This recipe for Taco Salad is easy, healthy, and can be adapted for any dietary need! It is full of incredible flavor, fresh ingredients, and a bright, creamy dressing. You will be making this simple taco salad week after week, as it is one of the easiest family-friendly recipes to prepare.
Every time I want to make everyone happy, I prepare Taco Salad. I can use just about any ingredients I have on hand and adapt this recipe to make it gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, or vegetarian–with just a few simple swaps. Paired with a pina colada and of course lots of chips, this Taco Salad is hands down a favorite meal.
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?!
But why this mom really loves taco salad is because it is a healthier way to enjoy tacos and my entire family enjoys it! Score for a winning family meal!
My version of taco salad features a creamy, spicy dressing, tons of fresh veggies, and of course taco meat.
Taco Salad can easily be made to fit gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo lifestyles 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. Everyone loves it and customize this taco salad to fit their needs.
- Lettuce: Shredded iceberg or hearts of romaine are classic choices for a Taco Salad. While I love the nutritional benefits of dark leafy greens, they are not ideal for the flavors in taco salad. Plus iceberg or romaine give this salad a crisp crunch, adding texture to the salad.
- Taco Meat: The type of meat you use for taco salad is up to you. You can start this recipe with ground beef, chicken, or turkey, and season with homemade taco seasoning. But this is also a great time to use up leftovers. Feel free to use leftover chicken taco meat or beef taco meat. Of course, feel free to use Sofritas in place of taco meat or additional beans to keep this vegetarian friendly.
- Beans: Pinto beans or black beans pair the best in Mexican dishes. Add the beans of your choice to the taco meat to allow it to simmer with the seasonings.
- Taco Salad Dressing: This dressing is a creamy, spicy, fresh dressing made with just 3 ingredients. Salsa is combined with fresh lime juice and sour cream. Feel free to use plain Greek Yogurt in place of the sour cream to keep this dressing lighter.
- Toppings: This is where you can let your imagination go wild. Add chopped onions, avocado, cheese, olives, peppers, corn salsa, cilantro, anything you like on your tacos.
- Tortilla Chips: Tortilla chips are a must for taco salad. However, unlike most taco salads, I serve the chips on the side and let each person mix the chips in themselves. This keeps the chips from getting soggy.
How to Make Taco Salad
Taco Salad is best assembled immediately before serving. However, you can assemble all the ingredients up to 24 hours before serving. Then it is as easy as warming up the meat and tossing it all together.
- 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 taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans.
- Simmer on low until meat is cooked through and the beans are warmed.
- Mix together salsa with sour cream or plain Greek/regular yogurt.
- Add in juice of fresh lime and stir well.
You have a couple of options on how to serve this healthy taco salad.
- 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!
- 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 the cheese, beans, and sour cream from the 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.
- Feel free to use either sour cream or plain Greek or plain regular yogurt for the Taco Salad Dressing.
More Taco Recipes
- Instant Pot Pork Tacos
- Black Bean Baked Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Fish Tacos
- Salmon Tacos from Gimmie Some Oven
- Easy Lentil Tacos
Whip up this simple taco salad, blend up some Pina Coladas and be prepared for one delicious taco night!
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