Taco Salad Recipe – Dinner at the Zoo

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This taco salad recipe combines ground beef, lettuce, beans, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla strips and avocado, all tossed in a zesty dressing. A fun and festive salad that’s perfect for a lighter main course or as a side dish at a potluck.

I’m a fan of anything Mexican food, we eat plenty of queso and burrito bowls in my house! This hearty taco salad is a family favorite, it’s colorful, fresh and super easy to make.

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Taco salad made with ground beef, romaine lettuce and vegetables, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips.

We eat a LOT of Mexican food around here – it’s typically quick to make and easy to customize to the kids’ taste. We kind of got into a burrito rut and I was trying to think of something to change it up a bit which is how I came up with this taco salad. This salad is absolutely loaded with toppings, and everyone can mix and match the ingredients which makes this recipe perfect for picky eaters.

How do you make taco salad?

This recipe starts with ground beef which is browned in a pan and coated in taco seasoning. The ground beef goes into a bowl of lettuce along with tomatoes, avocado, corn, beans, cheese and tortilla strips. Everything gets tossed together in a tangy dressing, then you’re ready to eat.

A pan of taco meat made with ground beef.

Tips for taco salad

  • I use pre-made crispy tortilla strips in this recipe, which are sold in most grocery stores near the croutons. If you can’t find them, feel free to use crumbled up tortilla chips instead.
  • I use 90% lean ground beef for this salad, it’s got plenty of flavor without all the grease.
  • You can use fresh, frozen or canned corn, they all work great.
  • I like to dice all my ingredients to about 1/2 inch size pieces, it makes the salad easier to eat.

Ground beef, tortilla strips, beans, tomatoes, olives, corn and avocado over lettuce.

What kind of dressing do you put on taco salad?

This particular recipe calls for catalina dressing, which is a sweet and tangy tomato based dressing. If you’re not a fan of catalina dressing, I recommend using classic ranch dressing instead. You can also mix your salad with red or green salsa as a dressing to save a few calories.

Catalina dressing being poured over taco salad.

Taco salad variations

There are so many different ways to customize your taco salad to your preferences.

  • Protein: Use ground turkey or grilled chicken breast instead of beef.
  • Cheese: Use pepper jack or a Mexican 4 cheese blend instead of cheddar.
  • Avocado: Omit the diced avocado and instead add a scoop of guacamole on top.
  • Lettuce: Try iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce or shredded cabbage instead of romaine.
  • Beans: Use pinto beans, or add a layer of refried beans at the bottom of your salad bowl.

A bowl of taco salad with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and olives.

I love to set up a taco salad bar at parties. Simply put out bowls of chopped lettuce, meat and all the toppings, and let your guests assemble their own creations. Add a few choices of salad dressing at the end of the buffet and you’ve got a simple yet satisfying meal to feed a crowd!

More Mexican food recipes

Taco salad made with ground beef, romaine lettuce and vegetables, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips.

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Taco Salad

This taco salad recipe combines ground beef, lettuce, beans, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla strips and avocado, all tossed in a zesty dressing. A fun and festive salad that’s perfect for a lighter main course or as a side dish at a potluck.

Keyword beef taco salad, taco salad

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce
  • 3/4 cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1 avocado peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives
  • 1 cup tortilla strips plus more for garnish
  • 2/3 cup catalina salad dressing can also use ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • cilantro leaves for garnish optional

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spatula, for 3 minutes.

  • Add the taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until meat is done. Cool for 5 minutes.

  • Place the meat, lettuce, beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cheese, olives and tortilla strips in a bowl.

  • Add the dressing and toss to coat.

  • Add the sour cream on top of the salad along with additional tortilla strips and cilantro leaves for garnish, then serve.

Notes

Make Ahead: The chicken, cilantro sauce and beans can all be made a day in advance.

Nutrition

Calories: 451kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 712mg | Potassium: 964mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 106.5% | Vitamin C: 16.9% | Calcium: 22.2% | Iron: 28.3%

This post was originally published on July 5, 2015 and was updated on February 21, 2019 with new content.

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