This fresh and easy Taco Salad is loaded with juicy beef on a bed of crisp lettuce with all of your favorite toppings. Don’t forget to drizzle it with our amazing lime crema taco sauce. For a fun and authentic Mexican restaurant vibe, serve this in a Tortilla Taco Bowl. Watch the easy video tutorial and get ready for your next taco night!
We love tacos, from our famous Fish Tacos to Breakfast Tacos and even Taco Soup – Tacos are a fun menu item to make and taste just as good as going out for tacos (except fresher and with better ingredients).
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Taco Salad Video
A taco salad is basically a deconstructed taco so it is a great way to change up traditional tacos. They are so satisfying and super easy to make. Try this with our homemade Taco Salad Shells and top it with our authentic Pico De Gallo, and Guacamole and you will be known for your taco salad. Watch Natasha make this Taco Salad with the best dressing!
- Tortilla Bowls – You can use storebought tortillas or even Homemade Soft Flour Tortillas to make the best crispy Taco Salad Bowls! And if you’re looking to cut calories, you will still love this salad in a regular salad bowl.
- Ground Beef – we use lean ground beef or be sure to drain the excess fat.
- Taco Seasoning – you can use storebought but we highly recommend Homemade Taco Seasoning for the best flavor (it’s also not too spicy which our kids love)
- Iceberg Lettuce – this is our top choice for a taco salad – it’s crisp, fresh, and a classic for making taco salad.
- Toppings – you can use any of your favorite taco salad toppings. See the list below for ideas and inspiration.
Pro Tip: If you are looking to substitute beef, just about any ground meat will work here. Try ground turkey for a turkey taco salad or ground chicken.
The Best Taco Salad Dressing
Here’s our little secret: We are using our famous Fish Taco sauce (minus sriracha since the kids don’t like spicy foods), and it’s the perfect dressing for salad. Drizzle it over the top using a spoon or put it in a squeeze bottle for easy serving. Since it has garlic powder in it, I like to stir it together and let the flavors meld for at least 10 minutes. Here’s what you’ll need to make the taco salad dressing:
- Sour Cream – we use regular but low fat will work fine
- Mayonnaise – get the real one so it doesn’t change the flavor
- Lime Juice – always use freshly squeezed (not concentrate)
- Garlic powder – we love dried garlic powder because it adds great flavor while keeping the sauce super smooth and not too garlicky.
How to Make Taco Salad
If you have made Ground Beef Tacos in the past, you already know how to make the salad. The process is very similar and even easier.
- Make the Tortilla Taco Salad Shells: These are optional but highly recommended. While they bake and cool, you can work on the beef and salad toppings.
- Cook Beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your beef, breaking it up with a spatula until no pink remains. Drain off excess fat, add taco seasoning and water, and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Assemble: Chop lettuce and divide into serving bowls or your Crispy Taco Salad Bowls. Top with ground beef.
- Serve: Add remaining desired toppings and serve with a drizzle of dressing and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.
Pro Tip: If your beef has released any excess fat, tilt the pan for the fat to pool at the corner of the pan then spoon off the excess fat. If you don’t skim it off, the fat will solidify on the meat when it cools and you don’t want that.
Taco Salad Toppings
We love the classic toppings of Mexican cheese, avocado, Pico, tortilla strips (or chips), sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges. You can change up Taco Tuesdays with these fun taco bar options:
- Pico de Gallo
- Black beans, rinsed and drained
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Tortilla Strips (or crushed tortilla chips)
- Black olives, drained
- Cheese such as cheddar or Mexican
- Red onion, diced
- Chives or green onion, chopped
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Taco Bar – you can arrange all of the ingredients in separate bowls and let your guests build their own custom taco salads. We love this option when there are gluten-free or keto dinner guests. P.S. You can get gluten-free taco seasoning.
- Layered Salad – if you want to serve this as one large salad for a party, you can assemble it in a 9×13 glass casserole as a layered taco salad (similar to a 7-layer dip) starting with the lettuce then beef, and sprinkle the remaining toppings evenly over the top.
- Taco Salad Bowls – serve this as a side salad or as a main course. Divide lettuce between bowls, add ground beef, and desired toppings.
Pro Tip: If you prefer, you can toss the salad together with the dressing and then put it into the taco salad shells. If you do, make sure you do that just before serving so the dressing doesn’t make the lettuce or taco bowl soggy.
Meal planning with taco salad is genius – all of the ingredients keep well and taste just as good when made ahead in a meal prep container and you can combine all of the ingredients just before serving. Pack a lime wedge to squeeze over the top before serving.
- Pack your lettuce into sandwich-sized plastic bags for max freshness and place it into a meal prep container.
- Arrange toppings in strips: taco meat, cheese, and avocado (squeeze fresh lime juice over avocados to slow down the browning process).
- Pico and Dressing keep best stored in small lidded containers or zip bags.
- Pack tortilla strips separately since those will soften.
Taco Salad is a quick and easy meal. You can use this basic recipe over and over changing up the toppings to make dinner exciting.
More Taco Recipes for Taco Night
If you make tacos on your regular rotation, you’re sure to find several new favorites in this list. Can you tell we love tacos? We can’t get enough!
Easy Taco Salad Recipe with the Best Dressing
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
A taco salad is basically a deconstructed taco served in a bowl. If you want to re-create a Mexican restaurant experience, serve this salad in a crispy Tortilla Taco Salad Shell for a fun twist.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: taco salad
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $18-$24
Servings: 4 people as a side salad
Ingredients for Taco Salad:
- 4 Tortilla Taco Salad Bowls, optional
- 1 lb lean ground beef, 90/10
- 3 Tbsp Taco Seasoning, or 1 packet
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 iceberg lettuce, medium head, chopped
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- 1 cup pico de gallo, or to taste
- 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend, or to taste
- 1/2 cup tortilla strips or chips
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges to serve, optional
Ingredients for Taco Salad Dressing:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Make Crispy Tortilla Bowls if using. While they bake and cool, proceed with the recipe.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your beef. When there is no pink left on the meat, spoon out all of the excess fat then add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool until it’s lightly warm or room temperature.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, add the dressing ingredients and stir to combine. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld while you prepare your toppings.
Chop lettuce and place into serving bowls (serves 6 as a side salad or 4 as a main course). Divide ground beef between the bowls over the lettuce.
Add remaining toppings as desired then garnish with cilantro drizzle with the dressing and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the salad.
*Nutrition label does not include the optional tortilla taco salad shells.
Easy Taco Salad Recipe with the Best Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 569 Calories from Fat 369
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 10g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Vitamin A 1470IU29%
Vitamin C 21mg25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.