Taco Salad

02.14.2019

Taco Salad is a classic recipe everyone should know how to make. This version is quick, flavorful, hearty, a total breeze to make and it’s a dinner everyone can agree on both young and old alike!

It doesn’t take much to make a satisfying meal and this simple salad is proof of that. This is a back pocket recipe you’ll want to make on repeat!

Taco Salad in a white individual serving bowl set over a marble surface. Taco salad is layered with romaine lettuce, seasoned ground beef, cheese, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream.

Easy Homemade Taco Salad Recipe

I’ve been eating taco salad as long as I can remember. Of course as a kid, in the 90’s, my mom made the Dorito version and of course we loved that but now I prefer to make it with more natural chips.

Taco salad is one of the ultimate weeknight recipes. When there’s not much time to make something taco salad is a great option, especially this version which uses ground beef (no dicing up chicken or beef), bottled salsa to add lots of flavor without the prep, and pre-shredded cheese.

Everyone in my family loves this and I love that it’s filled with fresh nutritious ingredients. Finally a way to get the kids to eat their greens!

Want to Make it Healthier?

  • Use ground turkey in place of ground beef (avoid super lean turkey though like 99%) or even swap half pound of the beef for a can of drained and rinsed black beans.
  • Make your own baked tortilla chips. To do so brush corn tortillas with olive oil, season with salt then cut into wedges, bake on greased cookie sheet about 10 – 15 minutes until lightly golden brown, turning once halfway.
  • Use light sour cream or omit. Same with the cheese.
  • Add more veggies to the salad. Bell pepper, corn, or radishes are great options.

Image showing ingredients needed for taco salad including ground beef, olive oil, spices, bottled salsa, chips, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes.

What Ingredients go into Taco Salad?

  • Olive oil – for sautéing
  • Lean ground beef – I like to use 85% lean Angus beef.
  • Roasted salsa – I prefer the lightly charred depth of fire roasted salsa here but just about any bottled salsa will work (do skip the fruity ones here though).
  • Chili powder and cumin – these standard Mexican spices add lots of flavor.
  • Salt and pepper – what would food be without it?
  • Cilantro – the cilantro gives the filling the perfect fresh finish.
  • Lettuce – I think romaine is the best lettuce for taco salad but iceberg, green leaf or even spinach will work too.
  • Tortilla chips, Mexican cheese, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream – all these toppings together create the perfect blend of textures and flavors to compliment the beef.

Showing how to make taco salad. Starting by browning chunks of ground beef in a large non-stick skillet.

How do You Make Taco Salad?

  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Crumble in beef in chunks. Let sear until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes then turn and break up beef and continue to cookie until cooked through.

Adding salsa and spices to cooked ground beef mixture in large skillet.

  • Drain fat from beef then stir in salsa, chili powder and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through, about 1 minute.*

Adding cilantro to finished taco salad beef mixture in skillet.

  • Layer lettuce among individual plates. Top with chips, beef mixture, cheese, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream. Serve immediately.

Time Saving Tips:

  • To make the most of your time and to get dinner on the table quickly I like to prep toppings while ground beef is browning.
  • You could even use pico de gallo and guacamole from the produce section of the grocery store in place of diced tomatoes and avocados to save prep time.
  • You can also buy a large bag of pre-cut romaine lettuce.

Can I Use a Store-Bought Taco Seasoning?

Store-bought taco seasonings are great but sometimes they have added thickeners like cornstarch and that won’t be needed here. Plus the bottled salsa steps in with onion and garlic so those few flavors found in taco seasoning are already added.

For this recipe I prefer to use just chili powder and cumin to keep it quick and simple but you could add more spices like coriander, paprika and cayenne if you’d like or try it with different types of chili powder like Ancho, New Mexico, California etc.

Can I Make it Ahead?

The beef mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated for a few days, just rewarm in a skillet over low heat or reheat in the microwave, thin with a little broth if needed. It’s great for meal prep!

Two servings of taco salad in white bowls set over a marble table.

More Delicious Mexican Recipes to Try:

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Taco Salad

5 from 2 votes

This Taco Salad is quick, flavorful, hearty, a total breeze to make and it's a dinner everyone can agree on both young and old alike! It doesn't take much to make a satisfying meal and this simple salad is proof of that. This is a back pocket recipe you'll want to make on repeat!

Servings: 5
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

Beef Filling

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.25 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 cup bottled fire roasted salsa
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro

For Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 5 oz. tortilla chips, slightly crumbled
  • 1 cup Shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced (or 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes)
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)
  • 5 Tbsp Sour cream or Mexican crema (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Crumble in beef in chunks. Let sear until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes then turn an d break up beef and continue to cook until cooked through.

  3. Drain fat from beef then stir in salsa, chili powder and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through, about 1 minute.*

  4. Layer lettuce among individual plates. Top with chips, beef mixture, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and red onion if using. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

*If you used a thicker salsa you may want to add a splash of chicken broth or water to thin slightly.  If you used a watery salsa you can let it simmer for a few minutes to reduce.

Time Saving Tips:

  • To make the most of your time and to get dinner on the table quickly I like to prep toppings while ground beef is browning.
  • You could even use pico de gallo and guacamole from the produce section of the grocery store in place of diced tomatoes and avocados to save prep time.
  • You can also buy a large bag of pre-cut romaine lettuce.
Nutrition Facts
Taco Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 558 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 54%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 749mg 31%
Potassium 916mg 26%
Total Carbohydrates 28g 9%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 4g
Protein 32g 64%
Vitamin A 31.2%
Vitamin C 11.2%
Calcium 25.4%
Iron 24.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: Taco Salad
Calories: 558 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

3 comments

  • Carol: Forgot to mention I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. March 20, 2019 at 11:18am Reply

  • Carol: Made this last night, soooo good. I will be making this again and again. March 20, 2019 at 11:16am Reply

  • Caryn: I can’t wait to make the taco salad. Looks delicious February 16, 2019 at 4:49pm Reply

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