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    Easy Taco Salad

    Imagine a taco that went on a diet and turned into a salad! This recipe is for those who love tacos but think, “Maybe I should eat a salad today.”

    Taco Salad probably is the biggest culinary mash-up of the century. It’s perfect for those days when you’re feeling indecisive. Why choose between a taco and a salad when you can have both? Our Taco Salad is a fiesta in a bowl!

    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    To start the new year we wanted some lighter options, which is hard when you are in the food business trying to lure people to your recipes. We sure have some hearty salad meals like Antipasto Salad, Greek Steak Salad, and Gado Gado.

    Today’s Taco Salad has the same feel and it can be made easily for a quick weeknight dinner or a casual lunch. We never get tired of our tacos, and love all the familiar flavors on a bed of this salad brimming with tons of toppings.

    Picture this: all the bold flavors of a taco, but with a leafy twist. It’s as if your favorite taco fillings got lost on their way to the shell and ended up in a salad bowl instead.

    Ground beef seasoned to perfection, a medley of fresh veggies, and a sprinkle of cheese – all topping crispy lettuce. This dish is the perfect answer to your mealtime dilemma when you’re torn between the crunch of a taco and the freshness of a salad.

    It’s fun, it’s flavorful, and it’s sure to bring a smile to your table. So, let’s mix things up a bit and give your salad a taco transformation!

    This Easy Salad Recipe is a Super Hit For

    Familiar Flavors, Fresh Format: It combines the beloved flavors of a classic taco – like seasoned meat, cheese, and fresh veggies – with the lightness of a salad. This familiar yet novel approach is a hit for those who enjoy tacos but want something less heavy.

    Customizability: The recipe is incredibly versatile. Whether you prefer ground beef, chicken, or a vegetarian option, or want to add more of your favorite veggies, this salad can be easily tailored to personal tastes and dietary needs.

    Easy of Preparation: It’s a straightforward, no-fuss recipe that can be whipped up in no time, making it perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute meals.

    Fun Factor: The combination of textures, from the crunch of the lettuce and chips to the softness of the avocado, makes it an enjoyable eating experience. Plus, the interactive aspect of assembling your own bowl adds to the fun.

    Healthy Yet Satisfying: It strikes a balance between being health-conscious and filling. The inclusion of protein and fiber-rich beans makes it nourishing, while the cheese and sour cream add a touch of indulgence.

    Great for Gatherings: Its colorful presentation and ability to serve a crowd make it ideal for parties, potlucks, or family dinners.

    Leftover Friendly: It’s just as tasty the next day, making it a great option for meal prep or leftovers.

    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    Ingredient Notes:

    • For Taco Meat: Oil, ground beef (can be substituted with ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option), homemade taco seasoning, tomato sauce.
    • Lettuce (Romaine or Iceberg): The base of the salad.
    • Cheddar Cheese: Or you can use a mix of cheeses.
    • Tomatoes (Cherry or Vine Ripe): Provides juiciness and freshness.
    • Onion: We use red, but go with whatever variety you prefer.
    • Avocado: So good there.
    • Corn: We use thawed frozen corn today, but fresh or canned can also be used.
    • Black Beans: Drained and rinsed.
    • Tortilla Chips or Fritos: Adds crunch.
    • Jalapeños (sliced): Adds a spicy kick to the salad.
    • Cilantro: Used for garnishing and adds a fresh, herby flavor.
    • Sour Cream: Is used as a topping, served on top of the assembled salad for creaminess and to balance the flavors

    Easy Taco Salad Recipe

    1. Cook Taco Meat: Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef (or turkey/chicken) to the skillet. Break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Let the meat cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, then stir. Continue cooking until it’s fully browned. Drain any excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and water. Mix well. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes until it thickens slightly.

    Taco meat cooking in a pan.

    2. Salad Prep: Chop lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado. Thaw corn, rinse and drain black beans. Slice jalapeños.

    3. Building the Salad: Place chopped lettuce in a bowl. Top with taco meat. Add cheese, tomatoes, onion, avocado, corn, and black beans. Garnish with jalapeños, tortilla chips/Fritos, sour cream, and cilantro.

    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    Alpana’s Tips

    • Lettuce Selection: Use fresh, crisp lettuce. Romaine offers a nice crunch, while iceberg is lighter and has a higher water content.
    • Cheese Varieties: Experiment with different types of cheese like Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or a Mexican blend for varied flavors.
    • Avocado Tip: To keep the avocado from browning, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice.
    • Control the Heat: Adjust the amount of jalapeños based on your spice tolerance. Removing the seeds and membranes reduces their heat.
    • Dressing Options: Instead of sour cream, try avocado dressing, creamy chipotle dressing, or creamy salsa dressing.
    • Serving: Serve the salad immediately after assembling to prevent the chips from getting soggy and the lettuce from wilting.
    • Add Extras: Feel free to include extras like sliced olives, salsa, guacamole, green onions, or a sprinkle of lime zest for more flavor layers.
    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    Make Ahead Meal Prep Instructions

    1. Cooking and Storing the Taco Meat: Start by preparing your taco meat according to the recipe. Once cooked, allow the meat to cool down to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. This precooked meat can be stored for 3-4 days and is the base for your quick taco salad assembly during the week.

    2. Prepping and Storing Salad Vegetables: Chop the lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeños. To maintain their freshness, store each of these chopped vegetables in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. This not only preserves their crispness but also prevents the flavors from mingling.

    Avocados can be tricky for meal prep as they tend to brown quickly. If you decide to chop them in advance, sprinkle lemon or lime juice over the pieces to slow down the oxidation process. However, for the best taste and texture, consider chopping the avocado fresh on the day you plan to eat the salad.

    As for the beans and corn, rinse and drain the black beans, and thaw the corn if you’re using frozen. Store these in their own containers in the fridge.

    3. Cheese and Tortilla Chips: Shred the cheddar cheese and keep it in a container or a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator. This helps to keep the cheese fresh and ready to use. Tortilla chips should be kept in their original packaging or a resealable bag to maintain their crunchiness.

    4. Assembling Your Salad: When you’re ready to eat, simply take out the prepped ingredients and assemble your taco salad. This method allows you to quickly put together a fresh and tasty meal, with each ingredient retaining its individual flavor and texture. By keeping everything stored separately until the moment of assembly, you avoid any sogginess or texture loss, ensuring a delightful meal experience each time.

    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    And there you have it – your best Taco Salad, the perfect marriage of a irresistible taco and a refreshing salad. Each forkful will tell you how some things are just meant to be together.

    The crunchy, spicy goodness of a taco and chips mingled with the cool, crispness of a salad creates a harmony of flavors and textures. Enjoy this delightful fusion, where every bite is a celebration of the best of both!

    Taco Salad, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of taco salad atop the Gypsy Plate.

    Try these other great salad recipes:
    Jennifer Aniston Salad
    Israeli Couscous Salad
    Caesar Salad
    Wedge Salad
    Mango Salad
    Greek Salad
    Mexican Elote Salad
    Balela Salad

    Featured image for taco salad recipe.

    Easy Taco Salad

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes

    This easy Taco Salad recipe is perfect for those times when you crave tacos, but want a lighter and healthier option.

    Ingredients

    Taco Meat

    • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
    • 1lb ground beef ( sub it with ground turkey or ground chicken)
    • 1 serving of Homemade Taco Seasoning
    • ⅓ cup tomato sauce
    • ½ cup water

    Salad

    • 1 head Romaine or iceberg lettuce
    • 1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes or chopped wine ripe tomatoes
    • ½ red onion, chopped
    • 1 avocados, chopped
    • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
    • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1-2 jalapeños, sliced
    • tortilla chips, or Fritos (use it as many as you want)
    • sour cream, to taste
    • cilantro, for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Cook Taco Meat: Mix all taco seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Heat up a skillet over medium high heat, and add in a tablespoon of oil. Add in the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Let it cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, then give it a stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the beef is fully browned. Drain any excess fat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce and a little water. Mix everything well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
    2. Prep the Salad and Toppings: Chop the romaine into bite sized pieces. Dice the red onion and avocado, cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.
    3. Assemble the salad: Place lettuce in a large bowl (or individual bowls). Top with taco meat, tomatoes, cheese, avocado, red onion, black beans, and corn. Add in tortilla chips and garnish with cilantro and jalapeño slices. Add a dollop of sour cream. (see note)

    Notes

    • You can add many other optional toppings and sauces such as:
      1. Salsa
      2. Pico de gallo
      3. Mexican street corn salad
      4. Salsa verde
      5. Guacamole
      6. Olives
      7. Salsa taquera

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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