This classic Taco Salad is brimming with vibrant fruit and veggies, seasoned ground beef, savory cheddar cheese, and crunchy tortilla chips served with a creamy and zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing.
This protein-packed and fiber-rich treat comes with all the warm and robust southern flavors complemented by the soothing taste of avocados and cilantro. You will still enjoy all the crisp and crunch with every beefy and cheesy mouthful.
What You Need To Know About This Recipe
Who does not know of this delightfully deconstructed version of the classic tacos on a shell?
It has all the goodness of the tacos that we all love made in a bowl! I made mine using a creamy Cilantro Lime dressing which further enhanced the dish with its tangy and citrusy tones.
Or you can also enjoy it with the all-time American favorite creamy dressing - Ranch Dressing.
Both are delicious!
It’s always nice to have options when it comes to eating food you love, right? This easy salad version of taco night is a weeknight winner done in just 30 minutes. One of those easy dinners you'll make again and again.
It’s substantial enough to be enjoyed as a light, satisfying meal on its own but can also be served as a side dish to any meats if you have a rowdy and hungry crowd to feed.
It’s a great dish to bring to potlucks and picnics plus it is ideal for meal prepping.
You can cook the beef in advance and place all the ingredients in individual containers ready to be assembled when you want some!
Why We Love This Simple Taco Salad Recipe
- Easy to prepare. All you need to make it are a few simple salad ingredients, a single pan, and a bowl. Perfect if you are looking for healthy salad recipes that can be done in a jiffy.
- It is customizable! It can be made based on one’s personal preference. You can pick and choose your favorite taco toppings, meat, and dressing you like.
- It's a lot less messy! Cramming all the good stuff you like in a taco shell can be challenging. And the inevitable mess that comes with it is part and parcel of enjoying traditional tacos. Making a taco salad bowl is just more convenient to prep and easier to enjoy.
Ground beef- I prefer using beef with 85 to 90% lean ground beef. Since it has less fat content, you will still get a lot after cooking them, and the salad will be less oily.
Taco seasoning- You can use a store-bought ready-mix packet of taco seasoning for convenience. Or make a homemade taco seasoning. It is usually a mix of paprika, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and garlic, and onion powder.
Veggies - I used black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, corn kernels, and romaine lettuce. Fresh is always best, but you can also use frozen corn if that is more convenient.
Cheddar Cheese – a taco is not complete without a generous sprinkling of shredded cheese.
Avocado - adds a soft and creamy texture plus a refreshing taste.
Tortilla chips- you won’t miss the crunch at all!
Cilantro Lime Dressing - made of fresh cilantro, yogurt, garlic, limes, sugar, and olive oil. Easy to make and so, so good!
Variations and Additions
- For a lighter and healthier option, you can also use ground turkey or ground chicken instead of beef.
- If you have some leftover rotisserie chicken or hamburger meat in your fridge, you can also use those. Just shred the chicken meat and dice the patty.
- Aside from the vegetables I used in the recipe, you can use alternatives such as pinto or kidney beans, black olives, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, regular tomatoes, iceberg lettuce. You can also add some jalapenos to make it spicier. For an extra bit of crunch add a handful of diced green onions.
- You can also use guacamole instead of fresh avocado.
- You can choose to serve with a side of sour cream. I don't do that often myself and when I do, I typically opt for low-fat sour cream.
- Make it fun by adding Doritos instead of tortilla chips. The kids will go bonkers over it!
How To Make This Taco Salad
- Heat a large skillet or heavy pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is heated, add the ground beef. I did not use oil as the meat will produce its own, but you can add a small amount of olive oil if you want to.
Break up the beef with a sturdy spatula into smaller pieces. You can also use this time-saving tool.
- Once your beef is browned, make sure to drain the fat rendered as much as you can. Once done, lower the heat to medium-low and add the taco seasoning. Make sure to coat the beef pieces thoroughly before removing them from heat. Set the taco meat aside and let it cool.
- In a large bowl, start by adding the shredded crisp lettuce at the bottom. Then add the seasoned ground beef, black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, Cheddar cheese, corn, and Tortilla chips on the bed of lettuce.
Serve it with the Cilantro Lime Dressing or your dressing of choice. Toss to combine. For more flavor variations, you can also serve it with nacho cheese, sour cream, or salsa on the side.
Recipe Success Tips
This is one of those no-fail, great recipes that you know will deliver nothing but rave reviews from everybody.
Make sure to defrost your ground beef for easier browning. Transfer it from the freezer to the fridge overnight.
When cooking the beef, make sure to not stir too much. The meat needs contact with the hot surface as much as possible for it to brown. Stirring too much will result in it graying rather than browning beautifully
How To Serve and Store This Salad
It is almost guaranteed that the salad will be devoured up to the last lettuce leaf. It is that good!
However, in rare cases that there are leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
If all the ingredients are already tossed together with the dressing, it won’t be as crunchy but will still be good.
If you are making these ahead, make sure to pack the cooked ground beef in an airtight container.
It will last for a week in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer.
The cilantro lime dressing should be placed in a tightly lidded jar and refrigerated immediately after use. It should stay fresh for 1-2 months.
More Salad Like
- Shrimp Salad - including the no-fail method how to boil perfectly tender shrimp
- Classic Chicken Salad -
- Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad -
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad -
- Italian Pasta Salad -
- 1 pound ground beef I prefer 85/15 or 90/10
- 1 package taco seasoning
- 1 can black beans drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese grated
- 1 avocado diced
- ½ cup corn frozen, defrosted
- 2 cups tortilla chips lightly crushed
- 4 cups romaine lettuce shredded
- 1 cup Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a spatula (or this time saving tool) to break up the beef.
- Once browned, drain excess fat. Reduce heat to medium-low and mix in taco seasoning. Stir until well combined.
- Add shredded lettuce to a large salad bowl. Top with seasoned ground beef, black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, Cheddar, corn, and Tortilla chips. Serve with our cilantro lime dressing.