
- Taco Meat: Use any ground meat your like for this recipe. I use my recipe for Taco Meat that is seasoned with homemade taco seasoning. In fact whenever I have leftover taco meat from taco night, this taco salad is my go to for lunch the next day. If you are vegetarian, you can use sofritas in place of the ground meat or extra beans.
- Beans: Pinto or black beans pair the best with taco salad. If you are Paleo, leave out the beans. If you are vegetarian, leave out the meat but be sure to season your beans with 1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning to add flavor into your taco salad.
- Taco Salad Dressing: This is a simple dressing made with salsa, sour cream, and fresh lime juice. If you are looking to save a few grams of fat, use nonfat plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
- Toppings: You can top your taco salad with any toppings you like. Tomatoes, onions, avocado, shredded, cheese, olives, roasted corn, cilantro, etc. When I am entertaining guests I set toppings out in small bowls for everyone to pick and choose what they want to add to their salad.
- Tortilla Chips: Use white or yellow corn tortilla chips and be sure to not add to your salad until right before serving to keep your chips crispy.
How to Make Taco Salad
Step One: Prepare Taco Meat
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, brown ground meat, breaking up into small chunks as you cook the meat.
- Drain off any excess fat, and then add in beans, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and water.
- Simmer on low until meat is cooked through and water is absorbed.
Step Two: Prepare Dressing
- Mix together salsa with sour cream or plain Greek/regular yogurt.
- Add in juice of fresh lime and stir well.
How to Serve Taco Salad
You have a two options on how to serve.
- Place all ingredients out and allow everyone to serve themselves. This is my preferred method, as then everyone is able to make their own preferred taco salad.
- Toss all the ingredients together, along with the Taco Salad Dressing. Just be sure to serve the chips on the side–NO one wants soggy chips!
Modifications for Taco Salad
- To keep this Low-Carb, omit the chips and beans.
- To keep this Gluten Free, just be sure to use homemade taco seasoning.
- To keep this Paleo, omit cheese, beans, and sour cream from dressing.
- Feel free to use any ground meat or even shredded chicken or shredded pork for this taco salad.
- Forget to thaw your meat out? Use my method for Instant Pot Frozen Meat.
More Taco Recipes
- Instant Pot Pork Tacos
- Healthy Black Bean Baked Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Lentil Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
Taco Salad Meat
Taco Salad Base and Toppings
- 1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 avocadoes diced
- 2 large tomatoes diced
- 1 small onion minced
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 8 ounces tortilla chips for serving
Taco Salad Dressing
- 1 cup salsa
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 lime juice
Prepare Taco Meat
- In a large skillet, brown ground meat, breaking up into small chunks as you cook the meat.
- Once meat is browned, drain off excess fat. Add in beans, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and water. Simmer on low until water is evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.
Prepare Taco Salad Dressing
- Mix together sour cream/yogurt with salsa and juice of fresh lime.
Prepare Taco Salad
- Place chopped lettuce into a large serving bowl. Top with taco meat, diced tomatoes, onions, avocados, cheese, and any other desired toppings. Toss well to combine.
- Add taco salad dressing and toss to combine again.
- Serve with tortilla chips.
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper